“Why Washington state would consider legislation to reduce CO2 emissions is something I can’t figure out,” Jay Lehr, PhD, told members of the state Senate’s Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee on Wednesday morning.
Lehr, science director for the Ohio-based Heartland Institute, told the lawmakers carbon-dioxide is an indispensable element for life on earth because plant life breathes it and, in turn, produces oxygen.
“Up to a point, more CO2 is a very good thing,” he said, “because it means more plants, which produce the oxygen we breathe and the food we eat. Even if it were warming the atmosphere, which it isn’t, it wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing” because it would mean longer growing seasons and open up more land for habitation.
Climate change believers understand this, but say human industrial development, most notably automobiles, are producing too much carbon-dioxide, which is shrinking the size of the ozone layer, allowing more sunlight into the atmosphere and warming the earth’s climate.
With Washington considering a laundry list of bills to regulate and/or tax carbon emissions, Lehr, 77, was invited to rebut what University of Washington researchers had told the committee a day earlier. A physicist and internationally recognized authority on groundwater hydrology and environmental issues, Lehr explained to the members that doom-and-gloom scenarios about climate change are based on a combination of political agendas and junk science.
“Climate change is about politics, not science. Unfortunately, climate change has become institutionalized in our government,” he said. “Your own governor passionately believes in it, as does the president. The federal government spends $6 billion a year studying climate change, and you don’t get your hands on that money if you propose to show it isn’t happening.”
Lehr said global warming projections are the product of 117 different computer models, none of them correct.
“Rather than trying to predict the future, scientists have used the same computer models to tell us what we know happened in the past, and they’ve been wrong every time,” he said. “If they can’t tell us about the past, when we know all the variables, why should we believe they can predict the future?”
Lehr said climate projections are based on countless factors and, “There isn’t a computer in the world that can process all the information you need to make an informed projection. So they simply calculate the variables they think they do have a handle on and forget about the rest.”
The loudest proponent for global warming is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which found itself embroiled in an embarrassing scandal several years ago when e-mails between several of its researchers conceded they had found no link between manmade CO2 and climate change but altered the data to appear otherwise.
“The IPCC based its reports on those 117 failed computer models,” Lehr said. “It took 117 wrong answers, averaged the results and came up with an outcome it said it had 95 percent confidence in. It’s preposterous.”
Lehr said there was virtually no dispute over the fact that CO2 makes up only a small percentage of the earth’s atmosphere, and that the amount of CO2 for which man is responsible made up only a fraction of that.
“People disagree over the multiplier effect,” he said. “Climate change alarmists say the small amount of carbon-dioxide will compound like interest.”
As far as alternate sources of energy are concerned, Lehr said the amount of money being used to subsidize wind farms, solar panels and the like would be “laughable if it weren’t so sad.”
“The laws of the universe make it impossible to harvest wind and solar energy in a cost-effective way on a large scale,” he said. “There’s only a finite amount of energy you can produce from these sources, and science can only help us harvest it more efficiently, but you can’t harvest energy that isn’t there.”
Lehr estimated it would take 300 square miles of wind turbines to duplicate the power generated by a 1,000-megawatt power plant. “You could cover the countryside with these things and it still wouldn’t generate the power we need,” he said.
Not that the United States lacks energy resources, though. Just the opposite, Lehr believes.
“I think we’re on the verge of an unprecedented era of economic growth in this country as we begin to exploit the cheap energy we have in oil shale and natural gas deposits,” he said. “We have enough known energy deposits now to be the world’s leading energy producer for centuries.”
Lehr said the advantage this country has is that those deposits are in private hands and can be developed, as opposed to other countries, where the land is owned by the government.
“Governments can’t get out of their own way,” he said. “We’ll leave other nations far behind once we stop implementing policies that prevent us from making progress rather than promoting it.”
So-called “environmentalists,” Lehr believes, care nothing about the environment.
“They just hate people,” he said. “Did you ever meet a happy environmental zealot?”
As for Washington, Lehr encouraged the lawmakers to adopt policies that help the economy rather than wasting time with needless, scientifically baseless regulations that have just the opposite effect.
“There’s nothing Washington state can do that would have any noticeable effect on the world’s climate,” he said. “For that matter, there’s nothing the United States can do. All we can do is shoot ourselves in the foot. Just stop it.”