Barely a day after the Washington State Senate voted to fund a study that would explore ways to enforce tougher greenhouse gas emission standards, a respected academic spent nearly two hours presenting scientific evidence suggesting the assumptions on which that legislation was based were wrong.
Dr. Don Easterbrook, a professor emeritus of geology at Western Washington University, on Tuesday told the Senate’s Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee he was relying on an old maxim in science: “In God we trust; everyone else bring data.”
“Well, I’m bringing data,” he said. “You’ll hear very few opinions from me. When I’m finished, you won’t be asking what my opinions are.”
Easterbrook, who said he belonged to neither political party and had no political agenda, told the committee members he had been studying the earth’s atmosphere and its effects on climate for more than 50 years, and his conclusions might startle those who get their information from the mass media.
Among his assertions:
• contrary to reports of global warming, the earth’s temperature has actually been gradually cooling for the past 15 years as part of a regular 30-year heating-and-cooling cycle that has been observed for the past 500 years;
• the Antarctic ice sheet is growing, not receding;
• sea level is increasing by an imperceptible 7 inches per century, not the 20 inches that’s been reported;
• snowfall isn’t decreasing — in fact, in four of the past five years, record snowfall levels have been reported;
• carbon-dioxide not only isn’t causing global warming but it is physically impossible it ever could;
• severe weather patterns are not becoming common; and,
• the oceans are not becoming dangerously acidic.
Sen. Kevin Ranker (D-Orcas Island), an outspoken environmental activist, repeatedly asked Easterbook why his data didn’t coincide with numbers on which the Legislature had relied.
“What you just put out on your slide goes contrary to the data that I have before me,” the senator said.
“I don’t know that it’s contradictory,” Easterbook said, “but what I’m looking at is the original data and what you’re looking at is data that’s been tampered with by NASA and (the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration).”
Easterbrook, who described himself as a “lifelong environmentalist,” said public agencies, for whatever reason, frequently modify the data they receive, resulting in incorrect analyses.
“Imagine you have two bottles of water,” he said, “and in one you have pure water and in the other you have sludge. The pure water represents pure data and the sludge represents sloppy data or data with anomalies. When NASA and NOAA gather data, they take the pure data and the sludge and mix them together. And then they develop a computer model based on this sludge.
“I’m looking at the pure data,” he said. “I can show you a curve of how they take the same data and, in every issue, the temperatures in the 1930s actually get cooler while the temperatures in the 2000s get warmer. That isn’t because those temperatures have actually changed; it’s because the data is being manipulated.”
Easterbrook said he wasn’t accusing those agencies of doing anything “scurrilous or evil. I’m just telling you what anyone would tell you — that the numbers have been ‘adjusted.’”
Ranker also said he had data indicating the past 12 years have been the warmest in all of recorded history. But Easterbook countered with a slide showing the hottest decade was the 1930s — well before the post-World War II spike in CO2 emissions cited by climate change supporters.
Just a day earlier, the entire Senate had approved SB-5802, which sets aside $250,000 to form a task force that would explore ways reduce CO2 emissions in the atmosphere based on the belief that CO2 depletes the ozone layer and causes global warming. The House had approved a companion bill the previous week and Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to sign it into law.
Easterbook, however, refuted the entire premise.
“What you may not be aware of is that there’s almost no CO2 in the atmosphere,” he said. “It’s 39/1000ths of a percent. And since the 1950s, that number has increased by only 8/1000ths of a percent. That’s about as close to nothing as you can get.
“There’s not enough CO2 in the atmosphere to do much of anything,” he said. “Then you add to that the fact that CO2 only accounts for about 3.6 percent of the ‘greenhouse effect,’ and you discover that carbon dioxide by itself is incapable of having any real effect on climate change.”
Easterbrook denied there was any consensus among the scientific community that greenhouse gases — specifically those produced by man — were causing climate change.
“That’s a false statement based on fraudulent information,” he said. “But it’s all you ever hear if you watch television or read newspapers because they’re not interested in facts. They’re interested in fear.”