Speaker challenges global warming
If Professor Alfred Pekarek is correct, scientists have largely ignored the impact of solar activity on the planet, Earth will cool and global warming is not to be feared.
Some attending his presentation said they're not willing to wait to find out who's right: scientists who agree with him or those who believe society needs to mitigate global warming's effects.
Pekarek of the Earth and Atmospheric Science Department at St. Cloud State University spoke to a half dozen people attending his presentation Monday night, sponsored by Park Rapids Community Education.
A geologist, he participates in an online discussion group of about 3,000 like-minded scientists from around the world.
His two-hour presentation included charts and data to support his claims.
He questions whether a 1-degree increase in the planet's temperature is part of a natural cycle or is it unusual? He claims that historically changes in temperature and carbon dioxide emissions don't always correlate. And he asserts that civilization has done better in warm times than cold times.
For example, he said Earth's temperature has increased about 1 degree, but said there are problems in collecting changes in average global temperatures. According to Pekarek, readings are unreliable and spotty.
More concretely, he said, Argentina is experiencing record cold temperatures which are not included in "official reports."
Satellite data shows that while temperatures may be increasing in the northern hemisphere, there is almost no warming in the southern hemisphere. A concern about an ice shelf melting in Antarctica, he said, is due to changes in ocean currents, not global warming, and has happened before.
Pekarek also suggested scientists should disregard warmer temperatures being recorded in urban areas because they are the result of the "urban heat island effect." It is more accurate, he said, to go by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data that shows temperatures at rural stations. Those records show the two years when temperatures were highest were in the 1930s and in 1988.
According to Pekarek, two competing hypotheses are at work: anthropogenic global warming versus solar-driven natural cycles.
Anthropogenic global warming suggests changes that are a result of human activity, such as carbon dioxide emissions.
Those, like Pekarek, who support the solar-driven theory, believe "climate is never stable and we are in a warming phase that will end soon," he said. He defined soon as "years to decades."
Pekarek alleged the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), established in 1988 by two United Nations organizations, disregards indirect solar activities, such as solar winds and even censors scientists who attempt to present their findings.
"Scientists don't get grants unless they're anthropogenic," he claimed.
Asked what the IPCC and other governmental agencies' motives would be to discriminate, Pekarek seemed to say it is simply a bias.
He claimed carbon dioxide is "a minor, but necessary" gas in the earth's atmosphere, is quickly absorbed and volume has not been constant in the atmosphere in geologic history. He also claimed humans' contribution is relatively small with burning fossil fuels and deforestation comprising well below 10 percent of the total.
Finally, Pekarek discounted computer models being used to extrapolate the impacts of increasing carbon dioxide emissions. "I'm not ready to stake my future on computer models," he said.
Rather, he said, based on the material he has reviewed, he predicts a decrease in solar activity will cool the planet and, meanwhile, elevated levels of carbon dioxide enhance plant growth, thus conserving water.
The bottom line, Pekarek said, is:
n Be skeptical of scary scenarios,
n Become sufficiently informed of science to make intelligent decisions, and
n Do not abuse the environment. If you are concerned, he said he tells his students, "Leave your cars at home and take the bus."
Two members of the audience told Pekarek his message was as alarming as global warming.
"I don't want to wait around while science figures it out," said Carol Ashley, a Park Rapids area resident. She said she appreciates science, but sees benefits in addressing the issues now.
Willis Mattison, who has a background in science and is former director of the regional office of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency in Detroit Lakes, said over time, more and more studied scientists are coming over to the anthropogenic side of the debate.
"If you would have us believe they're wrong and influencing policy decisions, are you willing to bet you're right?" he asked.
Pekarek said he'd put $100 on the table.
"Even if we're wrong, society benefits," Mattison said. "We need to make large changes. You do a disservice if you say you have to have proof. If we wait for absolute proof, it's too late to make a change."
"There is no way solar or wind will replace all of our energy," Pekarek said. "We have the technology to solve the problem. We can go to nuclear energy."