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Guest Opinion: Nothing’s happened

Mike Mason

I want to thank Susan Hassol (Aspen Times letters, March 7) for a very energetic response. However, while she correctly states that very fine adjustments to background radiation measurements from space were necessary, it should be pointed out that the effects trying to be measured are so small that even the slightest inaccuracy can miss them altogether. I asked in a previous letter that people such as Susan just look at the data. The sun is and has caused ice ages, mini-ice ages (we’re due for one now), including the mini-ice age in the 1700s, and been a major factor in changing climate for billions of years. It is hotter now than it has been in 8,000 years. Direct measurements showed that it caused the cooling on Earth from 1945-1970, despite increasing CO2 levels.

With ongoing increases in CO2 levels, the IPCC model predicts increasing temperatures. Since Susan wants to be current, what actually happened in the last three years? Extracted from the 1978 to present MSU NASA Marshall satellite data on mean earth temperatures, what happened in the last three years is nothing, only a slight decrease (-0.04 C), no volcanic eruptions, no El Niño ocean effects. If we take the entire record (1978 to present), we are hotter now by, on average, 0.256 degrees centigrade, partially due to the three-year 1998 El Niño peak and a slightly hotter sun. That’s it.

Energy independence, efficient use of fossil fuels and pollution reduction are very important; that is why I stressed oil shale and liquid-burning solid oxide hydrogen fuel cell development (a 3-to-1 decrease in fuel consumption over the internal combustion engine), which Susan seems to have missed.In response to Bob Keenan’s letter (The Aspen Times, March 8), sometimes things are counterintuitive. No one wants to breathe pollution, but plants love carbon dioxide. Some trees grow up to 300 percent faster in a richer CO2 environment. The growing season is shortened for tomatoes, and taste and sweetness are improved. These techniques are actually being used in some high-tech greenhouses now. Some religious text talk, after a cataclysm, about a very green earth which would be understandable if CO2 levels increase as they are doing now.

The issue is global warming. Without getting into the legions of scientists who owe their living to the IPCC, just look at the temperature data. Some say that the sun is only responsible for 30 percent of very very recent global warming, but 30 percent of what? If El Niño effects are taken out, the total effect is maybe 0.178 degrees Celsius since 1978. Take 30 percent out for solar effects and all the hoopla over human caused global warming boils down to the fact that we might, and I emphasized might, have caused 0.124 degree Celsius rise in mean earth temperature in 28 years of direct measurement from space. This is down in the mud considering just the normal variability from year to year. Real global warming started in the 1700s at the end of the last mini-ice age. That is why glacial melting is occurring. Almost, maybe completely, an effect due to the sun.The shill thing: My background is a degree in physics. I am retired now. I have never worked or consulted for anyone or any company involved in energy production. I have worked for aerospace companies and computer companies including the design of several instruments aboard the original Viking Mars Lander. Nor am I a shill for the Bush administration. I am very concerned about the loss of civil rights. I support the efforts of the Woody Creek group and wish them well. Mike Mason is a retired engineer who has worked in the aerospace and computer industries. He lives in Cedaredge.


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