RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia’s attempts to influence the climate have no scientific basis and would have no measurable effect, according to testimony presented Thursday by representatives of the CO2 Coalition, an Arlington-based organization of scientists and researchers.
Appearing before the House Commerce and Energy Subcommittee were Gregory Wrightstone, executive director and an expert reviewer for the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and Dr. Patrick Michaels, senior fellow for both the coalition and the Competitive Enterprise Institute and past Virginia State Climatologist and past president of the American Association of State Climatologists.
The witnesses’ testimony was based on an analysis by CO2 Coalition scientists of justifications that state government had used to support climate-change regulations, including the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, Virginia Clean Economy Act and Multi-State Medium- and Heavy-Duty Zero Emission Vehicle Memorandum of Understanding.
“We have concluded that Virginia’s participation in the various attempts to reduce global atmospheric temperature is climatically meaningless, but the costs and inconvenience imposed by these plans will be economically very meaningful,” said Mr. Wrightstone. “The governmental bodies tasked with review of these programs should ‘follow the science’ and reject economically costly programs that have no utility.
“Justifications for Virginia to impose increased regulations and taxation on fossil fuels and fossil fuel-generated energy are based on dire warnings of existing and future CO2-driven catastrophes. We have reviewed the government’s claims of looming disaster that have been used by supporters of the extensive deployment of expensive and unreliable ‘renewable’ energy sources. These claims of current and future net harm from continuing emissions of carbon dioxide are unsupported by the facts.”
A summary of the coalition’s findings follows:
The most reputable disaster reporting agency in the world, the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), reports that natural disasters worldwide have been in a 20-year decline. There is no reason to believe that Virginia would run significantly counter to these trends. Further, these beneficial changes have occurred during a period of both rising temperature and a growing concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide, countering claims of linkage with increasing natural calamities.
Modern Temperature History vs. Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide
Official records since the early 20th century show periods both of increasing warmth and of cooling that demonstrate no correlation between temperature and carbon dioxide levels.
There is little dispute that the most frequent and severe heat waves in both the United States and in Virginia occurred in the 1920s and the 1930s. A full 68% of all record highs in the state were set in the period 1922 to 1941 and no records have been set in the last 20 years. Rather than an increase in the number of days in a heat wave, the numbers have been in decline over that last 70 years. Droughts and heat waves go hand-in-hand and, just as heat waves have been in decline over the most recent decades, so to have droughts.
Virginia Temperature in Future Context
The climate computer models that are the rationale for Virginia’s climate programs have systematically over-predicted Virginia warming in recent decades. A methodology so flawed should have no place in formal debate on Virginia’s climate policies. Put simply, the latest (and presumably best) generation of climate models provides no reliable information about Virginia’s future temperature. To “Follow the Science” is to admit that the climate models provide no reliable clues for near-term Virginia temperatures.
Climate Change and Agriculture
A remarkable upward trend in Virginia crop yields begins in the 1930s with the widespread adoption of hybrid corn, increasing fertilizer application, and more efficient farming techniques. This is characteristic for most crops grown in the U.S. These technological advances enhancing crop growth are turbocharged by modest warming and increasing carbon dioxide.
Increasing CO2 makes plants grow faster, with less stress and less water. Decreased water requirements lead to less irrigation, bigger crop yields, more soil moisture faster growing forests.
Agriculture has also benefited from the modest warming of about 1 °C the Commonwealth has experienced over the last 100+ years. Warming temperatures mean that growing seasons are lengthened, allowing additional harvests of hay and silage. Killing frosts end earlier in the spring and arrive later in the autumn.
Regional Sea-Level Rise
While global average sea-level rise is largely determined by the thermal expansion of water and melting of land-based glaciers, local rises can have a strong geological component, as is the case in Virginia, where the rise is amplified by the well-documented isostatic rebound along the eastern seaboard responding to glacial melt at the end of the last ice advance. Land-subsidence rates in the mid- and northeast Atlantic coastal regions are between two and five millimeters/year, which yields 21st-century sea-level rises of 7.8 to 19.7 inches from non-climatic processes that cannot be arrested.
All the tide-gauge data from the coterminous U.S. and Virginia show strongly linear trends. In other words, despite modestly increasing temperatures, there is no acceleration in sea-level rise as recorded by tide gauges.
Meaningless Climate Programs
Using the methodology of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the amount of global warming “mitigated” by eliminating all Virginia emissions of carbon dioxide from 2010-2100 (climate sensitivity of 2.0? C) would be to avoid 0.0008? C of warming — a number so small as to be unmeasurable.