Climate change a “non-problem”?

Norwegian-born scientist shares controversial views on climate change

Photo: C.H. / Visitnorway.com

Photo: C.H. / Visitnorway.com

Thor A. Larsen
Fishkill, N.Y.

Recently, I read that Norwegian-born Nobel Prize winner Dr. Ivar Giaever had presented a talk on July 1, 2015, in Lindau, Germany, on global warming, and stated that “global warming is a non-problem.” Having met Dr. Giaever some years ago and written an article about him for the Norway Times, (November 12, 2003, issue), I thought it would be timely to re-connect. First of all, I was very surprised he was still technically active since he is past 80 by several years. Secondly, if he was still technically active, it would be in his field of bio-physics.

Personally, I have been in basic agreement with many that the earth seems to be undergoing a climate change with increasing average temperature, the key culprit being the increase in fossil fuel usage, which increases the level of CO2 in the air. CO2 would be acting as a “greenhouse gas,” trapping infrared radiation from the earth. These views are based on some reading over time, films by Al Gore, TV images of melting ice caps in Greenland, etc. I was really interested, but skeptical, about what Giaever, a very fine biophysicist, could really say about temperature change to disagree with so many scientists in the field of climatology.

Photo: Bruce Sampson / NTNU Vitenskapsmuseet / Flickr Dr. Ivar Giaever in 2010 receiving the Gunnerus Medal, the highest honor of the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters, which was presented by H.M. King Harald V and Kristian Fossheim.

Photo: Bruce Sampson / NTNU Vitenskapsmuseet / Flickr
Dr. Ivar Giaever in 2010 receiving the Gunnerus Medal, the highest honor of the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters, which was presented by H.M. King Harald V and Kristian Fossheim.

After our chat, which included evidence provided by Giaever, I began to wonder about my current view of global warming and climate change! Giaever made several key arguments to support his claim. The climatologists’ concern of rising ocean levels due to climate change around the world does not seem to be sound. Giaever presented data indicating that over the last three hundred years, the ocean has consistently risen about 20 cm per 100 years.

Earth’s average temperature has only risen 0.8 degrees Fahrenheit over the last 100 years. Giaever contends that given the very small temperature change and the methods used to determine average earth temperature, the net change is too small to be significant. Giaever also contends there is no evidence to support the notion by climatologists that this temperature rise is accelerating, because his data presented at the conference indicated there was NO average temperature rise over the last 19 years.

We have seen the melting of glaciers on Greenland, however, the average temperatures of three harbors in Greenland have NOT risen for 100 years, according to Giaever’s data. Also, temperature rise on the North Pole has received much attention; however, no one has apparently focused on the South Pole, whose average temperature has fallen in recent years.

Finally, the key focus on carbon dioxide as the culprit to cause temperature rise cannot be proven by experiment, according to Giaever. He uses 1998 as an example, when earth’s average temperature was the highest in the last 19 years; since then the average earth temperatures have all been lower than 1998, although CO2 concentration had consistently increased.

As I listened to these arguments, I asked what the global warming supporting scientists at the meeting said to him after the talk. “Actually nothing,” said Giaever, which I found disturbing. He said the reason for the lack of discussion is that agreeing with global warming has become a “religion.” Even Dr. Steve Chu, former Energy Secretary for President Obama, did not question Giaever.

Giaever has a serious objective in raising these issues on global warming because he believes the resources spent to combat a non-problem could much better be used in fighting hunger around the world, in particular in Africa where thousands of refugees are continuously crossing the Mediterranean to reach Europe.

After this stimulating discussion, I did a little “climate change Googling” myself and what I found would question Dr. Giaever’s conclusions. First of all, a Swede, Svante Arrhenius, in 1896 was given credit for calculating that the earth’s temperature could increase 5-6 degrees Celcius if the CO2 concentration in the air doubled.

The Would Resources Institute (WRI.org) is an international organization of more than 355 scientists, and provides climate change data on its website. The WRI provided a graph showing that the earth’s temperature increased .35 degrees over the years 1989 to 2004, roughly linear with some modest scatter of the data. In addition, the WRI showed data that CO2 concentration increased from 355 ppm to 375 ppm during this period. NASA also has significant data and experiments to support the notion that increased levels of CO2 do raise earth temperature due the “Greenhouse Effect.”

Well, so I am still in the camp of “Climate Change is Occurring,” but now have a number of doubts about the data used to formulate conclusions. Dr. Ivar Giaever has been an articulate naysayer, but there are many other scientists who have doubts. For example, at the Maimau, Switzerland, Nobel Conference, on July 3, 2015, only 36 of the 65 scientists signed the declaration of climate change!

This article originally appeared in the Sept. 11, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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