The One-Percent Solution

by William Yeatman on November 2, 2004

in Science

Many of the scientific papers that have contributed to global warming alarmism over recent weeks (such as the study that predicted the ruin of Californias wine industry or the more recent study predicting stronger hurricanes by 2080) have depended on models that assume atmospheric increases of carbon dioxide concentrations by one percent per year from 1990 to the end of the century.

This assumption is not backed up by the evidence, which has seen concentration increase by only 0.4 percent per year since 1990. University of Virginia climatologist Patrick Michaels drew attention to this problem in a Cato Institute op-ed published on October 6 (“Debunking the Latest Hurricane Hype,” available at

He commented, “Because carbon dioxide increases have been bouncing around four-tenths of a percent per year for three decades, why do climate modelers insist on using the wrong number? It seems peculiar that people who have the equivalent of doctorates in applied physics (which is what climate science is) would somehow be perfectly happy to do something they know is wrong.

“I began asking that question at scientific meetings a decade ago. At that time, I asked Kevin Trenberth, a highly visible atmospheric scientist from the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, who often testifies to Congress on climate issues. He told me it was done because it was convention. That answer doesnt set well with me, because its awfully easy to program a computer to increase a variable by half a percent instead of 1 percent per year.

“That leads to the final, nagging question. There are literally hundreds of scientific papers out there in which climate models use this wrong number. Each of those papers gets sent to three outside peer-reviewers. The fact that 1 percent continues to be used only means one thing: when it comes to global warming, hundreds of scientists must prefer convention to truth.”

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