Global warming debate stifles progress

I’ve received a lot of mail on my recent column on the effects of carbon dioxide on global warming (How are planes affecting the environment?). The replies were both pro and con on global warming and the greenhouse gas thing.

I read most of the reports and find them very interesting. The problem is in the raw data of temperatures in a given area or areas. If one looks at the average temperature over an extended period of time — like for as long as they have been keeping records — the data looks very confusing.

The best way to duplicate the data is to hang a large piece of paper on a tree, then walk 35.84 yards away and shoot the target with a 12-gauge shot gun. Now it is important that the shot gun has a modified choke and at least a 30-inch barrel. The pattern on the paper will look almost like the data that I have seen.

As the data does not show a clear increase or decrease in temperature, this leaves it “open to some interpretation,” and, boy, do they interpret the living daylights out of it. Every Tom, Dick and Harriet in the environment business has analyzed the data to death — and the conclusion is that so many reports have been written that the world has lost a whole forest to produce the paper needed for those reports.

The reports all use interesting statistical methods to manicure the data. The bottom line as to who is right is based on which mathematical method one uses or believes in, rather than on the scientific data.

Who is right? I do not have a clue. It has gotten to the point that this is not a scientific argument. Rather, it is an emotional argument — and emotional arguments do not have answers, they have opinions, so this is basically a political debate.

The problem is that a lot of innocent people are adversely affected by this debate and, in the end, nothing is improved. Instead of continuing to work on problems using good science and engineering, our industries and government agencies are running around debating and not fixing anything.

The best example of this is all of the work on unleaded fuels, which will not — in any way — improve aviation or the world’s environment. But it has diverted a lot of time away from building better, more reliable engines. This means that the aviation community is spending more money, which ends up costing all of us, to develop planes with reduced performance that are less reliable and less safe.

That is not progress — it is, well, I will let you supply your own word for what it is.

Ben Visser is an aviation fuels and lubricants expert who spent 33 years with Shell Oil. He has been a private pilot since 1985. You can contact him at


  1. Larry says

    Ben Visser’s poorly-informed comments about climate science have no business on this Web site. While there are many excellent reasons to oppose the addition of ethanol to aviation and auto fuels, attacking the science of climate change is not the way to do it.

    Does GA News want to turn this into a political blog? Then lets talk about what’s really driving the government’s insistence on blending alcohol into fuels – the big agriculture lobby. Believe me, ConAgra and ADM have a lot more money to spend on lobbyists, congress and and political campaigns than research scientists do. And corn-growing states are disproportionately powerful in the Senate. Profits for corn-growers drive this debate, not climate change.

    But I’m hoping GA News will get off this kick. When I want to talk politics I go to other sources. When I want to know about airplanes I come here.

  2. J Oaks says

    The difficulty with the global warming debate is its emotional basis, and one can’t argue with emotions. Unfortunately, the problem with this particular emotional debate is, if legislation is passed, it is going to cost all of us a TON of money, with little if any effect on the environment. You are correct in stating that we should continue to work on this subject with good science and engineering, but not with easily manipulated emotions.

    My fear is the absolute depression of our economy and our freedom to gain what? I’ve been out in the middle of the ocean; mother nature is going to do what mother nature is going to do, and our feeble attempts will produce nothing.

  3. Kent Misegades says

    Ben Visser’s comments are a breath of fresh air and dead on. Having worked for 30 years in the fluids modeling area, a cousin to atmospheric modeling, I know that it is rather simple to “dial in” just about any results you wish to produce, since model “closure” (empirical data needed where models are inadequate) is so highly dependent on the dataset chosen. As Visser points out, temperature measurements are highly dependent on so many factors that have nothing to do with supposed climate change, that it makes it near impossible to predict things accurately. Proof that man-made global warming theorists know they are on shaky ground are their visceral attacks on their peers who question their methods, an ages-old self-policing tradition among scientists to demand validation of any new theory. “Scientific Consensus” of a theory (which is NOT a fact) is thus an oxymoron. The impact of these peoples’ influence on public policy has already devastated our economy, and hurt aviation. One simple case in point is the scarcity of ethanol-free Mogas, a fuel that could replace 100LL for 80% of the piston engine fleet. Thanks to knee-jerking environmentalists, spurned on by the ethanol lobby and their friends in public office, E0 is rapidly disappearing, ironically at the same time as many environmentalist groups are now admitting that ethanol-blended fuels are a net minus for the environment. Subsidies for ethanol prove that it is not economically viable, so why is it still be forced on us? The EPA’s chilling statements regarding plans to approve E15 next year – despite widespread warnings from industry – is further evidence that we’re on the wrong track, thanks in part to junk science that best describes the status of man-made climate change theorists.

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