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 Visser@GeneralAviationNews.com.