Global warming is real and the consequences will be bad if things continue the way they are going, two scientists told the Columbia Basin Badger Club in Kennewick on Friday.
But after that the two disagreed on nearly every other aspect of man-caused global warming, attributed to increasing amounts of carbon dioxide on the planet.
"Human activity is influencing this and it is global," said Chuck Long, an atmospheric radiation researcher at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. He claimed that critics of man-caused global warming use false assumptions and misleading statements to play down the carbon dioxide-driven crisis.
Left unaddressed, the increasing global temperatures will lead to continued meltdown of Arctic ice and rising sea levels, Long said.
But Michael Fox, a retired nuclear chemist from Kennewick who has written widely about global warming and participated in national conferences on climate change, said global warming isn't tied to man-caused carbon dioxide. He said that amounts to less than a fraction of 1 percent of all the greenhouse gases that envelop Earth.
"This is an attack on fossil fuel by people who also are opposed to nuclear energy and hydroelectric power in the Pacific Northwest. These people understand that energy means everything to the U.S.," he said.
"America's liberty, freedom and prosperity are being targeted for destruction," Fox said, noting that the issue has become an international political agenda against Western nations.
Long said the U.S. has two choices: "Do nothing, or mitigate man's influence."
Fox said proposals such as cap-and-trade that would reduce carbon dioxide by limiting use of fossil fuels are "economy killers."
Fox and Long also disagreed about the science itself.
Researchers who develop computer models to analyze the effect of carbon dioxide in global warming haven't been accurate in predicting current conditions with recent past data, so how can they be reliable about predicting future conditions, he asked.
Long said global warming critics who point to the sun as the source of global warming don't have good enough data to support that argument.
"We are improving our models," Long said.
"But computer models are not science because they produce no measurements and no data," Fox said.
About 140 people attended the lunch.
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