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Global warming and the Chesapeake Bay

By Dennis T. Avery
web posted October 8, 2007

I was invited to testify before the Senate environment committee Sept. 26, on "The Impact of Global Warming on the Chesapeake Bay." I told the committee there was no man-made global warming impact on the Bay. The Bay has been warmer than now several times because the moderate 1,500-year climate cycles have warmed it at least five times since the Bay was created 12,000 years ago. At least two of those cycles, and perhaps all of them, were warmer than today.

Our net global warming since 1940 is 0.2 degrees C, with no warming at all since 1998. There's no evidence that man-made CO2 has added much to this warming, though perhaps 0.1 degree C of today's heat is due to the greenhouse gasses. The 1,500-year cycle is instead linked to the sun and the sunspot index.

Nor has a single wild species gone extinct due to higher temperatures. Instead, the birds, butterflies , trees, fish and mammals have been extending their ranges, creating more biodiversity per acre than the world has seen in 500 years.

None of the Senators asked me about the cycle, the solar linkage or the wildlife. You never saw such an eager crowd of man-made warming enthusiasts. Chairperson Barbara Boxer of California waxed eloquent about her Committee's recent trip to the Arctic, where she said the evidence of man-made warming was impossible to miss. She chided Republican James Inhofe because the extent of Arctic ice had just dropped to its lowest point since the 1930s. She failed to mention that this couldn't be global warming--because the Antarctic ice has just hit a modern high. This is regional climate cycling, which the Polar Regions are known for.

  • Senator Warner (R-VA) announced that new cap-and-trade limits on greenhouse emissions would be his legacy to the nation.
  • The governors of both Virginia and Maryland testified about how drastically they would rein in their States' CO2 emissions -- sometime in the future.
  • Biologists testified about the awful impacts on fish species, oysters and crabs if the Bay were to warm further, and never mind that it happened every 1,500 years.
  • The Director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation testified that Annapolis (Maryland's capital) would soon be flooded by rapidly rising water levels.
  • Governor Kaine of Virginia said Norfolk was the U.S. area most threatened by sea level rise -- except for New Orleans -- and that national defense would be radically impaired if the Navy's ships had to float on deeper water.

To tug at our heartstrings, Maryland's Congressman Gilchrist testified about Chesapeake islands which had disappeared -- including the improbably named Hope Island. The pastor of the 225 Methodists living on Smith Island told us his congregation expected to be overwhelmed by another 3 feet of water if fossil fuels were not abandoned quickly.

But Gov. Kaine blew the whole bit. He noted Virginia is celebrating the 400th anniversary of Jamestown's founding in 1607. The fort that originally protected Jamestown had been "lost" for centuries, but a clever archeologist had recently located the right spot to dig -- and found the fort, 30 feet from the river. Given that Jamestown was built on a low-lying island in the first place, that means the level of the Chesapeake Bay has hardly risen at all in 400 years.

Senator Inhofe told us that the Bay has been subsiding ever since the Ice Age, due to the weight of its own water. The Chesapeake islands have subsided, instead of being swamped.

But how can you believe a global warming skeptic? ESR

Dennis T. Avery was a senior policy analyst for the U.S. State Department, where he won the national intelligence medal of achievement. He is the co-author, with atmospheric physicist Fred Singer, of the book, Unstoppable Global Warming -- Every 1500 Years, available from Rowman & Littlefield. Readers may write him at the Center for Global Food Issues, Post Office Box 202, Churchville, VA 24421


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