By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers
Former Vice President Al Gore may have won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his work on global warming issues, but that doesn't mean everybody believes what Gore does: that carbon dioxide emissions cause Earth to warm. In fact, one contrarian is getting attention in Washington this week as he distributes his new book defending CO2 to House and Senate members involved in the ongoing fight over the energy bill and cap-and-trade scheme. Believe him or not, H. Leighton Steward, whom Whispers wrote about earlier this week, tells us in his new book, Fire, Ice and Paradise, about the "myths" of global warming and the damaging effects of carbon dioxide. His book is full of national and international studies, and he says that while he's often sneered at for being a contrarian, few want to debate him directly on the issue. But many are still working to cut CO2 emissions. In winning his Nobel Prize, Al Gore took on criticisms like Steward's and put his $1.5 million prize money toward pushing for cuts in CO2; and bolstering his group, the Alliance for Climate Change. "It is truly a planetary emergency, and we have to respond quickly," Gore warned in 2007. And this weekend, at a Planet Green festival in Washington, environmental activist Ed Begley Jr., of Living With Ed, plans to meet with reporters to push his campaign for cutting carbon emissions.
From Steward's book and our interview, here are Steward's top 10 global warming "myths."
Steward's Myth 1: The planet Earth will be healthier with lower CO2 levels.
He says: More CO2 is needed to bolster plant life, which turns the gas into oxygen while also providing food.
Steward's Myth 2: Rising CO2 levels cause temperatures to rise.
He says: Temperatures over time have fluctuated while CO2 levels have remained steady. What's more, temperature increases have historically led increases in CO2 levels.
Steward's Myth 3: Sea levels will rise 20 feet by the end of the century.
He says: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts only a 17-inch rise, and "most climatologists predict a rise of only 7 or 8 inches."
Steward's Myth 4: Scientists unanimously say that CO2 caused by humans is the dominant cause of global warming.
He says: Not so. "Many, many reputable scientists believe that natural factors overpower the current influence of CO2 on global warming."
Steward's Myth 5: The United States is the largest contributor of human-caused CO2.
He says: China, which has no CO2 restrictions, has recently exceeded the United States. Plus, it is "opening a new coal-fired power plant every week, and its production of automobiles is growing at a much more rapid rate."
Steward's Myth 6: Storms are more frequent and intense because of global warming.
He says: "According to the National Hurricane Center, storms are no more intense or frequent worldwide than they have been since 1850. Temperatures were high in the 1920s and 1930s when there was much less CO2 in the atmosphere. Constant 24-7 media coverage of every significant storm worldwide just makes it seem that way. Insist on the facts, not just what some individuals or reporters say to support their cause."
Steward's Myth 7: Polar bears will go extinct if this warm period continues through the 21st century.
He says: "A jawbone of a polar bear has been found that is 120,000 years old, a time during the previous interglacial when temperatures were 5 degrees Celsius warmer and sea level 19 feet higher than today. They adapted then; why not now?"
Steward's Myth 8: CO2 is a pollutant.
He says: "CO2 is a great airborne fertilizer, which, as its concentrations rise, causes additional plant growth and causes plants to need less water."
Steward's Myth 9: As Earth warms, the climate will become much drier and windier.
He says: Ice cores prove the opposite. The colder times were both windier and drier.
Steward's Myth 10: Higher levels of CO2 than the current 385 parts per million in the atmosphere are harmful to humans.
He says: The warning level of CO2 in submarines isn't reached until the atmosphere has 8,000 parts per million of CO2.
So who is Steward? Below is the biography he supplied.
H. Leighton Steward
Leighton Steward is a geologist, environmentalist, author, and retired energy industry executive. He has written about the reasons for the loss of much of the Mississippi River Delta (Louisiana's national treasure) and has given advice on how the nation can achieve "no net loss" of wetlands in the future, advice that has been accepted by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers. He was lead author on a book about nutrition and health (Sugar Busters) that gave advice on how to lose weight and prevent and or treat diabetes. The book became a No. 1 New York Times bestseller for 16 weeks and made a significant contribution to the changes that have occurred regarding the availability of no-sugar-added, higher fiber, and low-glycemic products in the supermarkets. More recently, Steward has written a book (Fire, Ice and Paradise) that is an endeavor to educate the nonscientist about the many causes of global climate change so that readers will be better prepared to understand what they hear, see, and read about in the media and from the politicians. He has received numerous environmental awards, including the regional EPA Administrator's Award for environmental excellence. He is chairman of the board of the Institute for the Study of Earth and Man at Southern Methodist University, was chairman of the National Wetlands Coalition, and was twice chairman of the Audubon Nature Institute. He currently serves on the boards or boards of visitors of the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, EOG Resources, the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, and the Southwest Research Institute and is an emeritus member of the Tulane University board. His current interest lies in helping to educate the public and politicians about the benefits of carbon dioxide (CO2) as it relates to the plant and animal kingdoms and their related ecosystems and habitats and to the general health of humanity.
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