Climate-change deniers have many theories to explain away what the overwhelming majority of scientists insist is happening, that the earth’s atmosphere is getting hotter due to human activity.
Add one more to the list, courtesy of Congressman Mark Amodei of Nevada. In an Aug. 13 response to a Reno constituent asking about the congressman’s position on global warming, Amodei threw cold water on those who think we should curb the greenhouse emissions.
Amodei continued: “I recognize that some scientists believe that global warming is caused by failed environmental practices; however, others argue that these temperature increases would incur regardless due to the warming of the center of the earth.”
The center of the earth? Climate-change skeptics, many of them supported by the fossil-fuel industries that produce the carbon gases implicated in climate change, have insisted that the earth isn’t getting hotter, is getting hotter but it is because of solar activity, and was getting hotter but isn’t anymore - among many other arguments centered around the idea that it’s A-OK to continue to dump about 30 billion tons more carbon into the air, mostly from burning oil and coal and gas, annually than the earth would naturally produce.
But warming of the center of the earth? That’s a new argument to add to the mix. Increased temperature at the center of the earth is not among the 174 most-used “climate myths” used to argue against the empirical evidence of global warming, according to the website skepticalscience.com.
Dr. Gerald North, a professor of atmospheric sciences and a member of the American Geophysical Union, said the argument, while new, doesn’t carry more weight than the rest of the climate-change-denial litany. The earth’s interior temperature is pretty stable, he told CityLife, and is a relatively small contributor to surface temperatures.
“Among the hundreds of scientists working closely on this problem, at most a few percent disagree on the human cause of global warming over the last century,” North said. “Other potential causes, such as heating at the surface from the Earth's interior, are well measured, steady and small. For example, the heating from the Earth's interior is only about 0.087 Watts per square meter. The warming from greenhouse gases over the last century has been about 2.0 Watts per square meter more than it was before. It could be several times this by the end of the century.”
Amodei’s response is in sharp contrast to the position staked out by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid last week. Reid, in a piece for the Las Vegas Sun, said climate change was making the Southwest and West of the United States hotter and drier, contributing to catastrophic forest fires.
Amodei and Reid agree, however, that the federal government should fund scientific study of climate change.
“Since, (sic) we do not know much about long-term climate change, I do agree we must have an unbiased research effort funded by both the government and the private sector to answer the essential questions about climate change. Since 1990, the U.S. has spent at least $50 billion on climate research,” Amodei said. “With sound science and a clear understanding of the natural climate cycles that the earth undergoes, we will be able to develop effective solutions to the human causes of global warming. As legislation to address this issue comes to the House floor for a vote, be assured I will consider it carefully and keep your thoughts in mind.”
Amodei may have been referring to a peer-reviewed article in Science magazine in April in which an international team of researchers found that the earth’s core was more than 1,500 degrees hotter than previously estimated. However, the research did not indicate that the actual core temperature was increasing, only that it was hotter than previous estimates. An Amodei spokesman did not return a Friday phone call looking for the source of his speculation on the earth’s core.