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Presenter Tells House Committee 140 Million Years Of Data Shows Greenhouse Gases Are In A Significant And Dangerous Decline

On March 27, geologist and author Gregory Wrightstone told the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee 140 million years of data on carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere shows the “planet’s CO2 [carbon dioxide] levels have been in a significant and dangerous decline falling from 2,500 ppm” to about 412 ppm today, up from 280 ppm at the beginning of the industrial revolution.

He said, “And why was this level dangerously low? Because 150 ppm is the minimum threshold for most plant life to survive and what I call the “line of death.”

“If that level were ever reached, that would be a true climate apocalypse and we nearly reached it in the not too distant geologic past [the end of the last Ice Age-- 172 ppm-- 11,700 years ago]. Increasing CO2 assures that we will avert an ecological disaster of crossing that line of death.”

[Note: The current U.N. Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C means a carbon dioxide concentration of about 430 ppm.]

Wrightstone said he agreed with several key facts in the climate change debate--

-- “The atmosphere has warmed about 1.5 Degrees F over the last 150 or so years;

-- “CO2 has been increasing;

-- “Increasing CO2 is mainly from combustion of fossil fuels; and

-- “Increasing CO2 is warming the atmosphere.’

“Our current warming trend actually began in the late 17th century, more than 300 years ago and long before we began adding significant amounts of CO2 to the atmosphere,” said Wrightstone.  “Importantly, during the first 150 or so years this warming trend was 100 percent naturally-driven and the temperature increases during that naturally-driven period look very similar to the last 150 years when it is claimed to be driven by increases in greenhouse gases.”

"History tells us clearly that we should not fear a bit of extra warming, but rather fear increasing cold."

“The fact is that cold kills considerably more people than heat. It is, by far, the biggest weather-related killer worldwide. A study of temperature- associated mortality in the United Kingdom and Australia (Vardoulakis 2014) found that cold-related deaths killed more than 15 times as many people in these countries as heat.”

“The [Gasparrini] study [in 2015] revealed that cold weather kills 20 times as many people as heat. Global warming prevents an untold number of premature temperature-related deaths each year.”

“Forest fires are one of the primary climate apocalypse events linked to global warming. The 4th National Climate Assessment published in November of last year flatly stated that fires were increasing due to climate change and that they were expected to increase. The facts show that just the opposite is happening, and the experts tell us that the decline is due to climate change.”

“The number of fires along with the area burned in the United States has declined by approximately 80 percent since the beginning of the 20th century (1928 to 2016), according to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC 2017).”

“In response to a question on whether he supports Cap and Trade, Governor Wolf stated “we have a problem with climate change. That is a fact. We’ve all seen that this past year. York County has had more rain…” “…all over the state — localized flooding. I’ve never seen this in my lifetime. We are having real problems.”

“Here the governor makes the common mistake of viewing weather events outside of their historical context and thinking there may be policy implications to consider.”

“So, is flooding increasing? While it is true that increasing temperature should lead to an increase in precipitation, benefiting arid areas while possibly leading to some increase in flooding, the flooding increase has not been revealed in statistics of flooding and rain events.”

[Note: A Center for Rural Pennsylvania report in 2017 found very heavy precipitation events have increased by 71 percent over the last 54 years (1958 to 2012) in the Northeast and Pennsylvania putting the 831,000 people living on floodplains in the state at even more risk of flooding.]

“Climate change and the efforts to control the Earth’s temperature through reductions in carbon dioxide is not an abstract concept separate from the daily lives of Pennsylvanians. There are currently two proposals in the state that will significantly affect the state and its the residents.

“The first is a petition for rulemaking that was filed in November of 2018 to the state Environmental Quality Board to set up a comprehensive Cap and Trade program for the state.

“The overall effect of this would be to increase costs for all companies emitting CO2 and to make Pennsylvania less competitive compared to adjoining states that do not have such a process. The plan has a goal of zero emissions by 2052.

The second proposal is the Transportation and Climate Initiative which is a multi-state collaboration designed to “to achieve substantial reductions in transportation sector emissions” for participating states.

“The proposal is currently before Governor Wolf and he and the DEP have until November of this year to determine the specifics. We are not clear about the details.

“However, it is certain that taxes on diesel and gasoline would need to be increased and that whatever is enacted would make the Commonwealth less competitive compared to neighboring states not participating in this attempt to control the uncontrollable — which is to say the climate of the 4.5 billion-year-old Earth.

“Both of these proposals would have serious ramifications for the state and its citizens. Because of this, the Governor and this Committee should make recommendations that are based on science and facts, not on a politically-driven and media-driven narrative of Earth spiraling into a man-made planetary doom.”

In response to a question calling him climate denier, Wrightstone said he never met a “climate denialist,” but he knows plenty of climate skeptics.  Carbon dioxide does have a warming effect the atmosphere.  “We disagree on the severity and what is causing it.”

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler), Majority Chair of the Committee, said at the end of the meeting "People use that [climate denier term] directed at me also.  There are four seasons a year here in Pennsylvania, we get regular climate changes. I don't think there is any way to deny there are changes."

Click Here for a copy of Wrightstone’s written statementClick Here for a video of the informational meeting (when posted).

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) serves as Majority Chair of the House Environmental Committee and can be contacted by calling 717-783-1707 or sending email to: Rep. Greg Vitali (D-Delaware) serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted by calling 717-787-7647 or sending email to:

(Photo: Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler (D-Philadelphia) via Twitter. A little political theatre going on behind the presenter.)

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[March 28, 2019]


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