“Global Warming: How Much of a Threat?”

April 19, 2006
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Dr. Roy W. Spencer

On April 19th Lindenwood University hosted the 12th seminar in the Economic Policy Lecture Series featuring Dr. Roy W. Spencer. Dr. Spencer is a principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and is an expert in studying climate and weather. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1981 with a Ph.D. in meteorology and previously worked for NASA, receiving the agency’s Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement.

Dr. Spencer’s Lecture, “Global Warming: How much of a Threat?” discussed the uncertainty of human impacts on the Earth’s climate. The lecture was delivered in an open format, encouraging listeners to ask questions and to draw their own conclusions. Key points of the discussion included:

• How resilient is the Earth to man’s activities? Is it able to accommodate rising levels of greenhouse gases is it a delicate system that can be thrown out of balance from human interference?

• Are the climate models correct that global warming will be rapid and catastrophic due to human emissions of CO2 or are they unreliable for predicting future warming?

• From an economic standpoint, is mitigation the least costly way to respond to global warming?

Dr. Spencer made it clear that he believes that the Earth has the ability to cool itself through naturally occurring weather patterns such as clouds, precipitation, and evaporation. In his lecture he asked listeners to decide for themselves.

He also questions about the reliability of the data alleging to demonstrate that the Earth is warmer now than anytime in the past 1,000 years. Is tree ring data from a handful of locations that have long-lived species of trees an accurate form of measurement?

Dr. Spencer expressed concern that efforts to severely limit fossil fuel use could retard economic growth, making it less likely that research on energy alternatives will be adequately funded.

Dr. Roy Spencer speaking on global warming

From left to right; Lindenwood Director David Cosby, Provost James Evans, Dr. Roy Spencer, President Dennis Spellmann, Kenneth Chilton, and Lindenwood Director John Hammond.