The following is extracted from the website of the American Association of Petroleum Gelogists and does not necessarily represent the opinions or understanding of PhotoGeo Studio and Gallery.
Climate Change Policy
The American Association of Petroleum Geologists, an international organization of over 30,000 earth scientists, supports expanding scientific climate research into the basic controls on climate, specifically including the geological aspects of climate change. This research should be undertaken by appropriate federal agencies involved in climate research and their associated grant and contract programs. Such support includes major research efforts into potential effects of decreasing as well as increasing temperatures and the mitigation of such effects. This research is important to sustain the ability of agriculture to feed the growing global population as well as to understand the effects of a colder climate upon society.
Geologists who study past climate variations understand that current climate warming projections fall well within documented natural variations in past climate. Therefore, for scientific reasons, the American Association of Petroleum Geologists does not support placing a carbon tax upon fossil energy sources as a tool to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, nor do we support any implementation of the Kyoto Protocol prior to Senate ratification.
One of the most contentious debates in American public policy today encompasses proposals to restrict emissions of the minor atmospheric gas carbon dioxide in order to mitigate a perceived human influence on global climate. Current proposals (Kyoto Protocol signed by the executive branch of the U.S. government, but not ratified by Congress) would federally tax crude oil at the rate of about $43.50 per barrel (1). No reduction in existing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would result from this massive transfer of wealth from the private sector into the federal government.
Recognizing the potential impact on the United States and world economy of such taxation and restriction of energy use, it is important that greenhouse theories be tested thoroughly and quickly.
Scientific examination of the government case for such draconian taxation does not support the supposition of human-induced global climate change; in fact, the study resulted in recognition that the supposition is neither provable nor disprovable. The following observations are germane to the position:
1. Scientific research has been stimulated by the proposal. Recently published research results do not support the supposition of an anthropogenic cause of global climate change (2).
2. Detailed examination of current climate data strongly suggests that current observations do not correlate with the assumptions or supportable projections of human-induced greenhouse effects.
1. Climate is constantly changing, and has varied significantly over human history. Climate changes over any time scale chosen, whether as small as a decade or as long as a geologic era.
2. Natural variability has been demonstrated to exceed any supportable estimate of human-induced variability.
3. Earth is still emerging from the Little Ice Age (A. D. 1250 - 1850). Significant rises in global temperature are a predictable consequence. The current level of global warming is real and natural.
4. Geologic controls on climate are significant. Long term changes can be demonstrated to occur congruently with geologic tectonic changes. Little is truly understood of the controls on short term changes. Solar variability, for instance, is significant in centennial to millennial changes, among other possible controls that should be examined.
5. Attempts to engineer Earth's very complex climate before understanding natural controls on climate are risky, if not impossible.
Science requires that all aspects of theory be investigated and that assumptions be tested.
Human-induced global temperature influence is a supposition that can be neither proved nor disproved. It is unwise policy to base stringent controls on energy consumption through taxation to support a supposition that cannot be substantiated.
Climate naturally varies constantly, in both directions, at varying rates, and on many scales. Warming events have been historically good for most human society, while cold events have been deleterious to much of society. It is vital that climate research to examine the effects of a colder climate also be supported. Critical target areas of this research should include the potential impact of climate change on food production. Further research should concentrate on mitigation techniques to combat any serious effects of either colder or warmer climate, naturally or artificially caused, on the ability of the world to feed itself.
The AAPG urges that any actions to implement or to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and any future declarations of climate policy be delayed until there is better understanding of present climate and the impacts of policy implementation, as well as some provision for mitigating errors in policy. There is no current viable substitute for petroleum-based fuels in the world's energy budget and economy.
1. The Energy Information Administration has estimated that implementation of the Kyoto Protocol would result in a carbon tax of $348 per ton of carbon (E.I.A. SR/OIAF/98-30). Murphy Oil Company estimates of about .12 ton of carbon per barrel of oil (or 8 barrels per ton of carbon) (Oil and Gas Journal, Nov. 2, 1998, p.30) results in an estimated $43.50 carbon tax per barrel of oil.
2. All geologists who are interested in the climate debate probably should read two books:
Moore, Peter D., Bill Chaloner, and Philip Stott, 1996, Global environmental change: Blackwell Science, Oxford, England, 244 p.
Lamb, H. H., 1995, Climate, History, and the Modern World: 2nd Ed., Routledge, NY, 433 p.
Three recent papers of interest to scientists are:
Bluemle, J. P., J. M. Sabel, and W. Karlen, 1999, Rate and Magnitude of Past Global Climate Changes: Environmental Geosciences, v. 6, n. 2, p. 63-75.
Fischer, H., M. Wahlen, J. Smith, D. Mastoianni, and B. Deck, 1999, Ice Core Records of Atmospheric CO2 Around the Last Three Glacial Terminations: Science, v. 283, p.1712-1714.
Fan, S., M. Gloor, J. Mahlman, S. Pacala, J. Sarmiento, T. Takahashi, and R. Tans, 1998, A Large Terrestrial Carbon Sink in North America Implied by Atmospheric and Oceanic Carbon Dioxide Data and Models: Science, v. 282, p. 442-446.