by Dennis Lien, Pioneer Press, TwinCities. com, February 7, 2011
To support his arguments for new coal-fired power plants in Minnesota, state Rep. Michael Beard has challenged scientific views about global climate change.
Now a University of St. Thomas thermal sciences professor has offered a response, saying many of Beard's points are "inaccurate (or) misleading or reflect a poor understanding of the science.''
John Abraham, who received international attention last year for rebutting a climate-change denier, sent the e-mail response last week to House energy and environment committee members. In it, he said Beard's testimony gave wrong or confusing depictions of carbon dioxide, the ozone hole over Antarctica, and the evolving understanding of global warming and climate change. And that's just for starters.
"Mr. Beard claims that the troposphere has not warmed and that all models predict runaway global warming,'' Abraham said. "Both of these are complete nonsense.''
Beard, R-Shakopee, is chief sponsor of a bill that would lift a qualified moratorium on building new coal-fired power plants or buying new electricity from plants outside Minnesota. The moratorium was approved by the Legislature and former Gov. Tim Pawlenty in 2007 as a way to curb emissions of carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas.
Beard's bill cleared the Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee last week. A companion bill awaits a hearing in a Senate committee.
Beard said he hasn't had a chance to respond to Abraham but plans to do so.
"This is one I thought demanded a thoughtful response, and I just haven't gotten to it yet,'' Beard said.
In his testimony, Beard appeared to extol the benefits of carbon dioxide, to note an ozone hole continues unabated despite a decision decades ago to ban the cause of it and to ascribe political motives to the beginnings of climate-change discussions.
Abraham said he often had trouble figuring out what Beard meant and based his response on "what I would think an audience member would infer.''
He said, for example, that increased carbon-dioxide levels would not show the benefits Beard conveyed and that ozone-level destruction is slowing since the phase-out of chlorofluorocarbons. Abraham also said reports and articles discussing the prospect of global warming because of increased greenhouse gases date back to the mid-19th century, not just to 1988.
Abraham received international attention last year for issuing a lengthy rebuttal to a speaker [the infamous Viscount Monckton] at Bethel University who contended scientists are lying about climate change.
Dennis Lien can be reached at 651-228-5588.