Academics & Research

Questioning climate change claims at Energy Symposium Series


The Houston Ship Channel is one of the United States’ biggest seaports and sees daily transportation of major products, including a variety of petrochemicals. The energy industry will soon have to deal with new policies regarding the transportation, production and storage of certain products as the debate about global warming heats up the international stage. | Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The state climatologist, the climate change adviser for Royal Dutch Shell and a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will gather today at UH for “Climate Change: Is it a Real Threat?” — part of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics’ 2013-2014 Energy Symposium Series — to discuss and assess the challenges raised by climate change.

The Environmental Protection Agency reports that the planet’s average temperature has risen by 1.4 degrees in the last century, projecting that it will rise another 2 to 11.5 degrees during the next hundred years, and energy experts are debating how this will affect the globe’s future.

“Regardless of your political views, this is something that’s going to impact everybody,” said associate professor of atmospheric science and atmospheric chemistry Barry Lefer, moderator of the discussion, in a statement about the symposium’s topic.

“I want to focus on what scientists are concerned about — what the threats are.”

Research by the Nature Conservancy claims that if the Earth continues to see temperatures rise at such a rapid rate, one-fourth of the planet’s species could face extinction by 2050.

The conservation organization also cites threats such as changing landscapes, rising seas, stronger storms, heat-related illnesses and diseases, economic losses and increased risk of drought, fire or floods.

“But people need a better understanding of the science that is driving our understanding of it,” said interim NSM dean Dan Wells in a UH press release. “The speakers (at the symposium) may not agree on all of the details of that science, but the audience is sure to leave better-informed about what’s true and what is not in the ongoing debates about climate change and the impacts those debates will have on our country’s energy policy.”

The White House is already in action. According to the Executive Office of the President, the Obama administration is implementing a climate action plan that consists of a large amount of executive actions. The three key pillars of this plan are to cut carbon pollution in America, prepare the country for the impacts of climate change and lead international efforts to combat global climate change.

Speakers at the symposium will include Richard Feeley, senior fellow at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle; David Hones, chief climate change advisor in the Shell CO2 team in London; and John Nielson-Gammon, professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University and the Texas state climatologist.

“Climate Change: Is it a Real Threat?” will be the third in a series of four discussions focusing on critical issues facing the energy industry. The final segment will discuss the sustainability of renewable energy on March 4.

Today’s discussion, sponsored by Houston Business Journal and Houston Public Media, will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Waldorf-Astoria Ballroom of the Hilton UH. To attend the event, RSVP at

[email protected]


  • This is a joke and so is BP funded Obama. The degree of man made climate change is debatable but we cannot even hold the oil tycoons accountable. Those BP execs that preferred to “Save Money” by using saltwater instead of drilling mud and having the blowout preventer repaired in China should be tried and convicted for environmental terrorism and given the death penalty. If Al Qaeda caused that much damage in our gulf the clowns on CNN and Fox news would he demanding heads roll. But it’s ok because unlike Al Qaeda, the BP oil tycoons love and care about America. Even in China they executed those responsible for the melamine tainted milk. In the US the execs would get a slap on the wrist while the company and shareholders would be left paying the settlements

  • Environmental issues should be taken much more seriously than people and the government give credit for/spend time/educate on. I personally think climate change is something to be taken very seriously. Whether or not that is right or wrong we still have to change the way we consume our limited resources. There should be no question that we humans have created a drastic change to our environment and the animals we “share” it with. Again there should be less anger/controversy about whether climate change is real, there really is no point in arguing when it is obvious that we are having a negative impact on the environment and something has to be done. We need cleaner energy sources and stop over using certain natural resources.

    • Debate is good. Stopping debate is never a good idea. Question everything and everyone. What is Al Gore sacrificing for Climate Change with his huge mansion? We need to restore wildlife habitat and end all this urban sprawl. End the big oil and big coal’s monopoly on energy! Energy cannot be created or destroyed. Free energy is the future!

        • Sure, with 221,000 kilowatt-hours used(2006) when the national average is 10,656 kilowatt-hours. He is a hypocrite. But you are correct, he puts his money where his mouth is, if we’re talking about the carbon credits he is profiting from. Al Gore and Maurice Strong are shills for a new derivative market.


            Al Gore has a home 4 times bigger than the ordinary American Home. Plus he operates his office in his house.

            He has cut his electricity bill from the previous year by 11%.


            Kreider, June 16: The Gores’ home is certified by the US Green Building Council as a Gold LEED certified home for retrofitted homes. As part of the LEED certification process, they upgraded their windows, lighting, appliances and insulation, among other items in and around the home […] The residence is powered with a geothermal system as well as 33-solar panels. The Gores also participate in the “Green PowerSwitch” program offered by their utility [company].

            • Many people use their homes as their office as well, yet they don’t consume anywhere near the amount Al Gore consumes. I am aware that his supporters stated that his house is 4 times larger than an “ordinary” home, yet according to the AP (and stated on the democrat leaning, he uses 12 times the national average. Its great he cut his bill by 11%, but he still uses so much more than the peons do. You may not see the hypocrisy in it, but I do. The elites believe they are entitled to a separate standard than that of the peasants.

              It is constantly suggested that the peasants need to cut down on their energy usage and lower their standard of living to that of the third world. Air conditioning and private automobiles are bad and the peasants should open their windows and use mass transit instead of the private jets like eco-conscious Al Gore. I have yet to see Al Gore, Maurice Strong or any of the carbon credit speculators lead by example. Imagine Al Gore on the greyhound bus next to a transient.

              I’m not a democrat or republican. I question everyone and everything. I do not care for the elites planning my future knowing how little they regard the peasant class.

              Amusing article on Al Gore’s hypocrisy

              Al Gore’s relationship with Ken Lay

              Quotes from Maurice Strong:
              What if a small group of world leaders were to conclude that the
              principal risk to the Earth comes from the actions of the rich
              countries? And if the world is to survive, those rich countries would
              have to sign an agreement reducing their impact on the environment. Will
              they do it? The group’s conclusion is ‘no’. The rich countries won’t do
              it. They won’t change. So, in order to save the planet, the group
              decides: Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized
              civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?

              Maurice Strong, Interview 1992, concerning the plot of a book he would like to write[1]

              Current lifestyles and consumption patterns of the affluent middle class
              – involving high meat intake, the use of fossil fuels, electrical
              appliances, home and work-place air-conditioning, and suburban housing –
              are not sustainable.

              Maurice Strong, opening speech at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit[specific citation needed] But this quotation is not in the version posted on Mr. Strong’s site.


              • You seem to be ignoring that he invested into a gold leed standard in his house.
                Are you ignoring that?
                Are you a hypocracy hunter?
                A lot of millionaires have much bigger homes than Al Gore does. Why not compare Al Gore to these multi million dollar houses that he could live in if he wanted to and chose not to.
                There are lot of angles to look at this. How many rich people live in gold leed standard houses?
                He may be one of a very few that do.

                • I’m not ignoring that. I don’t think you understand why he is a hypocrite. He and his comrades want the peasants to make sacrifices that he will never have to make. The price he pays for his gold leed house is less of a sacrifice compared to my solar panel, wind energy electric utility plan, biofuel for my truck, and the LED light bulbs I have installed when factoring my income. I’m sure he barely notices the costs considering how much money he’s accumulated after becoming a politician. I don’t want to live in a small box Agenda 21 style, so that Al Gore can feel good spending time between his scandalously high energy consuming mansions. Why should I compare him to other rich crooks? Do you not see the hypocrisy of someone preaching to others against fornication when they engage in that behavior themselves? Why should I hold Hugh Hefner to the same standards? The best way to win people to your side(especially if you want them to make sacrifices) is to lead by example. He is not doing that. He is like the celebrities that hold benefit concerts while expecting the peasants to buy their tickets to raise money. I appreciate those celebrities that perform benefit concerts (donating time) while donating MONEY out of their own pockets as well.

                  • He and his comrades want the peasants to make sacrifices that he will never have to make.
                    That is just not true. But that is the image that think tanks are pushing.
                    Leading by example, then would be upgrading your home to be more earth friendly and he has put his money where his mouth is. Gold leed standard is the highest standard that you can achieve with an older home.
                    I took his course on Climate Reality leadership. That course was almost entirely free. No fee for the course, and 4 free meals. That is leadership in the highest about a cause. See if you can match that from Anthony Watts or the other blowhard windbags..

                    • Ok, so you took a free “Climate Reality leadership” course with 4 free meals which you imply is such a sacrifice by Chairman Al Gore. But as I explained before, Chairman Al Gore’s sacrifice for his Gold leed standard home is NOTHING, compared to what he and like-minded carbon credit speculators(Maurice Strong) want the peasants to sacrifice. Free courses and 4 free meals to indoctrinate “leaders” that promote political ideologies and a political climate that ultimately will enrich Al Gore are not so benevolent as you imagine. Any top-down approach will have the elites pulling the strings to their advantage. The pharmaceutical companies are so nice and gave free meals(at fancy restaurants), free vacations, and expense-paid seminars to physicians(on top of free product samples). I never heard a physician tell me that the pharmaceutical companies were making a sacrifice by doing so.

                    • You want to hate Al Gore, I can’t stop you from that.
                      You want to compare Al Gore to your own life, I can’t stop you from that.
                      There aren’t very many gold leed buildings in the United States. That is putting your money where your mouth is.
                      You don’t accept that, I can’t change your mind on that.
                      Now Al Gore has led the way on global warming, bringing it to the public. Is he going to piss people off doing this. Yes.

                    • “We are responsible for 100% of the warming of the earth in the last 50 years.”

                      That is debatable. I really wish this debate wasn’t tainted by all the political and business interests that influence both sides of the debate.

                      “Now Al Gore has led the way on global warming”

                      Sure he’s leading the way. It would be great if everyone was the son of a senator, and eventually through political connections became a senator themselves. Then after being a senator and vice-president, was able to enrich themselves through political corruption. If everyone was as wealthy as Al Gore and used such an outrageous amount of energy as he does in his mansions(with gold leed certifications being chump change and not much a sacrifice as you suggest), and flew on private jets, surely the world would be a better place and man-made global warming would cease to exist. We could even get rich off of the carbon credit derivative speculation that the elites such as Al Gore and Maurice Strong are privy to. We should all follow his example!

                    • Grumbling envy really becomes you. There are the Koch brothers bringing down the wages of workers across the United States, Republicans diminishing voting rights. Improving an old house is what we all should do if we can.
                      If I had the celebrity that he does, I would do the same. CO2 pollution has all the science behind it. And that what this is about. CO2 is a ghg that will give a great deal more problems in the next couple of hundred years.
                      Below there are 5 factors effecting temperature on the earth, the human one is the only warming factor, that overwhelms all the other cooling factors..

                      human greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions

                      Solar activity

                      Volcanic activity

                      Human aerosol emissions

                      The El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO)

                    • Yes, I’m envious of evil crooks, haha. I’ve had the opportunity to be extremely wealthy but declined because it went against my ethics. I rather be dead than sacrifice my honor. If any of my generous friends had a a tenth the wealth Al Gore has gained through corruption, the world would be a better place. These are people that have given the shirts off their backs and the food out of their plates for others. I have no love for the Koch Brothers. Al Gore is a crook of the same cloth as the Koch Brothers. Al Gore has been a proponent of NAFTA that has destroyed many good paying jobs in America.

                      Al Gore invests in companies like Bloom Energy that illegaly circumvented U.S. minimum wage laws paying about $2.66 per hour to workers that came from Mexico. (I’m sure the Koch Brothers would be proud)

                      article found here:

                      KPCB & Al Gore & Bloom Energy

                      KPCB & Bloom Energy

                      Doerr, Bill Joy, and Gore at a meeting at startup Bloom Energy (picture below)

                      Republicans are evil and so are Democrats. They are needed to legitimize eachother. Both are in the pockets of the banksters. Of course you support Al Gore’s hypocrisy. It is a personality cult that reminds me of North Korean propaganda saying how Jim Jong Il worked so hard and sacrificed so much for his country.

                    • Back to the 5 factors effecting earth’s temperature. Only one is causing the earth to warm and that is human emissions of co2. What we do now profoundly effects our future generations in the planet we hand off to them.

                    • I’m sure you truly want the best for this planet and have the best intentions. We just disagree on whether there is enough evidence at this point in time to make such statements on the degree of man-made global warming, and what to do about it. It may be hard to believe, but I really care about the environment too. I have been called a hippie by republican co-workers that didn’t like that I would collect recyclable paper and plastic and take it home with me because there was no recycling offered at the workplace. These republicans told me that they are very patriotic and really care about America. I don’t think they would mind if America turned into a giant landfill. The Democrats at my work were too lazy to segregate the recyclable paper and plastic that I was willing to take home with me. They told me that it makes no difference if they don’t recycle and I shouldn’t waste my time. These Democrats told me they really care about the environment. I’m not sure I believe them. I guess I’m a skeptic.

                      I go to a liberal church and not that many are really ready to go forth and kick ass about climate change. Just the same, we all care about the earth. In the mean time watch the science of climate change vs those that say its not a big problem. Most of the time it Is people paid to put out the message like tobacco was in the past.
                      The link above might be more of your preference in how you want to hear the message.

                    • Is the climate changing due to our human emissions?
                      The answer is yes.
                      We are responsible for 100% of the warming of the earth in the last 50 years.

  • What a waste of time. Each second CO2 traps additional energy equal to 4 Hiroshima bombs! That’s what our satellites tell us. But, sure, let’s kick it around for another 20 years.

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