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A cold shoulder to global warming


Climatologist Cliff Harris in his backyard in Coeur d'Alene on Thursday. 
 (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
Climatologist Cliff Harris in his backyard in Coeur d'Alene on Thursday. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

Unlike most scientists, Coeur d’Alene climatologist Cliff Harris believes snowshoes will be more useful than sunscreen in coming decades.

Yes, the climate is changing, Harris says. But he doesn’t believe the planet is being transformed by manmade pollution. He also thinks an ice age is coming, not widespread warming.

“These cycles have come and gone for eons of time and they’ll continue to do that,” said Harris, 64. “Thirty years ago people were looking for an ice age. … In my opinion, this is another cycle that will come and go.”

Harris is not a trained scientist – he studied insurance law in college – but he has one of the most extensive collections of private weather records in the Northwest, and he’s built a successful business off his long-range weather predictions. He also writes a popular weekly weather column for the Coeur d’Alene Press.

On March 2, Harris will be the keynote speaker at a seminar in Coeur d’Alene focused on profiting from these rapidly changing weather conditions.

The seminar is hosted by Randy Mann, a KREM-2 meteorologist and a weekly columnist for The Spokesman-Review. Mann also has doubts about the severity and cause of the earth’s changing climate. The two will be joined by author Robert Felix, whose book “Not By Fire, But By Ice” warns “the next ice age could begin any day.”

Harris and Mann, who together operate a climatology service, say they simply want to present their evidence and provide advice to businesses on how to profit during times of extreme weather.

In their view, much of the changes are driven by ancient, unchangeable cycles, as well as increases in solar activity such as sun spots, radiation bursts and volcanoes. Urban sprawl and a proliferation of heat-absorbing asphalt are also factors, they say.

“I’m not saying we’re right. We’re just trying to say there are other possibilities here,” said Mann, who holds a degree in geography. Mann said he believes humans are likely playing a role in the changing climate, but that it’s an exaggerated one. But that’s not the view of the vast majority of scientists who study the issue. On Feb. 2, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a report stating that global warming is real and that there’s a 90 percent certainty human activity is to blame. The panel, which is made up of hundreds of scientists from 113 countries, predicted that sea levels will rise by 7 to 23 inches and temperatures will rise from 3.2 degrees to 7.8 degrees Fahrenheit by the year 2100.

Washington State Climatologist Philip Mote said there have been more than 100 peer-reviewed research papers in last the 15 years examining the influence of natural cycles on the warming climate. “They all show you can’t explain this recent warming as purely natural,” Mote said.

Solar activity also has been proven to have little effect on the changes, he said. “When you look at all of these patterns and how they play out in time, none of them comes close to explaining the warming that’s taken place in the last 30 or 40 years.”

Mote laughed at the idea of a coming ice age. “That’s just complete …” he said, pausing, “Well, let’s see, I’ve got to be careful because you might print this.”

Past ice ages have been triggered by changes in the earth’s orbit, Mote said, after gathering his thoughts. These changes can be predicted, he added. The next one is expected in about 30,000 years. “They don’t just jump on us the way they did in the movie ‘The Day After Tomorrow,’ ” Mote said. “There’s just no basis.”

Even if all the research is wrong, Mote said an ice age begins only when snow stops melting in summer in Canada. This isn’t happening, he said. In fact, more artic ice is melting away each summer.

Though the Inland Northwest faces massive changes from a warming climate, such as intensified wildfires and more snow-free winters, Mote insists he welcomes differing views. “There’s a much needed place for skepticism within the scientific community.”

Harris, who began studying the weather when he was 9, said he bases his predictions on a wide array of scientific sources and historical records. He’s also a devout Christian and believes the Bible is loaded with clues on predicting the weather.

“I do believe in a period of extreme global warming. That will be in the tribulation period. That’s when the real global warming will come in,” he said. “Those of us who are believers, we’re looking forward to it.”

Harris acknowledges that people are playing a role in polluting the atmosphere, but he thinks society would be better off devoting its limited resources on ending poverty, curing diseases or providing universal health care, rather than investing in costly forms of clean energy or curtailing business to reduce carbon dioxide.

“I believe this planet is a breathing entity, made by God, to clean itself, adjust itself,” Harris said.

Harris admits he could be wrong, though not likely. “We have a limited knowledge,” he said. “The most brilliant climatologist has a gnat’s eye view. I admit that. It’s just that I have both gnat’s eyes open.”

Mote, who holds a doctoral degree in atmospheric sciences from the University of Washington, said his views on global warming also are shaped by his Christianity. According to his reading of the Bible, humans ought to err on the side of caution to be doing everything possible to slow the changes.

“It is incumbent on us not to despoil the earth for profit,” he said.

Unlike most scientists, Coeur d’Alene climatologist Cliff Harris believes snowshoes will be more useful than sunscreen in coming decades.

Yes, the climate is changing, Harris says. But he doesn’t believe the planet is being transformed by manmade pollution. He also thinks an ice age is coming, not widespread warming.

“These cycles have come and gone for eons of time and they’ll continue to do that,” said Harris, 64. “Thirty years ago people were looking for an ice age. … In my opinion, this is another cycle that will come and go.”

Harris is not a trained scientist – he studied insurance law in college – but he has one of the most extensive collections of private weather records in the Northwest, and he’s built a successful business off his long-range weather predictions. He also writes a popular weekly weather column for the Coeur d’Alene Press.

On March 2, Harris will be the keynote speaker at a seminar in Coeur d’Alene focused on profiting from these rapidly changing weather conditions.

The seminar is hosted by Randy Mann, a KREM-2 meteorologist and a weekly columnist for The Spokesman-Review. Mann also has doubts about the severity and cause of the earth’s changing climate. The two will be joined by author Robert Felix, whose book “Not By Fire, But By Ice” warns “the next ice age could begin any day.”

Harris and Mann, who together operate a climatology service, say they simply want to present their evidence and provide advice to businesses on how to profit during times of extreme weather.

In their view, much of the changes are driven by ancient, unchangeable cycles, as well as increases in solar activity such as sun spots, radiation bursts and volcanoes. Urban sprawl and a proliferation of heat-absorbing asphalt are also factors, they say.

“I’m not saying we’re right. We’re just trying to say there are other possibilities here,” said Mann, who holds a degree in geography. Mann said he believes humans are likely playing a role in the changing climate, but that it’s an exaggerated one. But that’s not the view of the vast majority of scientists who study the issue. On Feb. 2, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a report stating that global warming is real and that there’s a 90 percent certainty human activity is to blame. The panel, which is made up of hundreds of scientists from 113 countries, predicted that sea levels will rise by 7 to 23 inches and temperatures will rise from 3.2 degrees to 7.8 degrees Fahrenheit by the year 2100.

Washington State Climatologist Philip Mote said there have been more than 100 peer-reviewed research papers in last the 15 years examining the influence of natural cycles on the warming climate. “They all show you can’t explain this recent warming as purely natural,” Mote said.

Solar activity also has been proven to have little effect on the changes, he said. “When you look at all of these patterns and how they play out in time, none of them comes close to explaining the warming that’s taken place in the last 30 or 40 years.”

Mote laughed at the idea of a coming ice age. “That’s just complete …” he said, pausing, “Well, let’s see, I’ve got to be careful because you might print this.”

Past ice ages have been triggered by changes in the earth’s orbit, Mote said, after gathering his thoughts. These changes can be predicted, he added. The next one is expected in about 30,000 years. “They don’t just jump on us the way they did in the movie ‘The Day After Tomorrow,’ ” Mote said. “There’s just no basis.”

Even if all the research is wrong, Mote said an ice age begins only when snow stops melting in summer in Canada. This isn’t happening, he said. In fact, more artic ice is melting away each summer.

Though the Inland Northwest faces massive changes from a warming climate, such as intensified wildfires and more snow-free winters, Mote insists he welcomes differing views. “There’s a much needed place for skepticism within the scientific community.”

Harris, who began studying the weather when he was 9, said he bases his predictions on a wide array of scientific sources and historical records. He’s also a devout Christian and believes the Bible is loaded with clues on predicting the weather.

“I do believe in a period of extreme global warming. That will be in the tribulation period. That’s when the real global warming will come in,” he said. “Those of us who are believers, we’re looking forward to it.”

Harris acknowledges that people are playing a role in polluting the atmosphere, but he thinks society would be better off devoting its limited resources on ending poverty, curing diseases or providing universal health care, rather than investing in costly forms of clean energy or curtailing business to reduce carbon dioxide.

“I believe this planet is a breathing entity, made by God, to clean itself, adjust itself,” Harris said.

Harris admits he could be wrong, though not likely. “We have a limited knowledge,” he said. “The most brilliant climatologist has a gnat’s eye view. I admit that. It’s just that I have both gnat’s eyes open.”

Mote, who holds a doctoral degree in atmospheric sciences from the University of Washington, said his views on global warming also are shaped by his Christianity. According to his reading of the Bible, humans ought to err on the side of caution to be doing everything possible to slow the changes.

“It is incumbent on us not to despoil the earth for profit,” he said.

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