Former astronaut Harrison Schmitt, who walked on the moon and once served New Mexico in the U.S. Senate, doesnâ€™t believe that humans are causing global warming.
â€œI donâ€™t think the human effect is significant compared to the natural effect,â€ said Schmitt, who is among 70 skeptics scheduled to speak next month at the International Conference on Climate Change in New York.
Schmitt contends that scientists â€œare being intimidatedâ€ if they disagree with the idea that burning fossil fuels has increased carbon dioxide levels, temperatures and sea levels.
â€œTheyâ€™ve seen too many of their colleagues lose grant funding when they havenâ€™t gone along with the so-called political consensus that weâ€™re in a human-caused global warming,â€ Schmitt said.
Dan Williams, publisher with the Chicago-based Heartland Institute, which is hosting the climate change conference, said he invited Schmitt after reading about his resignation from The Planetary Society, a nonprofit dedicated to space exploration.
Schmitt resigned after the group blamed global warming on human activity. In his resignation letter, the 74-year-old geologist argued that the â€œglobal warming scare is being used as a political tool to increase government control over American lives, incomes and decision making.â€
Williams said Heartland is skeptical about the crisis that people are proclaiming in global warming.
â€œNot that the planet hasnâ€™t warmed. We know it has or weâ€™d all still be in the Ice Age,â€ he said. â€œBut it has not reached a crisis proportion and, even among us skeptics, thereâ€™s disagreement about how much man has been responsible for that warming.â€
Schmitt said historical documents indicate average temperatures have risen by 1 degree per century since around 1400 A.D., and the rise in carbon dioxide is because of the temperature rise.
Schmitt also said geological evidence indicates changes in sea level have been going on for thousands of years. He said smaller changes are related to changes in the elevation of land masses â€” for example, the Great Lakes are rising because the earthâ€™s crust is rebounding from being depressed by glaciers.
Schmitt, who grew up in Silver City and now lives in Albuquerque, has a science degree from the California Institute of Technology. He also studied geology at the University of Oslo in Norway and took a doctorate in geology from Harvard University in 1964.
In 1972, he was one of the last men to walk on the moon as part of the Apollo 17 mission.
Schmitt said heâ€™s heartened that the upcoming conference is made up of scientists who havenâ€™t been manipulated by politics.
Of the global warming debate, he said: â€œItâ€™s one of the few times youâ€™ve seen a sizable portion of scientists who ought to be objective take a political position and itâ€™s coloring their objectivity.â€
There is a lot of data and there is a correct answer. Why is there still debate?Â Is it because the system has many variables and is complicated? Is it because we as a species are wishful thinkers who refuse toÂ face an ugly reality? Whatever the correct answer, theÂ current uncertainty shows that our methods of sharingÂ scientific data remain inadequate.Â When I have time, I hope to dig in and look at the details of the arguments on both sides. More on Schmitt: