Voepel's beliefs share much in common with Flat Earth Society views
By Miriam Raftery
September 16, 2011 (Santee) – SanDiego350.org, a coalition of three dozen community organizations, invited local officials to participate in a Sept. 24 event titled “Moving San Diego to a Clean Energy Future.” Far from fringe extremists, the group includes major entities such as the American Lung Association, U.S. Green Chamber of Commerce, San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council, Sustainability Alliance of Southern California, and Earthcare at First United Methodist Church.
Santee Mayor Randy Voepel fired back a vitriolic response. “I do not believe that climate change is man made,” the Mayor said in an e-mail declining the invitation, calling himself a “proud, Rush Limbaugh, Tea party, Conservative that will never cease fighting socialism.”
Voepel went on to state that he believes the “sun’s solar cycle” is the greatest influence on climate change and that “mankind’s impact on the climate is less than 2 tenths of a percent and even that is a challenge to the computer models to track with any accuracy.” He added, “I believe that `climate change’ is a fabrication of the left wing environmental types that are inherently anti-capitalist and liberal to the Nth degree. Al Gore and his misguided followers are sending this country to ruin in the name of a false “Climate Change” premise.”
His signature line carries the title “Mayor, city of Santee, located in the People’s Republic of California, United Socialist States of America.”
Event organizers expressed disbelief, then amusement at Voepel’s fiery response.
While the Mayor is entitled to his opinion, there are some key flaws in Voepel’s conclusions.
An ECM investigation of current findings on climate science finds Voepel’s theories to be about as credible as the beliefs held by Flat Earth Society members who failed to accept that the earth was round even after Columbus discovered America, proving that one could sail across the ocean without falling off the edge of the world. (Not even photographs of a circular earth shot from space have dispelled the irrational beliefs of that society’s members, who to this day cling to their discredited ideas on a website devoted to debunking the round earth "theory.")
Like the flat earth ideology, Voepel’s belief that sun solar cycles are causing global warming has been solidly debunked by numerous credible scientists and scientific organizations.
“If warming were caused by an increase in solar radiation, warming of both the stratosphere [upper atmosphere] as well as the lower atmosphere and surface would be expected, which is not what has been observed,” Francis Moore, research associate at the Climate Institute has stated. Instead, only the lower levels of the atmosphere have shown substantial heating, a finding consistent with warming caused by CO2 emissions on earth creating greenhouse gases.
Moreover, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory and NASA provided analysis in 2006 which indicated that “solar forcing contributed neglible long-term warming in the past 25 years and 10% of the warming in the past 100 years.”
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Organization (NOAA) similarly has concluded that “the contribution of direct solar irradiance forcing is small compared to the greenhouse gas component.”
As for the mayor’s belief that climate change is man-made, that view runs contrary to the overwhelming majority of scientific experts worldwide.
“Warning that the risk of dangerous climate change impacts is growing with every ton of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere, a National Research Council committee today reiterated the pressing need for substantial action to limit the magnitude of climate change and to prepare to adapt to its impacts,” stated a joint press release issued in May 2011 by the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Council.
U.S. options for responding to the risks posed by climate change are analyzed in a new report and the final volume in America's Climate Choices, a series of studies requested by Congress. The committee that authored the report, which clearly concludes climate change is real and man-made, included not only renowned scientists and engineers but also economists, business leaders, an ex-governor, a former congressman, and other policy experts.
Globally, 32 national science academies have come together to issue joint declarations confirming man-made global warming, and urging nations of the world to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.
National and international science academies and scientific societies have assessed the current scientific opinion, in particular on recent global warming. These assessments have largely followed or endorsed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) position of January 2001 which states: “An increasing body of observations gives a collective picture of a warming world and other changes in the climate system... There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities.”
The IPCC panel of leading worldwide scientists was established by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), two organizations of the United Nations and shared a 2007 Nobel Prize for its work.
Not a single scientific body of national or international standing has maintained a dissenting opinion. Even the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, which has a vested interest in promoting fossil fuels, in 2007 updated its position to be noncommittal on climate change.
As for those skeptics who still believe global warming isn’t occurring at all, or that it is merely part of a historical cycle, here is a chart from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency documenting the recent and extreme spike in carbion dioxide levels in our planet's atmosphere:
Details of invitation that Mayor Voepel declined
Moving Planet is a worldwide rally taking place at hundreds of locations on September 24 to call for more viable solutions to climate change from elected representatives. In San Diego, organizers plan to march about 1.2 miles in Balboa Park, followed by a rally with speakers. Marchers will gather at 11 a.m. on the East (Balboa Park) side of Sixth Avenue between Laurel and Juniper. The rally will start at 12:30 p.m. at the San Diego Sports Museum/Hall of Champions area at2131 Pan American Plaza.
Organizers say that San Diego elected representatives need to do more to promote local and global solutions to climate change.The event will highlight the ways in which climate change will affect the San Diego region, as well as the steps that policymakers need to take to address greenhouse gas emissions and incentives for sustainable infrastructure.
“It’s wonderful to see the way that San Diego environmental groups have come together in such an enthusiastic and concerted manner to demand political solutions based on the science of climate change,” lead organizer and Sierra Club volunteer Masada Disenhouse said. “Climate change is an issue that reaches all areas of the world, and with this rally, we want to inform San Diego residents that their city will be hit hard by temperature and sea level changes. We need to hold our elected representatives accountable in every manner possible.”
San Diego organizers say that many issues involved in the Moving Planet discussion relate directly to the San Diego region, including the San Diego 2050 Regional Transportation Plan, the current and future possibilities for investments in clean energy jobs, and putting a price on carbon.
According to Bill Powers, author of “San Diego Smart Energy 2020” and the San Diego Sierra Club representative on SANDAG’s Regional Energy Working Group, “There is no question that San Diego County could reduce its carbon emissions by at least 50% by moving to a distributed energy model and increasing the percentage of renewable energy sources in the mix.”
Marshall Saunders, founder and President of Citizens Climate Lobby, says, “What we need ispolicies that will reduce carbon emissions and spur activity in the emerging clean-energy market –policies that are transparent and predictable while still keeping energy costs low for the great majority of Americans."
Speakers confirmed for the Balboa Park rally include Saunders, Powers, Congressman Bob Filner, Mayor Lesa Heebner, and other leading local advocates for environmental change. In addition, local faith representatives will address the environmental crisis during a pre-rally interfaith panel.
“We have diverse participants who represent a variety of philosophical and theological perspectives,” panel organizer and San Diego Earthkeepers co-founder Phil Petrie said.
There are, of course, some practical reasons for supporting turning San Diego green--even if you still don't believe in global warming. Our region is fast emerging as a national hub for cleantech and green jobs.
To learn more about the events, visit www.SanDiego350.org. A YouTube promotional video for the rally is available there, as well as information regarding public transportation and organized bike rides to and from the event.
ECM Editor Miriam Raftery holds a B.A. degree in environmental studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she studied climate change science. United Green, an entity of ECM publisher Heartland Coalition, has been at the forefront of providing education on green and sustainable energy alternatives for our region and our nation.