In Conversation With Dr. Peter L. Ward Author of What Really Causes Global Warming? Greenhouse Gases or Ozone Depletion?
Norm Goldman

Reviewer & Author Interviewer, Norm Goldman. Norm is the Publisher & Editor of

He has been reviewing books for the past fifteen years when he retired from the legal profession.

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By Norm Goldman
Published on October 16, 2017 welcomes as our guest Dr. Peter L. Ward. Dr. Ward worked 27 years with the United States Geological Survey as research geophysicist, branch chief, and program manager. He helped develop and manage a major national research program, chaired a committee at the White House, testified before Congress, worked on a committee for Vice President Gore, published more than 50 scientific papers, and won two national awards for explaining science to the general public.

He retired in 1998, working intensely for the past decade trying to resolve several enigmatic observations related to climate change. Dr. Ward’s analysis and theory are explained in detail in his new book What Really Causes Global Warming? Greenhouse Gases or Ozone Depletion?
 welcomes as our guest Dr. Peter L. Ward. Dr. Ward worked 27 years with the United States Geological Survey as research geophysicist, branch chief, and program manager. He helped develop and manage a major national research program, chaired a committee at the White House, testified before Congress, worked on a committee for Vice President Gore, published more than 50 scientific papers, and won two national awards for explaining science to the general public.

He retired in 1998, working intensely for the past decade trying to resolve several enigmatic observations related to climate change. Dr. Ward’s analysis and theory are explained in detail in his new book What Really Causes Global Warming? Greenhouse Gases or Ozone Depletion?

Norm: Good day Dr. Ward and thanks for participating in our interview. Please tell us about yourself and how you became involved in geophysics?

Dr. Ward: I entered Dartmouth College in 1961 thinking I might major in physics. When I registered for classes, I was near the end of the line because my last name starts with a “W.” When I said I wanted to take geography, the lady said “It’s full. Quick, what would you like to take? I thought geo…………logy. Geology 101 was taught by a very dynamic professor. I was fascinated. I sat in the middle of the front row. By Thanksgiving I began working for the professor doing calculations. He took me to climb my first active volcano at the age of 19. We have been life-long friends. That moment of serendipity completely changed my life.

Norm: Basically, what is global warming and how do we know it is real.

Dr. Ward: The world is getting warmer. Three government agencies and a group of sceptics determined to prove the others wrong have compiled all available quality observations of temperatures measured directly with thermometers over land and sea. Their compilation methods vary, but they all agree that, in round numbers, global mean temperature was relatively constant from 1945 to 1970, rose about 1.1 degrees Fahrenheit from 1970 to 1998, were relatively constant from 1998 through 2013, and then rose about 0.4 degrees from 2014 through 2016.

The warming observed was twice as great in the northern hemisphere as in the southern hemisphere, which contains only about 12% of world population. While there is room to argue about the details, the major trends are quite clear—the world is warming.

Norm: Why do you believe there has been an increase in the number of deniers concerning climate change and their attacks on scientists and how do you defend such attacks?

Dr. Ward: Since at least 1988, the climate wars have been waged by two distinct groups:

Scientists who observe global warming, are convinced the warming is caused by greenhouse gases, and who genuinely fear a major increase in warming during this century caused by rapidly increasing emissions of greenhouse gases.

Many business leaders, political leaders, some scientists and generally conservative-leaning people who are against government regulations, who do not want to admit that climate is changing any more than normal, who do not believe that humans can possibly influence climate, or who are genuinely concerned that reducing greenhouse gases could bankrupt the economy.

The first group thinks they are winning the war with the Paris Agreement. The second group thinks that they are winning the war with the election of Donald Trump. The battle is more raucous than ever.

Since these groups are based on distinctly different world views and speak different vocabularies, much of the climate debate has been personal ad-hominem attacks. Such behavior on either side is inexcusable. We need to find ways to work together to understand the roles of humans in global warming and what we should do about it. This is a time for a little humility on both sides. It turns out that there is a fundamental error in the science, that major warming is not expected, and that there are things we need to do right now to mitigate observed warming.

Norm: What is the Paris Agreement and why is it important?

Dr. Ward: On December 12, 2015, representatives from 196 countries agreed to work together to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions for the purpose of “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels.” Nicaragua and Syria are the only nations that did not agree.

The United States has recently decided to quit the Paris Agreement. Climate change is a global problem. The Paris Agreement is the first time that essentially all nations have agreed to work together to reduce global warming. The decision to focus on greenhouse gases may not be correct, but the Paris Agreement provides ways for all nations to work together on finding the most productive ways to move forward.

Norm: Are humans causing global warming or are there other reasons?

Dr. Ward: Extensive data suggest humans caused global warming beginning around 1970 by major increases in the manufacture of chlorofluorocarbon gases (CFCs). Furthermore, the increase in temperature stopped by 1998 after humans stopped the increase in CFC production in 1993 under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. Humans appear to have caused the warming and humans appear to have slowed the warming.

CFCs are very inert gases that were used widely as refrigerants, spray-can propellants, and solvents because they do not interact with many other chemicals. Scientists discovered in 1974, however, that when CFCs reach the stratosphere, they can be broken down by solar ultraviolet radiation, releasing atoms of chlorine. One atom of chlorine in the ozone layer can destroy 100,000 molecules of ozone. When the ozone layer is depleted, more solar ultraviolet-B radiation is observed to reach Earth. UV-B is a very hot radiation that burns your skin and causes skin cancer. It also warms Earth.

Volcanic eruptions also deplete ozone by injecting chlorine and bromine up into the ozone layer, causing global warming. Big explosive volcanic eruptions, such as Mt. Pinatubo in 1991, eject megatons of water vapor and sulfur dioxide into the lower stratosphere where they combine to form sulfuric-acid aerosols whose particles grow large enough to reflect and scatter sunlight, cooling Earth about 0.9 degrees for two to four years, causing net cooling. Effusive volcanoes that spread large amounts of basaltic lava over Earth’s surface, on the other hand, do not form aerosols and thus cause net global warming. Climate throughout the history of Earth turns out to be a delicate balance between the number of major explosive eruptions per century causing cooling and the volume of basalts extruded out over the land causing warming.

Most scientists still think greenhouse gases emitted by humans are the primary cause of global warming. New data and understanding show that greenhouse gases simply do not absorb enough heat to explain global warming.

Norm: How has global warming affected the world so far and what do you think will happen in the future if we don't do something about it?

Dr. Ward: Global warming has led to increased temperatures, melting of glaciers, rise in sea level, destruction of coral reefs, change in habitat for all animals on Earth, changes in food production, changes in weather, and many other effects that all life on Earth must adapt to in order to survive.

If you think greenhouse-gas emissions by humans are the problem, you are convinced that this warming will increase to dangerous levels during this century and that we must act now to prevent runaway warming. If you think ozone depletion is the problem, future major warming is not anticipated, but warming of the ocean will continue as long as ozone remains depleted. Ultimately, Earth mean temperatures are driven by the temperature of oceans covering 71% of Earth that store nearly all the heat in the Earth/atmosphere system.

In the developing world, there is a major black market in CFCs for refrigerators and other uses. There are other substances not regulated by the Montreal Protocol that are depleting ozone far more than anticipated. We must act now to reduce human-caused increases on ozone depletion to speed recovery of the ozone layer. Time is of the essence. We also need to begin serious studies of our options should major volcanic eruptions increase ozone depletion significantly.

Norm: What roles do volcanoes play in climate change and what can we expect in the future?

Dr. Ward: Nearly 201 million years ago, basaltic lava covered an area in Siberia equivalent to 87% of the lower 48 United States. Image lava extending from New York City to San Francisco, from Seattle to Miami. Temperatures rose tens of degrees. Oceans turned strongly acidic. Mutations in fossil leaves show that ozone was most likely strongly depleted. More than 96% of marine species and 70% of terrestrial vertebrates went extinct.

Geologists have divided geologic time into eons, eras, periods, epochs, and ages based on sudden changes in sedimentation and fossils observed in rock. Most of these sudden changes are contemporaneous with major flows of basaltic lava. The larger the flows, the greater the changes. The major eruption of Eldgjá in Iceland in 935 AD appears to be one of the causes of the medieval warm period that had major effects on human history. The most recent eruption of major basalt in Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho 2200 years ago, appears to have contributed to the Roman warm period when Hannibal drove his elephants over the Aps.

Humans would not survive the largest of these basaltic eruptions, but luckily, they are highly unlikely to occur during our lifetimes.

Norm: What motivated you to write What Really Causes Global Warming? Greenhouse Gases or Ozone Depletion?

Dr. Ward: After many years of intensive research, I began to realize that greenhouse-warming theory was physically impossible and that ozone depletion explains observations of global warming in exquisite detail. I realized that humanity was about to waste trillions of dollars reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. Many good scientists told me that my volcano story was quite good, but that, in today’s world, I have no chance of getting my story out about greenhouse gases. The train has left the station.

I decided that I would have trouble going to sleep at night unless I tried hard to get the word out. I am a well-published author of scientific papers and was an assistant editor of a major scientific journal, but my papers questioning greenhouse-warming theory were not even being accepted for review. I had written a major, fully-referenced, scientific website to provide the details for scientists who might become interested, but few had open minds. I decided a book aimed at non-specialists who enjoy non-fiction might be the best way to get the story out to the general public, many scientists, and political leaders.

Norm: What is the most important thing that people don't know about the subject of your book that they need to know?

Dr. Ward: That greenhouse gases are not and cannot be the cause of global warming. There was a mistaken assumption made in the 1860s by one of the gods of physics, upon which the whole greenhouse-warming house of cards has been built. Several generations of physicists and climate scientists have been trained in greenhouse-warming theory and accept it today as gospel. But science is never settled. One of the greatest strengths of science is that, over time, it is self-correcting.

Norm: What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them? As a follow up, what do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book?

Dr. Ward: If I am correct, I am leading a major revolution in science, one with perhaps the greatest economic and political repercussions of all time. My new insight into what radiation is physically and how it travels has major ramifications not only in climate science but also in physics. I hope that this book explains clearly the basis for this revolution in a way that the general reader can participate in the excitement and reach their own understandings and conclusions. I sincerely hope that my readers enjoy the quest for new understanding.

Norm: What are some of the references that you used while researching this book?

Dr. Ward: I did all of this work while retired, which means that I could work full time plus without all the distractions of a job. With internet, I had instant access to more than 10,000 scientific papers. I ordered shelves of books and consulted hundreds of websites. My work has covered many fields from climate science to earth science to atmospheric chemistry and physics, to radiation physics, to quantum electrodynamics, to history, to the interaction of science with public policy. In all this work, I found Wikipedia invaluable as a first stop to understand any new word or idea I was dealing with. The general quality of Wikipedia articles is outstanding and is always getting better. One can read just the introduction or can delve into the details depending one’s need at the moment. Plus, Google and Google Scholar opened up wonderful new vistas for pursuing one’s curiosity.

Norm: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in writing your book?

Dr. Ward: That electromagnetic radiation, of which light is a small portion, travels through space by resonance as frequency, just like radio signals, not as waves and not as photons. This has huge ramifications that will be argued for years. I hope this book helps the reader understand the basis for this new understanding.

Norm: What projects are you working on at the present?

Dr. Ward: I am working hard to get the word out in any way possible. I have recently become as regular opinion contributor to The Hill, a major newspaper and website in Washington, DC, read widely by decision makers, especially those involved in government policy. Check out

I am getting some scientific papers published. I am presenting papers each year at three national scientific meetings of the Geologic Society of America, the American Geophysical Union, and the American Meteorological Society and also operating a booth in the exhibit halls where I can sell my book and talk individually with thousands of scientists. I am attending other appropriate meetings, speaking to general groups, and meeting individually with many leaders or their staff.

Norm: Where can our readers find out more about you and your book?

Dr. Ward: My book and my background are described on MY WEBSITE. You can order an autographed copy there or order a copy through any internet book seller. The website also includes many of my talks, including a TEDx talk, and many of my radio interviews totally nearly 100 at the moment. The website also includes all of my publications including those not even accepted for review.

Norm: What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book, but nobody has?

Dr. Ward: The biggest problem today is that so many scientists and non-scientists are so convinced that greenhouse-warming theory must be correct because of widespread consensus that they are unwilling to open their minds to new data, new information, and new understanding. As one leading scientist said “Peter, there is no way that you can be right and all the rest of us are wrong.” I asked him, can you give me a scientific reason? That is the question I offer to all readers and potential readers. What do you not understand? What can I do to improve communication?

Climate change affects us all. We need to work together to chart the best course forward.

Norm: Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors