July 7, 2006, 7:30 PM:
Dr. Robert Essenhigh, Professor, Mechanical Engineering, The Ohio State University, will speak on the topic, "Can Humans Do Anything About Global Warming?"
Dr. Essenhigh writes: "On the issue of carbon dioxide and global warming, the question at issue really is, "Does carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion cause global warming?" There does appear to be a common consensus view; but, the available data not only does not support this common consensus view, but supports the contrary position. That is that it is the naturally rising temperature that is driving up the carbon dioxide. This finding not only absolves man as the cause of global warming, but also raises major questions about the economic impact of attempting to control carbon dioxide emissions, particularly if this is a waste of time and resources. That is the postiion to be presented and discussed within my forum presentation on Friday night, July 7th." Obviously, what we have heard about global warming may not be the entire story. Perhaps, we should also hear an alterntive view on this issue. Dr. Essenhigh provides an alternative view. The forum is free and open to the broad Columbus community.
Location: First Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbus, 93 West Weisheimer Road, Columbus, OH 43214-2544
One might wonder how much weight the arguments of a mechanical engineer would be given in climate matters, but a google search indicates that Essenhigh has gotten quite a bit of attention for his contrarian views, mostly in the right wing blogosphere.
Of particular interest is that his actual specialty is elided in most accounts of his carbon dioxide theory. He is often listed as a "professor of energy conservation." Well, doesn't that just sound vaguely green?
But this is incorrect. His titles include professor of energy CONVERSION. He in fact heads the Ohio State Combustion Laboratory. The web site for that laboratory states:
"The Combustion Laboratory exists for the fundamental study of the combustion behavior of industrial fuels used in furnaces and engines, primarily coal, oil, and gas, with extension to the integral behavior of the total systems under the protocol of Analytical Combustion Engineering (ACE)."
His main area of study is coal and coal combustion (see his page at the OSU ME site).
According to the Coal Research Forum Essenhigh even has a theory that the Titanic ran full steam into the ice because the crew was trying to get to New York quickly because of a raging coal fire in Titanic's coal bunkers. All coal all the time with him? I could guess where his research funding comes from.
Shouldn't his career as a coal specialist be at least relevant to note as context for his claims that human-generated CO2 doesn't affect climate? I can find no account touting his skeptical views which also mentions his coal industry background. This is the typical treatment:
Viewpoint: global warming natural, may end within 20 years
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Global warming is a natural geological process that could begin to reverse itself within 10 to 20 years, predicts an Ohio State University researcher.
The researcher suggests that atmospheric carbon dioxide -- often thought of as a key "greenhouse gas" -- is not the cause of global warming. The opposite is most likely to be true, according to Robert Essenhigh, E.G. Bailey Professor of Energy Conservation [sic] in Ohio State's Department of Mechanical Engineering. It is the rising global temperatures that are naturally increasing the levels of carbon dioxide, not the other way around, he says.
Essenhigh explains his position in a "viewpoint" article in the current issue of the journal Chemical Innovation, published by the American Chemical Society.
As a side note, Essenhigh has written a letter to the editor on the evils of university grade inflation, where he brings up "the ridiculous business of student evaluations of faculty."
A glance at the web site ratemyprofessor.com illustrates his concern with student evaluations:
* worst professor i've ever had...very nice, good intentions, just could not teach...amazing how much time was spent in lecture covering irrelevant material...it is still possible to do well since midterm is very similar to past quarters and final is take-home...but if you're looking to learn anything about thermo, his class is not the place to do it
* The guy has no idea what is going on. His exams are exactly the same from year to year so get an old exam and don't bother going to class
* he was very chaotic and disorganized in his teaching style. The class is very easy because he is predictable. However, he is a mediocre professor, at best.
Such lightweights and conflicted interests are put forward as supposed equal weights to the bulk of climate scientists. This is the "Global Warming Debate" (tm).