From a home office nestled into the northern slopes of East Gros Ventre Butte, Peter Ward is trying to convince the world that thousands of climate change scientists are looking in the wrong direction.

A retiree who spent a career with the U.S. Geological Survey, Ward has passionately sought for years to understand the relationship between the transmission of radiation, the ozone layer and the temperature of the planet. Now almost a decade into a quest for knowledge and the campaign to spread the word, Ward is forthcoming about the lack of progress he’s made.

“I’m putting myself out there,” Ward said last week. “I have approached many of the senior scientists in the field for information and for discussion. Most of them are so convinced that they know what’s going on that they’re not even willing to discuss it.”

“Anytime I breathe the idea that I might disagree with greenhouse gas theory, I’m immediately castigated as a denier under the current political situation we’re in,” he said. “Unfortunately, because the scientists are under attack, they’ve circled the wagons. Even though I’m a scientist, I’m not someone they know in great detail because most of my science was in earthquakes and volcanoes and geophysics and those things.”

Unlike many climate change skeptics, Ward readily acknowledges that the Earth has warmed unnaturally fast. The geophysicist also has no ties to fossil fuel industries, and he does not possess the typical combative fanaticism of those who run headlong into modern climate change science.

In his field, geophysics, Ward is accomplished. He holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University, has edited academic journals and once headed the USGS’s National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program.

The foundations of climate change science are agreed upon nearly unanimously by academics, and have been built upon for decades. The theory holds that man-made additions to the concentration of carbon dioxide and other gases in the atmosphere have created a greenhouse effect by trapping more energy than would otherwise remain.

Ward contends that the faults of climate change science begin with the fundamental understandings of how radiation travels through the atmosphere.

“To this day, if you ask physicists how light travels in the atmosphere or in space, it travels as waves or as photons,” he said. “All of the radiation codes used to calculate the models about climate change assume that energy travels through the atmosphere as waves.

“All of the basic assumptions that are used in the radiation codes are simply wrong,” he said. “There is nobody in the scientific literature who I can find anywhere since Angstrom in 1900 who has questioned the physics of greenhouse gases.”

Consequently, Ward said, ozone depletion is believed to have little effect on global temperature and greenhouse gases are thought to have a huge effect.

If photons were a fiction and light didn’t travel as waves, however, the relationship would be flipped around, he said.

“The ozone layer, more than 12 miles up in the atmosphere, is formed and destroyed constantly by very high-energy ultraviolet radiation from the sun,” reads a press release Ward distributed. “When ozone is reduced (depleted), more of this sun-burning, cancer-causing radiation reaches Earth, cooling the ozone layer and warming Earth.”

“This ultraviolet energy is 48 times hotter, 48 times more energetic than infrared radiation absorbed by greenhouse gases,” his news release said.

Wholly convinced of his theories, Ward has spent countless hours trying to understand how ozone depletion plays into the temperature of the planet.

“I’m being run out of my office by papers,” he said.

Ward said he’s absorbed more than 10,000 relevant academic studies.

Ward recently packaged his beliefs into an hour-long YouTube video that debuted a week ago, along with a new website, OzoneDepletionTheory.info. The video is available online at bit.ly/1uUKqqf.

The professionally edited video has been viewed just 127 times through Tuesday afternoon, and Ward is admittedly frustrated with his lack of reach so far.

In his effort to spread word of the ozone depletion theory, Ward has sought to be published in peer-reviewed academic journals. It’s been a fruitless effort to date, and he’s been shot down by Nature, the Journal of Atmospheric Science and others.

“Anybody in climate science today who knows of me and knows of my theory, would dismiss it out of hand — that’s the problem,” Ward said. “Obviously what I need is for some respected people to say, ‘Here, this is something that needs to be looked at.’”

One advocate the retired geophysicist has on his side is Bert Raynes, the veteran naturalist who Ward called among his closest advisors.

Raynes said he’s cheering Ward on.

“Peter thinks he has a fresh insight into the mechanism [of climate change], and that by concentrating on CO2 we’re wasting time and money in trying to find some alleviation of the problem,” Raynes said. “I don’t fully understand every nuance of his various theories, but he’s got some pretty compelling evidence and he’s got guts to present it too, I’ll tell you.”

As for why Ward’s theories have struggled to gain traction, Raynes said it’s like any other paradigm shift in scientific theory and belief. Acceptance of change comes slow, he said.

“I think historically speaking that’s the way it goes with new ideas, even the ones that turn out to be right,” Raynes said. “The establishment doesn’t want to hear about it.

“If his theory is confirmed,” he said, “he will have done a great deed.”

Mike has reported on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem's wildlife, wildlands and the agencies that manage them since 2012. A native Minnesotan, he arrived in the West to study environmental journalism at the University of Colorado.

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