Saturday, November 23, 2013
Kennan Mighell (Climate change most severe problem of all time, Nov. 17) is justifiably concerned his grandchildren may never “have the opportunity to see a glacier up close.” Earth was (naturally) ice free 35 million years ago. We have no way of knowing that this will not happen again.
Having said that, the 16 prominent scientists who signed “No Need to Panic About Global Warming” (Wall Street Journal, July 27, 2012) realize there is “no compelling scientific argument for drastic action to ‘decarbonize’ the world’s economy.” The “ninety-seven percent of scientists” who agree that global warming is anthropogenic is a small group. Realization that we are seeing natural variation, well within Earth’s recent natural history, is widespread in the larger (disinterested) scientific community.
Carbon dioxide from warming oceans, melting permafrost and increased tree mortality are all epiphenomena that carry no etiological weight. These are all examples of how increases in the global temperature anomaly (GTA) lead to increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. When Earth cools oceans, permafrost and forests will recapture the carbon dioxide they released during the current warming period.
Climate scientists know that atmospheric carbon dioxide level lags the GTA at major climate transitions. The New York Times (Study of ice age Bolsters Carbon and Warming Link, Feb. 28, 2013), reports on an effort (by Parrenin et al. in Journal Science) that reduced the gap by which the GTA led atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, at the last transition, from 800 years to less than 200 years.
There is no suggestion that changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels actually preceded changes in the GTA: the observation that “atmospheric carbon dioxide lags temperature at major climate transitions” remains intact.
Informed belief that global warming is anthropogenic requires believing that effect precedes cause. Those who accept that global warming is anthropogenic should also be prepared to accept that the light coming on is the cause of my having just previously flipped the switch, and that my wife’s ire with me this morning is the cause of the thoughtless remark I made last evening.
Surely a Whitman College student’s vaunted critical thinking skills should let him see through this flapdoodle.
Earth faces real and pressing environmental challenges that are not being addressed in large part due to our obsession with a harmless to slightly beneficial gas (AKA carbon dioxide).