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Volume xviii, Issue 11 ~ March 18 - March 24, 2010

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Correspondence

We welcome your opinions and letters – with name and address. We will edit when necessary. Include your name, address and phone number for verification. Mail them to Bay Weekly, 1629 Forest Drive, Annapolis, MD 21403 •E-mail them to editor@bayweekly.com. or submit your letters on-line by clicking here.


Poles Apart on Climate Change

Dear Bay Weekly:

I have just one question to ask columnist Steve Carr [Is Global Warming for Real? Our climate is radically changing, so let’s get rid of global warming and talk climate change: Vol. xviii:10, March 11-17, 2010 ], which no one has been able to answer for me yet. Why is it that for millions of years there have been many climate changes (temperatures rising and falling, shapes of continents changing due to ice ages and ice melting), and only in this last century scientists are saying man is responsible for climate change. For millions of years there’s a reason for climate change, and all of a sudden that reason doesn’t apply to the last century? Instead man is to blame?

This is like the little boy who points his toy rifle at some bigger punk kids, and all of a sudden the kids start running away in fear. The little boy thinks he’s responsible for the kids running in fear, when in fact it’s the bear behind him that’s scaring the kids away. Scientists should be spending more time studying the bear than the little boy.

–Clifford Chew, Honolulu

Steve Carr’s reply

With a very complex system like the climate system of the planet earth, there are no simple answers. But the simplest answer to your question is that we humans have been raising the carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, thus triggering a rapid warming, which has, in turn, warmed the oceans and thus put our planet into serious danger.

Volcanoes can and have caused the same imbalance over the course of millennia, and volcanic and sub-ocean discharges of methane are helping to worsen the current problem. But past warming and cooling cannot negate the scientific fact that humans, through our cars and machines, are raising the temperature of the planet.

So, now, let me ask you a question: What are the odds that every member of the National Academy of Sciences is wrong about climate change, and laypeople, talk show hosts and political commentators are correct?

If I was living on Oahu, I’d head for the Pali Lookout.

Cheers!


Dear Bay Weekly:

What a disappointing article titled “Is Global Warming for Real?” in your March 11-17 issue. Disappointing, because it contained so much alarmist misinformation. The article refers to The National Academy of Science as “the most prestigious scientific body in the world … comprised of the top scientists from every country on the planet.” No such organization exists. The National Academy of Sciences (with an “s” at the end) is simply a United States organization that advises the U.S. government on numerous scientific matters. Some other countries have similar organizations to advise their governments. They do not all speak with one voice on any matter.

Additionally, the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (which until a few months ago was the gold standard in climate studies) is now under fire for the poor quality of its work. Its work relied heavily on the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in Great Britain. In November, leaked internal documents from that unit have turned the so-called settled science of global warming on its head. The heads of the climate change group at the U.N. and at East Anglia have both left their positions. Many prestigious scientific organizations are ordering a new look at the science behind the global warming alarmism.

Perhaps your author wrote his piece before the United Nations and East Anglia problems became public.

–Tom Heath, Chesapeake Beach

Carr’s reply:

Adding an S to the National Academy of Science does not change their unanimous verdict that climate change is the largest threat to the planet.

I am reminded of Jared Diamond’s book Collapse, pointing to countless cultures that failed because they ignored the very real threats to their very existence. In every case, nature wiped them out and the naysayers’ children paid the ultimate price. Climate change will be no different to us than it was to the Anasazi or the Greenlanders if we continue to ignore the obvious signs.


Dear Bay Weekly:

A linguist I heard on NPR (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=123950399) claims one of the reasons global warming is not taken seriously is the phrase itself. Both global warming and climate change are too benign and impart no sense of urgency. Warming is soothing, and we all like a change in climate. He prefers climate crisis. I like climate chaos.

–Paul Lebow, via e-mail


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