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The letter by Mark A. Robinson “Climate change is liberal hot air,” Dec. 31, 2009, is a good example of what’s bothering people about this issue. It attacks the idea of human-caused warming not from a scientific point but from a political/economic one. Indeed most objections to this idea are made because it’s thought that this is some political ploy that’s simply going to cost too much to do anything about. This is understandable since there are a fair number of supporters of the idea who are liberal and many against it who are conservative. Also, there is legitimate disagreement over what, if anything, to do about it. Cap and Trade? Carbon Tax? Leave it to industry? So it goes.
But, and make no mistake about it, while all this discussion is relevant, it has little, if anything, to do about the scientific question of whether humans are the cause of recently observed warming. Recent revelations of purloined e-mails from a few climate researchers have done little to help one sort out what is propaganda and hype (on both sides), and what is sound science. Pity the poor interested individual who hasn’t the time or expertise to evaluate counter-claims that sound scientific.
Robinson is clearly one of these. He clearly understands very little of the enormous amount of work that’s been done and published on the subject. There has been so much of this that one could ignore all the work done by the so-called Climate Gate scientists and nothing would change. Theirs are only two of many studies done of present and past temperatures using satellites, ice cores, sea sediments, temperatures from deep holes in the ground, etc. In fact, with minor differences, everybody gets about the same answers – today’s warming is real (even though everybody including the East Anglia Climate-Gate people agree on no warming in the past eight years, and we’re pretty certain we know why), and the average northern hemisphere (and with less certainty the average global one) is significantly warmer than during medieval times. So, ignore the Phil Jones surface temperature; ignore Michael Mann’s hockey stick proxy temperatures back a thousand years. You still get the same answer due to the work of many other independent research teams.
Finally, Robinson’s point that the sun has a large effect on temperature is true, but that supports the argument that humans have caused warming in the past
30 years, because the sun’s average heating has been level and has started to decrease slightly during that time.
Scientifically speaking, the problem is very complex. I had to read nearly 300 scientific papers and discuss issues with some 30 climate scientists to get my arms around the problem. But in the end, politics and economic aside (Mother Nature doesn’t care what your values are), the answer is now pretty clear it’s warming and it’s us.
Charles “Chick” Keller