Other Voices: Climate change columnist cherry-picked scientific ‘facts’
On March 6, The Union columnist Russ Steele, had a prominent four-column spread debunking climate change. It was so very well written and filled with “facts” that many readers may have been convinced of his views. However, as the following attempts to show, he may have been guilty of cherry-picking his facts.
He opens with a statement, “Now that we know the UN IPCC climate change reports are the result of scientific fraud, claiming that humans cause global warming…”. NOAA states that, “Since the Industrial Revolution, circa 1800, the burning of fossil fuel has caused a dramatic increase in CO2 in the atmosphere, reaching levels unprecedented in the last 400 million years.
“This increase has been implicated as a primary cause of global warming.”
Can NOAA be a part of the “scientific fraud” he refers to? The scientific evidence is overwhelming from respected institutions all over the world, such as NOAA, NASA, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the Science Museum of the National Academy of Sciences, to mention but a few.
Mr. Steele goes on to state that if you go back 500 million years, carbon levels “… were 10 to 20 times higher, and not just for a fleeting decade or two, but for a staggering hundred million years.” This completely ignores the important Vostok Ice Core data from Antarctica which is accepted by NOAA Paleoclimatology. It shows that for the past 400,000 years the CO2 level has never been higher than 300 parts per million (ppm) until about 1900. The only time it even came close was 323,485 years ago when it was 298.7 ppm. Now it is 380 ppm, the highest it has ever been.
While most people are aware of rising sea levels, there are other less well known but very serious possible results of climate change.
Most people are unaware of the important possible consequences of the warming of polar areas and resultant melting of icecaps. It causes a dilution of salinity and lowering of the density of the neighboring seas affecting the important sinking of the cold dense waters. This will affect not only the Gulfstream but the relatively unknown worldwide system of currents which could drastically affect climate all over the world.
As the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution states, “These currents collectively known as the Ocean Conveyor, distribute vast quantities of heat around our planet, and they play a fundamental role in governing Earth’s climate.” And also, “If cold, salty North Atlantic waters did not sink, a primary force driving global ocean circulation could slacken and cease.
Existing currents could weaken or be redirected. The resulting reorganization of the ocean’s circulation would reconfigure Earth’s climate patterns.”
Space will not permit me to address the consequences on the food chain of the oceans moving even a tiny bit toward acidification caused by interference with the 100-million-year CO2 cycle, or the release of entrapped methane gas caused by melting of the permafrost.
Suppose the naysayers are wrong, but are successful in stopping any action on climate change through already sympathetic politicians and powerful vested interests. The consequences would be dire and possibly irreversible.
On the other hand, suppose the scientists are wrong, but nevertheless steps were taken to reduce CO2 emissions, the main consequences would be: a better habitat for all of us living things, a perhaps painful adjustment to a very different economy not based on fossil fuels, and a way of life based on sustainability.
Ralph Hitchcock is a retired civil engineer who lives in Nevada City.
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