Fomenting doubt about the need to transition to a cleaner, greener environment and to reduce our dependency on foreign oil, whether for political and/or business reasons, is wrong.
News junkie that I am, I was dismayed Friday (June 26th 2009) by all the media attention Michael Jackson’s untimely death the day before was getting. What with all that was and continues to be happening in the world — reaction to the election results in Iran, the saber-rattling of North Korea’s Kim Jung Il, world economic struggles and Congressional actions on important issues like healthcare reform, passage of a $680 billion defense spending bill for next year ignoring specific war fighting requests presented by the Secretary of Defense and endorsed by the White House, and House passage of the Waxman/Markey climate and energy bill by a narrow margin, news agencies were, or so it seemed, taking a holiday.
At ABC’s news website I read where John Stossel’s take on the healthcare debate, scheduled for Friday night’s 20/20 program, would be preempted by a special on Michael Jackson. As John himself might have said, I muttered under my breath, “Give me a break!” then I went to John’s blog to express my opinion about the media playing to the ratings rather than doing the job we need them to do, keeping citizens informed. Oh for the good old days of Public Broadcasting prior to the age of “infotainment.”
At John’s blog, after posting my condolences, I found a thread of comments to a piece he had written about the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) referring to those not yet accepting of the majority view of scientists as “deniers.” John, a well-know skeptic of global warming theory, had attracted some interesting comments containing what I like to call, “disinformation.” I started reading and started responding, doing what I could to counter the attacks on reason. You can read the entire thread if you wish at http://blogs.abcnews.com/johnstossel/2009/06/global-warming.html#comments.
The first comment I responded to was posted by someone named, Ordean Pierce. Mr. Pierce posted:
WHERE WAS AL GORE WHEN THE LAST ICE AGE ENDED, AND THE WORLD WARMED UP? THAT MELTING OF THE ICE MADE OUR LAKES IN MINNESOTA AND THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER. I KNOW WHERE HE WAS, HE WAS INVENTING THE INTERNET.
My response was: Mr. Pierce, we all know that Al Gore misspoke when he claimed more than justified credit for “inventing” the Internet. He has admitted as much. But this fact negates neither the work of “real” climate scientists nor the important work Mr. Gore has done to heighten world concern about the dangers we face because of climate change. Your comment is a crude appeal to ridicule. This fallacy or faulty logic is when mockery is substituted for evidence in an “argument.” Shame on you.
The second comment I responded to was made by Monty. Monty posted:
Congress proposes to spend m(b)illions to reduce the man-made CO2 in greenhouse gases.
But 95% of greenhouse gases is water vapor. 4.85% is CO2, but 97% of that comes from trees and vegetation, oceans, and land surfaces. 3% of 4.85% is 0.15%. It is that small component of greenhouse gases that Congress will spend money on.
I responded with: You are correct, Monty, according to Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenhouse_gas, water vapor is the most significant greenhouse gas, but it is not as significant as you claim. When ranked by their contributions to the greenhouse effect, the most important gases are:
Water vapor, which contributes 36–72%
Carbon dioxide, which contributes 9–26%
Methane, which contributes 4–9%
Ozone, which contributes 3–7%
The variances are attributable to the significance of these gases’ contributions to the greenhouse effect in different locations of the earth. Obviously, water vapor is not as prevalent in desert areas as it is in tropical areas. I can’t imagine from where you came up with the 95% contribution for water vapor — a little distortion of the real numbers, perhaps. Maybe you can provide us with a reference…
By the way, it is water vapor that comes from the oceans, lakes and rivers, trees and land surfaces, not carbon dioxide. I suggest too that you check your math again.
Atmospheric water vapor, as well as other greenhouse gases, has been shown to be increasing in recent years. However, the increase in water vapor is not the cause of atmospheric temperature increases. This increase is incidental to raising temperatures rather causal.
Another comment I responded to was by someone identifying himself as, dimsdale. He listed a dozen or more, what he claimed were facts, but without referencing sources to back up any of them. At the end of his comment, he left a single URL hyperlink and signed off as “a proud anti-climatic infidel.” Curious, I clicked on his hyperlink, did a little research, then posted the following comment of my own.
Please, Mr. Dimsdale, admit that the “facts” you present are unsubstantiated and, at best, outdated. The URL you have given us leads to an undated letter from Christopher Monckton, 3rd Viscount of Brenchley, to an unidentified editorialist named Ms. Goodman. Readers should know that “Lord” Monckton is no scientist, although he has indeed waxed loudly and eloquently against those who are. Lord Monckton was a British politician, having run unsuccessfully for a seat in the House of Lords and serving as an advisor to Margaret Thatcher. Prior to this, and subsequently, he was a journalist. His greatest claim to fame has been to champion arguments against “main stream” scientists on what was once a climate change issue. Readers can learn more about him at
Thank you, sir, but I prefer scientific arguments/discourse made by “real” scientists.
While I was still reading and responding to disinformation comments posted at this site, Mr. Dimsdale responded to my comment with another of his own. His comment contained segments of publications by eight different professors and scientists in everything from atmospheric chemistry and botany to geophysics and mathematical physics, claiming that he himself had a PhD in neuroscience with minors in oceanography and paleogeology.
My response was: Okay “Dr.” Dimsdale, clearly you were well prepared to respond to my comment with material citing various individual “real” scientists’ claims that the majority view on climate change is wrong. Obviously I walked into a trap. But when I read recent articles published by NASA and NOAA on accelerating levels of carbon dioxide and methane (both greenhouse gases generated by or a consequence of human activities on earth), the IPCC’s climate conclusions seem reasonable and resonate loudly within me.
According to NOAA’s site at http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2009/20090421_carbon.html, “Researchers measured an additional 16.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), a byproduct of fossil fuel burning — and 12.2 million tons of methane in the atmosphere in the year ending December 2008. This increase and the rate of increase are real and alarming despite the global economic downturn, with its decrease in a wide range of activities that depend on fossil fuel use.” This tells me, even though I am not a scientist myself, that we are at or near a dangerous tipping point.
Whom should we believe, sir, the few scientists who are skeptical about the human causes of climate change, which is measurable and has been measured, or the majority of scientists who say that we should be concerned, that we are the cause, and that we should be taking actions to minimize consequences? I choose to trust the majority.
According to Pieter Tans, a scientist with NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, CO, “Only by reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and increasing energy production from renewable resources will we start to see improvements and begin to lessen the effects of climate change,” said scientist. “At NOAA we have monitored carbon dioxide emissions and other greenhouses gases for decades and will continue to do so to help assess the situation and advise decision makers.”
I know not why you, sir, are such a vocal critic of the IPCC’s findings and recommendations. Perhaps you fear short run economic consequences of actions necessary to reduce carbon emissions. These consequences are of concern to us all. But fomenting doubt about the need to transition to a cleaner, greener environment and to reduce our dependency on foreign oil for a stronger economy in the long run, whether for political and/or business reasons, if these are what motivate you, is wrong. If even modest predictions about sea level rise are correct, and the icepacks feeding the major rivers of the world do disappear over the next few decades, this might well be mankind’s eleventh hour.
Gee, I hope I wasn’t too harsh.
I invite your comments whether you agree with my persuasions or not.
P.S. Yahoo Answers recently came up with the following “best” answer to the question: Why is it that AGW proponents reference NOAA, NASSA, NAS… and AGW skeptic/deniers reference Michael Savage? http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090605122216AAp1S62. For me, it explains a lot about global warming deniers’ movivations.