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Saturday, August 3, 2013
I read with interest at first, and then dismay, the piece by Brian Lindholm (“Uncertain climate predictions,” July 29 commentary). Google verifies him as a coal apologist, but that aside, his dismissal of science was astonishing.
Lindholm cites all sorts of global change simulation results, but never tells us his sources, nor more importantly do we learn the time frame for the array of information and study data he references. Unfortunately, he simply tries to subvert reality by trying to come off as authoritative.
Ten years ago, the computational power available to climate change modelers was millions of times less than now. Thus, the simulations and interpretations are much improved. They will be that much better next year.
Science moves on. The basis for his pronouncements are weak, at best. Progress doesn’t stand still, either. Science grows and develops, but it also polices itself to the open scrutiny of everyone. Wall Street and boards of coal companies are not where we should place our confidence.
In short, because he isn’t up-to-date, Lindholm’s criticism of simulation is fundamentally flawed, and he hasn’t looked at real, unassailable, up-to-date sources. The National Academy of Sciences is the referee, if you will, of science and engineering in the U.S. and throughout the world. Check out the U.K.’s Royal Society’s position or the National Science Foundation.
The academy is unequivocal in the position that since the outset of the industrial revolution, man’s activity is the principal cause of greenhouse gas increase, and thus global warming. You see, the academy has reviewed, evaluated and summarized the state of the art, so if you wish to listen and watch it yourself, try tinyurl.com/cyn83j5. Let’s summarize state of the art science:
Temperatures are rising: Average global surface temperature has risen more than 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit since 1850. If emission rates for greenhouse gases continue on their current track, models indicate that the globe will be 4.3 to 11.5 degrees Fahrenheit warmer by 2100 than it was in 1990.
Sea levels are rising: Warmer temperatures not only cause glaciers and land ice to melt (adding more volume to oceans) but also cause seawater to expand in volume as it warms. Under a business-as-usual greenhouse gas emissions scenario, models indicate that sea levels could rise 2 feet or more by 2100 compared to 1990 levels.
The ocean is acidifying: Much of the carbon dioxide emitted by human activity has already been taken up by the ocean, thus moderating the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. However, as carbon dioxide dissolves in seawater, it forms carbonic acid, acidifying the ocean. Ocean acidification will likely cause serious harm to marine organisms such as corals, lobsters and sea urchins.
Water cycle changes: The seasonal rhythms of streams and rivers have changed as winter precipitation falls increasingly as rain instead of snow, and as earlier spring temperatures cause snow in the mountains to melt earlier and faster.
Warmer temperatures also mean higher evaporation rates and thirstier plants and people, increasing demands for water. Projections indicate that, on average, dry areas will tend to get drier, and wet areas will tend to get wetter. Mountain glaciers that store water for rivers are not forming.
Extreme weather: It is considered very likely that increasing global temperatures will lead to higher maximum temperatures, more heat waves and fewer cold days over most land areas.
Here’s the problem with being a fossil-fuel, climate change denier like 9th District Rep. Morgan Griffith and 25 percent of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Coal and oil are like typewriters, buggy whips and dial phones. Their time is past. Fossil fuels’ time continues to be dreadfully damaging and very costly.
In six or seven years, solar and wind, plus a few other renewable energy sources, will be cheaper than fossil fuels, which — unlike the sun — disappear. It’s an entrepreneurial inevitability. Natural gas is a better stop gap, but its time is measured, too.
You see, while congressmen like Griffith tilt at windmills and vilify the Environmental Protection Agency that tries to protect us from ourselves, the $37 trillion available over the next 10 to 20 years for renewable energy technology development, manufacture and sales will go somewhere else — lost, unless we get our act together.
Climate change deniers populate all of the important congressional science committees. What do we do? Remove them and let their misguided advocates know that they are finished.
Provide our people sustainable jobs and a long-term future by moving past fossil fuels, and save the Earth for our children and grandchildren.
Weather JournalMany very icy despite 'bust' claims