Global warming is real - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Letters To The Editor

Global warming is real

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Posted: Tuesday, November 27, 2007 12:00 am | Updated: 8:54 am, Wed Apr 18, 2012.

Dear Editor: While the commentary by D. Kennedy of Oct. 31 has much to respond to, I would like to focus on just the phrase, "global warming is unsettled science." It's easy to see how so many people have been misled into thinking this since much of what they know about global warming science has come from the media. Journalists are taught to present a "balanced" view of issues, but as the number of scientists who are climate skeptics has dwindled, those journalists have had to air the views of the few remaining holdouts. Most of these skeptics have been shown to have received money from the energy industry. For example, according to the Center for Media and Democracy, Arizona State University's own climate skeptic, Dr. Robert C. Balling, has received more than $400,000 in funding from organizations such as ExxonMobil, the British Coal Corporation, Cyprus Minerals and OPEC. When journalists have to search hard to find dissenting opinions, this means that giving "balance" to the issue is inherently imbalanced. A recent study showed that more than half of news and magazine articles publish both sides of the global warming issue. But, in recent years, the scientific viewpoint has unified. Professor Naomi Oreske, a historian at the University of California San Diego, surveyed peer-reviewed scientific journals, which are the mainstay of academic science. Of the 928 papers on climate change published between 1993 and 2003, none dissented from the consensus opinion. Her work was published in 2004 in the prestigious journal Science. The most prestigious scientific organizations in the world now agree that global warming is largely attributable to human activities, including the National Academy of Sciences (U.S.). Most noteworthy is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore. Since 1988 when the United Nations convened the panel, approximately 2,000 international scientists have joined to help evaluate the state of climate science. The evolution of their consensus is shown by the increasing blame they place on human activities for rising temperatures. Their 1990 report stated that added greenhouse gases were likely the cause of some of the warming but the range of temperature increase was within what could be expected from natural climate variation. By 2007 the fourth report called global warming "unequivocal" and said with over 90 percent certainty that the warming taking place since 1950 had been caused by human activities. Just because an opinion is popular does not mean it is right, and science is littered with examples of times when the consensus opinion turned out to be wrong. What is so compelling about the global warming idea is that so many highly regarded scientists who were skeptics have changed their minds as more and more of the data that are collected support it. Certainly the vast majority of these data are generated by good scientists generating reasonable hypotheses, testing them using the scientific method, creating solid interpretations and publishing in respected peer-reviewed journals. There are people who think that scientists jump on the global warming bandwagon to profit in some way. But it seems unlikely that so many scientists could support an untrue hypothesis for personal gain. It is more likely that climate skeptics profit from their dissenting views. More people like to hear that global warming is a fiction and so these skeptics sell a lot of books. In truth, recognizing the reality of global warming is not pleasant for scientists or private citizens: There is no pleasure in looking at one's children and being pessimistic about what their futures will hold. Probably the AFN thinks that its readers will think that Kennedy's curmudgeonly views are cute. But to permit a retired insurance salesman newspaper space to address a scientific topic on which he provides no scientific data and that will affect the futures of our children and grandchildren - and even those of us who are not quite yet curmudgeonly - is simply dangerous. Dana Desonie, Ph.D.

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