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Dear Editor: Just a few points about the issues raised by Dr. Desonie's letter (AFN, Nov. 28) regarding global warming. I would have to agree with other writers that the use of Al Gore's writings as a source tends to have a negative impact on her credibility as an expert on this subject. Gore, like other politicians, is known for his elaborations (he "created" the Internet 15 years after it was established and five years after it was in use worldwide by thousands of people) and his book on global warming suffers from the same problem. A previous writer raises an important point, neglected by Desonie and most of the popularizers of the global warming threat. The research efforts by atmospheric scientists on the problem have used computer models to predict consequences if we continue on our present path of dumping CO2 into the atmosphere. But Desonie avoids telling us what they predict will happen if we follow the recommendations of the activists. That is because they predict nothing will happen - the outcome will be virtually the same. All of the programs being proposed to "stop global warming" are a futile exercise, according to these scientists. Either we face up to this reality and develop elaborate technologies to remove the existing CO2 from the atmosphere or we need to make plans to accommodate the changes, as proposed by John McMahon. I am always skeptical when a letter is signed by someone with a title at the end. Desonie does have an advanced degree, to be sure, but in a discipline unrelated to atmospheric science. That makes her somewhat more qualified technically than a pharmacist. There are those who are experts in this field who disagree with her opinions on the subject and there still are many unresolved issues. Finally, let me provide a timely quote from a well-known expert that I think is most relevant to the issues we face. "In the space of one-hundred and seventy-six years the Lower Mississippi has shortened itself two hundred and forty-two miles. That is an average of a trifle over one mile and a third per year. Therefore, any calm person, who is not blind or idiotic, can see that in the Old Oolitic Silurian Period, just a million years ago next November, the Lower Mississippi River was upwards of one million three hundred thousand miles long, and stuck out over the Gulf of Mexico like a fishing-rod. And by the same token any person can see that seven hundred and forty-two years from now the Lower Mississippi will be only a mile and three-quarters long, and Cairo and New Orleans will have joined their streets together, and be plodding comfortably along under a single mayor and a mutual board of aldermen. There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact." (Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi, 1866) Robert Sundahl
Dear Editor: In response to Dana Desonie's (Ph.D.) editorial "Global warming is real" (Nov. 28, AFN), I can't help but agree with her observation on people being misled by the media and I think she did a wonderful job of showing the even greater influence politicians have had in the matter, starting with the Kyoto treaty and hopefully climaxing with the film An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore (politician), grossing well over $50 million worldwide and gaining Gore numerous awards from a number of politically charged organizations. In the process Desonie also rightfully points out the influences of other such scientific communities as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the United Nations. First of all, I fully recognize that global warming is real given the fact that measured surface temperatures in the United States have been on the increase at a rate of 0.5 degrees Celsius per century. I'll even go so far as to support the notion that humans may have had some influence in such warming, even though it is not obvious in the available data when fully scrutinized. It is the alarmist attitudes on the subject and the notion that throwing a bunch of money to our favorite politicians to "fix it" that I have the most difficulty palating. I certainly have no business challenging Desonie's credentials and motivations on the topic given her extensive education and career as a science writer, editor and book author but, at the price of gas today, I would be happy if any oil company wants to buy me a tank of gas for my dissenting opinion as a lowly career engineer who would be happy to retire someday. Or maybe I should think of a career change altogether to pursue even a fraction of the financial gains of others who share Desonie's viewpoint to avoid seeming curmudgeonly while enjoying a truly green future. Speaking of a green future, perhaps Desonie and others might feel a bit better after reading the paper, "Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide" (Robinson, Robinson, & Soon) from the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine in which the authors conclude, "We are living in an increasingly lush environment of plants and animals as a result of this CO2 increase. Our children will therefore enjoy an Earth with far more plant and animal life than that with which we now are blessed." I don't know that they are quite to the 90 percent approval rating of other more popular hypotheses, but I kind of like it and it sounds better than drinking the purple Kool-Aid. John McMahon
Dear Editor: Wow! Sorry if I must step up to the plate and be yet another curmudgeon, but I was stunned at Dana Desonie's diatribe (Nov. 28, AFN) over a single line from D. Kennedy's "Halloween is scary..." commentary (Oct. 31, AFN ). Contrary to Dana's point of view, scientists by the droves are abandoning the global warming theories... now that it's considered safe to speak out. For quite awhile there scientists feared peer pressure and job loss... just Google "global warming" and "consensus" (isn't that a nasty word). Check out the Wikipedia list of dissenting scientists. Check out "Governor Plans to Fire Oregon Climatologist for Skeptical View on Global Warming," NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) employees threatened with firing for being skeptical, and then ponder why the hurricane predictions since Katrina have been completely wrong. Desonie's apparent worship of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth is really appalling... the movie is stock full of lies... the mathematical subterfuge that Gore-advisors Michael Mann and Phil Jones used will produce the sudden step-up (so-called hockey stick pattern) in temperature even when fed totally random data. I would label this criminal intent to defraud and fleece the sheep of more tax money and carbon credit payoffs. But, yep, I'm just another curmudgeon, though MIT-educated I've been called many times by the likes of Dana, "just another parent/grandparent," what would I know. Personally though I think things are changing for the better. Only Desonie (PhD!) and a bunch of village idiots from the Chicken Little crowd still subscribe to global warming as man-made. Jim Thompson
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.