Letter to Editor: Lifestyle changes not needed

To the Editor:

In the Community Forum in the Sept 12 edition of the Islander, the author asks if the Islander fact checks the statements of its contributors. Well, I hope so. When I write a letter to the paper, I try to provide references for the statements I make.

It may be that Ms. Letcher doesn’t like my sources.

As a professor of plant biology, I would expect she would know that carbon dioxide is plant food. Here are a few “facts” from the “Biological Change” section of “Climate Change Reconsidered,” published by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change in 2014. Nearly all plants increase photosynthesis in response to increasing CO2 (“CO2 fertilization”); more CO2 makes plants grow faster, and with less stress and less water; more CO2 means bigger crop yields; and more CO2 means less water loss, less irrigation and more soil moisture.

In a summary of 270 laboratory studies (“The positive externalities of carbon dioxide,” available at co2science.org/education) 83 food crops showed that increasing CO2 concentration by 300 ppm will increase plant growth by an average of 46 percent over all crops studied.

Conversely, Overdieck D., et al (1988) “The effects of pre-industrial and future CO2 concentrations on growth….” indicated that, compared to today, plant growth was reduced by 8 percent when the CO2 concentration 280 ppm CO2 or less.

Do these references represent “cherry-picked data”?

I don’t think many people are in “climate change denial.” Most understand that climate change has been around, essentially forever. What we need to do is to adapt to it.

My specific position is that CO2 has very little effect on climate change, and what it has is for the better in the case of plant growth and greening of the earth. And that the use of fossil fuels is not warming the earth.

To quote another literature reference: in a recent report backed by the Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Turku, in Finland: “During the last hundred years, the temperature is increased about 0.1 deg. C because of CO2. The human contribution was about 0.01 deg. C.”

I think saying that “The science behind climate change is as settled as science ever gets” is a bit misleading. Letcher’s example for this is the Arrhenius reference to the relationship of carbon dioxide and temperature (“1890s”).

But, that is precisely the science that shows CO2 has a decreasing impact on Temperature as CO2 concentration increases. So, CO2 is not a major contributor to warming as it increases in the atmosphere. (Actually, Arrhenius’ first 1890’s calculations were wrong, and he issued an amended version in 1906, which has been further refined, and is the basis of the negative logarithmic relationship discussed in my letter of Aug 23.)

I’d like to provide a much better reference than the 2010 book “Merchants of Doubt.” I would suggest “The Great Global Warming Blunder” by Roy W. Spencer, 2010. Spencer is a principal research scientist at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, who is responsible for developing global temperature data from current satellites.

So, since there has been no warming of the US since 2005 as per updated data from NOAA, and the same goes for Northern Europe, while CO2 levels have been steadily climbing, I don’t believe CO2 is a driver for climate change/anthropogenic global warming, and do not believe we need major changes in our life styles re: fossil fuel use or wind/solar conversions, unless it is a more efficient/less costly way to go.

Tom Rolfes


and Cincinnati

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