Cherry picking



To the Editor:

I agree with the first point in Tom Rolfes’ response to my recent letter on climate change (“Just Facts”): everyone should evaluate critically whom you look to for information.

Discussions of climate science should be based on the work of experts actively involved in the science, subjected to review by peers. This foundation protocol has served science well for over 300 years.

The EPA, NASA, NOAA and mainstream scientists are not infallible. But they are credible because they follow this protocol. The Calgary Friends of Science, Epstein and Lomborg do not. The latter are not scientists, nor do they publish their views in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Most of the points in Rolfe’s letter have been thoroughly addressed in the scientific literature.

I looked at several assertions that NASA and NOAA have misled by ignoring satellite data, and they are not credible to me. Whether 2014 was the hottest year on record as three agencies claim or just in a statistical tie for first as a fourth reports is beside the point. Climate scientists look at averages across at least 10 years for trends. And every decade since the 1970s has been significantly hotter than the preceding one. We have warmed about 1.4 degrees since the start of the 20th century.

And scientists forecast 2 to 11 degrees more warming by 2100, with the higher end more likely if we follow the advice of Epstein et al. A similar story exists for sea-level rise.

The science is well established: increased greenhouse gasses like CO2 will produce warming and other climate changes. Human activity, primarily burning fossil fuels, has driven CO2 to levels unprecedented in human history. Which begs the question “why would anyone expect climate not to change?”

James L. Powell, a distinguished geochemist and educator, analyzed more than 25,000 peer-reviewed articles that discussed global warming or climate change since 1991, and found only 26 that rejected man-made climate change. Those 26 have advanced no single alternative theory to explain the observed rise in global temperature. You can cherry-pick some experts who disagree with the mainstream position, but my money is on the 99.9 percent who agree.

Climate science is complicated, and finding economic, global solutions will be difficult. That’s why we need to get past the politics of denial and support leaders who believe the science and are willing to address the problem.

John Fehlauer

Mount Desert

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