OPINION: There really is scientific controversy over climate change

OPINION: There really is scientific controversy over climate change



By Len Suzio

On July 21, the Record-Journal published a column I wrote about climate change and global warming hoping to precipitate a vigorous but thoughtful and respectful discussion on the issue that would help people critically evaluate this very important scientific and public policy topic. I did receive a number of thoughtful responses. But one response, written as an op ed by Mike Brodinsky, was very disappointing.

Mr. Brodinsky’s response comes across as dogmatic. In fact, Mr. Brodinsky objects to anyone even asking any thoughtful or challenging questions about global warming and the role of CO2 as a greenhouse gas. Arrogant attitudes like that all too often poisons the public square and suppresses diversity of opinion and discourages robust debate about a very important issue.

Mr. Brodinsky relies upon what he labels as a “lopsided” consensus about global warming in the science community. Let me be clear, I acknowledge that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and plays a role in temperatures on earth. I believe there is virtually 100% consensus and understanding about how CO2 molecules interact with photons in the infrared spectrum helping warm the earth and thereby preventing the earth from being a frozen rock. That is not the issue. What is at question is how big a role CO2 plays in global temperatures and specifically, the magnitude of anthropogenic induced (caused by humans) global temperature changes related to increased CO2 in the atmosphere and in the oceans. It’s a question of what science refers to as “CO2 sensitivity”.

An article I discovered on the Yale University website, “What is the carbon limit?” states, “We still don’t know the true sensitivity of global temperatures to the greenhouse gases that cause warming. Embarrassingly for climate researchers, there is a three-fold uncertainty range that, according to Susan Solomon, the former co-chair of an IPCC science-assessment working group who is now at MIT, ‘has not narrowed appreciably in 30 years of research’”.

How sensitive is the earth’s temperature and climate to CO2 increases caused by human activity? While there truly is overwhelming consensus that CO2 does play a role in global temperatures, within the science community there is considerable controversy around the magnitude of the impact and how accurately we can measure it. Even the professor who taught Al Gore at Harvard about CO2 and global warming, Dr. Roger Revelle, publicly expressed second thoughts about the magnitude of the impact of CO2 on global warming before he passed away.

Some of the leading voices of skepticism in the science community include a cofounder of Green Peace, Dr. Patrick Moore, physicists from Princeton and MIT and other leading universities. The list even includes some scientists who have been Nobel Prize winners. But I am certain that Mr. Brodinsky will dismiss them all as odd balls and demean them as “deniers.”

There is an online petition signed by more than 31,000 scientists, including more than 9,000 PhD’s, that states, “There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide . . . is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere . . .” – so much for the so-called “lopsided” scientific consensus that predicts climate doom and gloom based almost exclusively on the impact of CO2 increases.  Heck, even Mr. Brodinsky describes the consequences of the CO2 impact as “probably” dire. Now there’s a term that contradicts Mr. Brodinsky’s confidence and conveys the true uncertainty that characterizes the raging debate in the science community about how to quantify and predict the impact and the consequences of anthropogenic climate change.

But there is no doubt about the drastic consequences for the standard of living of everyone on earth if the draconian recommendations of the “Green New Deal” are ever adopted. The certainty of the immediate and tremendous adverse impact on the standard of living must be weighed against the uncertainty of a potential adverse climate impact in the future when forming public policy.

It’s time to stop the infantile and disrespectful response to people who question how much we know, how much we can quantify and how accurately we can predict changes regarding very complex and chaotic climate systems. I’ve watched hours of debate and read many articles on this topic and I support more research and study on the matter. Once again, I invite Mr. Brodinsky and anyone else to articulate something other than dogmatic dicta that denounces, not just dissent, but anyone who has the audacity to ask real questions. That’s the way you win minds and hearts. The age of Torquemada passed more than 500 years ago.


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