In his Herald column of Dec. 31, Jerry Cornfield reiterated the calumny that the media persistently drums into folks, inherently taking up one side of a scientific argument instead of doing journalism: he referred to “climate change deniers.”
There is no such thing. I have never found one. Nobody contends that climate is not changing, has not changed, and will not change in the future. The odiousness of this epithet is that by inference it lumps all those who question anthropogenic climate change into the same camp with Holocaust deniers, in effect, calling them Nazis. So, in all fairness, I think the media needs to label Mr. Cornfield a “warmist.”
It takes but a few minutes of real research to conclude that there is no “settled science” regarding anthropogenic climate change (in fact there is no such thing as “settled science” and science is not about consensus). That said, there are thousands of legitimate scientists who doubt that warming is occurring, or if it is occurring, they doubt that it is man-made. Even allowing that we are experiencing anthropogenic warming, some would contend it would be beneficial. Remember we breathe out carbon dioxide and plants thrive on it — the earth has experienced higher atmospheric carbon dioxide in the past — the real Jurassic Park had perhaps as much as five times the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as we do, today. I will cite but one example of someone Mr. Cornfield would label a climate change denier: Ivar Giaever, Nobel Prize winner for physics who is skeptical of anthropogenic climate change. There are legions of other scientists akin to Giaever.
A few facts might be in order. Over the past several hundred thousand years the earth has experienced vastly long cold periods known as ice ages interrupted by very short spikes of warming. Naturally occurring not man made! The prevailing pattern indicates we should be much more worried, in the long run, about the return of the glaciers that scoured out Puget Sound.
Carbon dioxide is definitely a greenhouse gas but a miniscule one — the preponderant greenhouse gas is water vapor. The relationship of greenhouse gases to climate change is tenuous, speculative and built on computer modeling and there are notorious cases of “warmists” having fudged the data (notably the East Anglia University scandal) to conform to their pet theories.
We only have to step back into the past about a thousand years to find historic evidence contrary to the theory of anthropogenic global warming: the Medieval Maximum and the Little Ice Age. The Medieval Maximum was a warm period that took place from around 900 A.D. to 1200 A.D. and is thought to have enabled the Vikings to colonize Greenland and wine grapes to be successfully grown in England. The Little Ice Age was just that, and resulted in much colder temperatures and longer winters, and the river Thames routinely froze over (the last time this happened was 1814. All due to climate change and none due to anthropogenic climate change.
What is left out of the equation when discussing climate change? The complex and little understood relationships between the oceans and the atmosphere and effects of solar flares and sun spots on climate are seldom mentioned because they are beyond our control. Nature abides and there is little humanity can or should do about it but enjoy the ride.
David W. Rash is a librarian and history instructor at Everett Community College. He lives in Everett.