To the Editor:
Recently the Sky-Hi News published a letter claiming that global warming is a hoax. At the same time, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published its latest report asserting that warming of the climate system is unequivocal and that it is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause since 1950. Who to believe? Should an uninformed opinion be given equal weight to an informed opinion? Is scientific evidence just another tool to be manipulated for political or financial purposes?
I spent most of my professional career working on the development of the next generation of nuclear reactors. The most curious aspect of working in an area as controversial as nuclear energy was that many skeptics would automatically dismiss my opinion on the subject because they thought I had a vested interest manipulating the results of my work. Scientific research does not work that way. I do agree, however, that one should be skeptical of second-hand interpretations of the scientific evidence from those with political or financial motives, including Al Gore on the left and the Hartland Institute on the right.
In spite of my training in science, I am not a climatologist nor do I have the time to study all of the data. Fortunately, Richard Mueller and his colleagues at the University of California Berkley have done it for me. Dr. Mueller was an early climate change skeptic and a darling of the climate change deniers until he took a careful look at all of the available historical data. He intentionally avoided contentious computer simulations, instead relying on an unbiased statistical analysis of the records. He concluded that recent “global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct.” Furthermore, “Humans are almost entirely the cause.” As for the current 16 year pause in surface warming, his analysis showed that it should have been expected based on the variability of past data, including periods of global cooling. That doesn’t change upward trend of 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit over the past 50 years nor the fact that the strongest correlation is with the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The trend is likely to continue in the future with the rapid growth of developing countries. The real discussion ought to center around what could or should be done about it.