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Letter to the Editor: Setting the record straight on climate change

By James A. D’Aloisio, P.E.

Date:

To the Editor:

[Note: This letter is in response to the Tom Morgan column, entitled, “Global warming: not an easy idea for scientists to walk away from no matter the evidence,” published in the July 4-11 issue of The Business Journal.]

It is unfortunate and shocking that with the reliable sources of scientific information available today, profound ignorance not only exists, but also is empowered to publish such unfounded and fantastical misinformation as that which appeared in Mr. Morgan’s article. It would be comical, were it not that people in the business community might actually believe the incorrect information, or — just as bad — assume that there is serious doubt about the facts of anthropogenic climate change.

We all need to be clear about the basic and incontrovertible facts: 97 percent to 98 percent of published scientists in the field of climate science confirm the basic tenets of anthropogenic climate change — that human activities are causing the earth to warm. Let’s put this in perspective: If your doctor diagnosed you with a life-threatening disease, and he told you that you needed a major operation or procedure to survive, would you get a second opinion? A third? How many doctors would you go to before you found one that called for something less drastic, because that’s what you really want to hear? Ten? Twenty or more? And, would you trust your life based on the advice of the 2 percent to 3 percent of doctors who might tell you, “Don’t worry, everything will be fine?” If not, why would you trust the fringe minority on an issue that could involve permanent and crippling environmental and economic disruption?

Verifiable data exists. It is important to separate this from the unsubstantiated and inaccurate statements, so we can make the correct decisions for ourselves and our community. Please allow me to attempt to set the record straight with information that has been provided, verified, and affirmed by reliable sources such as NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, the IPCC (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), and by virtually every major scientific association of every country in the world.

  • The earth’s average surface and ocean temperature has been increasing, not decreasing, in recent years. The major independent temperature data sets from around the world agree with each other, with minor variations.
  • There is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere right now than there has been for at least the past 800,000 years — currently about 40 percent more than the average for the past few thousand years, and rising. Humans emit about 90 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere daily. Its atmospheric heat-trapping properties — known as the greenhouse—gas effect — are well understood, verified, and consistent with what is happening regarding atmospheric temperatures. And, there are other even more potent greenhouse gases that are on the rise, as well, including methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases.
  • Both the incidence and the severity of heavy rainstorms, flooding events, and droughts are increasing as a function of the warming of the atmosphere, and that is expected to continue. We have had our share of local flooding in Central New York in recent years, and droughts have affected us as a nation. It’s happening now.
  • A world that is a few degrees warmer will not support the biodiversity that is necessary to sustain human existence. We have become reliant on the stable climate that we have enjoyed for the past few thousand years. Let’s try to not rock the boat.
  • The oil and gas industries and their major investors are spending millions of dollars in an effort to preserve the status quo of fossil-fuel usage. We should expect some spin, but we can always rely on verifiable scientific data; we need to discredit the anecdotal charlatans who create confusion. We cannot afford to waste any more time before taking appropriate action.
  • Moving away from a fossil-fuel based economy has numerous benefits, including economic. Recent significant studies have shown that this is the case. I hope we can explore this in future issues.

The decisions that we make today, including consumer choices, business decisions, and governmental policies, can make a huge impact on the severity of the problems that we will face. Separating fact from fiction is critical in order to do the right thing for ourselves, for our community, for our economy, and for our future.

James A. D’Aloisio, P.E.
Jamesville

Note: D’Aloisio is a structural engineer. He is a member of the Climate Reality Project and the Citizen’s Climate Lobby. Contact him at jad@khhpc.com

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