If Joseph Ortiz, the Kent State University geology professor who wrote the Dec. 7 letter ”Climate change is beyond denial,” really believes that it is time for a serious discussion regarding climate change, maybe he could start by framing the debate more honestly.
He states that ”the climate-change denier’s logic goes like this: There is evidence of natural climate change; therefore, humans can’t be the cause of the climate change seen in the last 200 years.”
This is as absurd as stating that the climate-change zealot’s logic goes like this: There is evidence that human activity has increased carbon dioxide levels in the past 200 years; therefore, humans must be causing the climate to change. It is a cheap debating tactic to state an opposing view in a weak and unconvincing manner, and then denounce that position as a ”badly flawed conclusion.”
I am an environmental geologist, and I am skeptical of the climate-change hysteria because of the daunting magnitude of variables that influence the impact of chemicals when they are released to our environment. Many of these variables are poorly understood, many others have probably not yet been identified, and the complexity of the interactions on a scale as large as the global climate is almost certainly beyond our current levels of scientific understanding.
It is simply not logical that controlling a single (and miniscule, by volume) variable such as atmospheric carbon dioxide will allow us to bend the entire global climate to our will.
I am also skeptical because models used to predict environmental impact, while useful tools, are prone to calibration problems, manipulation and can produce results with little or no semblance to real-world outcomes.
Finally, I am skeptical because climate change is, contrary to the assertion by Ortiz, a political question at the bottom line.
The proposed solutions currently in search of a global warming problem involve enormous (and likely unachievable) alterations to world economies, drastic changes in lifestyles that most people will simply not accept and a redistribution of wealth that would make the most devout communist giddy.
By all means, Ortiz, continue your good research. We need your contribution to our overall understanding of the climate. But please forgo statements such as the evidence of human-induced climate change is beyond denying — it is not.
Determining when evidence is sufficient and if debate should begin or end on a topic of such universal importance is not the purview of you, Al Gore or the Beacon Journal editorial board.
Jim C. Smith
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