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Volume 86 Issue 25 | p. 3 | Letters
Issue Date: June 23, 2008

Evidentiary Science

Department: Letters

In “Defending Science,” Editor Rudy Baum delivers an ad hominem critique of us and our colleagues, the institution at which we work, and the journal in which we published the review article “Environmental Effects of Increased Atomspheric Carbon Dioxide” (C&EN, June 9, page 5).

Baum neglects to mention several points. Authors Arthur Robinson and Noah Robinson, both educated at California Institute of Technolgy, were the subjects of two complimentary articles in C&EN (April 16, 2007, and Feb. 17, 2003). Both articles include photographs of us conducting research work at the Oregon Institute of Science & Medicine, which Baum now refers to as a “curious little entity.”

Second, although he denigrates our article, he does not mention even one item of the data, text, references, conclusions, or other substantive matters in the article to which he objects.

Third, he conceals the central issue. It is highly unusual for a research paper to be editorially maligned. His editorial appears in C&EN just three weeks after the announcement of the results of the Petition Project at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. For details see www.petitionproject.org. Our review article, used in the project, was published nine months earlier.

More than 31,000 Americans with formal degrees in science, including more than 9,000 Ph.D.s—many of whom are members of ACS and readers of C&EN—have signed a petition that reads as follows: “We urge the United States government to reject the global warming agreement that was written in Kyoto, Japan, in December, 1997, and any other similar proposals. The proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind.

“There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.”

If the editor of C&EN objects to our article, he should discuss the contents of the article. If he objects to our petition, he should take that up with the many thousands of his own readers who have signed it.

Arthur B. Robinson
Noah E. Robinson
Cave Junction, Ore.

It may well be that Arthur Robinson and his followers are practicing “junk science” when they deny that humanity is causing global warming. I’m skeptical of both sides.

And it doesn’t matter a bit. Regardless of who is right, the world will not cut back on total CO2s emissions. Any reductions in the developed nations will be overwhelmed by increases in China, India, and Africa—half the human race—as they raise themselves to a decent standard of living.

Nuclear and solar power can help. But mostly, it will be coal, oil, and natural gas. The alternative is for them to not develop. Well, lotsa luck telling them to stay poor for the sake of the planet. Ain’t gonna happen.

What we can do now is lay plans for coping with warming when it comes, such as preparing to evacuate low coastal areas or to grow crops farther north.

George W. Price
Chicago

 
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