Issue Date: July 27, 2009
I thought my membership in ACS meant I belonged to an organization of scientific professionals focused on the betterment of our science and the collective lot of its membership. Instead, what should be a noble organization is turning into another left-wing mouthpiece. I don't agree with your climate-change views, and I am not happy that you continue to use the pulpit of your editorials to promote your left-wing opinions (C&EN, June 22, page 3).
The question of whether humans have an impact on climate change presents a great opportunity for a scientific society to take the lead in a debate involving physical science. How about using your position as editor to promote a balanced scientific discussion of the theory behind the link of human activity to global warming?
How many readers of C&EN even know why carbon dioxide is the "culprit"? How many kilocalories of infrared energy can a ton of carbon dioxide absorb? What is the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed in fresh or salt water, and how is that equilibrium impacted by temperature or other environmental factors? What are some of the other variables that can cause an increase or decrease in temperature?
Instead of debate, members are constantly subjected to your arrogant self-righteousness and the left-wing practice of stifling debate by personal attacks on anyone who disagrees. I think ACS should make an effort to educate its membership about the science of climate change and let them draw their own conclusions. Although under your editorial leadership, I suspect we would be treated to a biased and skewed version of scientific debate. I think its time to find a new editor.
Thomas E. D'Ambra
I am always intrigued by claims that science is settled, especially when it comes to something as complex as climate. Rudy Baum's remarks are particularly disquieting because of his hostility toward skepticism, which is part of every scientist's soul. Let's cut to the chase with some questions for Baum: Which of the 20-odd major climate models has settled the science, such that all of the rest are now discarded?
Precisely why do you claim that the "scientific consensus of climate change has become increasingly hard to challenge," when nobody in the world claims that climate does not change?
Do you refer to "climate change" instead of "global warming" because the claim of anthropogenic global warming has become increasingly contrary to fact?
Have you made the switch from "global warming" to "climate change" because any data whatsoever can be taken, however illogically, as evidence that man is changing the climate?
Pueblo West, Colo.
I am not a climate-change researcher, but I was a geochemist doing research on paleoclimates early in my career. I have tried to follow the papers in the scientific literature, and I conclude there is evidence of increase in average nighttime global temperatures between the 1950s and late 1990s. Some of this increase may be caused by so-called greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and, to a far greater extent, water vapor. It makes sense to reduce the combustion of carbon-based fuels, if only to preserve their use as feedstocks for industry. However, I am appalled at the condescending attitude of Rudy Baum, Al Gore, President Barack Obama, et al., who essentially tell us that there is no need for further research-that the matter is solved.
The peer-reviewed literature is not unequivocal about causes and effects of global warming. We are still learning about properties of water, for goodness' sake. There needs to be more true scientific research without politics on both sides and with all scientists being heard. To insult and denigrate those with whom you disagree is not becoming.
R. Everett Langford
The Woodlands, Texas
Your editorial in the June 22 issue of C&EN was a disgrace. It was filled with misinformation, half-truths, and ad hominem attacks on those who dare disagree with you. Shameful!
Are you planning to write an editorial about the Environmental Protection Agency's recent suppression of a global warming report that goes against the gospel according to NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies Director James Hansen? Or do you only editorialize on matters in keeping with your biased views on global warming?
Climate change will occur. Always has. Always will. Does that make me a "purveyor of nonsense" or a "climate-change denier?" Trying to arrest climate change is a feeble, futile endeavor and a manifestation of human arrogance. Humankind's contribution to climate change is minuscule, and trying to eliminate even that minute effect will be enormously expensive, damaging to the poorest people on the planet, and ultimately ineffective.
Regarding Albert Z. Conner's letter on global warming, I wonder if anyone has ever proposed that an individual (perhaps Conner) or group graph the changes in atmospheric content of all the greenhouse gases-CO2, NO x , SO2, CH4, CFCs-as functions of changes in human habitation over time (C&EN, April 20, page 6). With respect to changes in CO2 concentrations, I believe data gathered through ice-core drilling are available back to a time predating Homo sapiens. These graphs would give us some kind of baseline.
Someone will carp that cattle, not humans, are responsible for methane production. However, as humans increase and consume more meat, more cattle are reared and emit more methane. I don't think it would require a scientific enterprise to come to the realization that the more people there are, the more petroleum (or other fuel) gets burned, and the more cattle are raised, the more gases are produced and spewed into the atmosphere. Because the atmosphere is not an infinite sink but an interesting reaction medium, changes have to occur.
The more people try to trivialize global warming, the more we and our descendants will suffer the results, some of which have already been quantified (for example, glacier melting and polar ice disappearing). Weather disruptions and shore erosion, for example, will begin to occur. The people who deny global warming are in the same class as those who rejected the negative effects of DDT, those who denied the negative effects of CFCs on the atmosphere, and so on.
In "Climate-Change News," you discuss the merits of the climate-change consensus versus the climate-change deniers. I write not to enter this debate but to ask what we should do if humans are causing climate change. We can create all the wind and solar power imaginable, but we will still be left burning a lot of coal or natural gas because the wind and sun are not available 24 hours per day.
The only demonstrated way forward is nuclear power. But those who oppose nuclear power are somewhat similar to climate-change deniers. I predict nuclear power will be accepted when the fear of climate change exceeds the fear of nuclear power. When might this happen? Not soon. Among the population at large, climate-change fears are not even in the top 10 worries.
Kennett Square, Pa.
I would never deny that climate change is occurring; there is too much evidence that the climate was always subject to change as far back as investigations go, and we have very little knowledge as to why. The world is dynamic, not static, and human activities may perturb, but not control, what happens.
I can't accept as facts the reports of federal agencies, because they have become political and are more likely to support the regime in power than not. Baum's attempt to close out debate goes against all my scientific training, and to hear this from my ACS is certainly alarming to me.
Edward H. Gleason
Your comments about the climate-change deniers are right on target. In fact, your closing paragraph, "Sow doubt; make up statistics," etc., was one of the best summaries I've seen of the deceitful practices that the deniers are allowed to get away with.
We humans seem to learn from experience, and thus our modern systems of justice are not well geared for dealing effectively with climate-change deniers. This is a shame, because every month's delay in taking meaningful action likely will lead to more climate-related death and destruction in the future. There should be a law.
What is complicated about our energy future? Remember the scene in the movie "Apollo 13" where the CO2 concentration in the ship is rising? The concentration of CO2 on spaceship Earth is rising fast, about 2-3 ppm per year.
We cannot continue to burn organic fuels at billions of point sources without usefully recapturing the carbon (utilities should be able to do this). Nuclear power? All those who are willing to store a cask of nuclear waste in their garage-forever-raise your hands! Thus, we have radiant energy from the sun and its convective derivatives. Ground transport, space, water heating, and cooking can all be done with solar-generated electricity, without severe disruption, reducing the rate of carbon emission and global warming.
Research and government support should be focused on panels, batteries, motors, and generators. Reducing the rate of carbon emission will then give us time to change other energy needs without ruining the ecosphere for human habitation.
I am furious that idiots such as Rep. Joe L. Barton (R-Texas) helped pass this cap-and-trade bill. How much of a payoff are they getting from General Electric to pass this stupid bill?
We will be taxed to death, and future generations will not survive living in this country when they see their education and job opportunities go down the drain. Jobs will all go to the Orient and then there goes our economic system.
It is time for a change in our Senate and Congress. We have to get rid of all these old men running our country and get younger people in office, and I plan to do just that when election time rolls around. All this pork in this bill is not democratic, it's communistic.
Having worked as an atmospheric chemist for many years, I have extensive experience with environmental issues, and I usually agree with Rudy Baum's editorials. But his use of "climate-change deniers" to pillory scientists who do not believe climate change is a crisis is disingenuous and unscientific.
Earth's climate is dynamic, subject to multiple influences, and is known to have fluctuated widely long before there were significant anthropogenic influences. Because global models can represent the temperature record of the very near past with only modest accuracy, it takes a leap of faith to say that modelers have properly represented all factors influencing Earth's climate and that their future predictions should be accepted without thoughtful challenge.
We know for sure that CO2 concentrations are increasing, that surface temperatures have risen modestly since the mid-1970s (although not equally reflected in the satellite data immune from the influence of the heat island effect), that surface temperatures have leveled off since about 2000 for unknown reasons, that an undetermined but likely modest portion of surface temperature increases can be attributed to anthropogenic emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases, and that Earth has experienced ice ages.
On the other hand, we do not know with any degree of certainty the effects of aerosols on climate (the generally cooling effect of nonabsorbing particles versus the heating effect of carbonaceous soot particles), the effect of the cycles of solar activity on climate, or the feedbacks accompanying increases in greenhouse gases on oceans (specifically changes in acidity, ocean currents, and el NiÃ±o/la NiÃ±a events).
Given the climate's complexity and these and other uncertainties, are we justified in legislating major increases in our energy costs unilaterally guided only by a moral imperative to "do our part" for Earth's climate? I am among many environmentally responsible citizen-scientists who think this is stupid, both because our emissions reductions will be dwarfed by increases elsewhere (China and India, for example) and because the models have large uncertainties.
This does not mean we should do nothing. Environmentally sound strategies include increasing mandated fleet average mileage to the technically feasible value of 40 mpg, continuing to develop renewable sources of energy for both transportation and electric generation, exploring nuclear and clean coal options for power generation, emphasizing conservation and efficient use of power sources, and planning for the possibility that the climate will change in the future (it always has in the past) independent of what we in the U.S. do.
Finally, I have very little in common with the philosophy of the Heartland Institute and other "free-market fanatics," and I consider myself a progressive Democrat. Nevertheless, we scientists should know better than to propound scientific truth by consensus and to excoriate skeptics with purple prose.
Roger L. Tanner
Muscle Shoals, Ala.
The editor's page of C&EN should not be a political page. Rudy Baum has been pushing the global warming (conveniently changed now to "climate change") hypothesis as fact very strongly for some time now. He denigrates as foolish and ignorant folks who do not swallow the global warming hypothesis and his comments are rather arrogant.
If Al Gore is so sure of his stance, why does he refuse to debate creditable opponents? Are the temperature measurements accurate? Eighty-nine percent of the 860 monitoring stations inspected by meteorologist Anthony Watts and volunteers from the surfacestations.org project failed to meet the National Weather Service's siting requirements (they were too close to artificial heating or radiating/reflecting sources). This is not the only information that does not support Baum's hypothesis.
The cost of cap-and-trade is going to be enormous. In January 2008, presidential candidate Barack Obama stated, "Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electric rates would necessarily skyrocket." Some leader.
I would like to see the ACS Board cap Baum's political pen and trade him to either the New York Times or Washington Post.
In the interest of brevity, I can limit my response to the diatribe of the editor-in-chief in the June 22 edition of C&EN to one word: Disgusting.
Louis H. Rombach
Your recent editorial reminded me of two very important quotes: The first is from W. I. B. Beveridge's "The Art of Scientific Investigation": "Michael Faraday warned against the tendency of the mind â€˜to rest on an assumption' and when it appears to fit in with other knowledge to forget that it has not been proved." The second, from Richard Smalley: "The main thing you need to learn is to doubt. Don't believe anything you're told without good reason and argument. Doubt underpins science" (C&EN, July 15, 2002, page 3). It is this sage wisdom you seem to mock.
I am not afraid to question the conventional wisdom and assumptions of climate change. I have perused the scientific literature and found most of the pro-climate-change material to be far more reserved in its pronouncements of apocalyptic gloom than seems popular these days. When people ask questions about data interpretations, question methodology and models, or point out evidence to the contrary regarding these claims, they are shouted down as heretics or belittled, as the aforementioned editorial has done.
I am particularly offended by the false analogy with creationists. It is easy to just dismiss anyone who dares disagree as being "unscientific." Questioning the evidence is a far cry from blindly dismissing it to support one's faith. If there is an analogy with creationism, it is environmentalists who assume catastrophic climate change and view all evidence in such a way as to not contradict it or even put it into question.
One question is: How are humans affecting the environment and are these changes truthfully catastrophic? If they are catastrophic, then it is another question altogether to ask the best way to address this. Are draconian regulations and granting of excessive and almost arbitrary power to the government the only or even best way of dealing with this? Too many seem to not even want to debate that point and denounce anyone who questions the offered "solution."
It is only right to question not only the solution but also the underlying casus belli when it means surrendering so much to the hands of so few. I can but ask those who believe in catastrophic climate change and want me to approve of top-down solutions to prove the case to me and others, answer our questions with scientific evidence rather than taunts, and then prove again that such measures are the only possible way forward.
Daniel B. Rego
I understand that letters published in C&EN do not necessarily reflect your views. I also appreciate the benefits of publishing a diversity of opinion. However, I am sure you exercise editorial discretion in choosing which letters are to be published and that you would not want to appear to be giving credibility to unscientific thinking and irresponsible conclusions.
But that is exactly what you did when you published the letter on global warming by Albert Z. Conner (C&EN, April 20, page 6). A quick Internet search reveals statements by Conner in a letter to the editor of a Delaware newspaper, complaining about higher taxes on cigarettes: The government "continue[s] to promulgate the outright lie of the dangers of secondhand smoke and the fictitious statistic that 400,000 people die each year in the U.S. from smoking." To deny the link between smoking and lung cancer and other diseases in this day and age and in face of all the evidence is absolutely inexcusable and irresponsible.
Believing that global warming is not at least partially caused by humans and believing that cigarette smoke does not cause cancer are becoming roughly equivalent in credibility. I doubt that C&EN would want to publish, in 2009, a letter that claimed that cigarette smoke does not cause cancer.
It would make the publication look frivolous and irresponsible, even if the editors disagreed with the writer's conclusions. But in 2009, denying the connection between carbon dioxide and global warming is just as frivolous and irresponsible, indeed even more so, because of the consequences of ignoring the problem.
Eric J. Heller
I happened to be browsing through my daughter's June 8 issue of C&EN when I came upon the article on climate-change CO2 cuts needed to combat ocean acidification. I'm a geologist, not a chemist, but I must say that I expected better from this science magazine.
The article cites a panel that says drastic cuts are in CO2 emissions are needed to prevent acidification of oceans by 2050. It further asserts that computer models suggest that coral reefs and polar ecosystems will be seriously harmed by 2050 if CO2 emissions are not seriously curtailed.
Are these the same or similar models that have not been able to correctly account for any well-documented historical variations in global temperature such as the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age? Isn't it possible (or rather, likely based on scientific evidence) that CO2 is not the driver of global warming but the result of naturally occurring warming? Certainly chemists should know that as the oceans warm, they are able to hold less CO2 and will thus release increasing quantities of CO2 from solution into the atmosphere, rather than absorbing CO2 and becoming more acidic?
There is certainly no compelling scientific basis for expending a huge portion of the planet's wealth reducing CO2 emissions with certainty of any ability to change the climate when that wealth could better be used to raise the standard of living of the neediest people on the planet, and otherwise reduce pain, suffering, starvation, and disease. Many people will suffer and die unnecessarily if trillions of dollars of world wealth are diverted to CO2 reduction efforts.
I have been an analytical chemist in pharmaceutical and cosmetic laboratories for more than 32 years. I have tested the deionized and distilled water daily in these plants. The water cleaning equipment is the best in industry and instruments are controlled for accuracy, including the testing equipment (i.e., pH meters, electrodes, buffers, and temperature).
It is extremely rare for the pH of the purified water from these highly controlled systems to deviate by less than 0.1 on a daily basis. Even the accuracy of the pH meter and electrode is no better than +/- 0.02%. To expect the pH of a body of water as large as the oceans with the extreme variables and constantly changing mineral content thus pH interfering ion activity to have a more consistent pH than a controlled system is very unscientific, especially over many decades with constant volcanic activity, huge red tides, and hurricanes, for example.
As a scientist and analytical chemist, the data and results presented by this article tell me that the pH of the oceans is extremely constant and has not changed since pH testing started (C&EN, June 8, page 9). It also tells me that CO2 has not affected oceanic pH of either. When dealing with these very small variations on a global basis, some common sense and realistic evaluation of the data is required before predicting gloom and doom.
M. Sherwood Thoele
Our leaders in Washington, D.C., from both parties, have recently taken to assuring us that the debate about global warming is over. Those of us who read C&EN can see that the debate is far from over, and there is much about the relationship between anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions and global climate that we have yet to understand.
In the meantime, it is wise for the chemistry community to continue to engage in and support research into alternative fuels and energy-efficient technologies. We must, however, oppose any new legislation, such as cap-and-trade or a carbon tax that will do little except create new bureaucracy and make it even more difficult for U.S. chemical companies to remain competitive (C&EN, March 30, page 16).
The bottom line is this: Whether such legislation will have an effect on global carbon dioxide emissions is questionable, and whether it will change any perceived global warming is highly doubtful. The detrimental effect it will have on the U.S. economy in general and the chemical industry in particular is undeniable. As a community, we must stand up for ourselves and each other and oppose this misguided government regulation. After all, if we do not fight for our industry, who will?
Graham R. Lawton
I found it fascinating that in the same issue where an editorial appears describing the potential for a debate-free Environmental Protection Agency move toward CO2 emissions control (C&EN, April 27, page 5), there is an item in the table of contents describing a Reel Science movie review in which George Lucas's "THX1138" is revisited. This movie describes "a dystopian future—sterile world run by an omnipresent government committed to efficiency and control at any price." Hmmm.
Roderic G. Eckenhoff
Once again, this time in the April 6 issue, C&EN has published misleading and biased headlines for two otherwise useful C&EN items related to the curbing of CO2 emissions.
The main title of the story on page 5 is "Dealing With CO2." Above that title, in red, is the label "Climate Change." The news item, however, deals with CO2 capture. Nowhere in the item is "climate change" mentioned or discussed. On page 6, "Climate-Change Bill Introduced" is the headline. Again, the news item does not specifically discuss "climate change"; it is concerned principally with CO2 emissions.
News items on climate change should contain some quantitative discussion of exactly how and to what extent, if at all, curbing CO2 emissions will effect "climate change."
Laguna Hills, Calif.
Enough, already! In my brief lifetime, there has been global cooling, then global warming, and now climate change. And what is Rudy Baum's solution? "World leaders [must] agree on emissions reductions" and "legislation with real teeth to control emission." These appear to me to be political and economic solutions, well outside your acknowledged expertise in chemistry and technology.
While Baum obviously has strong personal views on the subject, I take great offense that he would use C&EN, for which I pay dearly each year in membership dues, to purvey his personal views and so glibly ignore contrary information and scold those of us who honestly find these views to be a hoax.
Thanks for reading.
You say global warming is primarily due to human-generated CO2. Furthermore, anyone disagreeing with that position is technically incompetent and should be labeled a climate-change denier, CCD for brevity's sake. It seems to me that you vastly oversimplify the situation and, in fact, miss the point. Two questions must be answered: Is global warming real? and If it is real, then what part do human-generated CO2 emissions play?
In its June issue, Chemical Engineering Progress has an article, "Climate Change: What Does the Research Mean?" The article presents answers to questions by experts for both the "yes" and "no" sides. Both sides gave technically based reasons for their conclusions. The authors did not conclude that one side or the other was correct but that the stakes are too high to risk making a bad choice. Most of the articles cited were by people who appeared to be technically competent, and many of the referenced articles appeared in peer-reviewed journals. In fact, publications by one author are cited on both sides of the same question.
In George Gamow's classic book, "Gravity," he cites work published by Hans Suess in 1957 that shows the oceans (and Earth) have been warming for the last 20,000 years. Suess's data correlate reasonably well with the celestial mechanical calculations published by Milutin Milankovitch in 1938, which also show that Earth has been warming for the last 20,000 years.
There are numerous other sources that indicate the planet has cooling and warming cycles and that we are presently in a warming cycle. I find no problem with global warming as a concept; in fact, I personally think the planet is warming. You should note that the historical data, especially celestial mechanical calculations, seem to indicate that CO2 played a little and certainly not a dominant role in these cycles.
This brings us to the second question: What part do human-generated CO2 emissions play in global warming? CO2 is a greenhouse gas. The National Institute of Standards & Technology website shows the infrared spectrum from 500 to 3,800 cm-1. It absorbs from about 600 to 800, 2,200 to 2,400, and 3,500 to 3,800 cm-1. This is a total of only 700 out of 3,300 cm-1.
There were questions about that spectrum that were called to your attention and that you addressed in your June 9, 2008, editorial (page 5). The CO2 spectrum shows that at most wavelengths CO2 does not absorb infrared radiation. In most of the places it does absorb, absorption is essentially 100%. For these reasons, changes in CO2 concentrations should not have a major impact, that is, if it doubles, two times nothing is still nothing and something times almost 100% absorption will only get you a little closer to 100% absorption. Because it was published in an obscure journal by people whose background and integrity you questioned, your response to this was "Huh?"
I read their article, which cited 132 references, most all from journals such as Nature, Geophysical Research Letters, and even Environmental Science & Technology. I would have appreciated a response that either indicated there was some truth to the statements or why they did not apply. "Huh?" fell a little short of doing that. There are not many issues in global warming for which chemists are well qualified to provide answers. The CO2 spectrum was one of them and you chose to ignore it.
A second unanswered question has to do with the impact of water vapor. Water vapor absorbs IR radiation pretty much across the whole infrared spectrum. Water vapor is said to account for some 95% of the greenhouse effect. If this is true, then the real question is how does CO2 impact the water vapor content of the atmosphere? An increase in the temperature of the oceans would increase the vapor pressure of the ocean water, which, in turn, would increase the water vapor concentration of the atmosphere. This is a positive feedback situation that has been noted in the literature. How can we ignore the dominant greenhouse gas and be assured of a technically correct solution?
If you say that minor energy impacts of CO2 on the water vapor concentration will have a major impact of global temperature, then you also say that minor things such as the impact of Earth's orbit and wobble can have major impacts on global temperature. These are issues that you could have, but did not, address. Dismissing people who disagree with you as CCDs is not an acceptable answer. In fact, you seem to be guilty of the same closed mindset as the people you call CCDs.
I appreciate it when C&EN presents information from qualified supporters of either, and preferably both, sides of an issue to help readers decide what is correct, rather than dispensing your conclusions and ridiculing people who disagree with you.
P. S. Lowell
I am a retired Ph.D. chemical engineer. During my working years, I was involved in many environmental issues concerning products and processes of the companies for which I worked. I am completely disgusted with the June 22 editorial. I do not consider it to be very scientific to castigate skeptics of man-made global warming.
Man-made global warming is a theory that is supported by a "consensus" of investigators in the field of studying the relationship of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and its effect on Earth's global temperature. Consensus is not proof, and a petition has been signed by more than 30,000 persons with scientific academic degrees (9,000 of them having Ph.D.s) who are skeptical of global warming caused by carbon dioxide emissions.
I first heard of the threat of man-made global warming in 1973 when I attended a seminar given by a professor of atmospheric science. He told us about the theory at that time but added that it was not of particular concern because "the ocean is a very large sink for carbon dioxide." I remember that discussion because it is the basis for some of my skepticism today.
It is my thinking that a major basis for the carbon dioxide caused global warming is derived from ice core samples first taken in Greenland and subsequently in Antarctica. Measurements from these samples, which cover thousands of years, seem to show a direct relationship between carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere and global temperature. But what is that relationship?
Man-made global warming theorists propose that increases in carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere cause increases in global temperatures due to the greenhouse effect. For the sake of argument, I will take the opposite point of view—increases in global temperatures cause increases in carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere because of decreased solubility of carbon dioxide in the ocean.
My proposal is entirely consistent with what we know about the effects of temperature on the solubility of carbon dioxide in water-if the temperature goes up, solubility goes down, and if the temperature goes down, the solubility goes up.
In short, supporters of the man-made global warming theory look at the arctic ice core measurements from prehistoric times and conclude that rises in carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere caused an increase in global warming. My proposal above concludes that global warming during the periods of time represented by these samples caused an increase in atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide. We are arguing over which is the cause and which is the effect.
Aside from my argument given above, there are others who claim that because carbon dioxide is only affected by specific wavelengths in the spectrum of solar radiation, the amount of carbon dioxide that is already present in the atmosphere has already absorbed most of the energy. Therefore, additional carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would have little affect on warming.
If carbon dioxide emission is not the cause of global warming, the attitude expressed by Rudy Baum will be used to support the passage of the cap-and-trade bill currently under consideration in Congress. If the skeptics are correct, this bill will have no affect on global warming, but it will turn the economy upside down. If other countries do not follow with similar cap-and-trade legislation, our country will find itself in an extremely poor competitive situation in the world marketplace.
The overall problem here is that there is already an abundance of scientific illiteracy in the American public that will not be improved by Baum's stance in what should be a scientific magazine. Theories are not proven by consensus—but by data from repeatable experimentation that leaves no doubt of interpretation.
Charles M. Krutchen
Please do not keep writing C&EN editorials according to the liberal religion's credo—"Attack all climate-change deniers, creationists, conservatives, people who voted for George W. Bush, etc." It is a sign of weakness in your argument when you attack those who disagree.
Note the change in the Al-Gore-rithm from "global warming" to "climate change." Since Gore starting complaining about global warming, Earth's weather has actually cooled by 2 °F.
Your choice of terminology referring to skeptical scientists who don't toe your line as CCD, climate-change deniers, and putting them in association with Holocaust deniers, is unworthy of an editorial in a scientific periodical.
Who don't you go head-to-head with the critics? Does every thinking person have to hold your point of view in order not to be mocked?
I'm sure you would have espoused the merits of phlogiston theory as it was a matter of "scientific consensus" at the time and took a great deal of skepticism, experimentation, and thought to overturn it.
Please enlighten us on which side of the light as particles or waves you espouse, mocking the other side as light-particle deniers or light-wave deniers.
There has always been room for skeptics in science. You should be among them, but you choose the easier path of smug and secure (and sometimes wrong) superiority, mocking those who disagree.
Please don't keep doing this. Find a scientific writer for the editorial page. We get plenty of this pap from the mainstream media and do not need it in C&EN.
I write to you in response to your editorial of June 22.Your utter disdain of CCDs and the accusations of improper tactics you ascribe to them cannot be dismissed. However bitter you personally may feel about CCDs, it is not your place as editor to accuse them—falsely—of nonscientific behavior by using insultingly inappropriate language.
The growing body of scientists, whom you abuse as sowing doubt, making up statistics, and claiming to be ignored by the media, are, in the main, highly competent professionals, experts in their fields, completely honorable, and highly versed in the scientific method—characteristics that apparently do not apply to you.
It is sheer blindness on your part that you cannot countenance a view that conflicts with yours: The scientific method is based on probing and questioning hypotheses put forward by investigators, testing those hypotheses by observations, and adjusting the theory behind those hypotheses when the observations fail to meet predictions of those hypotheses.
This is the story of the highly complex system we call "climate change." The results presented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which you call the CCD's "favorite whipping boy," do indeed fall into the category of predictions that fail to match the data, requiring a return to the drawing board. Your flogging of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change is not only infantile but beggars you to contribute facts to back up your disdain.
As you are so critical of CCDs, I challenge you to produce direct data showing that carbon dioxide is the prime driver of climate change: Model calculations won't do; Vostock ice core data as touted by Al Gore won't do (when the scale is expanded they show CO2 change lagging temperature change by 600-800 years, contrary to Gore's graph); local warm spots won't do, because for each you cite, I can name an unusual local cooling.
Do you dispute both the United Nations and National Aeronautics & Space Administration temperature-sensing satellite data that say the global average temperature has essentially remained constant for more than a decade, but shows a slight downward trend despite an increase in CO2 atmospheric concentration of more than 17%? Show me your data!
Incidentally, why do we fund climate studies by U.S. Global Change Research Program if the problem is settled?
William E. Keller
Santa Fe, N.M.
Would you please run an article on the hypotheses, theories, and predictions for future world climate trends by the naysayers to anthropogenic global warming? Albert Z. Conners' letter concerning interpretations of evidence to be contrary to anthropogenic carbon dioxide-influenced global warming does little but politicize an important world concern (C&EN, April 20, page 6).
A way to evaluate competing scientific hypotheses and theories is to compare and contrast the models and predictions of these theories. I have yet to see a coherent set of predictions from those who are contrarians to anthropogenic global warming.
What are their models and predictions for atmospheric temperature, world ocean temperatures, ocean pH, sea-level change, extent and thickness of arctic sea ice, extent of advance or retreat of glaciers in Greenland, and changes in global weather patterns and in the concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases? How will these factors be changing over time in the next 10, 25, or 50 years, or at the turn of the next century?
The way to evaluate the merits of each set of hypotheses, models, and theories will be through their ability to explain current and past events, while making scientific predictions of future events.
The article "Clarion Call For Marine Life," was very interesting (C&EN, June 8, page 9). It warns that carbon dioxide emissions cuts are needed to combat ocean acidification; however, one wonders if statistics have been applied and reviewed to justify such a vast program for only 0.1 pH unit. Sampling programs would certainly have an effect on these results. Also, what about the variability between different laboratories? But what would I know; I am just a retired chemist who managed a lab for 25 years.
Carlos Tucker Jr.
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