Deniers of Global Warming Should Look Around | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 86 Issue 4 | p. 6 | Letters
Issue Date: January 28, 2008

Deniers of Global Warming Should Look Around

Department: Letters

In the same week that Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) won the Nobel Peace Prize (Latest News, Oct. 12, 2007), I and many other scientists received from Frederick Seitz, president emeritus of Rockefeller University, a scientific paper from the Oregon Institute of Science & Medicine (OISM) providing extensive data attempting to prove that global warming is not, and could not be, caused by carbon dioxide emissions. The mailing included a petition to be signed by the recipient and sent back in, ostensibly to counteract the publicity from the Nobel Prize. Besides the hubris represented by Seitz's action, I wish to point out the fatal and terribly misleading flaw in the OISM work.

The OISM authors have failed to look at their own recent data, say from 1970 on, which show a significant and escalating increase in Arctic, U.S., Northern Hemisphere, and global temperatures; sea-level rise; and glacier "shortening" (melting) matching a major increase in the global use of fossil fuels, shown in Figure 13 of the paper. They have made a strong case that the temperature changes over the past 100 years are directly related to variations in solar activity. Yet Figure 13 shows a very recent decrease in that variable.

The paper agrees that CO2 is a greenhouse gas but objects to the IPCC models used to determine the effects of increased CO2 concentrations. The authors fail to take into account the enormity of the recent and rapid increase in CO2 emissions from human activity—unprecedented in history over the last thousands, if not millions, of years. Clearly, the IPCC models more accurately represent the situation than the OISM models. The effects of global warming are visible all around us, from accelerated glacial melting (documented by many photographs), changes in animal and plant species (often with stark, widespread impacts such as the die-off of pine forests from the survival through the winter of the pine bark beetle—again many photographs), and so forth.

If the authors of the OISM paper just looked around them, they might realize that their effort to deter us from doing something about CO2 is simply terribly wrong.

Richard S. Greeley
St. Davids, Pa.

 
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