Tackling Rudy Baum | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 92 Issue 32 | p. 4 | Letters
Issue Date: August 11, 2014

Tackling Rudy Baum

Department: Letters

Rudy Baum is determined to refer to carbon dioxide as a “pollutant,” apparently overlooking the fact that plant life depends on carbon dioxide as the source of life (C&EN, June 9, page 3). Plants feed on this “pollutant,” exhaling the oxygen that human life requires.

Why do advocates of shutting down power plants never suggest shutting down the cattle industry? After all, cattle emit methane, which has a much bigger effect on climate than carbon dioxide does. Getting rid of all the cattle in the world would probably have a bigger effect on climate than getting rid of all the automobiles.

Thomas D. Smith
Oak Harbor, Wash.

The climate change debate has become a political circus with poorly supported claims made by both sides. Regardless of how one perceives the debate, I call upon all of us to champion the scientific method and the right to question “consensus opinion.” Consensus is a term used by politicians. The rest of us know very well that nature has little interest in our opinions; there are many examples where the consensus of scientific or political opinion was wrong. For those of us whose paychecks or grants depend on one side of this debate, I can only hope that scientific integrity prevails.

Unfortunately, computer projections of future climate are based on forward deterministic models rather than more appropriate statistical models. Furthermore, climate models are based on very large numbers of poorly constrained input variables. Most other numerical model studies address risk by assigning statistically relevant ranges for the key input variables followed by Monte Carlo simulation.

Climate models are characterized by a lack of viable risk analysis. The projections from these models are not predictions; they are scenarios that reflect the “best” values for input (selected by the investigators), which are commonly poorly understood. Other important variables may be completely unrecognized. For example, what is the “best” value for the effect of clouds on solar insolation? What is the “best” value for the effect of iron and other metal ions in glacial meltwater on carbon fixation by phytoplankton?

By the way, over the past two to three years, the term global warming has been largely replaced by another term: climate change. Could it be that the soothsayers are covering their bets?

Kenneth Eric Peters
Mill Valley, Calif.

At the bottom of the “From the Editor” page of C&EN is the disclaimer that the views of the author are not necessarily those of ACS. Nevertheless, as an ACS member for about 40 years I don’t appreciate C&EN being used as a forum for promoting a tax on fossil fuels.

What climate change proponents never offer up is real economic alternatives to fossil fuels that will allow this country to conduct commerce in a competitive way. While the U.S. government works hard to increase the cost of doing business in the name of climate change, the rest of the world increases the use of fossil fuels, and we become less competitive.

Mr. Baum, please refrain from using C&EN to promote your ideology.

Joseph Colaruotolo
Highland Village, , Texas

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Bego Gerber (August 27, 2014 5:17 PM)
Thomas D. Smith Hits the nail right on the head, regarding the cattle industry. His question, "Why do advocates of shutting down power plants never suggest shutting down the cattle industry?" is inaccurate, however. See the new film Cowspiracy (cowspiracy.com) to learn what advocates are up against and up to.


Bego Gerber
Bego Gerber (August 27, 2014 5:44 PM)
Kenneth Eric Peters seems to think that because some claims regarding climate change are poorly supported, therefore all claims are. Besides that, physical evidence for accelerated climate change is blatantly obvious simply by watching the news - if one is paying attention and if one can look behind the propaganda and see whose money is paying for which information (cf., the tobacco smoke argument).

The comment, "By the way, over the past two to three years, the term global warming has been largely replaced by another term: climate change. Could it be that the soothsayers are covering their bets?" is either disingenuous or uninformed. Those who have followed this debate are well aware that the change in terminology from "global warming" to "climate change" resulted from uninformed, uneducated or malicious propaganda designed to undermine those who are legitimately concerned about potentially runaway environmental change. This deceptive argument was, "Some places are experience cooling, so global warming is not real." "Climate change" recognizes that as the globe warms, some localities get colder while others get warmer.

Regardless of our opinions, ice caps are melting, sea levels are rising and communities are losing there homes, storms and droughts are occurring of unprecedented severity, etc., and we are all sitting in our comfy offices arguing about terminology. Care for a fiddle, Emperor Nero?


Bego Gerber
Bego Gerber (August 27, 2014 6:00 PM)
Joseph Colaruotolo seems happy to promote his own ideology instead of Mr. Baum's. The USA is justly lauded as the land of opportunity, of indomitable spirit and drive, the greatest country in the world. The question is not whether we should do the right thing, but how can we do it despite the various changing constraints (some of which are indeed self-imposed)? Seat belts raise the cost of cars, flue scrubbers raise the cost of energy, the FDA raises the cost of food and drugs, etc., but despite these, this country still thrives. Mr. C. could replace his un-American, victim-like thoughts with the pioneering and entrepreneurial spirit through which the USA became and remains the world's leader.


Bego Gerber
Bego Gerber (August 28, 2014 1:29 AM)
Apologies for typos in my earlier missives: there instead of their, Hits instead of hits.

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