Issue Date: August 11, 2014
Tackling Rudy Baum
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.
Highland Village, , Texas
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