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Questioning Climate Analysis

October 12, 2015 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 93, Issue 40

Aug. 31, page 20: The Government & Policy Concentrate about business R&D spending incorrectly stated the amount of R&D spending by the chemical manufacturing sector. All numbers referring to chemical manufacturing R&D are billions of dollars.

Oct. 5, page 5: The News of the Week story on the discovery of water on Mars incorrectly described the effect of the dissolved salts on the water’s evaporation. The dissolved ions would slow the rate of evaporation of martian water.

Your article “Earth’s Temperature Keeps Rising” (C&EN, Aug. 31, page 20) seems more politically motivated than scientifically informative for two reasons. First, it compares recent satellite temperature data to previous temperature data from an unspecified source. Clearly, satellite data were not kept in 1880, so any conclusions could be suspect.

Second, it says rising temperatures correlate with increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases. That may be true, but I suspect that they also correlate with professional football players’ salaries. You show no cause-and-effect data or relationship. Do such data or studies exist for the presumed culprit, carbon dioxide? Also, I might mention that nitrogen and oxygen are greenhouse gases in far greater concentration than carbon dioxide and are necessary for the habitability of our planet.

Richard C. Mansfield
Grantham, N.H.


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