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Picking up gauntlet on global warming
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Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
Scott McComas issued a challenge to readers to refute his “global warming is a fraudulent conspiracy” claim. Since he specifically singled me out (again) as having “forgotten how to critically look at the issues” and more broadly, has asserted that he has provided “proof” that, “people have lost their ability to think clearly and critically,” I’ll pick up this gauntlet and take the time to respond. I did check out the science website that Mr. McComas champions.

Many of the articles are authored by Nasif Nahle, an American biologist. Mr. Nahle subscribes to the theory that climate warming is primarily attributed to solar activity (sun spots) and not the CO2, emissions caused by human actions. But I did not stop my research at this website. I further examined other websites that referenced Nahle and discovered skeptical This site noted that skeptics of global warming seek to correlate increased solar activity over the last 60 years with the earth’s warming, thus pointing to natural, not man-made causes. These skeptics cite the Usosken 2005 study. But they omit a critical funding of the study — that starting in 1975, “temperatures rose while solar activity stayed level,” leading the study’s authors to conclude, “during the last 30 years the solar total irradiance, solar UV irradiance and cosmic ray influx has not shown any significant secular trend, so that at least this most recent warming episode must have another source.” So, for the past 30 years, one can’t blame solar activity as a major factor in global warming.
Part of the effective use of critical thinking skills is the ability and willingness to recognize motivations behind theories, statements, and actions.

Who has a vested interest a particular outcome? Who stands to make or lose big money? I don’t especially care what Mr. McComas chooses to believe about the causes or even the existence of global warming. He has the right to his own opinions. But he should be able to acknowledge possible reasons why there are supposedly dueling theories or dissenting scientists. Is it Mr. McComas’s contention that mankind has had no measurable negative effects whatsoever on this planet and that CO2 emissions attributed to human activities (cars, etc.) can just be discounted? Does that really seem scientifically reasonable?

In a Seattle Times article (10-11-05), reporter Sandi Doughton informed readers, “over the past decade, coal and oil interests have funneled more than $1 million to about a dozen individual global warming skeptics as a part of an effect to “reposition global warming as theory rather than fact,” according to industry memos first uncovered by former Boston Globe journalist Ross Gellospan.” The article further stated, “from 2001 to 2003 Exxon Mobil donated more than $6 1/2 million to organizations that attack mainstream climate science and oppose green house-gas controls. These think tanks and advisory groups issue reports, sponsor briefings, and maintain websites that reach a far wider audience than scholarly climate journals.”

I suggest that Mr. McComas check out Real, a website founded by geochemist Eric Steig and other colleagues whose purpose is to let researchers “communicate directly with the public and debunk what they see as misinformation and misconceptions.” According to the Seattle Times article, Steig challenged the purportedly widespread disagreement and skepticism about global warming in the scientific community, saying, “You get the impression it’s 50-50 when it’s really 99 - to 1” (the majority of scientists supporting the concept of global warming’s occurrence.) Real is also sponsored by scientists. But it’s pointless to get into a “my source is better than yours” debate.

The lengthy quotes were necessary to acknowledge my information sources. It seems that big money could be involved on both sides of the global warming issue. As I have pointed out the coal/ oil connection, it is only fair to recognize that there could be vested interests with the new energy technology companies (solar, wind, and water) who have a financial stake and could try to influence public opinion or tip studies in their favor. But I am completely disgusted with seeing the word “environmentalist” vilified as if it were a dirty word or insult. Regardless of party affiliation, whether Democrat, Republican, or Independent, we should all be environmentalists dedicated to balancing people’s needs with the protection and preservation of Earth and its resources for our future generations. I believe we truly are stewards of the Earth and if we are reckless and uncaring with the blessings God has granted us, what will be the consequences to both the planet and ourselves?
Karen Pearsall
August 5, 2009