LETTER: Global warming is actually a problem

Letter-writer quotes author who is neither scientific nor factual

Memo to Dave Kyle. Writing something down and publishing it, whether in a book or newspaper, does not make it true. In Mr. Kyle’s letter in the Dec. 22 edition of “The News”, he states that “global warming [is] science fiction” and the drive behind many peoples’ efforts to bring attention to it stems from a desire to make money. There is no citation for this, but then everyone is entitled to an opinion. Even when they are wrong.

Leaving aside his disdain for Al Gore and David Suzuki, I would instead like to address the points he presents as facts.

First, although CO2 is not a poison, it is also not plant food, per se. It is a gas, one of the greenhouse gases that are contributing to global warming. Global warming is actually a problem. Yes, an increase in CO2 is likely to increase crop growths and yields, although there is some trepidation and speculation in the scientific community that the increase CO2 will have a negative impact on the nutritional efficacy of the foods we eat, especial those using C3 photosynthesis.(citation: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/05/140507-crops-nutrition-climate-change-carbon-dioxide-science/). The long term effects of global warming will be dire. Mr. Kyle is correct in mentioning that water vapour is a problem however he doesn’t really explain why. The problem is the water vapour feedback loop and that problem includes CO2. The two gases, working together, create a loop that will continue to raise the global temperature. “Studies show that water vapor feedback roughly doubles the amount of warming caused by CO2. So if there is a 1°C change caused by CO2, the water vapor will cause the temperature to go up another 1°C. When other feedback loops are included, the total warming from a potential 1C change caused by CO2 is, in reality, as much as 3C.” (citation: skepticalscience.com/water-vapor-greenhouse-gas.htm). As global temperatures rise, the impact on the world’s populations will become increasingly severe.

Second, regarding the book by Dr. Plimer’s that Mr. Kyle is so fond of espousing. If you choose to read Heaven and Earth: Global Warming The Missing Science, please approach it as a work of fiction. Reviews from scientists from all areas of study abound, and they are extremely critical of this work. Plimer’s basic foundation is problematic and contrary to any scientific exploration since he starts his examination with a conclusion already in place: “there is no evidential basis that humans have caused recent warming”. He then uses factoids, sound bites, erroneous data, and uncited quotes to support the conclusion. A review by Tim Lambert on scienceblog.com points out 62 factual errors in the tome, including my favourites on pages 198 and 199 wherein Dr. Plimer suggests that, contrary to all evidence, the amount of Arctic ice in the north is increasing. He also states that polar bear population numbers are climbing and suggests that polar bear drownings are caused, not by a change in the environment, but by the bears dealing unsuccessfully with high Arctic winds. (scienceblog.com/deltoid/2009/04/23/the-science-is-missing-from-ia). The scienceblog post is just a quick and dirty review. The more methodological analysis of Plimer’s book by Ian G. Eating identifies more than 350 factual errors and points out Plimer’s reliance on misleading graphs and charts, false data, and uncited quotes and references. (complex.org.au/tiki-download_file.php?fileId=91).

So the problem is not buying into a belief that carbon is a problem. In Mr. Kyle’s case, the problem is he chose to throw down and support an author who is neither scientific nor factual.

Third, Mr. Kyle was correct in stating that he is approximately 18.5% carbon. What this has to do with any argument about CO2 he was making escapes me, since the two substances are quite different. I suspect that he was trying to make a clever and pointed statement. That effort failed. Regarding,however, his assertion that governments see carbon taxes as a cash cow, that’s unlikely. There are easier ways to make money. The goal is simple: reduce global emissions or greenhouse gases in order to slow down global warming and the concomitant problems. The damages of an increasing temperature on earth will far outweigh transitory benefit to C3 plants.

Michelle Pahl

 

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