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Letter: Susan Brown’s views on global warming are nonsense

I am all for publishing reasoned opinions from varying viewpoints on this page, but Susan Brown’s recent column “The unsettled science of global warming” is not an opinion piece, it is just nonsense. She counts the uses of the work uncertainty in an (old) report on climate change to prove that the “science is unsettled,” ignoring that fact that the statement “there is no uncertainty about this measurement” would show up in her count, and the fact that the word uncertainty is a basic term of scientific discourse that shows up many times in most scientific reports.

She claims that climate change warnings are the work of a “small group of global warming zealots.” The American Geophysical Union is one of the largest scientific bodies in the world with 62,000 members. Its most recent statement on climate change begins, “Humanity is the major influence on the global climate change observed over the past 50 years. Rapid societal responses can significantly lessen negative outcomes.” Nearly every climate scientist and TV weather personality in the country belongs to American Meteorological Society. Its 2012 statement on climate change says “…The dominant cause of the warming since the 1950s is human activities….” If there is a small group of zealots in this issue, it is Susan Brown and her ilk.

Proving that even a stopped clock is right twice a day, she is correct that at tributing any specific weather event or regional climate anomaly to global warming is fraught with difficulties. Activists on both sides should be extremely cautious about using the daily weather news to bolster their cause, but even there, recent attempts to explain regular temperature measurements for the past 50 years from basic scientific principles don’t work unless you include the effects of increasing greenhouse gasses.

There is plenty of science yet to be done in understanding our climate and it’s responses to human changes to the atmosphere. There is room for plenty of discussion on the costs and benefits of potential responses to these changes, but denying overwhelming scientific evidence doesn’t advance either of these, any more than denying that gravity exists will help you design an airplane.

Paul Conklin