Are humans really at fault?
July 26, 2005
Dear Editor:I don’t know Dan Richardson, the new climate change advisor for Aspen, and only respond to him out of concern for the damage being done by the archetype he represents.There is real danger in the politicization of science, an example being the significant number of people who have convinced themselves that maintaining an artificial traffic jam at the Entrance to Aspen is good for the environment, when exactly the opposite is true. Magnify that logical failing by enough local issues in towns around the world, and you really might have a global crisis.Research dollars must be competed for, and the result is that everything is blown into a crisis. Proposals for furthering research, and not coincidentally the lifestyles of the researchers, are often pitched in the context of a potential peril to the human race which is greater than the next guy’s imminent disaster.One or more of these shrill cries may be true, and we really need to sharpen the quality of what passes for public scientific debate if we are to have any hope of discerning the actual from the self-serving in time to respond to real threats.Contrary to Mr. Richardson’s insistence, there is no consensus on global warming – certainly not concerning the “degree” of human contribution – and it wouldn’t matter if there were. The truth is not democratic. Everyone on the planet believing a certain thing cannot, of itself, make it so.Prior to the politico-dramatization of global climate research, this formerly obscure little discipline amassed fair amounts of data, all of which is employed by skeptics to refute the hypothesis that human beings are responsible for the slight increase in average temperatures over the last century. The last respite of the anthropothermic creed, having lost every other point under the sun, is a temperature graph called the “Hockey Stick,” because its distinctive shape purports to show a sudden rise in temperature just since the 1990’s. You can spend a day reading objections to the data and assumptions, but the whole affair comes down to a computer modeling error which makes hockey sticks out of any data, including random numbers. Go to: http://www.uoguelph.ca and do a search on “MM-W05-background.”Even if the Hockey Stick proponents have it right, it doesn’t prove anything vis-a-vis human activity. Ice core data dating back 120,000 years indicate periods of “flickering” climate that, “swung back and forth several times, in some instances 15 degrees in a decade or less.” (Daniel Grossman, The New York Times.)If Dan Richardson is an honorable fellow, truly concerned with the environment, he should donate his salary to Common Sense Alliance. We’ll use the money to get voter approval for a new four lane entrance to Aspen, and he can take credit for reducing benzene levels in homes and businesses on the north side of Main Street. That way, he can provide real benefits for real people for a real problem, for a change. Jeffrey EvansSouthern Basalt