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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: A response to Fein’s guest column
March 27, 2014 02:32 PM | 4715 views | 0 0 comments | 75 75 recommendations | email to a friend | print

In the March 12 issue of the Neighbor, you published a column by professor Fein from Kennesaw State concerning climate change. The article was a fact-anemic denunciation of “liberals” who believe that global warming is a real and immediate phenomenon. The Fein column does not attempt to discuss the factual basis for the global warming position or, more to the point, the factual basis for his contemptuous rejection of it. Your readers deserve better.

According to the NASA website, there have been many dramatic climate variations during the past 650,000 years including an ice age, which ended about 10,000 years ago. For most of that time, average global temperatures have been lower than during the past 150 years. These past climate variations appear to be a function of variations in the orbit of the earth and the sun’s radiation and have no apparent correlation to carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. The global warming issue today, however, is whether the spike in average global temperature throughout the past 150 years is related to a sharp rise in the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. At just under 400,000 parts per million, the level of CO2 in the atmosphere is now at its highest level in 650,000 years.

Is human activity a new factor in climate variation? It seems like a reasonable question to ask and one that serious scientists might want to address.

The evidence of global warming is measurable. Not only has the average global temperature risen throughout the past century and a half, but ocean temperatures have risen as well. Glaciers and Artic sea ice have decreased in mass and shrunken in size. Ocean acidity has increased due to the absorption of CO2 and is increasing at an estimated rate of two billion tons each year. The point is that there is scientific data supporting the belief that human activity — mainly the burning of fossil fuels — has contributed substantially to the rise in global temperatures. Fein does not discuss any of these facts or contend that they are made up. He does not identify a single fact or a body of scientific research that proponents of the global warming hypothesis have overlooked.

Climate fluctuations have been the norm throughout the past 650,000 years. Whether because of the return of another ice age or because of global warming, the consequences of either extreme would be catastrophic for all societies on the planet. The political dilemma is whether in a world consisting of nearly 200 sovereign nations any strategy can be devised to slow or reverse the rise in CO2 levels in the atmosphere or the rise in global temperature.

A resolute global consensus on the nature of the problem as well as the proposed solution would be essential. How can you convince people to accept change now to avert something potentially disastrous that might not occur in the next 100 years, the next 500 years or not all? Without tangible and immediate benefit to those asked to make change now, the case for a political, regulatory response to the phenomenon of global warming is a tough sell. The contrived distinction between “conservatives” and “liberals” does not help.

Al Pearson


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