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February 14, 2010 at 6:00 AM

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'Snowpocalypse' and climate change

Posted by Letters editor

East Coast whiteout, local heat wave disprove nothing

Editor, The Times:

It is illogical to use each occurrence of extreme regional weather as proof or disproof of long-term global warming [“As snow piles up, climate feud flares,” page one, Feb. 11].

Last summer, as I was campaigning door-to-door to advocate greenhouse-gas emissions, I was careful to remind opponents not to regard Seattle’s record high as proof of warming. The effects are too small to observe due to regional and year-to-year variations. Only very long-term global averages can detect small differences.

Even smoothed long-term averages are subject to different interpretations due to the difficulty of separating the anthropocentric trend from natural random variations. Also, the magnitude of periodic changes cannot be exactly separated from random changes.

The only certainty is that atmospheric CO2 levels have increased by about 40 percent and that this is consistent with estimates of total anthropocentric CO2 emissions over the last 200 years. It is also certain that increased CO2 levels will increase global temperatures — we just can’t prove how much or how fast. We do know, however, that continued emissions will accelerate the warming and that the eventual equilibrium temperature will be driven by total accumulation when we finally stop [emitting].

— Bob Jeffers-Schroder, Seattle

Evidence, not enthusiasm, determines science

In The Time’s “As snow piles up, climate feud flares” the term “climate-change enthusiast” is used.

This title trivializes the work of climate scientists the world over. Scientists are led to their conclusions about climate change by the weight of the evidence, not because they are sports-fan-like cheerleaders for the home team.

Words are important and The Times should think carefully about the meaning it intends to convey.

— Jim Stewart, Ferndale

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