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Welcome to The Seattle Times' online letters to the editor, a sampling of readers' opinions. Join the conversation by commenting on these letters or send your own letter of up to 200 words

August 4, 2010 at 4:01 PM

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Arguments abound on global warming, greenhouse gases and ocean acidification

Posted by Letters editor

Life in ocean and on land benefit from increased carbon dioxide

Editor, The Times:

Sunday’s subheadline shrieks of impending doom, “Acidification threatens a wide swath of sea life.” [“In Puget Sound, signs of pervasive trouble,” page one, Aug. 1].

It does no such thing. The few who follow it further will read that no one knows if the headline is true. The ocean is chemically buffered to be quite alkaline, the opposite of acidic, which increased carbon dioxide will not change.

Many excellent studies have been done on the effects of increased carbon dioxide on ocean life. They uniformly show that ocean life, as well as all life on land, benefits from increased carbon dioxide.

— Don Vandervelde, Gig Harbor

Real change will only come from a change in consumer lifestyles

Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs [”Breaking the climate-change logjam,” Opinion, Aug. 1] should know better than to propose that solar and wind power (“renewables”) and electric cars can bail us out of our dependence on fossil fuels.

When completely built out, wind power can supply only 15 to 20 percent of the current demand for electricity. That demand is increasing. The maximum output of wind turbines is about 35 percent of their nameplate rating since the wind blows only part of the time, producing power surges. Wind farms on nonagricultural land destroy habitat and introduce invasive weeds, while killing thousands of birds and bats annually.

Solar power as an important contributor to the grid works best south of 45 degrees north and optimally at 30 degrees north.

Electric vehicles require electricity from either the grid or home renewable power plants. The real solutions to fossil-fuel dependency include a significant change in consumerist lifestyles in developed and developing countries, and using current technology to increase the efficiency of power consumption. The latter includes changing building codes, retrofitting incandescent lighting with light-emitting-diodes (LEDs), improved insulation in all buildings and the substitution of heat pumps for separate heating and cooling systems. And, just using less electricity.

What politician is going to support that?

— Herbert Curl Jr., Seattle

Jeffrey ‘Breaking the logjam’ Sachs

Sachs’ reasoning is based on the premise that global warming is caused by greenhouse-gas accumulations. Arguments seem to turn with events.

Last year when the temperatures were falling and severe freezes occurred, the green crowd decried that as only temporary. Now that we have six months of warming and heat waves, they argue the opposite.

The infamous “hockey stick” of world temperature increases put together by Michael Mann’s 1998 study using the Bristle Cone Pine, a tree that, because of its growth response after the industrial revolution in the CO2-starved upper reaches of the Sierra Nevadas and not typical of the rest, was used to mathematically eliminate the Midlevel Warming cycle and the Little Ice Age and served as the basis for this whole global-warming debate and Mann’s career with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

A much better explanation for warming cycles is the pattern of cosmic activity of our sun. According to Danish climate scientist Henrik Svensmark, long-term cloud-cover formation (that lowers temperatures) is correlated with the influx of cosmic rays and vice versa.

As unwilling as the greens are to accept it, there is nothing man does in the environment to change the ionization effect of cosmic rays colliding with molecules in the atmosphere to cause the “seeds” for the growth of cloud water droplets. Take the control that global warming hysteria so conveniently provides, and we still have the world’s problems — but you can’t sell Sachs’ solutions based on only one scientific view that, by its nature, is often proved wrong.

If you could ask Sir Isaac Newton before quantum mechanics destroyed his model of physics what the future of the world would be like, the answer would be different. Confuse us with complexity if he must, but admit that Sachs’ analysis stands or falls only on its premises.

— John E. Woodbery, Monroe

Where’s the connection between increasing atmospheric CO2 and decreasing world temperatures?

I can’t let Barry Boone’s letter go unchallenged [Northwest Voices, July 28]. Boone claims that “all of the world’s scientists” are on one side of the climate debate.

Boone should Google “U.S. Senate Minority Report.” At the bottom of the first hit, he will find a link to 255 pages of comments by over 700 scientists, all of whom sharply disagree with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Summary Report conclusions, which are much too strongly stated, relative to the scientific facts and uncertainties. Some of these scientists are members of the IPCC. Professor Ivar Giaever is a Nobel Prize winner in physics.

Boone will also find several scientists advocating preparation for a substantial cooling trend, rather than continued warming. With atmospheric CO2 increasing, what can they be thinking?

Perhaps these scientists are looking at data sets like the U.S. Historical Climate Network Version 2 for the 48 contiguous states. Starting in 1998, these annual average temperatures (increments from a long-term average) are: 2.44, 1.97, 1.18, 1.65, 1.10, 1.21, 0.99, 1.58, 2.34, 1.55, 0.11 (deg. C).

With atmospheric CO2 increasing every year, would Boone care to comment on this decreasing temperature trend? Anyone else?

— Jerry Lundry, Bellevue

What climate scientists are really saying

Since I was a science teacher for a third of a century, I know how to reword complicated scientific arguments in simple language that Seattle Times readers will surely understand.

“All signs suggest that we are headed for a climate disaster” is science talk for, “My side wants you to believe disaster is coming so you will fund more of our research, even though many scientists believe there is no problem.”

Statements about the current season or month or year being the warmest are little jokes that climate scientists use to fool people. It is equivalent to saying that a newly-delivered-to-the-hospital patient, whose temperature we began measuring five minutes ago, now has the warmest temperature we have recorded for him. The planet is 4.6 billion years old and we have proxy data indicating overall temperatures going back for a very long time. Why not compare current temperatures to them?

When the author says something is really complex, he is saying to the reader, “You are too stupid to understand this, so I can make you believe anything I want.”

When the author says that our scientific understanding is incomplete, he really means there is no consensus among scientists. Therefore believe what he says; the other opinion is completely wrong.

When he says that those who do not believe in his opinion are controlled by powerful vested interests, he psychologically wishes you to discredit those scientists who honestly hold a different opinion. If you can’t prove them wrong, attack their motives. Don’t let us see them as scientists but greedy, self-motivated, paid-behind-the-scenes criminals.

— Jerry Matchett, Edmonds

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