In about 50 minutes, one can read a poorly researched opinion letter asserting that climate change is fiction (e.g., PE letter Climate Change a Fiction), do a google search to find NASA's earth temperature data, download the data into Excel, review the formula for a linear trend, calculate the trends for 10-, 30-, and 100-year time periods, jot down the slope of each, noting that all are positive, and then write a rebuttal, which I did. I'm not the only one who felt a letter in the paper is a minimum provocation for a rebuttal (e.g., PE letter Sacrifice to help stall climate change). And I'm probably not the only one who invests more time researching the topic than the orginal writer of an opinion. In the past, I've regretted capturing a permanent link to such conversations, for the papers sometimes clean their wedsites of old comments and old letters. So, this post is mainly for me to stash a recent ill-informed letter where I and anyone interested may find it.
Climate conversation for safe keeping:
June 26, 2013; 09:40 PM
In 2007, Al Gore won the Nobel Peace prize and world acclaim due to his preaching that the world needed Big Government oversight to maintain the temperature of Earth. Today, we are in a stable cooling cycle, so “global warming” has been renamed “climate change.”
Gov. Jerry Brown is also pushing the notion that we need to fight climate change (“Brown pushes climate fight,” June 21).
With California in a fragile state, he wants to sacrifice our economy on the altar of this nonexistent problem by adding suffocating regulations.
A 20th century politician once said, “What luck for the rulers that men do not think.”
The only push Brown is really making is that of California further into bankruptcy. Rita Sandor Corona
None of what Rita has said about climate in her letter is correct. The term "Climate Change" has always been in use: Consider the IPCC, which stands for Intergovernmental Panel on CLIMATE CHANGE. This organization collects and summarizes climate studies after it's founding in 1988. That's 25 years of "Climate Change". Though "climate change" has always been in use, I'm more confident in using "Global Warming". Global warming is not about temperatures as much as it's about energy. More energy entering the climate system shows itself in a variety of ways including surface temperatures, ocean temperatures, evaporation, and melting of snow and ice. It doesn't have to show itself equally in all of these.
Upon reading this letter, I examined Rita's claim that we are in a "stable cooling cycle" by downloading NASA's global temperature... data and calculating trend lines for 100-, 30-, 15-, and 10-year time periods all ending in 2012. I can find no stable cooling in the data, however, the slope is nearly flat for the last ten years, giving rise to the myth of a cooling trend. But the slope is still positive, meaning temperatures are going up. However, while surface temperatures have only mildly increased in the past ten years, snow and ice cover have taken nose dives. Energy put toward melting ice does not show as a temperature increase. Look at the Arctic: the summer sea ice is stably plummeting. It's now half of what it was in the 1980s. And then there's energy going into the ocean, which covers the majority of the globe. To point at a pause in land temperatures while ignoring the ocean and ice cover, is ignoring most of the planet.
I recommend a recent 1/2-hour talk by Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University that can be viewed at this YouTube site: Arctic Amplification
She discusses how global warming is showing up in the arctic first (a trend that has been predicted by computer modelling) and how that is affecting our weather. Dr. Francis uses some of my work in her talk. But my motive in sharing this is to show others of Rita's mind that I, others like me, and the scientific community are not extremists stuck in some politically motivated belief system. We're citizens and scientists studying what is happening to our world so we can propertly assess the solutions put before us by politicians.
I use this blog as a companion to my website www.brightstarstemeculavalley.org, where I call attention to local light pollution and share my enthusiasm for science and astronomy. I'm also a contributor to www.SkepticalScience.com.