I have a few thoughts on last week’s editorial “Simply Unsustainable” but first, I have to apologize for a mistake on my letter last week.
The sentence that said “When plants appeared on the scene…” should have read “When flowering plants appeared on the scene…”
I caught it as soon as I read it in the paper and should have proof-read it better. Facts matter, especially regarding the thorny subject of climate change and I regret the mistake.
In “Simply Unsustainable”, the author makes too many claims and statements to address in this brief, limited format without the ability to show graphs or images, but I will attempt to address two in this letter.
The first is the claim that extreme weather events, for example, hurricanes are increasing in frequency and intensity as a result of anthropogenic climate change.
I can understand her feeling this way because if one does a search on this subject, you get information that has a great deal of bluster, rhetoric and anecdote but is low on facts.
The most accurate and rational article that I have found related to this subject is “Tropical Hurricanes in the Age of Global Warming” by Paul Homewood of the Global Warming Policy Foundation.
This article looks at the actual numbers and many different methods of tracking these tropical storms over the years and comes to the conclusion that “ there is little evidence that global warming has resulted in more hurricanes or more intense ones.”
On the contrary, evidence confirms that hurricane and major hurricane frequency has been as great in many prior periods as it has been recently.
The main problem with this issue is that climate change alarmists are conflating our increased ability to use modern technology to observe, track and report on these events with their false hypothesis that these events are increasing in frequency due to global warming.
Another claim that the author makes is that “the earth is warming at unprecedented rates – 10 times faster than during the ice age warming.”
The three most highly cited combined land temperature and surface sea temperature data sets are NOAA’s MLOST, NASA’s GISTEMP, and the UK’s HadCRUT.
They all show a very gradual warming of about 1 1/2 degrees Celsius since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution which conveniently coincides with the end of the Little Ice Age.
These numbers are certainly not unprecedented and may not even be above margins of error in the data sets. They also do not take into account the urban heat island effect or the fact that scientists who are the keepers of these data sets refuse to release their raw data for public scrutiny.
To quote Phil Jones, HadCRUT scientist, “Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try to find something wrong with it!”
The data set that is the most damaging to the author’s statement is the UAH Satellite Based Temperature set.
It only goes back to 1979 since we have not had satellites covering the globe for very long, but it shows a net gradual warming of 1/4 of a degree Celsius since then.
This data set is unique in that it relies on uniform, accurate temperatures from the entire surface of the earth and it, therefore, has little or no margin of error.
If I were to use the tactics of the alarmists, I could even argue that the temperature has decreased by 1/4 of a degree since 1998 by focusing only on the data since 1998 when the temperatures peaked at 1/2 of a degree over the 1979 temperature, but of course I would never do that!
One thing I do agree with the author on is the lack of sustainability of putting “real” pollutants into the environment worldwide, but especially in Southeast Asia.
Real pollutants include particulates, ozone, SO2, NOX, fertilizers and pesticides in surface and groundwater, heavy metals, etc.
The release of these pollutants into the global ecosystem is a real problem and humanity needs to address this problem, but CO2 is not a “real” pollutant.
It, along with sunshine and water is a driver of photosynthesis, which makes all life possible on earth.
It has been demonstrated in multiple peer-reviewed scientific papers that it was many times more abundant in the past with positive consequences for the environment.
It would be of benefit if we could instantly double or triple CO2’s concentration worldwide.
This is another reason why I am so against the shutting down of our clean coal electricity generation plants in Alberta, but that is another story.