Climate change is real, and science agrees

05/26/2013 2:00 PM

05/24/2013 10:50 AM

Re May 16 letter by R.H. Gruy, “Manmade global warming? Doesn’t make sense”

Gruy makes the case for his argument against manmade global warming by cherry picking two months out of 912 to support his claim that man has nothing to do with it. In doing so he completely ignores the fact that NASA scientists say 2012 was the ninth warmest of any year since 1880, which continued a long term trend of rising temperatures. The nine warmest years in the 132-year record have all occurred since 2000, with 2010 and 2005 ranking as the hottest years on record. In fact the average global temperature has risen 1.4 degrees F since 1880. This would encompass the time frame in which Gruy rightfully mentions that CO2 and the number of cars on the road both increase. CO2 levels in 1880 were 285 PPM. Today they are 400 PPM, a notable increase.

Public opinion on climate change is fickle, changing literally with the weather. Yale’s April 2013 climate change survey found Americans’ conviction that global warming is happening dropped by some seven points, to 63 percent. The decline probably was due to the cold winter we just experienced and the unusually harsh March just before the survey was taken. A far smaller percentage – 49 percent – understood that human activity was contributing to the problem. Of course that means about 49 percent don’t think humans have anything to do with global warming – about the same percentage that flatly reject evolution.

Far more troubling info from Yale’s poll is the suggestion that only 42 percent of American’s believe that scientists are in agreement on climate change. A third believe that there is widespread disagreement among scientists on the issue. This is very much at odds with reality and likely prevents more people, such as Gruy, from accepting some pretty straightforward scientific realities.

A team from the University of Queensland led by John Cook, founder of the climate change website, looked through some 12,000 scientific articles published between 1991 and 2011 to determine just how much scientific agreement exists on the subject of climate change and humanity’s role in driving it. The results, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, were abundantly clear. Ninety-seven percent of the scientists endorsed the idea that humans are causing global warming. A little less than 3 percent rejected the idea or were undecided. That’s an overwhelming majority and, I think, should be sufficient to convince any non-believer.

What’s clear – what’s an absolute certainty according to scientists – is that we’ve got a problem on our hands and we’re going to have to deal with it sooner or later. So if you count yourself amount the 49 percent who believe climate change is happening and we’re a major cause of it, give yourself a pat on the back. The world’s best and brightest scientists agree with you.

The writer lives in Myrtle Beach.

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