William Sillin: Control the climate? Surely you jest
To the editor:
Don Robinson’s May 23 column merits a response. I agree with Robinson that “the use of fossil fuels has caused radical changes in the atmosphere” is an opinion, that geoscientists are not unanimous in holding that opinion and that an increase of 2 degrees C in the global mean temperature “would not threaten life as we know it.” Ice core data indicates that civilization flourished when that temperature, the GMT, was 2 degrees warmer than what we measure today.
We’ve long known that CO2 absorbs out-going infrared radiation, thereby raising temperatures on earth.
Experiments show that CO2, acting alone, raises earth’s GMT by 1 degree C for each concentration doubling. Thus 2 doublings of CO2 concentration from the pre-industrial level of 280 parts per million to 1,120 ppm would raise the GMT by 2 degrees C. Experiment suggests that given two doublings of CO2, life as we know it would do just fine.
The current controversy is over the hypothesis that positive feedback loops magnify the power of CO2 acting alone as a greenhouse gas. As time passes the positive feedback theory is tested by observational data.
That no warming has occurred since the 1998 El Nino, while CO2 has risen by 9 percent, undermines the merit of this hypothesis. There are alternative theories that explain variations in climate.
Scientists, not Republicans in Washington or Fox News, propose them. For example, solar physicists believe we are at the end of the modern (since 1940) “Grand Solar Maximum.” Some physicists predict a coming “Grand Solar Minimum” and declining temperatures here on earth during the next several decades.
Thinking government can control the climate by controlling the citizenry is both laughable and nightmarish. Speaking of experiments, let’s see how the crowd in Washington handles the scandals, the national debt and healthcare before we put them completely in charge of the heavens and all that lies beneath them.