Letter Linda Butler: Rebutting misinformation

Published: 1/10/2022 1:31:14 PM
Modified: 1/10/2022 1:30:23 PM

After reading Bob Couch’s opinion piece in the Gazette (“Another viewpoint on climate change,” Dec. 28), I debated whether to reply. Should I just ignore the nonsense? After all, climate crisis deniers now make up a small and dwindling portion of the American public and no doubt an even smaller portion of Gazette readers.

2020 data from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication show that only 12% of Americans disagree that global warming is happening. In Hampshire County, the figure is only 8%. Mr. Couch might argue that we’ve been brainwashed by a few alarmists. But according to NASA, a huge majority — 97% — of actively publishing climate scientists have determined that humankind has, in fact, caused global warming.

What’s still unsettled is how bad the crisis will get. As for Mr. Couch’s two sources: He first cites “atmospheric scientist Robert L. Stott,” who suggests it’s silly to “fiddle with” the amount of CO2 we dump into the atmosphere. Google couldn’t find any such person for me but did find a Philip Stott, retired biology professor and global warming skeptic. His area of expertise? Not the atmosphere but the vegetation of southeast Asia.

Mr. Couch’s primary source, Steven E. Koonin, does have impressive credentials as a physicist. But should we trust his opinions on climate research? The interests of this former chief scientist for British Petroleum may still lie with the fossil fuel industry. For a thorough debunking of Koonin’s book “Unsettled,” read the trenchant review in Scientific American published May 13, 2021.

I wish the Gazette had the resources to fact check all the letters and guest columns it publishes, but as it doesn’t, I hope I can count on readers to rebut misinformation. I do agree with Mr. Couch on one point, that “no computer is capable of predicting the future, especially with regard to what the climate will be like 50 years from now.” That’s because so much depends on us.

The climate changes we’re seeing today are the unwitting legacy of past generations. Now we know better. What will we leave behind?

Linda Butler



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