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Granger man supports climate change theories

3/6/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Letter to the Editor

To the editor:

I must reply to the inaccuracies of the climate change letter to the editor, “[Bath] reader questions ‘climate change,’” Feb. 20, 2014, West Side Leader.

As an engineer/scientist, I trust the scientific method of inquiry. The scientific method will take a theory and other scientists are given the opportunity to examine the theory and either agree or disagree with the theory. Over time, scientific evidence is developed that either confirms or denies the theory. With the vast majority now supporting climate change, we should conclude that it is likely to be true.

For some, it is hard to realize that the 7 billion humans, while a very large number, can influence the atmosphere of an entire planet. Yet, science is showing that it can. The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been measured since the late 1950s on a mountaintop in Hawaii. Scientists have examined that data and have questioned what is causing the 33 percent increase in carbon dioxide. The only explanation when examining all what has happened to the earth, the only logical conclusion is that man is causing the increase.

Now onto the errors in the letter.

  1. The writer is in error when he said that Greenland was ice-free 1,000 years ago. It was much the same as it is today, largely covered by snow and ice.
  2. The football analogy is totally incorrect. Our atmosphere is reported on a dry basis. That is, air samples are dried before analysis. The atmosphere has variable amounts of water depending upon whether the sample is taken from a desert or from a tropical rainforest. Dry air contains about 78 percent nitrogen and nearly 21 percent oxygen. This adds up to 99 percent. The 1 percent balance of the atmosphere consists of mostly argon and carbon dioxide. Argon is about 0.93 percent, while carbon dioxide currently is about 0.04 percent. The amount of water vapor in the atmosphere averages about 1 percent by volume.
  3. The writer wants to conclude that the world wars should have caused some effect on the global climate. The facts are that we are using more energy and putting more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere now than during either of these wars.
  4. He refers to the contrails from jets causing global cooling. Water vapor is actually a greenhouse gas, like carbon dioxide, and will lead to warming. The SST was not canceled due to its presumed effect on the atmosphere; it was canceled due to economics. The Concorde never made any money and was eventually taken out of service. To be accurate, I need to say that jet contrails do provide a cooling effect on the atmosphere, but that is due to the fine particulate matter emitted from the jet engines. When all airplanes were grounded for several days after 9/11, scientific data for global temperatures indicated a very small but statistically significant increase in global temperatures. Hard to believe, but that is what scientific analysis can do.

Edwin Upton, Granger

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