A Reader's Thoughts On Global Warming and Scientific Truth And Controversy ~ Annapolis Capital Punishment

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Reader's Thoughts On Global Warming and Scientific Truth And Controversy

The following was sent in by reader Phil Ferrara, although we have never met. Readers may recall that in January, one of my weekly The Ninth Ward columns in The Capital was concerned with what the city would be like if the most dire predictions about sea (not seal!) level rise were to become real. I did not say these worst scenarios would happen (I tend to doubt they will...), but I did say that sea level was rising in our region, and pointed to a state and federal web-site that documented such a rise. 
As I predicted in the column, it brought some rather pointed remarks from some readers who are absolutely convinced that even if the earth's temperature is rising, which they do not necessarily even believe, it can all be explained by normal natural phenomena, such as solar activity. I still do not understand how anybody can question that human factors such as the rapid release of massive amounts of carbon that have been locked up for millions of years plus urbanization plus clearing of forests cannot have an effect of this magnitute. 
The earth is indeed warming. Sea level is indeed rising. Glaciers and mountaintop snow and ice are melting. Anyone who denies this is simply irrational. Exactly why or how fast or what will result or what to do about it are other questions--but it is happening and denying it and claiming it is a hoax or conspiracy is simply, well, it's lunacy--and possibly catastrophic.

And now, for Mr. Ferrara's most welcome take on this topic, the views of which are solely his own and do not necessarily represent those of the publisher of this blog:

    I don't fundamentally disagree with what you say concerning global warming in the January 6th CAPITAL, and also believe that we and all people of the world need to substantially improve our stewardship of the earth and its environment.  As a boater and avid camper, hiker, and outdoorsman, I've lived in the environment fully and carefully and can say with clear conscience that only pictures have been taken and only footprints or wakes left for all of my life.  
Limited faith is held by me in people like John Coleman whose video was referred to you, but also in the scientists and university researchers from even reputable  environmental programs at colleges and universities or government agencies.  Several acquaintances in other walks of life dependent upon grants from government are pure salesmen for their programs, worthwhile or not.  So, too, are too many of our politicians who will improperly promote a program, policy, or spending initiative in order to advance their candidacy or get re-elected.
    Your position as a columnist and an interested, independent citizen is appreciated.  We've all watched the CAPITAL's evolution in these tough economic times away from national editorialists and toward the support of thoughtful and well written columns by local writers such as yourself.
    Honestly, I don't have the answer to the problem you have raised.  Most of my 66 yrs of life has been in and around the water, born in Boston, lived there 18 years, lived in Maryland, California, Maine, NYC, Buffalo, Chicago, Northern Virginia, Philadelphia, etc.  I have been to each of the 50 states and travelled or been stationed in 24 different countries, and off and on lived 15 of those years in Annapolis since 1961.....been through the horrible hurricane years in Boston in the 1950's and watched the seas wash over a portion of Cape Cod, experienced a 40 day period in Chicago in 1982/83 when the temperature hovered at or near zero without relief...been to the fires in Yellowstone at their conclusion and seen the devastation....been to the Annapolis beaches here from 1961 to 2009, but all fundamentally remains the same at the shoreline. 
     What always has concerned me is the attitude of the technical and bureaucratic organizations as well as the scientific experts from agencies and universities.  Whether on CNN or FOX or public broadcasting, they argue endlessly, they talk 'over' each other----always interrupting or speaking louder than the other person, regardless of which opinion they support.  Just visualize a cat fight !  Or a political debate !   On another front, one need only watch the Weather Channel, to see the self-serving promoters that populate their programming.  It is not meteorology and providing weather updates.  It is all showmanship, drama, anxiety-lifting stories, exaggeration, and whoever can dress the best or look most stylish and manicured.   Issues like global warming "sell"  airtime, so TV programs promote it.  From another subject, for the past 49 years we've all watched the wrangling continue and evolve over the issues and concerns of the Chesapeake Bay.  Experts and politicians have come and gone.  CBF and citizens and the CAPITAL and politicians and Governors have exchanged arguments and solutions on this matter for decades.  Grants have been issued, 100's of millions of dollars have been consumed.  But, essentially, we are still at the starting line or even behind in environmental efforts toward the Bay.  None of this promotes trust and faith in experts and agencies and government and their collective opinions.  As a result, a lot of people remain on the sidelines of this issue or are skeptical about it.
     The earth has been through a myriad of weather cycles of heating and cooling.  Where we stand today was not long ago a seabed.  By the opposite token, just a couple of degrees of latitude to our north was the terminal glacier just a few millenia ago.  There are many sides to the entire issue of climate, whether it is 'change' or continuing random evolution, or influenced by man or otherwise.   Until scientists and politicians cease disingenuous, even untruthful research and debate, it is hard to take their dialogue seriously.  I look forward someday to rational, unemotional public and televised discourse.  As a proponent of Steven Covey's principle, "seek first to understand before being understood", we need people to understand each other rather than rant , argue, speak louder than one another, and fail to listen to the other's viewpoints and accept possible differences .  Then we can find consensus and 'win-win' and get to solutions.
    In short, we have a long way to go before the world has an understanding of this issue.
Thank you for your thoughtful contribution to the discourse so far.
PHIL  Ferrara

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Unknown said...

Warmest January on record for the lower atmosphere - from Weather Underground Meteorologist Jeff Masters.


I continue to find it astonishing that there are individuals out there who deny that the global climate is warming. Despite the crazy snow we've received in the past few weeks, remember that local weather does not equal global climate!

I firmly believe that the Earth has superb buffering capabilities, however every buffer has its limits. I would personally prefer to err on the side of caution than have our planet wind up like Venus.

*Cue the wailing and teeth gnashing of the flat-Earthers*

Paul Foer said...

Thanks....you seem as if you might be a scientist! Yes, what the knucklehead naysayers do not understand is that more snow, ie extreme weather--even if still "cold" is probably due to increased moisture in the atmosphere due to...ta dum....global warming!!!! I heard Dennis Leary whining that because Lake Erie has frozen solid for the first time 13 years that...well you get my drift...snow drift!

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