Letter to the Editor – Climate Change

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Dear Editor,

I don’t want to prolong the agony for readers and will try to keep this short, but if Steve Gabell continues to attack me and my views on climate change – I applaud his tenacity – then I will continue responding in a civil and friendly fashion, letting our readers decide who has the more balanced position. In his Oct. 13 Times letter, Mr. Gabell seems unable to conceive that perhaps his position is overstated and that there may be a reasonable middle position between denial and alarmism when it comes to climate change.

Mr. Gabell downplays failed alarmist predictions and doubtful model projections and instead focuses on additional recent weather events, as if there had been no bad hurricanes, heat waves, floods and droughts in previous decades and centuries. Yet even the IPCC says there is “low confidence” in attributing tropical cyclones to human causes. Indeed, the number and strength of hurricanes has not changed in any significant way over the past century. Simply attributing every new extreme weather event to “climate change” is bad science and shoddy journalism.

Just to reiterate my position: yes the climate is changing – as it always has done; yes the global temperature has increased about one degree since the coldest period of the last 2500 years ended in the 19th century; yes some of that (the IPCC suggests at least 50%) is probably due to human causes, including but not limited to fossil fuel burning; and yes that will have some negative consequences (more hot days, for example) for people in some parts of the globe; but there are some benefits as well (the ongoing greening of the planet, for example).

It is foolish to expect that the climate we got used to in the mid 20th century should remain unchanging into the 21st, especially given that “climate and weather are highly complex, non-linear systems” as Mr. Gabell correctly notes – systems imperfectly understood and inadequately modelled, I might add. The assumption that CO2 in the atmosphere is the planet’s thermostat is overly simplistic, and the idea that Canada can affect the planet’s climate by sharply cutting back our fossil fuel usage is absurd, especially when China, for example, continues to build coal-fired power plants.

All of the worst-case alarmist climate projections are highly improbable and the future risks have been vastly overstated. So please, let’s stop frightening children with fatuous predictions, and deal with any actual climate shifts in a mature and regionally-sensible manner.

Ed Norman, Kemptville.

 

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