Yes, Ms. Bell, climate change is real

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by Kelvin Hodges

Like Ms. Bell, I have been watching the “climate change” debate in the columns of this paper. For those of you who are confused about why we have a climate crisis, why scientists are worried and why there are calls for changes in our resource use, here’s my story.

My father is a biologist. Imagine me at 17, the year is 1976, sitting in a chair attending a lecture on climate at Duke University. My father, and others, are proposing we may be experiencing the start to a mini ice age. The birch trees, so beloved by my father, are growing south of Lake Superior for the first time in 10,000 years.

But wait, says one of the visiting scientists, what about the warming potential of CO2?

After some scholarly discussion it was decided more study was needed. By 1982, with temperatures rising, even my dear old dad had to admit no ice age was coming. His birch trees had died and the habitation line for his trees was moving north.

Now you can see I’ve been watching the climate debate for over 40 years. Not long in climate terms really, but combined with 40 years of research. Enough time to be able to say, CO2 is indeed a problem.

Ceasing to think indeed

When a researcher begins by stating “I do not have all the material immediately at hand:” It makes me uncomfortable that a scientist finds it too difficult to use verifiable facts. That Ms. Bell then launches into unsubstantiated opinion. I believe the eyeroll emoji would be useful here.

She’s happy to tell us “the ocean is not acidifying.” Ms. Bell couldn’t take the time to google “ocean acidification facts”. Ms. Bell, please refer to the pdf document “Ocean Acidification” by Jean-Pierre Gattuso and Lina Hansson. Available free online. Peer review is a wonderful thing.

That Ms. Bell also appears incapable of viewing photographs or illustrations of the changes in our own arctic sea ice is telling. Nor does she note the fact that observed and verified arctic temperatures are now 4-5 degrees above average and arctic climate changes are now shown to be as much as 70 years ahead of the models (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-climate-change-permafrost). But enough of Ms. Bells struggles.

What is wrong with CO2?

CO2 has two real problems. One, it is, as we’re seeing, pretty good at wrapping a blanket around the earth. This is leading to changes in the climate that we as puny mortals find discomforting. Hard to be jovial when a hurricane has the ocean surge two feet above your home’s roof.

And the real science clearly shows a rising global temperature. See https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/world-of-change/DecadalTemp for a neat graphic that shows temperature rises across the planet.

Also, CO2 is indeed acidifying the air and water, as noted above. The changes we see in the oceans, like coral bleaching, are caused by increased heat and increases in ph. Both directly attributed to CO2.

See my dad’s university at “https://nicholasinstitute.duke.edu/articles/high-atmospheric-carbon-dioxide-levels-threaten-coral-reefs-people“.

Personally, I wonder that the change in ph isn’t having the same effect we saw with the “acid rain” of the 70s. This might be why we see such a drop in flying insects. It may be that the acid eats away at the egg membrane reducing spawning success. Just a thought. Quote me on it please, but I do hope to be proven wrong.

Science is about repeatable proofs

This is why climate change is both real and believable. Because it is proven with observation and measurements. It is not fabricated. It has been repeatedly verified in thousands of studies.

In fact, you can easily replicate my findings. I recommend any peer reviewed science journal. Nature online is a fine place to start.

I would say to that ever shrinking minority that deny climate change. Read peer reviewed science journals. Listen to your neighbor’s stories. Discover your inner scientist. Don’t leave the facts conveniently at the door.

Next week I’ll write about how we can begin to act. Hint, its easy, fun and saves you money!

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