Letter: Teaching moment missed
Tom Bevacqua, teacher and meteorologist, misses the mark terribly and does his readers a great disservice when he minimizes the threat of climate change, as he did in his column on Monday, Nov. 18. He writes that large storms, like the typhoon in the Philippines or Hurricane Sandy or the terrible tornados in the Midwest, are not caused by climate change. In one sense, he is correct. We have always had big storms, so you can’t say that one storm in particular is any different from, say, the Hurricane of 1938. So, too, you can’t say that the calving of a particular glacier is caused by climate change. Recently, a 700-square-kilometer iceberg, 50 percent larger than ever before observed, was calved from the Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica. Deniers say that icebergs have calved there throughout history.
Though it is true that you can’t point to any one event and say, “Aha! Climate Change,” scientists do study the totality of events and the vast majority of them reach the conclusion that the world is warming at unprecedented rates; glaciers and polar ice are disappearing faster than ever seen in human history; that these events themselves release trapped greenhouse gases and dilute the salinity of the ocean which accelerate the warming process; that such changes alter weather patterns and provide fuel for the creation of massively destructive storms.
No, you can’t point to the typhoon in the Philippines as “proof” of climate change. But as a scientist, Mr. Bevacqua has a responsibility to alert his readers to the vast consensus of scientific thought; that if we don’t act immediately to change the way we consume fossil fuels, the world for our children and grandchildren will become a vastly different and more dangerous place.