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Hazy consensus

James Maiewski opined that the statement “Scientists are still divided 50/50 on global warming” is asinine. Really? It is inaccurate if by “global warming” we mean a rise in global mean temperature in the last 50 or 150 years. It is also inaccurate if by “global warming” we mean that human activity accounts for most of the warming that has occurred over the last 30 to 50 years. Most scientists accept that our atmosphere is warming and that much of the most recent warming can be attributed to human activity. But, if by “global warming” we mean that the warming attributable to human activity constitutes a killing crisis then the statement is more accurate than Mr. Maiewski thinks. Scientists are very much divided on the assertion that our role is significant and that assertion is NOT part of the much publicized “consensus statement on climate change.”

Popular media usually misrepresents the consensus statement by conflating the first two assertions with the third, which is tacked on by activists and alarmists, some of whom are indeed scientists.

Here’s a quote to keep in mind when a discussion of the climate forecast is poisoned by terms like “asinine” or by alarmist assertions that we are killing the planet. It is from “Climatology,” 2nd ED, Rohli & Vega, 2012, the UMass climatology class’s textbook. “Our understanding of anthropogenic global warming has been strengthened by examining issues expounded upon by the skeptics. This has probably led to more realistic assessments of future climatic conditions because many past assessments predicted unrealistically large increases in global temperatures and resulting impacts. Unfortunately some still use these unrealistic assessments in public forums in an attempt to advance political agendas.”



I do pity individuals who feel compelled to make those who deny the reality of anthropic climate change sound less like crazy people, but this pathos does not induce me to respect poor arguments. Mr. Sillin would benefit from reading both the letter which I was responding to and the editorial to which that letter referred. Had he done so he would have seen that the editorial specifically cited statements describing his first two possible meanings of global warming. Was it unreasonable for me to have presumed that these meanings were the one's being denied? should I have assumed that the denier actually referred to meanings unstated in the editorial? Mr. Silin, after chastising my lack of clairvoyance, proceeds to demonstrate his own by claiming to know what I think about this idea left unstated by anyone save himself. To be fair, even if the editorial, the response and my reaction to that response had all been about whether anthropomorphic atmospheric carbon "constitutes a killing crisis," (which is unlikely as the statement is hopelessly vague and indulges in the very alarmism the writer claims to eschew) my opinion still stands. To the degree that there is any division of expert opinion, it is solely in how much of a crisis and how lethal it will be, not, as the statement which I contemned suggests, that we should do nothing and wait and see. James Maiewski

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