The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

May 3, 2013

Debate on global warming continues


Daily Item

---- — The debate on global warming continues, much to the annoyance of some who consider it settled. Climatologists have an inherent advantage over meteorologists in that the latter are held accountable for their predictions. Get the three-day forecast wrong by a few degrees or a few millimeters of rain and people are angry about having their plans disrupted. But a climatologist can predict a few meters of rising sea levels in the next 500 years and have no worries that he will be reminded of his error. On the contrary, he will be invited to TV talk shows and lauded as a visionary. He may even garner a Nobel Peace Prize. Nobody gets a Nobel for predicting tomorrow's rain.

Earth has gone through warm and cool periods long before anthropogenic influences were even imagined. We can probably all agree that the Ice Ages were bad for humans but past warming trends (e.g., the Medieval Warm Period from 1400 to 1600 AD) have allowed wine grapes to be grown in Great Britain and probably contributed to the Renaissance, the Reformation, and exploration of the Americas. How bad was that? Humans are remarkably adaptable and will find ways to cope with climate change; they may even thrive.

Does human activity affect our climate? Do we benefit more by attempting to stop climate change or by adapting to it? Is it even possible to stop climate change? The questions are many and complex and the answers will likely not be known for decades or centuries. We should keep studying the issues and try to be honest in interpreting our data. Be kind to the earth and be kind to those who interpret the data differently. Stop jeering, Mr. Editor. In science, the debate is never truly over and you cannot just shut it down.

Ronald C. Blatchley, New Berlin