Guest Post: ‘I have found you an argument …’

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RBC I As you read this, the final installment of Ms. Hemmerich’s series on climate change appears in a column nearby. This article refers to her Guest Post Part 3 published last week.

I am reminded of the retort by Samuel Johnson, 18th century writer and lexicographer, to a gentleman with whom he had a prolonged debate. “Sir, I have found you an argument; but I am not obliged to find you an understanding.” In these articles I can give you references to the scientific reports on climate, and I can point out the fallacies in climate denial. However, I cannot bestow understanding of that science. That takes careful study on your part. Real understanding requires immersion in the science itself, the hands-on field work, countless hours analyzing measurements from ice volume in glaciers, countless hours counting fossil foraminifers in ocean sediments, tedious decade after decade analysis of the solar output. I refer you to the scientific reports. I have collected previous publications and references on my website. (Dorsett, 2019.)  I hope you might take time to read them, think about them, and study further.

Here are my thoughts about Ms. Hemmerich’s Part 3. Her main allegations are outside the realm of productive debate. Climate science is a socialist conspiracy? Climate scientists are cult religious followers? They’re all hypocrites because they burn fossil fuels, too? All nonsense. (Greta Thunberg, by the way, sailed from Sweden to the U.N. for her presentation and traveled by train and electric car between venues. Then she sailed back to Spain for the Climate Conference. AP, 2019)  Ms. Hemmerich’s unsubstantiated and misleading allegations serve no purpose to find understanding or to solve real problems.

Considering Ms. Hemmerich’s claims that the climate models are wrong and that “we’ve been here before:” As I have explained in previous publications (Dorsett, 2019), first thing you need to appreciate is what is a scientific ‘model.’ It is a set of mathematical equations (incorporated into computer algorithms for the climate models) that make predictions based on measurements. For example, Isaac Newton developed his model of gravity 350 years ago. Plug in the present position and velocity of Jupiter, say. Include Jupiter’s mass, mass of the sun, and distance between them and Newton’s model tells you where you’ll find Jupiter tomorrow or next week or a year from now. Climate models work the same. Plug in measurements including this year’s temperatures, solar flux, cloud cover, humidity, ocean currents, atmospheric gas concentrations and other parameters and the model will calculate temperatures next year, next decade, next century. The climate models work very well, and they’re getting better. How do we know? Like all accepted models in science, they’ve been tested against actual data. Give a climate model the data for the year 1900 and it will calculate climate in 1901, 1902, 1903 . . .  Compare the model’s output with actual climate data for those years. Results? The models reproduce the actual historical record of climate. And those models provide compelling evidence that recent rapid global warming is the result of greenhouse gas emissions. You can remove from the models the greenhouse gases we’ve dumped into the atmosphere, and the hockey stick temperature curve disappears. Include those gases in the models and the models match the temperature record, hockey stick and all.

And no, we have not been here before. There is no period in the climate record except perhaps the rebound from the Younger Dryas event 12,000 years ago in which global temperature has increased so rapidly (NOAA, 2011). Ecosystems don’t have time to adapt. Life on earth is extraordinarily resilient, but ecosystems can’t keep up with the consequences of today’s increasing temperatures. We are pushing familiar life on earth beyond its tolerances.

Ms. Hemmerich acknowledges in her closing paragraphs that humans have some responsibility to protect God’s Creation. Hopefully we can agree on a plan to do so.

References:

Associated Press. 2019. Greta Thunberg completes sail. https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/kidspost/greta-thunberg-completes-sail-to-attend-un-climate-conference-in-spain/2019/12/03/b4476148-15d1-11ea-9110-3b34ce1d92b1_story.html

Dorsett, Robert B. 2019. Compendium of climate resources. http://dorsett-edu.us/Climate/ClimateCompendium_PDF.pdf

NOAA. 2011. Younger Dryas event. https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/abrupt-climate-change/The%20Younger%20Dryas

 

By DR. BOB DORSETT | Special to the Herald Times