Letter to the editor – climate change

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Dear Editor,

After a month of articles back and forth, I finally can’t resist, but I don’t want to write half a page. I’ll settle for commenting on four direct quotations from Dr. Bell, (B.Sc.,M.Sc.,Ph.D. etc.)

Consider the following three quotes in relation to each other:”Scientists have the skills to evaluate claims … outside their realm of speciality because they have been trained to do so.”

I have the knowledge and the skill set to evaluate the global warming hypothesis and the evidence does not support the claims being espoused.”

“As a scientist, I suggest that everyone should investigate global warming for themselves, decide for themselves, not take anything on faith, regardless of the source.”

What ‘knowledge and skills’ allow such confident evaluation outside one’s ‘realm of speciality’? Why does the author particularly privilege scientists in this regard? And if she does, how is that idea logically consistent with, “everyone should investigate global warming for themselves” if the everyone referred to includes mostly non-scientists?

And the so-called 97% of scientists who support global warming, do they not, by implication have the same claim-evaluating skills? I’ll ignore the assumption that the 3% are the discoverers of truth, while the 97% are merely political dupes (emotional loading warning).

Interesting that the responses to the initial ‘ceasing to think” are called a “backlash.” I suppose that negatively emotionally loading the terms may convince some. But consider the biases implicit in “I am firm; you are stubborn; he is pig-headed.” And more emotional loading: “Global warming or whatever the alarmists are calling it … has been falsified repeatedly contrary to the assertions of the true believers.” Do scientists use terms such as ‘alarmist’ and ‘true believer’ to make a case? I think not. And “falsified repeatedly” by whom? To what extent? By how many? In small detail, or as a whole? — no clarity there. (Oh please, not a follow-up article with three isolated sources as evidence.)

Fortunately, according to Dr. Bell, I don’t have to take “anything on faith, regardless of the source.” So, as a non-scientist, I’ll continue to read many books (and their detailed footnotes) and websites on the subject, but provisionally I have so far concluded virtually the opposite of Dr. Bell. One recent book, “The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming” — yes, an alarmist title — spends three pages (155-157) analyzing why climate scientists, after decades of reporting results reticently with little result, have moved to a more aggressive vocabulary. I’ll end with a quotation, that highlights why many climate scientists, after decades of circumspection have lately decided to use Dr. Bell’s ‘alarmist’ rhetoric:

“For decades now, there have been few things with a worse reputation than ‘alarmism’ among those studying climate change. For a concerned class, this was somewhat strange; you don’t typically hear from public health experts about the need for circumspection to describe the risks of carcinogens, for instance.” So, finally, perhaps alarmism may be what we need to hear in order to pay attention, Dr. Bell.

Darrell Nunn

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