February 7, 2013

Scientific truth isn't decided by majority vote

Letter to the Editor

To support his weak case against global warming, M.D. Harmon ("Some hot (and not so hot) news about global warming trends," Jan. 19) leans hard on some popular media articles by David Whitehouse, not a climate scientist but an astrophysicist who's never published a peer-reviewed article about climate change.

(Harmon notes that Whitehouse is affiliated with the "Global Warming Policy Foundation," which sounds impressive, but almost no directors of that group are climate scientists, either.)

The so-called leveling out of global warming Whitehouse sees is there only if one picks the right set of blip years, and Whitehouse just substitutes one set for another.

Harmon notes that last year was the absolute warmest on record only in the U.S., and fails to note that it was one of the 10 warmest years recorded for the whole planet.

He notes one unpublished low-end prediction that atmospheric temperature will rise a mere 2 percent. Harmon doesn't note that average temperatures are already higher than they've been in hundreds of years or that the carbon dioxide levels that drive climate change are vastly higher than they've been in half a million years, at least, and are climbing fast.

Beyond that Harmon just relays isolated third-hand reports from newspaper articles he's read or he goes at the media, rather than tackling the huge and growing body of scientific research indicating that current human activity is causing severe climate change.

Scientific truth isn't decided by majority vote. But one more thing Harmon doesn't note is that 97 percent of the members of the National Academy of Sciences understand human activity to be warming the earth significantly.

Finding the truth about global warming requires more than sniper journalism. It requires looking at the science, which is pretty clear: We're causing global warming, and we'd better stop.

Matthew Freytag

East Vassalboro

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