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Letter to the Editor - July 25

July 25, 2013

Krauthammer seems confused about climate change

To the editor:

After reading Charles Krauthammer’s column (July 7) attacking President Obama’s climate change initiative, I feel a rebuttal is needed.

First, the magnitude of the threat from global warming is not determined by polling as Krauthammer implies. It is a physical threat that is costing us right now, and that cost is increasing. Research shows that the effects likely will increase to 3.6 percent of world gross domestic product by 2100.

Americans are confused about the seriousness of the issue due, in part, to a $5.9 million campaign by the American Petroleum Institute started in 1998 to discredit climate science and quash public support. They’ve used many of the methods employed by the tobacco industry to mislead Congress about smoking and health.

Second, Krauthammer writes that Obama is naive to believe climate change is settled science. But 97 percent of climate scientists accept that manmade global warming is real, an overwhelming consensus. 

Further, 18 leading scientific organizations sent letters to senators affirming that human-driven climate change is a genuine threat. Even the American Medical Association, Krauthammer’s former affiliation, has endorsed the scientific consensus.

Third, Krauthammer states that “Global temperatures have been flat for 16 years,” a classic case of cherry picking. In fact, he chose a period starting around the 1997-98 El Nino, the strongest of the last century. This event caused more incoming solar heat to warm the oceans and less to warm the air.  Research indicates this is a temporary change. Either way, total temperature increases.

Finally, Krauthammer’s contention that China and India are the big problem is correct and a genuine concern. However, to use this argument to support expansion of our own use of coal is ridiculous. Does he seriously think we should speed the process? Besides, the real reason coal is losing out is inexpensive natural gas.

China is aware of their problem. But unlike the U.S., they have no immediate alternative to coal.

We are in a race with time. But coal plants built today will be operating for 50 years. Cars for 10. It is far easier and cheaper to avoid the problem now than hoping to fix it later, if fixing is even possible.

Larry Zaleski
Hagerstown

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