Opinion » Rhetoric & Reason

Polar bears aren't canaries



In 2003, the late author and science writer Michael Crichton wrote:

"The greatest challenge facing mankind is the challenge of distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda ... We must daily decide whether the threats we face are real, whether the solutions we are offered will do any good, whether the problems we're told exist are in fact real problems, or non-problems."

Such is the state of climate science today that discernment of fact versus myth is buried amid political polarization that dominates environmental public policy. One extreme demands de-industrialization and imposition of a global, centralized command energy economy; its opposite dismisses any environmental concern as unwarranted intrusion into the private sector.

Several writers took me to task regarding my article "What makes a skeptic." I cited several discrepancies used by the climate alarmist community to bolster their assertion that global warming/climate change is primarily anthropogenic in origin and CO2 is the molecular culprit destabilizing the planet's atmosphere.

First, I will address the assertion that I was comparing critics who call climate skeptics such as myself "deniers" as being themselves associated with "Nazi Holocaust deniers" ("Fact-check Al Fonzi," July 27): you've got it backwards. The term "deniers" is a reference to climate skeptics as being like Holocaust deniers, not those who applied the term. It's a term deliberately chosen to instigate revulsion, comparable to being called a racist and is designed to silence debate and shut down critics, such as myself. I'm neither, and being called names goes with the territory of refusing to get on the "Lemming bus" for a final ride over a cliff.

Second (a response to "Polar bears are like canaries," July 27), polar bear habitat is not at risk, at least according to the wildlife biologists who manage most of the North American polar bear population. They made this clear to policy-makers but the environmental legal lobby is strong and well-funded. Their voice carried the most weight with politicians over wildlife biologists, thus the U.S. government listed polar bears as "endangered" even though the population has increased in the last quarter century. Hunting of the bears by indigenous populations and natural causes (like hungry male bears killing cubs) are the primary threats to polar bears, not loss of habitat or climate change.

Third (a response to "NASA's take on CO2 levels," July 27), instead of reading an article that debunks the "Climategate scandal" I suggest you read the actual emails. I did. The scientists in question, in their revealed emails, were very clear in their intent to cook the books and adjust data to conform to their model predicting an over-heated planet. I point out again that the models they've consistently used to predict global climate have repeatedly failed to predict not only future climate but failed even to predict past climate for which we have abundant data. The models are only as good as the data within and the formulas they use to set the parameters of the model. There is plenty of criticism of the models for being overly sensitive to CO2 and removal of any data that might undermine their assertions of a CO2-driven climate catastrophe. The media also takes these models and hypes the most extreme results as inevitable (boring weather isn't news).

More ominous is the revelation in recent years that the climate alarmists at NASA have been readjusting the raw climate data to reflect pre-determined results supporting warming trends when the actual data, if honestly incorporated, would show a neutral and in some cases, a cooling trend over the next quarter century. Michael Mann, creator of the "hockey stick" graph showing an alarming warming trend with a corresponding rise in CO2 is alleged to have simply ignored the data from the medieval warm period to produce the sharply upward "blade" on his hockey stick graph. When the data is reinserted into the model, the "blade" disappears. That device was used to great effect in Al Gore's climate-scare movie, "An Inconvenient Truth."

German scientists Fritz Vahrenholt and Sebastian Luning pointed out in their book "The Neglected Sun" that American scientists "studying Antarctic ice cores covering the past 12,000 years identified no less than 46 strong natural warming events throughout the pre-industrial era." Yet, presumably due to political pressure, major scientific journals ignored their research. This is not uncommon as in the last two decades enormous political pressure has been applied to scientific publications and researchers to toe the accepted political line on climate change, "or else."

We read about the Western Europe record heatwave of 2003 but not about it being downgraded to a lessor event than the European (pre-industrial) heatwave of 1540, which was worse. We hear about a massive ice sheet breaking off in Antarctica, but not about the under-ice volcanoes contributing to recent calving of ice sheets nor have we read much about temperatures in the Antarctic Ross Sea significantly cooling over the past 30 years.

To make a skeptic, one needs only to read and keep an open mind. The science of climate is not settled; "real science" never is.

Al Fonzi is an Army lieutenant colonel of military intelligence who had a 35-year military career, serving in both the Vietnam and Iraq wars. Send comments through the editor atclanham@newtimesslo.com.

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