Las Vegas Sun

October 24, 2014

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letter to the editor:

Columnist relies on red herrings

I have to complain about John Christy’s column, “‘Settled science’ isn’t necessarily so,” appearing Sunday, and alert readers to the fact that his views are contrary to those held by 97 percent of the scientific community involved in assessing climate change. This claim is documented at climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus and many other sites.

Most of Christy’s arguments in the editorial are misleading. No one to my knowledge has ever used a public opinion poll to decide whether climate change is happening or not, so why even bring it up? It’s a red herring.

I’ll agree with Christy that the study of climate change is complex and not fully understood, but what Christy avoids saying is that there is an awful lot of evidence pointing to the conclusions adopted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and most of the world’s National Academies of Science, that the climate is changing and greenhouse gases are an important part of that.

Christy avoids noting that by pointing to his own failed modeling attempts that overestimated warming effects, and by failing to observe that other modeling underestimates what is happening in the world, such as glacial and polar ice melting. The modeling part of the issue is not well settled, but the statistical measurements we’re getting from a host of worldwide sensors are pretty undeniable.

It’s also worth addressing Christy’s dismissal of authorities. We should pay attention to what authorities have to say when we do not have the ability to understand complicated scientific issues.

We have to establish who the real authorities are. In the science community, this occurs by a pretty rigorous process of peer assessment that I’m tempted to say seems to have left Christy behind.

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