It is important to consider all sides of an argument, but those sides are only worth reporting if their positions are credible. The arguments against man-made climate change have been disproved countless times, to the point where the science must be accepted. Yes, there are details we still don’t understand but the basic physics are really quite simple: CO2 traps heat and we’re generating unprecedented quantities of CO2 by burning fossil fuels. All other things being equal, we should expect a hotter climate, caused by us. And that is what we measure. To argue against this requires extraordinary evidence, which is not borne out by the sources provided by Stephen Korn (“The other side,” Engineering Dimensions, July/August 2017, p. 54). In the interests of time and space, let me refute just two.
- As skepticalscience.com says in its entry “What do the CERN experiments tell us about global warming?”: “Even the CERN scientist who ran the experiment admits that it ‘says nothing about a possible cosmic-ray effect on clouds and climate.’”
- As to whether CO2 increases lead or lag temperature increases, the ice core record shows that small increases in temperature (due to orbital variations) led to CO2 increases, which then led to further warming through positive feedback (i.e. CO2 served as both cause and effect). But, the bulk of the warming lagged the subsequent CO2 release from warming oceans, even though a small temperature increase was the trigger. But these changes happened over millennia, and have been accounted for, and discounted, in the current warming, which is man-made, as noted above.
I would encourage all members to read widely on the subject, but to question the qualifications, funding and motives of those who deny climate change or profit from the status quo. Engineers have a key role to play in helping the world mitigate and adapt to climate change. If we expect to be treated as specialists in our respective fields, we would do well to respect the expertise of the world’s climate scientists. Contributing to climate denial with misplaced skepticism does a disservice to our profession, our children, our communities and our world.
Jason Scott, P.Eng.,