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Letters to the editor

Joe McHugh

Your current series of feature articles on global warming is very interesting and reasonably balanced. Balanced especially because of Monday’s “competing” articles which, on one side, threaten the dire consequences of global warming and, on the other, discusses the long-overdue commencement of the next ice age. An interesting contrast of views.It is also interesting to see how the turn of a phrase can support one side or the other of the argument. For example, John Harte is quoted as saying, “It’s almost impossible to find a scientific researcher who doubts ‘the connection between people and greenhouse warming’ … .” I am reminded of a global warming study conducted several years ago by a “blue ribbon” panel of European scientific environmental researchers commissioned by the member countries of the European Union. The panel concluded that based on statistical data gathered during the past 100 years, we appear to be entering a period of global warming while pointing out that previous periods of global warming and cooling occurred over millennia each of which themselves included periods of temperature fluctuation contrary to what we now know was the longer-term trend, and that a period of 100 years hardly constitutes a millennial trend.The EU blue ribbon panel also concluded that the recent 100 years’ warming was 95 percent attributable to a variety of natural phenomena beyond the control or influence of human activity, and that just 5 percent is attributable to human activity, including the growing use of hydrocarbons, agricultural chemicals, water, etc. The panel published a draft of its findings, which proved to be an embarrassment to the sponsoring governments and their constituent “green”-leaning politicians who had already reached their own scientifically unsupported but strongly held conclusions. The “official” report of the panel was substantially modified to accommodate the pre-judgment of the sponsoring governments and their political constituencies.Consequently, Mr. Harte’s quoted statement might well be correct – a large majority of scientific researchers might agree that there is indeed a “connection between people and greenhouse warming.” However, entirely eradicating mankind’s 5 percent contribution to global warming will not reverse, or significantly retard, the effects of the naturally occurring 95 percent contribution. And what will be the social and economic cost of eradicating that 5 percent?Other statistics cited in Monday’s articles also provide food for thought. I think that it’s safe to say that all our opinions and views on almost any topic can be influenced, sometimes strongly, by how we earn our living. With “100 to 200 researchers in Colorado … involved directly in … human-caused climate warming …” and “as many as 500 people working on projects less directly involving global warming,” not to mention the other researcher concentrations mentioned in the article, it’s interesting to consider to what extent their conclusions might be influenced by their desire to continue receiving a paycheck by finding a growing connection between human activities and global warming.There appears to be a growing body of evidence that global warming is a fact of life, just as it has been at various times in past millennia, and a large body of respected research scientists might concur that human activities are a contributing cause. But there is no significant evidence to warrant the hysteria over mankind’s contribution to the trend or to justify spending billions of dollars to burden modern society with draconian restrictions on the use of hydrocarbons to achieve an insignificant retardation of an inevitable trend. That view, however, is not politically correct in Berkeley or Boulder.We need to continue to do all that is sensible, reasonable, practical and scientifically supportable to protect our environment from degradation and to restore that part which has been degraded. Hasty conclusions and decisions based on hysteria and political expedience are not the answer.Joe McHughVail, Colorado


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