Vail Daily letter: Climate change evidence is pretty clear
May 17, 2017
In response to Mr. Mazzuca's column about climate change in Monday's paper: I hate to debate this publically, but I fear you are polluting the minds of those well-intentioned readers. So let's start with your basic premise, which is that proclamations about global climate change are treated as religious doctrine.
Most people misunderstand science and view it as a body of facts, and for years in the climate debate, scientists have spoken their own language, that beautiful scientific language that expresses the uncertainty and poetry of the universe, only to be tuned out by a populace looking for quick answers. As the debate continued and evidence mounted, climate-change theory was supported. And if we translate this from scientific language to "laymen's terms," it translates loosely to: "We are in a heap of trouble if we don't do something soon."
Models are not perfect, and scientists understand this and conduct their reasoning with a careful examination of their assumptions. But models are also valuable scientific tools that can help predict how things work. If scientists focused on the weak points of their models, they would never get anywhere. Models give us an indication of which way to go, and when all of the indicators point in the same general direction, it would be silly to go in the opposite way.
Do you have a better way to predict how increased concentrations of carbon will impact our global atmospheric and oceanic patterns? Or perhaps you would rather stick your head in the sand?
You bring up another point, Mr. Mazzuca, the question of what is being taught in Eagle County Schools, which you admit you don't know. I hope that our students are learning to ask questions, observe and, most importantly, to interpret evidence. If you want to know what kids are learning in school, ask them. Ask them what they care about. Because I bet that a lot of them are scared for our future. They are scared for a future that doesn't protect clean air and water and for a future where energy will be dirty, scarce and unregulated.
And ultimately, Mr. Mazzuca, all of this debate really doesn't matter, because it won't change the fact that our climate is changing. And there is no downside to cleaning up energy production. There are many negative health impacts from burning fossil fuels far beyond global climate change. And there is much to be gained from transforming our economy to one based on clean, sustainable sources of energy instead of dredging the innards of our planet to squeeze the last drops of oil out of a dying industry.
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So please, join me and the rest of the modern world in enriching the future we leave our children. As a science teacher for more than 20 years, I will tell you what I tell my students: In science, you can't just make something up because you think it is true. You need to support your ideas with observations and evidence. And in this case, the evidence is pretty clear.
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