2008 March 28
On March 30, CBS will air a spot on Al Gore and his connection to a $300,000,000 advertising fund to increase awareness of the impact of global warming. Promotion for the segment makes it clear it will be very one sided, and instead of sending Email to CBS about it, I figure that sending paper may have more impact these days, even though it's harder to share with everyone in the office. That's okay, the cover letter introduces my Science, Method, Climatology, and Forgetting the Basics essay and Emailing that URL is fine.
2008 Mar 28
To: Lesley Stahl
cc: Richard Bonin, Jeffrey Fager, Sandy Genelius, Karen Sughrue, Kevin Tedesco
Re: The upcoming “Gore's Message To Climate Change Skeptics” 60 Minutes segment
Dear Ms. Stahl,
suppose it is normal to write to the editor after a story is aired, but 60 Minute's promo page on this story and video clip warrant this reponse. I regret I couldn't mail this to you before the story was taped. While I am not a scientist, I could become one, but long ago I found that I was more useful to the world as a software engineer. Al Gore says “I think that those people are in such a tiny, tiny minority now with their point of view, they’re almost like the ones who still believe that the moon landing was staged in a movie lot in Arizona and those who believe the world is flat. That demeans them a little bit, but it's not that far off." Clearly he didn't win the Nobel Peace Prize for his diplomatic skills. Worse, it implies this will be a very one-sided report. You do suggest “prominent people, including the nation’s vice president, are not convinced that global warming is man-made,” but there are a number of fine scientists who are more believable than Vice President Cheney, and I hope you will hear from a number of them. I also hope you will hear from scientists who would like to take a vocal stand against the state of climatology research but are lying low after having seen peers lose research funding for taking a similar stand.
A lot of what Gore has to say is old news. New events in climatology are far more interesting. Several things are coming together to suggest we are entering decades of cooling:
The current solar cycle may not end for another year, the new cycle may be two year late now. Hypotheses about a link between solar activity and climate, first noted in 1801, explore a correlation between long cycles and and inactive sun.
A new hypothesis say that an inactive sun's lower magnetic field allows more cosmic rays to reach the Earth and triggers low level clouds that reflect sunlight and causes cooling.
In the last year, satellite measured temperatures have dropped significantly. It would be nice to have several more month's data, but if you want to be first with the news, it may be time.
Anecdotal reports from around the world, e.g. snow in Baghdad, Johannesburg, Buenos Aires, Cyprus include places that haven't seen snow in living memory. Cattle have frozen to death in Vietnam, China, Afghanistan, often with casualties among the human population. Even locally, while I haven't broken temperature records here in New Hampshire, I've smashed nearly all the snowfall and snow depth records I track in my n years here. It's snowing today, adding to my 18” snow cover this 117th day in a row with snow cover. (That's another record.)
That 1801 report correlated the price of grain with sunspots – in the past month prices have soared for Asian rice, which is not related to the price rises in the western hemisphere due to the shift to raising crops for ethanol. Rice plantings have also taken a beating this winter.
All in all, I think there is a very good chance that we are indeed entering a cool period. How long and how cold it will be is unclear, but even it's it's like the Dalton Minimum in the early 1800s, people may be able to walk from Manhattan to Staten Island over the ice. If it's like the Maunder minimum where sunspots were nearly non-existent we will be serious trouble.
At the very least, we should be preparing for either eventuality. Al Gore and others transfixed by the steady rise of CO2 may discover they're on a modern day version of the Titanic and on a collision course with a climate change they refuse to see.
I've enclosed a copy of my essay “Science, Method, Climatology, and Forgetting the Basics,” available at http://wermenh.com/climate/science.htm. My target audience includes people exposed to climate change just by Al Gore's movie and the scientists who have lost sight of what science is all about. And everyone in between. One reason for the wider distribution is to help the scientists spread the concern. Please read it and leave it on the cafeteria table, in airplane seatback pocket, or even on the rear seat of a taxicab. The next time you consider doing a report on climate, please check to see what's happening first. Climate change normally happens at a “glacial” pace, but this year appears to be an exception.
Contact Ric Werme or return to his home page.
Written 2008 March 29, last updated 2008 March 29.