LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Don’t ignore experts’ research

From Gillian Zaharians Miller, Originally published in the Quad-City Times

Climate science is enormously complex, and irresponsible commentators like Patrick Buchanan (Oct. 17 Times column) hopelessly muddle the facts. Here are three red-flag arguments used by those who grossly misunderstand global warming or aim to mislead.

1. Pointing to an unusually chilly season. Average temperatures must be examined over many thousands of years. Looking at only a year – or 10 – is like making investments based on one week’s worth of stock information.

2. Using the supposed “controversy” over climate change as an excuse to do nothing. In the worldwide scientific community, there is no serious controversy about whether humans are causing global warming. The probability of alternative theories (e.g. clouds mitigate climate change) being correct is extremely small. Still, it’s always possible. Perhaps every climate model developed and tested over decades is wrong. Maybe painstakingly collected data from tree rings, coral reefs, ice cores and satellites are all somehow flukes. Perhaps thousands of researchers studying climate are trying to warn us for no reason. Should we really bank our children’s and grandchildren’s futures on such miniscule possibilities?

3. Telling you to “look at the evidence for yourself.” Anyone who thinks the average non-scientist can do this should first spend five or 10 years studying atmospheric chemistry, geophysics, oceanography and computer programming. And be sure to set aside a couple hours every day to catch up on the newest published research. We need the experts. Let’s not ignore them.

Gillian Zaharias Miller, Ph.D.