Intellectual honesty obligates me to respect certain facts in Dave Bary’s commentary (“Climate change single biggest issue in 2020 election, The Daily News, June 27), but without endorsing his central premise that it looms as the greatest threat to our descendants.

He may be right in his prediction that it will be the most important issue in the 2020 elections. And there’s no way to measure the enormous behavioral changes it has already caused in the lives of millions of people. In this sense climate change is real enough, though in other ways it may prove to be real in the way the phony science used against Galileo was real.

Bary then injects a distorting political slant to his climate commentary when he says that the present administration is “trying to roll back every regulation made by the previous administration.” This sweeping claim weakens his point by overstating it. To exaggerate the facts is always to diminish the truth.

Bary describes an apocalyptic earth with a hot-house climate in which “issues regarding health care, immigration and national security would increase a thousand-fold due to intensifying heat waves, droughts, floods, crop failures, fires, extinctions and rising sea levels.” Is he right? It remains to be seen.

I for one among millions have yet to be convinced for at least two main reasons: 1. Dire predictions like these were made decades ago but did not happen, which obviously means they were based on flawed science. 2. There’s no scientific consensus on climate change, even though it has been consecrated as immutable truth in political circles. Many experts, perhaps a majority, take it for granted, but an impressive number of their credentialed colleagues don’t.

Meanwhile, as the debate goes on, earth’s climate continues to change, as it always has, and perhaps forever shall. The question is whether and to what extent humans have a role in that change. The many strata we see along cutaway mountain roads offer visible proof of climate change eons before humans appeared on earth. The evidence for human involvement is thus questionable, and the scientific community remains divided, despite what political propagandists claim.

It seems the sea level has indeed risen a few millimeters in some places, but dropped a few in others. Ice has melted in some areas, accumulated in others. Glacier chunks falling into the ocean may alarm us, but isn’t that what these ice rivers have always done? And aren’t the carbon dioxide emissions we worry about and penalize people for actually a good thing? Last I heard, plants need carbon dioxide in order to grow and free the oxygen we need from its molecular bondage to carbon. There’s even talk of a “CO2 drought.” So bring on the carbon dioxide; we need more of it.

Dylan Thomas would have us “burn and rage at close of day,” but I prefer to dwell on Emerson’s “deep remedial force” ever at work healing our always wounded world.

Harold Raley lives in Friendswood.

Locations

(36) comments

Ma Gill

Thanks, Harold, for the balanced perspective. More CO2 will create more healthy plant life and more food for humanity - a good thing!

Bailey Jones

"Dire predictions like these were made decades ago but did not happen, which obviously means they were based on flawed science." I see this statement time and time again, presented as fact. And it simply isn't true. I refer you to one of the first scientific papers on the effect of CO2, by the man who popularized the phrase "global warming". "Climatic Change: Are We on the Brink of a Pronounced Global Warming?" by Wallace S. Broecker, published in 1975. You can find it here - https://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/files/2009/10/broeckerglobalwarming75.pdf At the time, based on Greenland ice core samples, scientists were expecting the earth to enter a cooling phase. Broecker realized that the warming caused by the greenhouse effect was being balanced by that cooling effect, and would in time, overpower it and begin to heat the earth. He estimated a temperature rise of 1.1C, compared to 1900 temperatures, based on a CO2 concentration of 403 ppm. Actual temperature rise has been about 0.8C and our current CO2 levels are about 415 ppm. His model was amazingly accurate given the computing technology available, and it's been refined by generations of climate scientists since.

Gary Miller

Bailey? Actual CO2 increase higher than predicted, Temp increase less than predicted? Earths temp control system is working just as designed. An increase in temp causes an equal increase in evaporation. Increased evaporation causes more rain, more rain reduces temp. What is the perfect amount of CO2? Less than today or twice as much as today? The worlds food production depends on CO2.

Bailey Jones

CO2 levels have increased 30% since 1960. How much is too much? I don't know - I'm not a climate scientist. (I do know that the last time the planet had CO2 levels this high was during the mid-Pliocene, 3 million years ago. Back then, temperatures were 2 to 3 C higher, and sea levels were 15-25 meters higher. So, I'm going to guess that a 30% increase is too much.) I'm simply disputing the mythology presented in this op-ed. Climate skeptics like to insist that climate change is simply the result of natural cycles. Natural cycles are fairly well understood. So, where are the scientific papers from the 1950s, 60s or 70s that use natural cycles to accurately predict the temperature rise we've seen over the past few decades? Where is the 50 year old paper that predicts the 30% increase in CO2 based on non-anthropogenic processes? This op-ed falsely claims that sea level has risen "a few millimeters", when in fact it rises on average more that a millimeter a year, 130 - 200 millimeters (5-8 inches) since 1900. Where is the 50 year old science predicting this increase based on natural cycles not associated with CO2? I'm sorry, but this emperor, like all climate skeptics, has no clothes. Which may be a good thing, considering how warm and wet it's getting.

Carlos Ponce

"CO2 levels have increased 30% since 1960." Wolfgang Knorr of the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol found the absorbed fraction of carbon dioxide has stayed approximately constant since 1850. "The strength of the new study, published online in Geophysical Research Letters, is that it rests solely on measurements and statistical data, including historical records extracted from Antarctic ice, and does not rely on computations with complex climate models." In other words he uses real data, not computer projections. Your statement comes from Charles Keeling whose "Keeling Curve" does show an increase of 30% since 1950 but his measurements were made at the Mauna Loa Astronomical Observatory. Knorr's data was taken from ice core samples.

Bailey Jones

"Wolfgang Knorr blah blah blah..." I'm glad you read a science paper, Carlos. Now if we can just get you to understand it. Knorr's research has to do with how much of our emitted CO2 is absorbed by the oceans and plants - that's the fraction he speaks of. It isn't a measure of how much CO2 is in the atmosphere. Obviously, if the fraction that's absorbed stays the same, and we emit more CO2, the amount left over in the atmosphere goes up. Apparently some not quite science literate bloggers failed to understand the difference. And here we are.

Carlos Ponce

And Bailey, Charles Keeling's base model was Mauna Loa. There's some absorption by oceans and the flora and fauna of the Hawaiian islands. But to use it for a WORLD model???? Really?

Bailey Jones

Oh, Carlos - The Mauna Loa measurements are the gold standard, because they have been verified by decades and decades worth of measurements made worldwide at, among other sites, Alert, NWT, Canada Barrow, Alaska La Jolla Pier Baja California Sur, Mexico Cape Kumukahi Christmas Island Cape Matatula, Samoa Kermadec Islands Baring Head South Pole, Antarctica Amsterdam Island K-Puszta, Hungary Jubany Station, Antarctica Mt. Cimone Cape Ferguson, Australia Cape Grim, Australia Estevan Point, BC, Canada Macquarie Island, Australia Shetland Islands, Scotland Cape St. James, Canada Sable Island, Canada Brotjacklriegel, Germany Deuselbach, Germany Schauinsland, Germany Waldhof, Germany Westerland, Germany Lampedusa Island Niwot Ridge, Colorado Montaña de Oro, CA Bering Island, Russia Kotelny Island, Russia Kyzylcha, Russia Teriberka Station, Russia CSIRO - from aircraft at a variety of latitudes and altitudes over Australia, New Zealand, and Antarctica. NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, which includes air samples collected at more than 50 sites, and air samples collected regularly from small aircraft mostly in North America. and finally, Global measurements made by the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) on the NASA Aqua spacecraft.

Carlos Ponce

So you're taking CO2 measurements next to a volcano which erupted in 1950, 1975, 1984 and is currently under a yellow alert. I bet when it erupts again, CO2 levels will see an increase. If this is the "gold" standard then Ice core samples going back centuries must be PLATINUM.

Mike Zeller

Anchorage, Alaska, was 90 degrees on July 4th, shattering the city's all-time record-high temperature by 5 degrees. [ohmy]

Carlos Ponce

And five minutes later the temperature was recorded at 87.8 degrees according to the Anchorage Daily News. The temporary temperature spike was actually recorded as 89.6 but they rounded it 90. It was taken at Anchorage's Merrill Field airport. Wind blowing off a HOT tarmac?

Steve Fouga

"Wind blowing off a HOT tarmac?" Possibly. Hotter than the wind has ever been, blowing off that tarmac. [wink]

Bailey Jones

Carlos likes to perpetuate the myth that global temperatures only "seem" to be rising because we've moved all the thermometers to airports surrounded by concrete and asphalt, completely oblivious to the fact that the global temperature of the ocean is right in line with terrestrial measurements, even though the oceans lack airports or much in the way of blacktop or concrete, or the fact that.temperatures in the arctic (no tarmac, no concrete, no cities) are rising much (2x-4x) faster than any big bad concrete city.

Carlos Ponce

No myth. "Study Shows Global Warming Data Skewed by Bad Monitoring" https://www.thenewamerican.com/tech/environment/item/12288-study-shows-global-warming-data-skewed-by-bad-monitoring "That problem of poorly sited stations thanks to 'encroaching urbanity' — locations near asphalt, air conditioning and airports — is well established." Check the map at http://surfacestations.org/ and see how many errors there are in reporting. Read "Is the U.S. Surface Temperature Record Reliable?" https://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/surfacestationsreport_spring09.pdf "The USHCN has stations in venues that are incompatible with continuous quality of measurements due to localized operational factors that likely impart a warm bias to measurements due to waste heat from industrial, government, and business processes. Examples include: Small and large city airports. p 18 of PDF Stations that don’t qualify as Class 1 or 2 have artificial heating sources closer than 10 meters to the thermometer, a far cry from the gold standard of 100 meters. This means 89 percent – nearly 9 of 10 – of the stations surveyed produce unreliable data by NOAA’s own definition. also p 18 of PDF

Gary Scoggin

"www.thenewamerican.com" -- What's the matter, couldn't find the article you were searching on at InfoWars?

Carlos Ponce

Check the data and findings at https://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/surfacestationsreport_spring09.pdf

Bailey Jones

So, Carlos, to sum up - you've got nothing to refute sea level rise, you've got nothing to refute CO2 measurements correlated all around the globe, and from space, and you've got nothing to refute ocean and arctic temperature rise (or the fact that even land based temps are verified by satellite measurements). I'm surprised you haven't brought up sun spots or Jesus. There is an echo of willful ignorance in your responses that I don't believe even you find convincing. So, I'll leave it to you, Gary, Ma and Mr. Raley. Y'all keep an eye on Invest 92L and stay safe.

Bailey Jones

I see that Mr. Watts' surface stations website has been idle since 2012, when the Berkeley Earth Temperature Project and NOAA both published studies disproving his hypotheses. Watts has moved on to other dubious quests, it seems.

Carlos Ponce

"I see that Mr. Watts' surface stations website has been idle since 2012, " Bailey, Mr. Watt's website: https://wattsupwiththat.com/ Is up and active and has the following: "BBC Faces Legal Challenge As Viewers Raise Thousands To Tackle ‘Bias’ From the GWPF Date: 08/07/19 Daily Express The BBC is facing a legal challenge over the way it monitors its impartiality amid accusations of biased coverage." So it's dated July 8, 2019 (08/07/19) and that's YESTERDAY. In Britain they place the day of the month first followed by the month followed by the year

Jim Forsythe

The official temperature is recorded at Ted Stevens International Airport. Merrill Field airport, has not been used since 1952 for recording the official temperature. This year’s Independence Day in Anchorage, Alaska, is not one its residents will soon forget as the temperature got as high as 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius), establishing a new record for the northern city. The previous month was the warmest June on record, featuring an average temperature of 60.5 degrees F (15.8 degrees F), which is 5.3 degrees F above average. June 2019 now represents the 16th consecutive month in which average temperatures were above normal

Ron Shelby

Thankfully, ...from a local perspective...it’s points of view like this that will continue to make a “market” for west-end homes for the next 50 years. I just hope individuals like him don’t expect the government to bail them out as roads begin flooding more frequently and access is cut off. Who will be in that chair when the music stops?...they may not be a winner.

Paul Sivon

Take a few minutes and see some real data. See Sea Level Changes and the Texas Coastal Environment by the Bureau of Economic Geology, Univ. of Texas (page 3, fig.4 for a graph of measurements of water level for Galveston’s recent history) or go to the NOAA website for their sea level rise prediction tools and data. There still will be different opinions of man’s incremental impact on this long term cycle of sea level rise and the ability to manage it, but at least historical data will allow some reality to underpin predictions and opinion. It will also help with risk assessment of personal and City decisions. If you don’t care what happens after 20-40 years from now, you’re good to go, let your descendants handle it (they should start now).

Jack Cross

Mr. Riley's position is excellent and common sense. How can you make an argument about climate change or anything for that matter if you take the position the argument is over and you refuse to consider the other side? How many times have they been wrong? Are the scientists they believe are only the smart ones and the thousands of opposing scientists stupid? Like Riley stated, how do you explain the history of climate change before man greatly populated the world? As to the flooding we are seeing, how about subsidence, I don't see evidence of the ICE at the north and South pole being a problem and if we have rising seas, that is where the water will have to come from. A hundred years ago, you only saw fishing and hunting cabins on bayou's and swampy areas, today everyone wants to be on the water. Sub divisions cover the lands which use to be vast retention areas when unusual flooding occurred. Back then people thought you were crazy to build in places that use to be hunting and fishing areas where big housed now stand. What do you expect, I expect more disaster money will be needed when the next direct hit happens and it will happen and we will continue to blame man for what is normal in the history of the world. What is not normal is man putting himself in harms way.

Steve Fouga

"I don't see evidence of the ICE at the north and South pole being a problem and if we have rising seas, that is where the water will have to come from." "Global" sea-level rise comes from two sources: the melting of land-based ice, and thermal expansion of seawater due to retained heat. Land-based ice is contained in glaciers and the Antarctic ice cap (NOT the Arctic cap). Whether you think so or not, many scientists do indeed believe these are melting, and there are thousands of photographs bearing witness to said phenomenon. Thermal expansion of seawater is ongoing, and will continue as long as the net temperature change to the earth's oceans is positive. It is an unavoidable fact of nature, and itself is one of the clearest pieces of evidence that the planet is, in fact, warming. It contributes about a millimeter per year to sea-level rise. "Local" sea-level rise is due to the above factors, plus others like subsidence, local flooding, changes to local sea and wind currents, etc. Subsidence is caused by both natural and man-made processes, in Harris/Galveston's case mainly groundwater extraction.

Carlos Ponce

The sea level around Galveston isn't rising.... Galveston Island is sinking. Reasons - Subsidence, compaction, faulting. Remember Galveston Island is a barrier island, an offshore bar made up of sand. "[Louisiana State University geologist Roy ] Dokka and his colleagues claim that the real monster is geological subsidence, a force of nature that is inexorable and irreversible.....The Gulf Basin, a giant, seething cauldron of tectonic mischief that extends inland nearly as far as Dallas, started sinking millions of years before man made his appearance, sagging under the weight of billions of tons of sediment pouring down the Mississippi River and Texas rivers like the Trinity, Colorado, Brazos, and Rio Grande. Geologists call this sediment loading: Houston Chronicle reporter Eric Berger likens the phenomenon to a bowling ball weighing down the center of a trampoline." https://www.texasmonthly.com/articles/that-sinking-feeling-2/ Dokka's detractors say, “We know that Galveston Island began forming several thousand years ago, and we know its elevation has not changed much since then. If the rates of subsidence had been as fast [as the NOAA report claims], Galveston would have been permanently submerged a long time ago.” But the article does mention the possibility of climate change: "Like subsidence, climate change is a natural process, and scientists are divided over how much of it is influenced by human activity."

Bailey Jones

Oh, Carlos. Yes, Galveston is sinking. (We even have a subsidence district created by Austin in 1975 to help regulate how much water is pumped out of the ground to help prevent it.) And, the sea is rising. These are two independent and uncorrelated facts. Both easily measurable by satellites. Sea level is rising. It's a simple measurable fact and there exists no data anywhere on this planet to contradict that fact.

Carlos Ponce

"These are two independent and uncorrelated facts." You're joking I hope.

Bailey Jones

Let me guess - you think subsidence and sea level rise are the same thing.

Carlos Ponce

Bailey posts: "These are two independent and uncorrelated facts." "COASTAL CHANGE SEA LEVEL • Relative sea level rise is the combination of subsidence (the sinking of land due to ground water withdrawal) and rising ocean levels." "The Galveston Bay region has a long history of sea level rise, subsidence, storm surges,and flooding." https://www.galvbaygrade.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/2018_Galveston_Bay_Full_Report.pdf#page=66 According to the report they are indeed "correlated".

Paul Sivon

Both processes, sea level rise and subsidence are occurring on the Gulf Coast. On the west coast, land level is rising as well as is sea level. The sum of both processes creates relative sea level rise or fall. Galveston actually subsided a little due to the weight of Harvey’s water loading. No one should call the GOM a seething tectonic Cauldron.. Galveston maintained it’s elevation relative to sea level due to the addition of sand, now the rate of relatively sea level rise is greater than Galveston’s ability to keep up. I’m a geologist, that’s how things work.

Gary Scoggin

Paul, I gave up trying to talk sense -- or science -- to the GDN Climate Denial Batallion. They just mention East Anglia, the Bible or some silly Right-Wing website and assume that they are smarter than people who actually know what they are talking about.

Richard Illyes

There is an energy solution that solves a huge number of issues, the new nuclear technology that uses nuclear waste as fuel. Small plants can be mass produced driving local grids, making the world much much safer from catastrophic grid disruption from solar events and hostile attack. We should be treating the development of this technology with the same energy we give for new weapons systems. We should be the world leader in this technology.

Ron Shelby

Careful on the “small plants” idea as that too can be taken to an extreme as clear cutting continues, replacing major canopies with open crop land and small plants which done help in cleaning our air as effectively.

Gary Scoggin

Richard, along those lines there is a concept called SMR, small modular reactor, which creates small premanufactured generators. There are different designs, most being in the 100-200 MW range. This idea has potential if the public can get past its irrational fear of nuclear energy.

Richard Illyes

Thanks Gary. This can happen, and the USA can become not only a huge beneficiary but an exporter of this technology. The world would be a better place if we were exporting small modular reactors instead of F35's.

Gary Miller

Any increase of electric power by solar, wind or small/large atomic plants can not reduce the value or use of fossil fuels as raw material for manufacturing. Currently 84 % of oil production is used as raw material, only 16 % is burned as fuel. Almost everything made from oil can be made from natural gas or coal but not from electricity.

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