Letter to the Editor

A consensus on climate change

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

To the editor:

The 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported the scientific consensus: 1, that the planet is warming is unequivocal, and 2, that there is a 90 percent probability that human activities are contributing. Many scientists additionally argue that such a probability constitutes a call to political action.

Over 40 relevant professional scientific organizations have endorsed this view, several specifically calling it "consensus." These organizations, having no ideological agenda and being funded by member subscriptions, serve only their discipline. Conclusions were reached by evaluating the scientific evidence. No major national or international scientific organization now rejects the IPCC conclusions. Overwhelming, scientific agreement exists. To argue otherwise requires stubborn rejection of reality.

Meanwhile, organizations rejecting the consensus do not promote scientific understanding but, driven by political goals, seek to manipulate public opinion. Only a few skeptics have relevant expertise, while many are paid by multiple organizations. Thus, regardless of source, skeptic arguments are largely driven by the same few individuals. Unlike scientific organizations, the skeptic organizations are generally funded extensively by corporations (mainly energy). Exxon/Mobil, particularly, contributed over $23 million during the past decade. Upton Sinclair wrote: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it."

Unlike the scientific community, the skeptics lack consensus: Do they reject global warming? Reject human influences? Think atmospheric carbon dioxide increase is beneficial? Or accept climate change basics, but just reject the predicted severity?

For more discussion on those for and against visit http://cstl.semo.edu/SEMOCPI/Information/IPCC-for-&-against.htm.

ALAN R.P. JOURNET, Cape Girardeau