Yes, herd mentality — for climate change deniers

December 24, 2018

In the letter “Herd mentality” (Your Turn, Dec. 12), Loren Williams describes a “herd mentality” with respect to climate change.

This is true when referring to climate change deniers — they create disinformation campaigns, which others follow. One theory is that since Al Gore publicized the dangers of global warming, right-wing types felt obliged to oppose it. Science, however ignores politics.

I’ve taken to looking up the education of climate change deniers. Lamar Smith, chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology and a noted denier, has a bachelor’s in American studies and a law degree. President Donald Trump, also a denier, has a bachelor’s in economics (given his use of tariffs, one may assume that he did not listen in class).

I earned a bachelor’s in chemistry before switching to computers. In chemistry classes, we learned basic quantum mechanics and thermodynamics. Thus, it makes perfect sense to me that carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse gases” heat the atmosphere.

Williams quotes Stephen Moore (master’s in economics) of the Heritage Foundation, who used the book “The Population Bomb” from the 1960s, which exaggerated the dangers of overpopulation as an example of overreaction, implying that the dangers of climate change are much overblown.

This is a common tactic — misleading people with irrelevancy. Errors in population prediction have nothing to do with climate. Population growth depends on human behavior. Better birth control and more education for women, who started marrying later, and wanting fewer kids, helped slash population growth in many countries.

Climate forecasting uses known data based on physics and chemistry. Scientists can measure the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and compare it with past data from core samples. They create a “mathematical model,” a complex set of equations, program it into a powerful computer, plug real data into it, and compare the results with actual measurements. They may have to adjust the model to improve accuracy. This is normal for computer simulations.

To see the effects of global warming and the ensuing sea level rise, however, forget theory. Look up “Miami flooding,” and “tropical diseases moving north,” as well as images of “melting glaciers before and after” and “Arctic ice.”

Thomas L. Arnow, Ph.D., lives in San Antonio.

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