Climate change is real — and is a threat to our way of life

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By Paul Belanger
I too read Sandy Barnes’ article about the Mike Nelson-Jim White presentations on global warming. I was dismayed to read Howard Sperry’s May 14 reply claiming simplistic, one-sided “beliefs.”
Jim White is a Ph.D. (Columbia) climate scientist; Mike Nelson is a well-respected degreed meteorologist. Sperry calls them alarmists and claims they are self-serving prostitutes of their science. I’m an independent climate research scientist not funded by any government grants; I have a research background in paleoclimate and see ample geologic evidence that supports the laws of physics with respect to carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases now at levels that have not been seen in millions of years.
One can ask how can 400 ppm (parts per million) be of any significance? Consider that such levels of carbon monoxide are lethal to humans.
The current rate of change of our atmospheric composition is perhaps unprecedented in the geologic record and must be of concern. The claim that temperatures haven’t changed in 17 years is inaccurate but more importantly entirely misses the point that you can’t claim climate change or lack thereof based on 17 years. Additionally, most of the heat of global warming has gone into what covers 70 percent of our globe— the oceans.
Climate scientists are not ignoring a relatively “flat” amount of global temperature change over a few years. They recognize that water has a much higher heat capacity than air and are concerned about the totality of global warming. Although Mr. Sperry apparently accepts the current rates of sea-level rise, he doesn’t acknowledge that it’s rising through a combination of thermal expansion and addition of glacial melt water, both expected to continue rising, the latter non-linearly.
The Earth has seen higher levels of CO2 — it will survive. It is more a question of our survival and sustaining of our way of life. Skepticism in science is good, but there’s a point where one is really a denier under the guise of “skepticism.” Why not believe the climate scientists as you believe your doctor? We need to put ideologies and politics aside and join the rest of the world in a discussion about future global issues: global climate change, energy, environment and societal stability. Let’s plan for the future, not the next election cycle.
Readers wishing to learn more about climate change should visit www.real
climate.org. Feel free to contact me for more information or to schedule a talk to your community on the above.

Geologist Paul Belanger of Lookout Mountain is a research associate at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. He will be speaking June 12 at the Secular Hub in Denver.