With the Trump administration’s increasing attacks on science, I feel the need to put out a few comments about what is being said and reality. While I doubt that I can influence the true believers, I hope to better inform some who are just confused.
My first comments relates to the EPA and its new administrator Scott Pruitt. He recently publically announced that he doesn’t believe that global warming is primarily human induced. My first question to him would be, “Why do you believe that?
My financial adviser, interestingly, said to me, “follow the money.” There is, indeed, money to be made in disbelief of global warming (read oil and coal.)
So, why should I believe in human induced warming?
Mainly I have to say scientific research.
We have been able to model the Earth’s atmosphere pretty well. We can put in conditions in 1900, and “predict” pretty accurately 1990. If we leave out various pollutants, such as CO2 and particulates, the prediction comes out too low. If we add only CO2, the temperature comes out too high. But, adding particulates, which have a cooling effect, the “prediction” is quite accurate. We do have a pretty good handle on climate modeling.
So, what about the scientists who say it is not true? Sadly, all of the scientists I know of who are deniers are funded by right wing think tanks. No, all scientists are not respectable.
There is also the “theory” issue. Global warming is “just a theory” they say. In science, for something to be elevated to the status of theory it must be pretty well founded. For example, gravity is “just” a theory. In this respect I find retired congressman/scientist Rush Holt’s comment to be rather amusing. Global warming is a theory; gravity is a theory, if you don’t believe in theories, how about trying to jump out of that 3rd floor window. Ignoring both have the same consequences, one is just faster than the other.
Some would say that scientists are claiming global warming for financial gain. You need to understand, we have to live with EPA rules just like everyone else. When my diesel truck won’t start because some pollution control failed, I get VERY unhappy about all those EPA rules. Then I think about the big picture for a while and realized that my current pain is for the welfare of humanity.
Another disturbing comment relates to Trumps budget plans for NOAA. My reading of reports about his new budget cuts out funding for a part of NOAA called NESDIS. This is their satellite division, but also does global warming studies – thus the apparent reason for wanting to eliminate them. NESDIS satellites are what allow us to have pretty good predictions for things such as hurricane paths and possible tornado fronts, for example. When I worked for NASA, I was involved with people from NOAA who were working to get their capabilities up to where they are now. It was a joint effort involving NASA, NOAA, NSF (National Science Foundation), FAA, and the pentagon (yes the military does care about weather and they know they can’t do it alone). Defunding NESDIS destroys an important weather prediction tool.
My bottom line on this is that over the last several decades our country has developed an exceptional scientific capability. It takes time to build this capability. This capability has improved our lives and enhanced our economy. After it has been destroyed, it will not be easy to rebuild it.