I've submitted several letters to the editor of West Newsmagazine in the past few years, and they recently published one! It was in response to an editorial they ran in their 2/1/12 issue. The editorial can be read by going here and navigating to page 6. My letter was printed on page 4 of the 3/21/12 issue. I've copied it below.
What makes this situation so rich is that the premise of the editorial -- since Einstein was proven wrong, climate scientists (and by inference, science itself) are fallible too -- is on very shaky ground. The claim about Einstein was based on the result of a study by a European research team. I wish I'd known it when I wrote the letter, but the study's results were questioned from the beginning, the team has admitted to a flaw in its technical setup, and the team's leader has resigned. More information here.
The issue is topical because climate change will be the subject of the next Green Speaker Series event, April 19 at 7 pm at Westminster Christian Academy. Hope you can come! More information .
Here's my letter to the editor:
Among other reasons, scientists publish their work in scientific journals to establish their credibility on a subject and to encourage peer review. If others can duplicate their work and get the same results, the science must be sound.
The 2/1/12 editorial, "A cold wind blows," points out that physicist Ivar Giaever recently resigned from the American Physical Society over the Society's stance that there is incontrovertible evidence to support global warming. Giaever has not, according to Google Scholar, published any work on global warming. Nobel winner though he is, this calls into question whether he's an expert on the subject.
The editorial also states that "our pesky planet has spent the last decade getting gradually cooler." Such a broad claim needs to be supported. Where does it come from? Was it published in a scientific journal?
A recent study, the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, confirmed earlier studies that found the climate has been warming. What's interesting about this study is that it was funded in part by the Charles Koch Charitable Foundation, widely seen as a source of money for initiatives that have fought efforts to curb greenhouse-gas emissions. Also, when the study began, project chair Richard Muller was skeptical that the earth was warming. Now he is convinced that it is.
Similarly, the vast majority of climate scientists are convinced that global warming is caused by human activity. The 2/1/12 editorial, like the 12/9/09 editorial, suggests that these scientists are corrupt -- fudging their work so as to receive funding. Is there something about studying climate that attracts or creates corruption?
If I were a scientist more interested in funding than the truth, I'd go where the money is -- to some of the wealthiest companies in the world: ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, and ConocoPhillips, all companies with very compelling reasons to assure us that using their products does not cause global warming.
To be a scientist, one must use the scientific method. Scientists have used this method to make things we trust our lives to everyday. We trust that bridges and buildings won't collapse when we're on or in them, that water coming out of the tap is safe to drink, that electric appliances won't shock us, that elevators we get into won't drop, that the brakes on our cars will work, that nuclear reactors won't melt down, that planes and helicopters won't fall from the sky.
Life is full of examples of implicit trust in science. So why don't we trust science when it comes to climate?