Following my recent Trib column on President Trump’s harmful environmental impact after a full year in office, several pieces were published on the topic of anthropogenic climate change. These articles deserve a response to provide clarification and to avoid misinformation.
First, Mr. Don Boston suggests that because I am a climate activist, my writing is not based on science while a recent column by David Rothbard and Craig Rucker is “solidly based on scientific fact.” In reality, the opposite is true. Although I am an activist, my writing is guided by accepted climate science. I have published medical research in the scientific literature. On the other hand, Rothbard has a degree in political science and Rucker in public administration; neither are scientists. Further, some of the world’s most renowned climate scientists are also activists, including Professors James Hansen, Michael Mann and Kevin Anderson.
Second, the Rothbard and Rucker column challenges the interpretation of hundreds of climate scientists in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 5th Assessment, the gold standard of climate science. This claim is analogous to the two authors boasting they can more successfully remove a brain tumor than can neurosurgeons. In fact, Rothbard and Rucker are carrying out the goal of their notorious “Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow”: using pseudoscience to create doubt about anthropogenic climate change.
In reality, the issues of clouds and solar intensity they cite have been studied for decades and debunked. As a result, from 90 percent to 100 percent of climate scientists endorse the concept of climate change as caused by human activity. And, as expected, Rothbard’s “Committee” has been funded by Exxon Mobil and the Koch brothers.
Third, Mr. Dan Westerfield, on Jan. 31, wrote a rebuttal to my 10 damaging environmental impacts of the Trump administration. The following are brief responses to some of his comments:
- Science funding: The scientific concept of global warming was solidly established before the Obama presidency by climate researchers around the globe who obviously could not have all been funded by Obama. Both “climate change” and “global warming” are valid terms and have been used for decades.
- Pipelines greenlighted: We do not need new pipelines. The science is clear that we must leave 80 percent of known oil reserves in the ground to avoid catastrophe. History has shown that pipeline accidents are more destructive than rail and road accidents because of the massive volume of oil spilled from pipelines.
- Climate experts lost: The greenhouse effect is a principle of physics discovered by Joseph Fourier in 1824. It’s the opposite of religion, which is based on faith in unprovable ideas. EPA staff resigned largely due to disgust with climate denier Scott Pruitt and with funding cuts.
- Clean power plan nixed: Mr. Westerfield contradicts himself: If “clean coal” truly existed, the Clean Power Plan regulations would not have impacted coal. In 2016, 475,000 jobs were created in wind and solar, and only 160,000 in coal.
- National monuments miniaturized: If preserving 15 percent of the spectacular Bears Ears National Monument for the people and giving 85 percent to the drillers is “reasonable,” then 85 percent of Cameron Park should presumably be used for a parking lot.
- Paris Agreement exited: It is untrue that the Paris Agreement “punished” only the United States. The U.S., China, India and all signatories have nationally determined emission reduction goals, with target dates ranging from 2025 to 2030. If goals are attained, the global temperature increase is projected at 2.7 degree C in 2100, rather than a very dangerous 4.9 degrees without the agreement.
- Dangerous drilling expanded: If one believes the safety record of offshore drilling is “good,” then one should recall the devastation of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. And we can prevent these future catastrophes by instead rapidly scaling up wind and solar, which do not spill.
Finally, Mr. Westerfield admonishes me because my “comfortable lifestyle” is dependent on the oil industry. Although it’s not possible at this time to be totally free of fossil fuel use, I do “walk the walk” by having residential rooftop solar and driving an all-electric car.