Carbon in atmosphere, not sun, creates warming

Sep 6 2011 - 3:48pm

(UNEDITED) Retired physicist Rondo Jeffery, in his "The science is not conclusive, despite what column says" commentary makes at least two errors. In the first, Jeffery denies the settled science of climate change. The overwhelming majority of atmospheric scientists agree that climate change is real and that it is human caused. The pace of this change is even faster than their earlier, conservative predictions. The earth is getting warmer, ice sheets and glaciers recede, sea level rises, and weather is more extreme. Those consequences were predicted by the climate models decades ago and now we're seeing them. And we know that the cause is too much carbon in the atmosphere, not increases in solar activity, which has remained about constant.

In his second error, Jeffery confuses evolution with the origin of life. How life first came to be is a major and still unanswered question in science. His recitation about the improbability of life emerging spontaneously out of a primordial soup is a red-herring. Some biologists think this improbable event happened and some don't. It's still an open question.

What is not an open question is the fact of biological evolution. The expert biologists, those whose job it is to understand the problem, reached consensus decades ago: life forms evolve. And they have evolved on the time scale of a human lifetime. Moths are observed to evolve to a darker color to better hide themselves from predators when their habitat took on a sootier (darker) color, and microbes have evolved to resist drugs - these are but two of a multitude of known, observed examples of evolution.

Mr. Jeffery makes these errors in an attempt to refute Michael Stafford's viewpoint that approves of Jon Huntsman's public acceptance of both climate change and evolution. We all should welcome Jon Huntsman's reliance on science for an understanding of the natural world and what the likely consequences of our actions will be. Our country and world would be much better off if all our leaders did.

Lee Badger


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