Letter: Scientific debates should stay in journals

Published 7:01 am Sunday, October 11, 2015

I appreciate Mr. Drietz’s response to my Sept. 22 letter, but his most recent contribution unfortunately misses the point of my original criticism. The Daily Herald, for all its virtues, is not a forum for scientific debate – the obvious place for that would be the academic journals that have been investigating this issue since at least the 1980s and have consistently proven Mr. Drietz’s pet theory wrong.

From the beginning this has not been a matter of money-grubbing “liberal” scientists trying to advance their big government agenda. Even President Reagan wrote in a letter to Congress on Jan. 9, 1989: “Because changes in the earth’s natural systems can have tremendous economic and social effects, global climate change is becoming a critical concern.”

Mr. Drietz speaks of “objective truth” and “basic scientific principles” but shows a basic misunderstanding of how science, as an academic discipline, actually works. It is not enough to cherry-pick a few observations and say “gosh, the climate is just so big and we’re so small so there’s no way we could affect it.” You must have your ideas tested and supported by more data than can be referenced in a brief letter to the editor. If the evidence points the other direction, then it ought to cause a shift in your underlying beliefs. Any other reaction would be a textbook definition of bias.

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The fact that “Wikipedia gets up to 231 editing hits per day on global warming” is not a significant or relevant observation. Literally anyone with an Internet connection can edit a Wikipedia page, whereas scientific articles go through several layers of anonymous peer review before publication. The reviewers are not compensated by anyone for their comments during this process. Is it really rational to believe that all of these scientists would throw away their professional integrity to support a vast and vague ideological conspiracy?

To quote President Reagan again, the “preservation of our environment is not a liberal or conservative challenge, it’s common sense.” Let’s spend our precious time and energy debating solutions to this problem, not whether it actually exists.

 Gregory Siems,