Response to ‘Global warming: another hot Hollywood trend’

By Dr. David Dunbar
April 12, 2007

I, once again, am in complete disagreement with Mr. Lindros’s views posted in his latest “Letter to the Editor”. Mr Lindros suggests that we “not be so sure of what so-called scientific consensus is telling us” and that all this “fuss” is simply yet another hot Hollywood trend. He then goes on to offer some examples in which scientific truths were initially held only by a minority, not a majority of scientists. To be fair, most of our paradigm shifts in science come initially from the views of one person or a few individuals-this mechanism for change is what the eminent Historian of Science, Thomas Kuhn, has taught us in his well-known work The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. However, over time, Kuhn has shown, some initially marginalized views offer so much compelling scientific evidence that the beliefs of a few become the beliefs of the many. This process of scientific discovery also holds true for our current understanding of human-induced global warming and its ramifications, if nothing is done to slow it down. Initially, only a few scientists agreed that the evidence was convincing enough that global warming was human induced, but now the scientific evidence is so overwhelming that this view is held by the many.

A draft of a second report of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate change was recently released. This report is the product of a United Nations network of 2,000 scientists! The following is part of the draft report dealing with the projected effects of human-induced global warming if little to no action is taken.

By 2020 Earth’s average temperature will rise by 1.8 degrees from 1990 levels, having the following effects:

* Between 400 million and 1.7 billion extra people will live without potable water.

* The rate of some infectious diseases and allergenic pollens will rise.

* Some amphibians will go extinct.

By 2050 The average temperature rises another 1.8 degrees, depending on the level of greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels, having these possible effects:

* As many as 2 billion people will live without potable water.

* About 20 to 30 % of the world’s species will be near extinction.

* More people will start dying because of malnutrition, disease, heat waves, floods, and droughts.

At the extreme end of the projections:

* A 7- to 9-degree average temperature increase is predicted.

* Up to 1/5th of the world’s population will be affected by increased flood events.

* 1.1 billion to 3.2 billion people will live with increased water scarcity.

* Major extinctions will occur around the globe.

To trivialize, as Mr. Lindros has in the title of his latest letter “Global warming: another hot Hollywood trend”, the views of the many, views backed by insurmountable scientific evidence, is dangerous. While the dangers are real, several prominent scientists drafting the final Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change report say “they remain optimistic that drastic temperature increases won’t have to happen because they hope people will work to reduce carbon emissions that cause global warming”.

These well-respected scientists are hopeful that together we may even reverse the negative effects of our polluting ways. As responsible, not fear-mongering scientists, in a follow-up report to be released later this year, they will describe ways in which human civilization can reduce the rate of harmful carbon emissions being released into the atmosphere-the aim is to significantly curtail the impact of human-induced global warming and to prevent the fantasy of a Hollywood-style solution.

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Dr. David Dunbar

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