Letter can be submitted via email to editor@trailtimes.ca

Majority of scientists see climate change threat, says reader

Letter to the Editor from Joslyn Sharp of Trail

With respect to Thorpe Watson’s letter (“Seeking the truth about climate change” Trail Times, Nov. 28) in which he takes exception to my apparent “audacity” to challenge the scientific skills of a metallurgical engineer, I agree there is an element of audacity involved here. However, I don’t believe I am the audacious party. I am not the one who is challenging climate scientists the world over.

While I argue in support of the validity of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change findings based upon comprehensive reviews of thousands of scientific papers published in peer-reviewed journals, Watson feels he is on solid ground with his own findings and those of a minority of scientists whose opinions are not taken seriously by most well-informed members of the public. Who is being audacious here?

While I am happy to concede that Thorpe Watson, PhD’s scientific credentials and knowledge about science far exceed my own, I believe he, in turn, should be willing to concede ground to the preponderance of scientists who have been trained in climate science and have published papers in their professional journals about the threat of climate change. I respect his independence and diligence as a scientist to research the facts and theories behind this important issue. Surely, he must admit, however, that the odds of his research on climate change being supported by the majority of his scientific peers are slim. He cannot deny that peer support in the scientific community is the standard by which validity and reliability are judged.

I admit that some individual scientists have stood alone in the face of ridicule and harsh criticism and, as pioneers, have eventually carried the day with their theories and discoveries. I suspect that Mr. Watson is not a pioneer, however, but rather one of the die-hards who will not stop criticizing a new paradigm regardless of the fact that it has been well and truly validated by the majority his fellow scientists.

I respect Watson’s right to express his opinion publicly but as someone who is deeply concerned about the very serious consequences that the majority of scientists are predicting if we do not significantly reduce our generation of CO2, I too feel moved to speak out. In democracies such as Canada, our leaders need solid support to make tough decisions regarding cutting CO2 emissions. The global community desperately needs to collaborate to cut humanity’s impact on warming. The time for debate has passed just as it had passed when a massive UN vaccination program was implemented and successfully wiped out smallpox on this planet by 1977. Yet, of course there are those who still argue that vaccinations are too dangerous and disregard the millions who have been saved by vaccines.

As a non-scientist I would ask Watson, if our planet is not warming, how is it that cruise lines are now booking cabins for trips through the Northwest passage? Why has the globe faced increasing fire, flood and hurricane power over the last decades? Why are glaciers melting at an accelerating rate? Why are species who have confined themselves to southern climes starting to show up in the north? Does this reflect the shortage of CO2 as he contends or is the opposite true; that CO2 that is edging quickly upwards to a dangerous tipping point? Of course, carbon dioxide is necessary for plant life as Watson points out. What reputable scientists are telling us is that there is getting to be too much of it for our planet to maintain the delicate temperature balance that has supported life so well for so long. We don’t need to go back to geography, chemistry or geology texts to see things on this planet are changing for the worse and respected scientists like David Suzuki and Richard Cannings are telling us that our fossil fuel dependent behavior is part of the problem. I wish they were wrong and Watson was right but I’m afraid his tempting theories would be regarded by most of his fellow scientists as incomplete, outdated and misleading.

Joslyn Sharp

Trail

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