Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Guest Submission: Letter to Duluth News Tribune

To the Editors of the Duluth News Tribune,
RE: another misleading article on global warming in the Tribune;

Hello Chuck and other Tribune editors,

I have decided to share my criticisms of deniers, with long comments like this made for the Tribune. 300 words is not nearly enough to ensure an adequate rebuttal of those who try to deny the massive evidence that supports climate science. So by answering in more detail to you, I hope I can make you aware of all the lies and misconceptions currently, and often deliberately, being circulated by AGW deniers.

Just think back to the days when tobacco executives deliberately lied to Congress, and denied the dangers of tobacco just to preserve their profits. Then inject those lies on steroids into our present controversy, and you magnify the significance of climate denial much more. There is really far more material wealth at stake, for big oil CEO’s and executives who need to circulate lies and deceptions in order to maintain the status quo, than there is for those of us who try to tell the truth---no matter how poor we might be. Toss in unlimited campaign funds, tremendous amounts of dark money, and no real accountability, and one begins to discover what's going on!

Sadly the Tribune published another misleading Local View commentary, this time by Karl Spring, the former chief Meteorologist at KBJR/WDLH and Fox21—TV in Duluth, which was also accompanied by a misleading cartoon meant to portray the idea that the science establishing global warming as being caused primarily by man, is not settled and only has made correct projections erratically at best.

However, most meteorologists typically lack the same extensive academic background that climate scientists possess. While climate scientists focus on historical knowledge of world weather patterns, a meteorologist typically requires only a Bachelors degree to qualify for his job which often includes an emphasis on mathematics. But some meteorologists working today still lack any degree at all, and pick up the knack to forecast weather thorough their job experiences. Typically a meteorologist's forecasts may lack long term accuracy, due to the fact that local weather forecasts include many more short term variables than does climate science, which additionally concerns global worldwide trends that are more easily determined by a number of methods—including reports from weather stations all over the world, including satellite surveillance, plus a large number of other data gathering techniques. It is far more difficult to assure us that we will not have a rain storm three days from now, then to analyze the direct observational proof gathered by climate scientists and provided by worldwide monitoring. But still, climate scientists typically require much more extensive educational backgrounds because of the many technical aspects included in their fields, and usually Masters degrees or PhD’s are held by competent and peer-reviewed researchers. Here is a link describing some of the kinds of knowledge that might compliment the job of a climate scientist:

Another good link describing the many kinds of knowledge involved in obtaining graduate degrees in climate scientists is:

Actually, both the cartoons included in the Tribune, and the many of the ideas expressed by Mr. Spring, lack validity and represent common myths about the findings of climate scientists;

In the early days of the ecology movement in the 60s and 70s some climate scientists falsely believed that temperatures might drop during the coming decades and centuries. But even then, more than six out of 10 believed global warming would happen—along with a number of researchers who officially abstained from taking positions, and even fewer who outright denied climate warming. So actually, more than 60% correctly believed then, that climate change would include a gradual warming trend, while very few truly believed in global cooling. Part of the problem had to do with the widespread use of aerosols and their effects on the ozone layer, but aerosol sprays were regulated and the ozone layer was largely restored. Additionally the rapid development of better and more accurate technology quickly convinced many dissenters, that global warming was in fact taking place, despite the plot of a popular but fictitious Hollywood film which included a global cooling theme, and which left a false impression on many viewers.

About the rain forests. They really have been depleting rapidly and amount to millions upon millions of acres lost. What was observed by scientists originally, indicated a complete catastrophe in the making by the turn of the century. But here is a (paste) from a website that details some of the reason why deforestation has recently diminished in many South American countries:

“For most of human history, deforestation in the Amazon was primarily the product of subsistence farmers who cut down trees to produce crops for their families and local consumption. But in the later part of the 20th century, that began to change, with an increasing proportion of deforestation driven by industrial activities and large-scale agriculture. By the 2000s more than three-quarters of forest clearing in the Amazon was for cattle-ranching.”

The result of this shift is forests in the Amazon were cleared faster than ever before in the late 1970s through the mid 2000s. Vast areas of rainforest were felled for cattle pasture and soy farms, drowned for dams, dug up for minerals, and bulldozed for towns and colonization projects. At the same time, the proliferation of roads opened previously inaccessible forests to settlement by poor farmers, illegal logging, and land speculators.

But that trend began to reverse in Brazil in 2004. Since then, annual forest loss in the country that contains nearly two-thirds of the Amazon's forest cover has declined by roughly eighty percent. The drop has been fueled by a number of factors, including increased law enforcement, satellite monitoring, pressure from environmentalists, private and public sector initiatives, new protected areas, and macroeconomic trends. Nonetheless the trend in Brazil is not mirrored in other Amazon countries, some of which have experienced rising deforestation since 2000.”

In other words, environmentalists, conservationists and business interests, accomplished what they were supposed to—they used education to enable depletion levels to drop—because scientists had done their jobs—not because they were completely mistaken! However, the implications by deniers that there was never even a problem, are very wrong, and positive action to preserve the rainforests are still very much needed.

Misconceptions about the idea that Himalayan glaciers could be gone by 2010, or that the Arctic's ice could be completely gone by 2014, are also partly the product of misquoting climate advocates like Al Gore, whose actual words did not support that idea. What he actually said was:

“Last September 21 (2007) as the Northern Hemisphere tilted away from the sun, scientists reported that with unprecedented distress that the north polar ice cap is “falling off of a cliff,” One study estimated that it could be completely gone during summer in less than 22 years. Another new study, to be presented by US Navy researchers later this week, warns it could happen in as little as 7 years.”

Note that there is a difference between the words “could” and “will.” And also a difference between the words “estimated,” and “without a doubt.” There is also a clear difference between saying, “in as little as 7 years and, “no more than 6 years.” The year 2007 plus 7 more, adds up to 2014, so critics jumped all over Mr. Gore for his error. But 2007 plus up to 22 years, adds up to the year 2029, which is still a lot more than 7 years away. Al Gore also said:

“Some of the models suggest that there is a 75% chance that the entire north polar ice cap during some of the summer months will be completely ice-free within the next five to seven years.”

So, again, a 75% chance is not the same thing as a certainty, and the fact is that the Arctic ice pack is now nearly free of ice during the summer. So many scientists are worried that the ice loss is progressing even faster than they had projected! And, the many ploys used by deniers include cherry picking short term variations in one spot (during the winter), which then falsely produced an inaccurate indication that a cooling process was evident, instead of (GLOBAL) warming as a (WORLDWIDE TREND)! Cherry picking is also among the usual culprits used to support many other unfounded ideas about global warming. Here are a couple of links that examine the mistaken ideas concerning Al Gores supposed errors;

And finally here is a link to the site which include links providing exact quotes of what Gore actually said:

About inconsistencies in the measurements of rising sea levels; Here's another a link to a website:

And here is a (paste) from a website explaining the issues involved with world ocean levels:

“Before the advent of satellite measurements in the 1990s, tide gauges were the main way scientists observed how sea levels changed. Tide gauges measure the height of the sea with reference to a fixed point, usually on land, meaning most measurements are taken along coastlines.

Tide gauges have their limitations, Hay says, with a lack of readings in the early twentieth century and in the southern hemisphere:

'The incompleteness of these records makes obtaining estimates of global mean sea level very difficult.'

In their study, Hay and her colleagues found another way of using the tide gauge records, as she explains:

'Local sea level differs from global sea level due to a variety of factors, including ongoing effects due to the last ice age, heating and expansion of the ocean due to global warming, changes in ocean circulation, and present day melting of land ice. All of these processes produce unique patterns, or 'fingerprints', of sea level change that can be modeled.'

By looking for these fingerprints in the tide gauge records, the researchers can then estimate the contribution each one makes to sea level change. Then by adding them all together, they get a new estimate of the rate of global change.

Using this approach, the researchers estimate sea level rise for 1900 to 1990 of 1.2 mm per year. This is lower than the 1.5mm per year from the IPCC. But they found a much better match between two sets of figures for the more recent period of 1990 and 2010 which both show faster sea level rise of 3mm per year, (the underlining is for my emphasis that this fact is directly relevant to the cartoon's contention on the Tribunes opinion page, which implied that projected sea level increases were grossly inaccurate).

Slower sea level rise in the last century makes the increase in recent years appear even more rapid, Hay says. 'You can see this in the figure below.' etc.”

Although the seas are not going to suddenly engulf large amounts of land areas, the sea levels keep increasing, and by using better methods to calculate them, scientists often see an increasing rate due to factors like increased arctic ice melts etc. In some low elevation areas, sea levels have already disrupted the normal levels, so that many coastal areas are actually covered by greater amounts of water than before. Scientists never said this would happen all at once, or in a very short period of time—regardless of what many deniers might claim.

Recently climate scientists have also been convinced by data, that global warming is in fact, contributing to the severity of storms and extreme weather events. Again this is happening slowly, but global warming can lessen the temperatures differences between adjacent areas both north and south of the jet stream. This allows cold Arctic temperatures to penetrate further into southern latitudes, thus creating the “Polar Vortex” effect. And while some extreme events have not significantly increased, the severity and strength typical in these weather events, appears to result in many more record breaking events. Mr. Spring tries to deny all of this by claiming that as civilization populates more areas, locations which may previously have had only 20 record breaking events, may now have 200—thus he totally ignores the fact that many of these records specifically denote cities and areas of the country where records are based on data from exactly the same cites and geographical areas i.e we definitely know when New York city (for example) has broken a long standing temperature record! We also know that large snow storms, increased droughts, more intense heat waves and flooding, are happening more often. Though they cannot by themselves be directly linked to the effects of global warming, scientists have finally been able to verify definite associations between global warming and extreme weather patterns. And, although world wide temperature averages are definitely on an upward trend, that doesn't mean that different areas are not experiencing other kinds of weather extremes which may include new low temperature records. This is something climate scientists have always asserted. Remember that the weather in California may include droughts and heat waves, while Australia may be having colder temperatures than average—or visa verse. So, no one weather event can be used to definitely prove or disprove the process of global warming—although many different ones—(over time) may be used to affirm it!

In the cartoons above it, and in Mr. Springs commentary itself, the Tribune effectively succeeds in falsely discrediting many of the very real factors that are parts of climate change. Mr. Spring's mention of the fact that the amounts of water, gasses, and minerals on our planet remain basically the same, is really a pretty na├»ve argument. For one thing, carbon based fuels and the total amount of CO2 might be considered as remaining constant as part of the “oblate sphere” that is our Earth, but the oil and carbon based products we use now, have been extracted after millions of years, from areas deep beneath the surface, and are taken from deposits of decayed vegetation and various life forms that became our presently used petroleum. Because we are now extracting those deposits, which then influence our current atmosphere and environment, the rate of our world wide temperatures is now increasing more rapidly than it has in more than 600,000 years, and once it's in the atmosphere, CO2 causes world temperatures averages to rise more quickly than they previously have---even at all times during all those hundreds of thousands of years! Scientist have always acknowledged that during certain geological periods CO2 levels have been very high, but our present accumulations have happened over a much shorter period of time than was the case in eons past! So, it's not just about amounts. It’s about the incredible (rate) of temperature increases in our worldwide environment. But obviously, if we were to try to breath nothing but CO2, try to breath underwater, or try to hold our breath long enough to survive a tsunami, we obviously can not foolishly conclude, (as some deniers claim), that excessive amount of any naturally occurring greenhouse gas are only beneficial to human life?

Somewhat strangely, Mr. Spring also implies that climate science and our opinions about it, have become an exercise in religious debate. Personally I have no quarrel with people who believe being good stewards of the earth is a religious responsibility. However all that we really need to be motivated by is the desire to save our own behinds while recognizing that, what climate scientists are telling us, does not allow us to postpone taking actions in ways which truly might address the urgency of our global situation. 

Am I an alarmist—certainly! I really want the Earth to sustain human life as long as possible, and, I am all in favor of ensuring our ability to live without having to regularly face extreme climate disasters that may threaten to destroy or damage the vast and beautiful earthly garden we live in, and which sustains our lives.

Its really people like Mr. Spring who are part of well-funded attempts to deny the facts that have been revealed by climate scientists, and who consistently use numbers and facts to mean anything they wants them to mean. He implies that actually accepting the real facts denotes some sort of evil plot on the parts of those who accurately acknowledge what is happening to our environment now, or, is even some sort of sin against God? But, because of court decisions like Citizens United, we are making it much easier for plutocrats and wealthy manipulators, to use obscenely large amounts of money to control our political system, and, thanks to deniers, delaying the truth will absolutely ensure a climate change disaster. But it's strange how organizations like those of deniers, which claim to know the real truth, often think nothing about ignoring the many problems we will encounter in the future—just because they dare do nothing but hide their heads in the sand!

Many climate scientists are atheists and many are not. This is not a religious war, nor should it be about politically fueled ideological debates. But unfortunately, that's what AGW deniers seem to want us to think! Just like the tobacco industry, they only need to succeed in furthering unfounded doubts in order to ensure outrageous industry profits—even though allowing extremely harmful weather events to besiege the environment only ensures that their prodigious wealth may really help to destroy our environment! All the while, they think nothing about accusing thousand of scientist all around the world of promoting a hoax! 

All of us, (including deniers), are threatened by climate change. So, if deniers win, all of us will lose. Yet the cruelest the joke is on them—simply because all the money in the word is without worth, if we have no safe and livable world to spend it in. Life may continually go on, but we might very well, no longer be able to come along for the ride!

Sincerely, Peter W. Johnson


  1. I stopped reading this piece right after the first deceptive sentences: "I have decided to share my criticisms of deniers, with long comments like this made for the Tribune. 300 words is not nearly enough to ensure an adequate rebuttal of those who try to deny the massive evidence that supports climate science."

    We are not climate deniers. We acknowledge that climate always changes and that vulnerable people need help adapting. It is the causes of these changes that we question. As indicated in the hundreds of references in leading scientific journals cited by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (see ), there is massive debate about those causes.

    Let the public debate begin! It is already happening in the climate science community.

    Tom Harris, B. Eng., M. Eng. (Mech.)

    Executive Director,
    International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC)

  2. Here is the piece of concern to :
    I would say the same, except the bit about God, since I am agnostic.

  3. Saying that "climate always changes" is a red herring. Yes, climate always changes, but the recent changes are of a totally different character.

    1. Rate Of Change. The Permian Extinction was the worst mass extinction in the history of the Earth. It was caused by a rapid rise in temperature that wiped out 96% marine species and 76% of land species.

    During the Permian extinction, the temperature rose at a rate of 1 degree every 7,500 years. The current rate of temperature rise is 1 degree every 83 years. That's 90 times faster than than the Permian Extinctions.

    A lot more than "a few vulnerable people will need help adjusting." About 3 billion people depend on the oceans as their primary source nutrition. If 96% of the marine life disappeared from the oceans today billions of people would be at risk of starving.

    Bottom line: the current rate of change is many times faster than any naturally-occurring, change in temperature over at least the last 300 million years.

    2. Pattern Of Change. It isn't just that the rate of change that is different, it is the pattern of the change is different. For example, the last 800,000 years have been characterized by a series of ice ages caused by Milankovitch Cycles. They consist of 100,000 year cycles with about 75,000 years of cold and 12,500 of warming and followed by 12,500 cooling. In other words, the cycles are very asymmetrical, with the temperature peaks only lasting a few thousand year and followed by long periods of cold.

    The last peak ended about 7,000 years ago and we've been on a downward, headed into a new ice ages ever since. That downward trend should have continued, however, past 100 years, the trend suddenly reversed right in step with the rise CO2. On top of that, the rate of change is much faster than normal rate of change that had lasted for at least 800,000 years.

    The bottom line is that increasing CO2 has uncoupled the climate from the forces that caused change in the past and the climate is now dominated by the effects of CO2.

    3. NIPCC. The "Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change" may sound independent, but it's not. It is not relevant to the debate they don't do real science. The NIPCC was founded specifically to oppose the IPCC. Even the name and the initials of the organization were chosen to confuse people about which organization was which.

    It was founded and is funded by the "Heartland Institute," a notorious anti-science organization. Besides Global Warming, Heartland has disputed scientific evidence about the dangers of cigarette smoke, acid rain, and ozone depletion. It is funded by Exxon Mobil, the Petroleum Institute, the Koch brothers, Philip Morris, and long list of rich conservative activists.

  4. So many of you deniers seem to think that makes you sound intelligent - "I stopped reading...," "I stopped listening...," "I stopped thinking..." That is a major reason I was so confident about my challenge. I have been reading and listening to deniers for years - no matter how stupid or irrational they are. I knew no one would provide a scientifically valid proof because I had already heard everything you people have to say. If you spent more time reading and listening and understanding the science you wouldn't be a denier anymore.

    And, yes, you are deniers. The claim 'climate has always changed' is one of the worst of the false arguments you guys make and I have covered this in depth. But, of course, you stopped reading and listening (and thinking), so you wouldn't know that. Try starting here:

    As for the 'hundreds of references in leading scientific journals cited by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change,' this is a horrible lie. I have personally checked many of these references and found that, in many cases, they cited paper said nothing even similar to what NIPCC claimed. Many of the others had unambiguous conclusions counter to what NIPCC claims, but were taken out of context. The fact is, there is NO science to support NIPCC so they have no choice but to lie and deceive. If you bothered to read and listen (and think) you would know that.

    Finally, there is no debate among credible climate scientists as to the cause of climate change. To say anything else is a lie. We know, with total certainty, manmade emissions are changing the climate. The science is settled. What is still to be determined is details. Will it lead to x amount of warming, or will it lead to y amount? Debating that point is not a debate on the cause of climate change.

    And, to think, you took these lies into a classroom and presented them as fact. No wonder you had to call in your hatchet man to defend you. Oh, by the way, did you notice how he turned tail and ran? Left you hanging out to dry, didn't he?

  5. Of course, you would say the same thing because you have rejected science. And, you're not agnostic because you worship denialism. Yes, it is most certainly a religion. A religion is something that based on faith, not fact. Science is something that follows the scientific method. That means climate science is a science and climate change denialism is a religion. Ask yourself something, Tom. Is it possible to present any evidence that would make you change your mind? If the answer is, 'no,' then you are basing your decisions on faith and you are in a religion. If the answer is, 'yes,' then let me know. If it is something scientifically reasonable, I'll do my best to produce it.

  6. Elfish,

    Thanks for filling in all the details which deniers never seem to address, Yes it's the rate of change that's unique, and the climate would currently be cooling if the natural pattern of climate change had remained consistent. I'm also glad you mentioned that the NIPCC is an organization that was formed for the express purpose of promoting denial.

    Its really a shame that much of the public is still wowed by statements like, "the climate has always changed," meant to imply that the current rate of global warming is just another natural change that we need not be concerned about. What this indicates is a lack of basic understandings about science, since anyone at all familiar with this issue knows that it's the current rate of change that matters and is what scientists are so concerned with. Also, climate scientists have always agreed that climate change has always been happening, and they have never tried to make some sort of secret out of that fact.

    I believe this basic disconnect between what scientists say and what is fed to the public by the denial industry, can only be solved through education. That's why I have decided to provide lengthy rebuttals not meant for publication in the opinion pages of local news outlets, but rather for those outlets and the editors of those outlets, themselves. And, I think those of us who know the facts need to do the same.

    It would be great if eventually new outlets around the nation were to print comments made by a denier, which could then be answered by a climate scientist on the same page. That way the public could make a point by point comparison of them, and decides for themselves which account is truly factual.

  7. Mr. Harris,

    Although you seem unaware that climate scientists also affirm that constant climate changes have always taken place, and that therefore, your attempt to use this fact in a misleading way to imply that Global warming researchers are trying to sell some unique but false information to the public, is really a moot point. May I just ask you directly, if you specifically deny that human causes are the major driver of climate change today, can you at least understand why so many scientists point out that man's role is currently paramount and that it, in fact, coincides with the beginning of the industrial revolution and, the beginning industrial emissions of Co2. So, may I also ask if you understand just why the preponderance of evidence prompts the obvious conclusion that points to human beings are the primary cause of global warming? Please stay on point and answer these questions directly.

    Even if we were to accept the flimsy and unsupported idea that all of what's currently happening is only due to natural climate changes, could you at least understand why the actual evidence so convincingly points to man's role as being the primary source of global warming? And if that's the case, why not quit condemning others for being ignorant of supposed facts that are apparently so clear to you?

    From what I've read, real climate scientists have always agreed to examine research done by any person as all with a feasible theory to advance, but, such research had not been accepted simply because the "facts" they present are derived from unsound arguments that do not withstand peer reviews. Do you think instead you could take a research paper which has been done by climate scientists who have concluded that man DOES play a predominant role in causing global warming. and then criticise it point by point about its own conclusions? It woud make so much more sense than simply jumping on those who disagree with you based on their use of logic, reason, and demonstrable facts. Perhaps if you really tried this, you could quit acting like a lawyer, and really examine the fact according to the scientific method?

  8. Though I am also agnostic, I do know right from wrong, which you apparently don't... You in fact lie for a living, which is a pretty sad existence...

    You had better hope there is no god, or you will certainly be going to a very hot place...

  9. Said the Oil Company Shill....

  10. "I stopped reading this piece..."
    Again. LOL

  11. That is a very nice bit of research. Thanks for sharing it.

  12. "We are not climate deniers. We acknowledge that climate always changes and that vulnerable people need help adapting."


    "It is the causes of these changes that we question. As indicated in the hundreds of references in leading scientific journals cited by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (see www.climatechangereconsidered.... ), there is massive debate about those causes."

    What about the thousands of references in the IPCC report (which FYI, is far more rigorously reviewed than its "counterpart") that contribute to the massive amount of evidence we have for AGW?

  13. Agreed Mr. Harris,

    Scientists cannot just assume that the existence of a God is a given, and even if that were so, speculations on how much, or why, he would want to make the temperature levels rise, are simply matters of faith---not science. However, almost all of the claims Mr. Spring made, were misleading or dependent on rather naive logic. i.e. even if the oil we use today represents only part of a consistent amount of solids, liquids and gasses on Earth, its absurd to assume that bringing billions upon billions of barrels of crude oil to the surface, does not result in an overabundance of extra atmospheric Co2 when human beings burn petroleum, and petroleum products. If I enclose you in a transparent airtight box that has only a certain amount of space and can hold only a specific amounts of water, and if I have a large amount of water to use, I cannot expect you to fair very well if I keep adding more and more water to your enclosure, without permitting you to leave--so water, another type of naturally occurring substance if moved from an original storage space, and then added to your enclosure, woud immediately become harmful to your continued existence. And if I consistently forced oxygen into your lungs without allowing it to escape, I would cause irreparable damage to your respiratory system---that's why using examples of natural substances to imply that because they are natural, they cannot be harmful, is a complete farce--and can only be derived from completely fallacious reasoning.

    Also,how long are those who believe they are climate experts, going to use the old and lame argument, that because cold weather may exist in one place, or that droughts may happen in spite of water excesses elsewhere, that this negates the fact that global warming is happening---wait for it---on a GLOBAL SCALE! it may be raining where you live, and simultaneous bone dry in Death Valley, but that's always been the case with or without global warming. However, for decades scientist have been projecting weather extremes due to global warming, that might include dry spells and floods, just as it may include a snowstorm in Maine, while southern California is having a heat wave of 100 degrees F plus. It can also cause snow in Texas, and unseasonable warmth in Alaska--so what? Couldn't all of these weather extremes represent what was projected decades ago by climate scientists? Then there's the fact that only recently have scientists felt it appropriate to to conclude that global warming is likely the cause of some forms of extreme weather. So if their intent had been to deceive all along, why wait until now? Perhaps its the fact that we ARE experiencing more and more weather extremes around the world--not just in your backyard or mine--AROUND THE WORLD---DUHHH--- WORLD WIDE! It's not really a difficult concept to grasp Mr. Harris!