'Anti-science' column 'an embarrassment'

'Anti-science' column 'an embarrassment'

The Breeze does a fine job reporting local news, but publisher Tom Ward's anti-science editorial "A final burst of hot air" in the May 7 issue denying climate change science is an embarrassment. Castigating scientists who wrote the National Climate Assessment as "sad sacks" and denigrating "chattering academics" may play well with those who struggled with science in school, but won't help attract the brightest to our region.

Since the industrial revolution when we began massive burning of fossil fuels, the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has gone up from about 280 to 400 parts per million and is still rising. While New Englanders facing high heating bills might think the global warming this is expected to cause might be a good thing, because of the irregular surface of the Earth with land masses, mountains, oceans and ocean currents, rather than what be a relatively benign uniform warming of a few degrees is expected to be climate instability with changes in weather patterns, stronger storms, intensified droughts and flooding.

While the atmosphere is complicated and computer projections have a level of uncertainty, we have already received a warning of such events from nature, and they are expensive. And the future is as likely to be worse than predicted as not as bad.

The prudent or conservative thing to do is to reduce risk by reducing carbon admissions. However, so-called "conservatives" such as Mr. Ward would prefer to take a wild risk with our atmosphere rather than conserve or reduce fossil fuel use. This may please the oil/gas/coal barons, but it is especially foolish in Rhode Island with no fossil fuel resources, indeed we export our wealth out of state to buy those products. We are also at risk from sea level rise. But we have plenty of wind and solar energy and it makes sense to keep more of our money in the state and develop jobs here to tap into that kind of energy.

Fortunately, the adults in our state are planning for Rhode Island to do its share in the worldwide climate fight, and to prepare to protect our infrastructure and social assets from projected climate disruption. The Breeze should support this effort.

Barry Schiller

North Providence

Publisher's Note: In fact, I did pretty well in science and earned my degree in Biology from Rhode Island College in 1975. All through the 1970s, alarmists and academics - my teachers and the "adults in our state" at the time - told me over and over about the "Coming Ice Age" and "Global Cooling." A quick Google search today of "1970s Global Cooling" brings up 99 stories (See populartechnology.net), all backed by men of science, about the new Ice Age on our horizon. Some even called for the elimination of the internal combustion engine. They were all wrong. Read some of those stories yourself. They are pretty amusing reading in 2014.

So I hope readers - and Mr. Schiller - can understand my caution with today's eco-alarmists who keep insisting that I sacrifice my family's way of life, with nary a mention of China's filthy habits. Somehow, America is always the problem.

I will continue to do my best to reduce my own carbon footprint in my home and auto, but for the most part because I'm a "conservative" spender, too.

- Tom Ward