Why Does Everything Have to be Political?

July 6th, 2006

This is from an email that I received recently:

Remember that Stanford scientific ³genius² Paul Ehrlich and his prophecies
of ³the end is near?² Well a funny thing happened on the way to disaster.
We¹re still …you never know. Right?

Now another ³scientific genius² has materialized in the person of Al Gore,
member of the lowest third of his class at Harvard. Like Michael Moore, the
believers yearn, nay, are desperate, to report on such matters as this:

³Because of melting ice caps and glaciers, “The End Is Near!” But melting
Arctic ice won’t raise sea levels any more than the melting ice in your
drink makes your glass overflow.

³The fundamentalist doom-mongers ignore scientists who say the effects of
global warming may be benign. Harvard astrophysicist Sallie Baliunas says
added carbon dioxide in the atmosphere may actually benefit the world
because more CO2 helps plants grow. Warmer winters would give farmers a
longer harvest season.

³Why don’t we hear about this part of the global warming argument?

“It’s the money!” says Dr. Baliunas. “Twenty-five billion dollars in
government funding has been spent since 1990 to research global warming. If
scientists and researchers were coming out releasing reports that global
warming has little to do with man, and most to do with just how the planet
works, there wouldn’t be as much money to study it.”

³And the politicians would have one less excuse to take control of our

Quotes excerpted from an article by Jon Stossel.

I feel very strongly about the misinformation that is being disseminated regarding the science behind global warming. So, I’m posting my response to the email.

Several problems with the excerpts:

1) true, ice floating in water will not raise water levels because ice actually takes up more space than water. So, ice floating in the form of icebergs, etc. in the Arctic will not affect water levels. However, water in the form of ice on land will run-off into the oceans when it melts, and add water to the water, thus increasing the total amount of water. The water level will therefore increase. There is a LOT of ice on land in Greenland and in Antarctica, which could significantly affect the levels of our oceans. Current research shows Greenland’s glaciers to be melting at a significantly increasing rate.

2) So-called doom-mongers aren’t ignoring those other scientists, rather the scientific evidence on the side of global warming is becoming overwhelming. Sallie Baliunas is but one skeptic. True that she is an astophysicist, but I don’t know what that has to do with plant biology. While it may seem logical that an increase in CO2 would be beneficial to plants, recent studies have shown that increases in CO2 actually hamper the ability of plants to respire. They grow less, and convert less CO2 to O2 as CO2 increases. I challenge Jon Stossel to write a less biased atricle by talking to more scientists who are actually on the forefront of atmospheric and biological research. He might actually learn something.

3) The statement “warmer winters would give farmers a longer growing season” is a fallacy. Global warming is defined as an increase in the average temperatures worldwide. It makes no prediction that there will be longer, warmer winters or even longer warmer summers in any one place. There is no way to estimate what will happen to the areas in which farmers grow crops currently. The midwest could end up with massive glaciers, thus putting a lot of farmers out of work. There is no way to know what will happen to the climate, or the day to day temerature changes for that matter, in any one region on the planet for certain at this point in time.

4) Governemtal science grants are given to people with worthwhile project ideas and hypotheses. Scientists are publishing the results of their studies no matter what conclusions are to be made from the data. The government is not pushing scientists to publish pro-global warming papers. In fact, most governmental actions have tried to cover up or discredit the mounting scientific evidence that global warming is in fact becoming a serious issue. If anything, the oil and coal lobbies have a lot more money invested in the outcome of this debate than the scientists.

5) I have a question to those who argue against human involvement in global warming. So what if we aren’t fully responsible? But, what if our actions could mitigate the effects of the warming that is occurring? What if we can do something now to preserve the earth as we know it for future generations? Shouldn’t we do something if we can?

We are a part of this planet, and there are so many humans (with numbers still growing) that our actions do effect it. It is egotism and greed that have blinded so many of us against the probablility that we are damaging the only planet we have to live on.

This is not a political issue, or at least it shouldn’t be. This is a human issue. People like John Stossel ought to be ashamed of themselves for spreading unscientific myths in order to propagate divisive political discord.

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