Letter: Fact or fiction?

By Bruce Sieppert

Editor, the Gauntlet,

It’s my belief that the primary purpose of a good education is to assist in creating a well-rounded person; someone who is a critical thinker. That is why I was skeptical when my geophysics 375 classmates and I were told that, based on the “true” scale for charting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, there is really little or no correlation between CO2 levels and changes in the climate.

From the evidence I have been exposed to, I had come to believe that scientists now largely agree that humans contribute to climate change and that global warming is a serious problem, the causes of which we have some control over. However, the lecture on global warming in my geophysics natural disasters class made claims that aimed at illustrating that humans do not have much effect on the climate. The lecture even cited a Dr. Fred Singer, who believes that taking measures to reduce pollutants would be virtually ineffectual, and thereby pointless.

Clearly there is a contradiction. So, who’s correct? In areas such as this I think it’s easy for people to throw up their hands and say, “Who knows? Either side may be right.” However, I think that too often science and/or scientific debates are categorized as simply matters of opinion. They are not. When we read novels, we can agree that different interpretations can be described as matters of opinion. But, in the exploration of real-world consequences and scientific facts it seems irresponsible to deem conflicting claims as simply differing “viewpoints.” When you are standing on the edge of a cliff, you don’t think, “If I slip, who knows what will happen? It’s simply a matter of opinion.”

So then, what explains the contradiction between what I’ve heard from news reports, the findings of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the CBC, environmentalists, scientists, my own observations of changes in climate, my other science classes, and even my natural disasters’ class textbook–which all link CO2 levels to changes in climate–and the evidence for non-human related climate change promoted by my professor and experts like Dr. Fred Singer? Does it have anything to do with the fact that Dr. Fred Singer was also a part of the scientific community that dismissed the link between tobacco and cancer?

My critical thinking leads me to believe that there must be an explanation for the differences in interpreting scientific data on climate change. Maybe it has something to do with living in Alberta. Maybe there’s a link between what’s professed here and those who gain from such professions. If there is, I’m sure it wouldn’t be too hard to find. Evidence for both sides of the climate change debate is also easy to find. Look into it, use your critical thinking, and decide for yourself.

Bruce Sieppert

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