LETTERS: Letter writer sets headline record straight

No claim of historical climate records—life as we know it is threatened

To the Expositor:

Since I am in the headline of the letter to the editor ‘Calm down and look at the evidence of climate change: McQuay letter makes claims regarding climate that are not supported by evidence’ (November 14), I’d better set the record straight. Contrary to Mr. Desjardins’ assertion, I didn’t actually say anything about historical climate records. I said the massive amounts of greenhouse gases we produce threaten life as we know it. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is probably the world’s most authoritative body on this. Established by the United Nations, the IPCC scours thousands of scientific reports to provide the world with objective, scientific information. Since 1990 their reports have reflected mounting evidence about the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions on natural ecosystems and humans.

Let me relay four bits from their Fifth Assessment Report’s Summary for Policymakers:

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“Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, and sea level has risen.

“Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.

“Changes in many extreme weather and climate events have been observed since about 1950. Some of these changes have been linked to human influences, including a decrease in cold temperature extremes, an increase in warm temperature extremes, an increase in extreme high sea levels and an increase in the number of heavy precipitation events in a number of regions.

“Surface temperature is projected to rise over the 21st century under all assessed emission scenarios. It is very likely that heat waves will occur more often and last longer, and that extreme precipitation events will become more intense and frequent in many regions.”

Look at the evidence. It’s in the reports the ICPP publishes. It’s on NASA’s Climate Change and Global Warming website. But just as the tobacco industry tried to discredit mounting scientific evidence about the risks of smoking, so the oil and related industries are now trying to discredit the evidence about the risks of greenhouse gas emissions. The tragedy is that this time the stakes are so much higher.

Jan McQuay