Letter: Global warming is scientific reality

Global warming is scientific reality. Carbon dioxide is a long-known greenhouse gas; and our burning of billions of tons of fossil fuels for a century-plus has significantly increased its amount in the atmosphere.

As many scientists have long predicted, more solar heat is being trapped in our climate, with increasingly extreme effects on weather.

The Earth constantly produces and eliminates atmospheric CO2.

In humanity’s era, the processes were roughly equal until the Industrial Revolution upset that stability. That’s why some climatologists began warning of warming decades ago; and, no, there was no “global cooling” consensus in the 1970s, merely a rejected hypothesis from a few scientists, right-wing lies (such as from George Will) to the contrary.

The consensus on warming and its human cause roughly began coming together in the 1990s.

Now the vast majority of climatologists agree (see the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report); the few who deny it are fringe outliers. Astronomers say that the sun cannot be the cause, and no other source has been seriously suggested.

Having lost the science battle, Thomas, Barone, etc., are reduced to hurling baseless insults, distortions of evidence and lies.

Earth’s climate is complex and dynamic, so there will be annual fluctuations. Temporary temperature plateaus are irrelevant when the decades-long trend is an increasingly hotter climate.

Its worldwide effects have been obvious for years even to nonclimatologists: glaciers melting; Arctic tundra thawing; Arctic sea ice disappearing; warm-climate species moving into areas previously too cool. Scientists’ studies show more subtle effects: rising sea levels, coral bleaching.

Because weather is complex and events often local in cause, it’s harder to pin down warming’s contribution; but extreme events are certain to be more common. Increasingly sophisticated studies now show it has probably or certainly caused thousands of deaths and tens of billions in costs already.

The worst thing about warming: We don’t know how hot it will get, how fast or how severe the effects could get. We are the lab rats in this experiment. Worst-case scenario for Louisiana: One or more big ice sheets, which we’re learning are more sensitive to climate change than believed, slide into the ocean. Anyone for scuba diving on Bourbon Street?

Yes, the Earth’s climate has naturally fluctuated over time. Once, the surface was completely frozen. Twice, warming had such severe climate effects that much of life was exterminated.

The last two were long ago; does anyone want to go for three?

William Sierichs Jr.

retired newspaperman

Baton Rouge