By Bob Peckman
Peckman has a PhD in Physics and is retired from ITT. He lives in Roanoke.
The opinion page of Thursday, Sept. 26, was nicely balanced. As a newspaper, it is not your job to be nice or balanced. It is your job the print the truth, which can sometimes be a matter of opinion, but when facts are stated, they should be vetted. Proven facts are not a matter of opinion.
Steve Weismantel (“Don’t be duped by climate alarmism” commentary) states that the Svante Arrhenius greenhouse effect was never scientifically proven. There are two ways a theory is proven: do an experiment and see if the theory predicts the outcome (which must be independently replicated) or predict into the future and wait to see what happens. The “Inconvenient Truth” presented by Al Gore 30 years ago presented that theory and the subsequent data which clearly verifies it. The theory predicted that we would have the bigger and more frequent wind storms, the wetter floods and the drier droughts that are occurring. Weismantel mentions the contribution due to water vapor without mentioning that the air carries more water vapor when it is warmer. He mentions that the problem is more complex that the simple theory without mentioning that the complexity is due to the exposure of bare earth where there was once reflective ice and the release of methane from melting permafrost have accelerated the warming as they are positive feedback loops.
Even his claim that “Heck, we can’t even predict next week’s weather!” is untrue. Current weather forecasting is amazing. Predicting weather is extremely complicated but also not relevant to this discussion. No theory can predict individual storms, but only probabilities of having them and of their sizes.
Weismantel mentions what the temperature would be if we had no CO2 and how we need CO2 to sustain life. This implies that climate scientists want to eliminate CO2 which is an untruth and confuses some readers.
He also mentions that increased concentrations of CO2 would result in increased crop yields. That seems patently obvious, but experiments have been done on that and the results are mixed. Some crops do worse with more CO2. This is maybe not an important fact except that is another false statement not vetted by the Roanoke Times. The more important facts about crops are that changing and unpredictable weather cause havoc to farmers. Some places are planted with rain-dependent crops and experiencing dry spells and some farmers are delaying planting because of very wet springs. (Last year many didn’t plant at all because late planting didn’t leave enough growing season to pay for the planting.)
The statement that global temperatures in the 1920s/30s exceeded today’s temperatures is absolutely false. The Roanoke Time has no business printing such a statement without a disclaimer. Why did you print that satellite photos are showing greening instead of increased desert size? Why did you print that the temperature increases over the last 30 years are smaller than predicted when they are larger and currently increasing at a much higher rate than ever anticipated?
I don’t know what else to say without saying something I may regret.