Climate change is, no doubt, a complicated topic. We need good information if we are going to make good choices. We don’t need errors of fact masquerading as truth.
Recently, a Feb. 13 letter written by Rolf Westgard did just that. This letter, which also appeared in the Pioneer Press and the Brainerd Dispatch and on climate change denial websites, made some shocking claims that any climate scientists like myself would easily identify.
For instance, Westgard claimed that clouds are water vapor. No, they are not. Water vapor is, well, a vapor. It is an optically clear gas. Clouds, on the other hand, are condensed droplets of water in liquid or ice form that are visible.
Westgard also states that clouds cool the planet. Some clouds cool the planet, whereas others warm it. It depends on the characteristics of the cloud, including its location and altitude.
Next, Westgard claimed that clouds act as a natural thermostat that has kept the earth in a narrow temperature range during past interglacial periods. Past interglacial temperature variations were primarily from orbital changes of the earth and greenhouse gases. And how “narrow” is this range? Narrow enough to cause near year-round ice in Minneapolis.
Westgard is not qualified to make these claims, and these serious misunderstandings show why expertise is important. You don’t take medical advice from your babysitter, and you don’t let your dentist fix your car. We should do the same thing here.
While it is tempting to wish for global warming after this unusually cold winter, Minnesota Daily readers should know that record flooding is occurring in England, incredible heat in Australia and Siberia, and terrible droughts in California. All are signals of what our future will bring if we fail to act.