Art and Science of Global Warming
This letter is in response to the letter "More Science on Global Warming", by Lars Wahlin, (UTW "Letters" column, 1-7 Feb.)
Mr. Wahlin's letter exhibits complete ignorance of the basic balance of energy in Earth's climate system, and makes a completely irrelevant point that has no bearing on the debate over what to do (or not do) about global climate change.
Mr. Wahlin's point goes something like this: (1) Because this figure (reproduced below) appears to violate a fundamental physical law -- that energy can neither be created or destroyed (it can only change forms, like when the potential energy of a taut bow is converted to the kinetic energy of an arrow when the bow string is released) -- then (2) the science of global warming (and in Mr. Whalin's view, presumably any action to mitigate it) must be "a hoax", to use Senator Inhofe's own words.
The problem with part 1 of this argument is Mr. Wahlin's incorrect interpretation of the conservation of energy in the context of this graph. Mr. Wahlin compares the amount of energy coming into Earth from the Sun (342 W m-2 in the figure) with the amount emitted by the surface (390 W m-2). He states that the fact that these are not the same somehow disproves the existence of a greenhouse effect. This is complete and utter nonsense.
To understand why, we need to think about what this graph is actually showing. This graph depicts the amount of energy coming into and going out of the Earth's climate system. On average, the amount of energy entering the Earth at the top of the atmosphere (from the Sun) must equal the amount of energy leaving the Earth (again, from the top of the atmosphere, NOT the surface). If we look at the arrows in this figure and compare what is coming down into the Earth (342 W m-2), we see that it is exactly balanced by what is leaving Earth at the top of the atmosphere (For those who are not mathematically inclined, the arrows pointing up are 107 W m-2 + 235 W m-2 = 342 W m-2).
The same goes for the surface of the Earth. The 390 W m-2 emitted by the surface, as well as all of the other things coming out of the surface, must (and do!) equal what is going in to the surface (you can do the math yourself on this one). So, to put it succinctly, there is NO violation of any physical law that is taking place here.
With regard to the sencond point above: Except for the occasional deceived or deceiving person such as Mr. Wahlin (I'm not sure which one he is), no one -- not even Senator Inhofe or any of the so-called "climate skeptics" -- disputes that a greenhouse effect exists on Earth. Not only does the greenhouse effect exist, it is responsible for the hospitable temperatures we enjoy (well, the temperatures in summer in Tulsa aren't exactly hospitable -- but that's an entirely different story). Other planets such as Mars (no greenhouse effect) or Venus (super greenhouse effect) stand in stark contrast to Earth and show us how truly lucky we are to have a greenhouse effect.
So the question is not whether or not a greenhouse effect exists, but how much we are altering its strength (or, more precisely, the global energy balance) by our experiment on the atmosphere via our emissions of gasses such as the carbon dioxide and methane.
This question has been studied extensively in recent decades, and the results are summarized in the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) report which states that "Most of the observed increase in globally averaged surface temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations" (document available at http://www.ipcc.ch/SPM2feb07.pdf ).
In the parlance of the IPCC's wonky policy language, the term very likely means that they are 90% confident that most of the recent warming is due to human activities.
And again, here, there is no meaningful dispute over what the science says on this issue. From scores of science academies all over the world (National Academy of Sciences, American Geophysical Union, and the American Meteorological Society, to name a few), to President George W. Bush, nobody disputes the conclusions of the IPCC regarding the state of knowledge about the climate system and the human impact thereon.
And this brings us to the real crux of the "climate problem". The problem is not whether or not the greenhouse effect exists, or whether the Earth is warming, or whether humans are contributing to that warming: It's a matter of what do we do or not do in the face of a very high confidence that human activities are warming the planet.
And this "climate problem" is a mostly non-scientific issue. It has to do with our values and not the science of climate change. Values of all sorts -- political, religious, social, and economic -- will affect what actions or inactions we might consider in the face of the uncertainty inherent in any decision making process.
As scientists, we have done almost all we can to provide answers to the questions about what has happened to Earth's climate, and what will likely happen given different possibilities for future greenhouse gas emissions. It is up to you the greater public, and policymakers, to decide how to proceed from here. The ball is in your court.
Ph.D. Candidate, Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, University of Colorado, Boulder
A Mosque of Peace? (UTW "Letters" columns, 14-20 Dec. and 28 Dec.--3 Jan.) Show me. How many tolerant Muslims are out there willing to commingle into America rather than take it over? We are waiting to see some Patrick Henry type of "give me liberty or give me death" action. In the meantime a mold grows.
The mold grows while two parties played on in 2006. The illegal immigrants and the Muslims.
A problem always starts in small ways like a mold, and unless it is immediately identified and 'nipped in the bud' it continues to grow and grow until it becomes unmanageable.
Those who lack insight by allowing it to grow to maturity, ignoring it, and refusing to acknowledge that it exists, suddenly awake when it is too late and the house must be renovated or destroyed. But then make the error in judgment more acceptable, by explaining away the lack of identification and immediate removal, they instead welcome the destruction of the house as new enlightenment in this progressive age, determining that the house was no good to begin with and we will be better off with this new house, updated codes, advanced construction methods, new materials, and better trained workers. The progressives end up actually condemning previous life without the problem.
Such it has been in the situation with the invasion from the south. The illegal invasion from the south is an invasion of our lands by uninvited intruders (not guests).
It could have been identified and stopped years ago. But now it is at that unmanageable stage. It is not immigration into the country that is the problem, as we welcome the ones who patiently immigrate legally and wish to assimilate into American society. America has been built on this principle.
No, this is the overwhelming illegal unmanageable numbers of Spanish people streaming in from the south. And now it is an invasion, and this invasion has a life of it's own, a mold inside the wall of the house. The winner here is definitely the Spanish invasion of American lands. And now the leaders are friends with it as they wish to legalize the illegal and call them guests.
They win, the rule of law looses. This situation has been growing for many years and is nearing maturity, unlike the second party to win in 2006.
This second party to play on in 2006 is an invasion from the east. This moldy problem is in its beginning stages of growth where it becomes identifiable as a fungus, but the speed of development here resembles the growth of mold on bread, quickly seen as something to trash right now.
Their intent is to eventually instill Islamic laws (sharia), slowly at first, as part and parcel of our laws, separate but equal, and then when their numbers increase, demand that Muslims have the right to be judged by their own religious laws, and not by American laws. Dual courts. It is a religious holy war jihad attempt to infiltrate, terrorize, intimidate and coerce until sharia is the rule of law.
These attempts must be stopped now. We have already seen the attempt to overthrow an American tradition by Keith Ellison, the first ever Muslim Senator, demanding that he be allowed to swear his oath of office on the Koran. It's a moldy beginning. We witnessed the six imams evacuated from an airliner, claiming profiling 'while Muslim', then demanding payment, (to finance a trip to Mecca) and a special prayer room in the airport. Part of the tactic. Not a violent use of terrorism, but terrorism just the same.
There was a story of the mosque in Michigan allowed to sound the call to prayer five times a day over their loud speakers, while Christian church bells are being silenced across the land. Mosques are growing in America. How many more Muslim names are now being seen throughout the land? Yet, our leaders are not identifying this mold as a problem.
The concentration has been on the war against terror in Iraq and neglecting the holy war against western values here at home. It's a double front and Islam must be stopped at both ends. Right here in Tulsa, a moderate Muslim cleric spoke up and criticized Islam, was threatened and banned from the Mosque. According to sharia law, it is apostasy and blasphemy to speak ill of Mohammed.
To be fair, he was reinstated by the mosque under pressure of various groups. No freedom of speech allowed by these fellows. No toleration for diverse opinions for these. No, it is submit or be considered an infidel, an apostate. That's the law according to Mohammed.
In 2006, America has lost a years battle of the war. How will the country fare in 2007? Unless our leaders wake up and recognize this mold and spray some good old bleach in and around, the moldy stuff will grow and grow until the house is destroyed.
The Muslim will to fight the jihad is greater than our will to resist. And the progressives are saying we are all better off with a more diverse and tolerant population, but they refuse to acknowledge that asking a Muslim to be tolerant is like asking a mold to quit growing.
How many tolerant Muslims are out there willing to commingle into America rather than take it over? We are waiting to see some Patrick Henry type of "give me liberty or give me death" action. In the meantime the mold grows.
Americans have been willing to risk life to live free with liberty. How many Muslims are willing to risk life for freedom to live free in the greatest country ever. More freedom. More opportunity. More tolerance here by Americans for anyone right here in the land between the seas.
And the mold keeps growing.
On the River
Thank you for your history of Arkansas River development (or lack thereof) which appeared in the February 1-7 issue of UTW ("The River Review"). The article gave your readers a good perspective of past victories and failures in Tulsa's' use of this great resource.
It appears to me that a primary priority in development on the east bank is "What to do with Riverside Driver?" the traffic along this street, especially where it narrows north of 31st St., is reaching the choke-point at certain times of day. If any commercial development is anticipated along Riverside, the street definitely needs to be widened, with turn lanes at intersections, and the jog under the pedestrian bridge eliminated.
And yet, anytime a change in the street is propose, the cry goes up: "Don't Go Wide on Riverside" from a relatively few (but potent) citizens.
Our city's officials need to come up with a plan which enlarges this street before we do any east bank development. Otherwise, we will have terrible traffic problems, and the river area will not be enjoyed by anyone.
James M. McUsic
P.S. I'm so glad that you are using Simpson's cartoons. The Tulsa World made a big mistake when they fired him. His replacement is definitely inferior.
Like to Read UTW
Michael Bates' opinion column (UTW, 8-14 Feb.) on the Tulsa School Board District One Election is the most ignorant and misinformed column to be included in Tulsa Urban Weekly. Michael, you rank consistently high in negativity. but usually have better factual data. Your characterization of Gary Percefull was malicious and just wrong. We have nothing negative to say about the other candidate, Mrs. Barre, but you missed the boat on Perceful
Four years ago the District was holding meetings to propose closing Clinton and not building a new Eugene Field Elementary. This was due to declining attendance.
Mr. Percefull initiated the formation of the SW Tulsa Education Initiative. He and the Initiative went to work. Garry brought staff and citizens together to find solutions.
Four years later, a new Eugene Field has been occupied, Webster has received a new Field House, a new cafeteria, a new library and new class rooms and Clinton will be rebuilt into a state of the art model for middle schools. Also, Robertson has a new building and other elementary schools have significant improvements.
Our goal was to add programs that would attract students from elementary age through high school. We have started fine arts infusion programs, business technology programs, environmental science programs culminating in a horticulture program and Webster has been designated as the District Telecommunications Magnet. All of these programs and facilities will attract parents and students. SW Tulsa Schools have gone from questionable to the best cluster in the state.
Gary Percefull devoted extra time to drive solutions for his District. He is everything you said he was not. He is responsive at all times.
Michael Bates, if you have any ethical character as a journalist, you will print an apology to Gary Percefull. You just did not do your homework.
Editor's Note: The fact Percefull was oh-so-narrowly re-elected is telling (he won by a mere 37 votes). We'll be watching his performance very closely.
And, here's what the writer had to say:
Dear Mr. Ryan,
You've called my characterization of Gary Percefull "ignorant and misinformed" and "malicious and just wrong," but I notice that you didn't contradict anything I wrote about him.
New buildings and magnet programs are a fine thing, but they don't speak to the reasons that families are moving to the suburbs or opting for private schools. (They aren't even a particularly impressive accomplishment -- bond issues have paid for improvements to older buildings in every part of the Tulsa district.)
Parents are looking for a safe and orderly learning environment, sound basic curriculum, and a school administration is open, accountable, and responsive to their concerns. The Tulsa district doesn't currently have those qualities, but I believe that replacing Gary Percefull with Brenda Barre on the school board will be a step in the right direction.
Thanks for reading,
Likes Neither Inhofe Nor Republicans
Concerning "On the Right Side" (UTW's 8-14 Feb. profile on U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe) do you think Senator Inhofe and other Republicans leaders realize how quickly they seem to be headed for the exits of serious political debate?
A recent National Journal poll shows that 84 percent of the influential Congressional Republicans polled deny that there's a human component to global warming "beyond a reasonable doubt". The international scientific community puts the likelihood at 90 percent.
Whoever these Republican leaders are, they are not reasonable people. Senator Inhofe continues to marginalize himself in the debate on the future of our nation's energy policy.
This is very sad in light of the fact that Oklahoma's energy-based economy will almost certainly have to adjust to a world resolving itself to deal with climate change. I'm not an alarmist about climate change, but I recognize that the overwhelming opinion of the world's leading scientists is most likely correct.
That's what makes Senator Inhofe's state of denial so disturbing. Here's the poll: http://syndication.nationaljournal.com/images/203Insiderspoll_NJlogo.pdf
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