Be aware of the story behind climate change headlines [Letter]


With regard to your story reporting the comments of our County Council President, Mr. Slutzky, on human causes of climate change and subsequent responses, readers should be aware of some background issues behind climate change headlines.


Having been involved in atmospheric science for over three decades, I have learned to watch how conflicts of interest between politics and science play out in climate change pronouncements. While the media has been alert to conflicts of interest between industry and science in the ozone and climate scares, it has tended to neglect what President Eisenhower warned of in his famous 1961 farewell speech concerning how federally-funded science research and political posturing can undermine the integrity of both.

The impetus for climate change research originated not from within traditionally ill-funded meteorological science but from within the well-funded energy community concerned in the 1970s with pollution and energy sufficiency. Thus from the very beginning the effects of fossil­ fuel emissions of carbon dioxide dominated grants for climate research. Scientists interested in the natural causes of climate change that have operated for millennia of documented history have learned not to expect any such grants.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, for example, is mandated to find human causation of climate change dangerous to human existence. No motivation there for research on natural causes. Policy implications follow. If climate change truly is dangerous and natural causes play an important role, then extravagantly costly programs like the Paris Accord that place all its eggs in fossil-fuel reduction basket divert assets from what would become necessary mitigation efforts.

I close with two quotes supporting the concerns of Mr. Sultzky:

Professor of Climate Change, Dr. Mike Hulme, at the world famous Climate Research Unit in the UK: "The function of climate change...really is not about stopping climate chaos. Instead, we need to see how we can use the idea of climate rethink how we take forward our political, social, economic and personal projects of the decades to come."

A co-chair of the UN IPCC Working Group III in 2010, Otto Edenhofer: "One must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world's wealth by climate policy....One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy."

Charles Clough

Bel Air

The writer is a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel and founder and retired chief of the Atmospheric Effects Team, Aberdeen Test Center, Aberdeen Proving Ground. Editor