Letters to the Editor, June 3, 2011

I could not help but laugh at “Sierra Could Be Hit Hard by Climate Change,” (Mammoth Times, May 13, 2011) as I looked out my window at still bud-less trees and a snowpack almost four times normal. Science use to be based on definite observation and facts which were either true or false. Now it’s “could, might, maybe, if.” And no wonder. Anyone who pays attention to the weather lately might think winters were getting colder around here, not warmer. And they would be correct.

According to the NCDC, at www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/cag3/ca.html, California winters are cooling at a rate of just over 1 degree Fahrenheit per decade. One might also be of the impression that winters were getting wetter, not drier. And you would be correct again. Data at the NCDC shows California winters getting wetter at the rate of 1.24 inches more water per decade. In fact, only two winters this decade have been below average. And finally, my favorite. It doesn’t just seem like winters are getting longer: They are. California springtimes are cooling at an astonishing two degrees F per decade! At the current rate of global warming, we will have the climate of Siberia by 2070.

The global warming scam is just another ploy by large corporations and governments in their employ to take your money and your freedom. We are in the middle of an ice age for crying out loud. We are on the cold side of a cold interglacial. If it were really warming, that would be a good thing.
Peter Hodges
June Lake

The root web site Mr. Hodges refers to is the National Climate Data Center, which states, “Globally, annually averaged surface temperature has increased by just under 1°C since the late 1800s. The rate of increase over the past 50 years is nearly twice that of the past century. However, this warming trend is not uniform across the planet.” That lack of uniformity may help explain why local observations in the Eastern Sierra may not jibe with the expectations of global warming.

That is because science continues to be based on observations that cannot cover every instance in place (throughout the universe) and time (from the past through the future). Therefore, scientists keep an objectively open mind, one that allows a measure of doubt as to whether even widespread observations lead to infallible ‘truths.’ Logic tells us that no conclusions, no matter how useful they are, (not even the overwhelming evidence that supports human-caused global climate change), can be proven “true.”

Acknowledging this limitation, scientists and reporters use words such as “could,” “appears to” and “the evidence substantiates the hypothesis.”

Given Mr. Hodges’ example, he may see bud-less trees and extreme snowpack that represent a change in local conditions in June Lake right now, but science has required thousands of observations to come to a conclusion about regional changes in the Eastern Sierra. One possibly dead tree and one possibly freak snow storm are simply not enough observations, no more than would be a single blistering-hot day in Mammoth Lakes.

It has taken many more observations by scientists worldwide, over many years, to posit human-caused global climate change.

The up side of that process is: the more observations, the closer scientists approach ‘the truth,’ though logic prevents arriving in that ideal place. When the vast majority of climate scientists, worldwide, agree that the earth has heated over the past 100 years, and that much of that heat is due to human activity, and that will likely result in more frequent and severe storms, the agreement represents an incomprehensible number of observations at many sites, at many different times, under many different conditions by many scientists.

Mr. Hodges referred to global climate change as a ploy by major corporations to take ‘your’ money. One International corporation, Deutsche Bank, acknowledged this year “a growing realization of the potentially profound impact climate change may have on ...existing portfolios.” That sounds more to me as though they are reacting to, rather than creating, a concern. Note that those business people used a logical qualifier, “potentially profound.”

During Mr. Hodges’ “cold side of a cold interglacial” period, glaciers of Glacier National Park have been reduced to one-third their size according to USGS.gov, and the Northwest Passage opened over Canada as well as the Northern Sea Route over Russia, representing “one million square miles of open water – six Californias – beyond the average since satellites started measurements in 1979,” according to the Oct. 2, 2007 New York Times.
Leslie Willoughby
Crowley Lake

In the May 27 issue of the Mammoth Times, Nancy Mahannah thanked the organizations and individuals who participated in the Senior Symposium, which took place at Mammoth High School during the first part of May. It appears that Wild Iris was inadvertently left out of her kudos, and so I would like to take this opportunity to recognize Jessie McLaughlin and Debbie Painter, who are both Crisis Counselors/Educators for Wild Iris, for their contribution to this event. Jessie and Debbie’s presentation covered the ever-important topic of Teen Dating Violence. Thank you Jessie and Debbie for your contribution to the Senior Symposium, and congratulations to all who participated. It sounds like it was a well received event.
Susi Bains
Wild Iris