Stop the spin; climate change is for real

The Gazette Opinion Staff
Published: December 28 2013 | 12:01 am - Updated: 6 March 2014 | 11:05 pm in
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By David Osterberg

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Get this straight, everyone: Climate change is real. The Earth is warming. There is no doubt that we have plenty to do with it because of the way we live, burning fuels that spew out pollution.

And no amount of spin will change that.

Yet, some urban myths just won’t die. One was repeated by a couple of climate change deniers in the Sunday Gazette. In “U.N. decisions based on science fiction,” the authors tell us that “global warming actually stopped 17 years ago.” Give me a break.

If you find that statement troubling, why not look at a respected source like NASA — the folks who get spacecraft to land safely on Mars. This is what they say:

NASA scientists say 2012 was the ninth warmest of any year since 1880, continuing a long-term trend of rising global temperatures. With the exception of 1998, the nine warmest years in the 132-year record all have occurred since 2000, with 2010 and 2005 ranking as the hottest years on record. See: http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/2012-temps.html

The latest credible information has 2013 probably coming in as the fourth-warmest year. How does that square with global warming stopping 17 years ago?

A bunch of organizations, like the one in Sunday’s Gazette, exist to say global warming is a myth. Unfortunately they and a few people like them are keeping the United States from confronting this huge global issue with policy that pushes renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Gazette columnist Todd Dorman opened a column on this issue last December with this sentence: “It’s tough to know who to believe.”

Todd was referring to a statement from a number of scientists from Iowa colleges including me, who warned about climate change, vs. the latest spin from apologists for the fossil fuel industry. “On one hand, you’ve got 138 science faculty and research staff from 27 Iowa colleges and universities. Or you can side with a lawyer from Tampa.”

Please consider the source. The climate is changing very quickly and humans are most likely doing most of it by burning coal and oil and other fossil fuel. Ignore the skeptics. We need to get after this problem.

David Osterberg is founding director of the nonpartisan Iowa Policy Project in Iowa City, www.iowapolicyproject.org. Contact: dosterberg@iowapolicyproject.org.

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