Letter: What’s Known About Climate Change
To the Editor:
Barrie Sellers wants us to know “what true science looks like” in his response to my critique of his claim that climate science is “bogus.” His original letter listed things that people “know.” They “know that the sea is alkaline and not becoming more acidic.” They “know that the rate of sea level rise is less than 1 foot per century.” They “know that global temperatures have not risen for the last 17 years.” But the data say otherwise. Prior to industrialization, the oceans were slightly alkaline with a pH of 8.2. In the last 150 years, the amount of carbon dioxide dissolved in the ocean has risen by more than 30, decreasing the pH of the ocean by 0.11 units. The increased acidity threatens the food chain upon which much of the world relies.
The sea-level increase over the past century was primarily due to the expansion of the oceans as they warm. In the coming century, the sea level rise will accelerate as this thermal expansion is surpassed by contributions from melting polar ice sheets. As the ice sheets melt, the exposed surface will absorb more heat and further speed the process. Sea levels will continue to increase well past the end of the century.
Finally, he repeats the canard that the rise in global surface temperatures has stopped. The Earth’s climate is a complex system with many factors controlling temperatures. You need only look at the record over the last 100 years to see that there have been other “pauses.” In fact, the oceans absorb most of the effects of warming and they have continued to warm. At some point, the oceans will release that increased warmth into the atmosphere.
As Mark Twain said, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”