History professor Jonathan Zimmerman of the University of Pennsylvania published an Op-Ed piece in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette yesterday (http://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/Op-Ed/2016/12/18/lt-div-class-libPageBodyLinebreak-gt-Facts-lies-and-climate-change-lt-div-gt/stories/201612180016) that linked Holocaust Deniers to scientists who are skeptical about the human role in the current warming trend. There is no denial from virtually any scientist that climate change is happening, it has for at least 4.5 billion years. It is also true that we have seen about 0.7o C of warming since about 1850 and that it is likely that about 30% or so of the current 401 ppm of CO2 (October, 2016) is due to human causes, mostly burning of fossil fuels.
There is a legitimate and worthy argument that is being made by scientists like myself that, while the additional CO2 is likely having a slight warming effect, the majority of the rise in temperature is due to a natural rise in temperatures since the end of the Little Ice Age. That cold period lasted for 550 years and only ended in the mid-1800’s. Bear in mind that really bad things occurred during that cooling period including famines, crop failures and death (half of the population of Iceland perished). An unbiased opinion may legitimately be that the current warming is a welcome respite from that harsh era. Prior to the current politicization of climate science, the warming periods were called “climatic optima” because humans flourished during those times.
The temperature rise we are witnessing today is neither unprecedented nor unusual. An inspection of the chart below compares CO2 and temperatures from the Greenland Ice Sheet Project (link is on chart) of the last 12,000 years from the beginning of the current inter-glacial period to 1855 when the data starts. Several important take-aways from the chart:
- Preceding warm periods commonly reached significantly higher temperatures than we see now
- The one constant regarding temperature is that it is always changing
- We are about 11,600 years into the current inter-glacial warming period which typically last 10,000 to 15,000 years
- There is NO discernible correlation between CO2 and temperature during this time
This Holocaust/Global Warming linkage is emblematic of the politicization of the scientific process that began with the effective use of pseudo-science by the anti-fracking activists and is continued now by the alarmists that are predicting a global warming apocalypse. Demonization of legitimate scientific debate and scientists that dare to dispute the orthodoxy of catastrophic global warming is a dangerous and reckless precedent to set.
The good history professor should stick to factual reporting of history rather than the deliberate distortion of it.