Climate Change: How Two Opposing Viewpoints Found Common Ground

Editor’s Note: The following article was written by Dr. Lynn S. Kahn and Cindy Peak, president of Cogent Technologies.

 

“That you and I differ in our ideas of the best form of government is well known to us both:  but we have differed as friends should do: respecting the purity of each other’s motives, and confining our difference of opinion to private conversation.”

Letter from Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, July 17, 1791.

THE CLIMATE CHANGE CONVERSATION

Lynn:  I believe what I see, and I believe the science that tells us that earth’s atmosphere and oceans are getting warmer. Weather satellites orbiting the earth, ice cores drawn from glaciers, and other technologies let scientists collect many different kinds of weather and climate information.

We basically disagree on most political and social issues yet remained friends and through conversations such as this have discovered that listening deeply is the only way to reach agreement on shared actions.
Dr. Lynn S. Kahn, IVN Editorial Voice

I have no reason to doubt the 97% of the world’s scientists that have concluded human activity contributes to this warming trend. I believe the fossil fuel industry contributes disproportionately to the damage we are doing to our environment.

Cindy: I believe that the world’s climate does change, that warming and cooling are part of the natural ebb and flow of the self-regulating biosphere we inhabit. These warming and cooling cycles have happened over all the years our earth has existed.

The largest contributor of greenhouse gases is carbon dioxide (CO2), the naturally occurring gas that is a byproduct of life. Every breath I exhale releases carbon dioxide. Plants and animals have a symbiotic relationship: plants give off oxygen, animals breathe oxygen, animals exhale carbon dioxide, and plants “inhale” carbon dioxide.

I do not believe the so-called “science of climate change” with its flawed models, cooked books, and cherry-picked data. They have squelched the research of opposing scientists (and there are many) by funding only those with like conclusions. This is not science. This is a political agenda.

FACTS

Let’s start with the facts:

Lynn:  I believe these facts from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration:

  1. Record-high temperature events and record rainfalls have increased – and at a faster rate –while record low temperature events have decreased.
  2. Most of the warming since the end of the 19th century has occurred in the last 35 years with 16 of the 17 warmest years on record occurring since 2001.
  3. Most of the current warming trend is likely due to human activity and the heat-trapping nature of carbon dioxide and other gasses with the oceans absorbing much of this heat; we have more greenhouse gases in our atmosphere than at any time in human history.
  4. Although there have been major cycles of glacial advance and retreat in the last 650,000 years, the current cycle of warming is ten times faster than other cycles throughout history.
  5. The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are shrinking with visible, flowing water where none has been seen before.
  6. The Arctic sea ice is retreating and losing thickness.
  7. Glaciers are retreating in Alaska, the Rockies, the Alps, the Himalayas and the Andes.
  8. Global sea levels rose about 8 inches in the last 100 years, with the rate in the last 20 years nearly double that of that last century.
  9. Spring snow cover has decreased in North America over the last 50 years, leading to droughts and forest fires then floods and mudslides where trees used to protect the land.
  10. Our oceans are getting more acidic as more carbon dioxide is absorbed.

From the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2014 Summary for Policymakers, with data from thousands of land and ocean observation sites representing all of the Earth’s land and water surfaces:

  1. Earth’s average combined land and sea surface temperature warmed between 0.65 and 1.06 ºC degrees centigrade from 1880 to 2012.
  2. From 1901 to 2012, nearly the entire globe has experienced surface warming.

Cindy: Here are facts from Friends of Science, a non-profit organization of active and retired earth and atmospheric scientists, engineers, and other professionals:

  1. The surface temperature index, produced by two world renowned research institutions, the United Kingdom’s Hadley Centre of the Meteorological Office and the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia, shows warming to 1878, cooling to 1911, warming to 1941, cooling to 1964, warming to 1998 and cooling through 2011. The warming rate from 1964 to 1998 was the same as the previous warming from 1911 to 1941.
  2. Satellites, weather balloons, and ground stations all show cooling from 2002 through mid-2015, then this cooling phase ended with a large El Nino event starting late 2015.
  3. The average of two analyses of satellite data shows a very slight warming trend from 1979 to 2017 of 0.13 ºC per decade, which is less than half of the corresponding trend of 0.27 degree centigrade per decade of the climate models. This mild warming is well within the natural variations recorded in the last millennium.
  4. The ground station network suffers from an uneven distribution across the globe. Stations are preferentially located in growing urban and industrial areas (“heat islands”), showing substantially higher readings than adjacent rural areas (“land use effects”). Two scientific teams have shown that correcting the surface temperature records for the effects of urban development would reduce the reported warming trend over land from 1980 by half.
  5. Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels change for various reasons, human and otherwise, as they have throughout geologic time. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, the CO2 content of the atmosphere has increased by about 120 part per million (ppm), most likely due to human-caused emissions. The rate of growth during this century has been about 0.55% per year.
  6. But, there is no proof that CO2 is the main driver of global warming. As measured in ice cores, CO2 levels move up and down after the temperature has done so, and thus are the result of, not the cause of warming.
  7. Geological field work in recent sediments confirms this causal relationship. There is solid evidence that, as temperatures move up and down naturally and cyclically through solar radiation, orbital and galactic influences, the warming surface layers of the earth’s oceans expel more CO2 as a result.
  8. In a 1996 report by the United Nations on global warming, these two statements were deleted from the final draft approved and accepted by a panel of scientists:
    1. “None of the studies cited above has shown clear evidence that we can attribute the observed climate changes to increases in greenhouse gases.”
    2. “No study to date has positively attributed all or part of the climate change to man–made causes.”
  9. There is no scientific or statistical evidence whatsoever that supports the claims that global warming or “climate change” will cause more storms and other weather extremes on a global scale. Regional variations may occur. Growing insurance and infrastructure repair costs, particularly in coastal areas, claim to be the result of increasing frequency and severity of storms, whereas in reality they are a function of increasing population density, escalating development, and ever more media reporting.
  10. Recent glacier melting is a consequence of coming out of the very cool period of the Little Ice Age. Ice shelves have been breaking off for centuries. Glaciers grow and retreat. It’s normal and dependent as much on precipitation as on temperature.
  11. The Arctic Region had warmed from 1966 to 2005, due to cyclic events in the Pacific Ocean and soot from Asia darkening the ice, but there has been no warming since 2005. Current temperatures are the same as in 1943. The small Palmer Peninsula of Antarctica is getting warmer, while the main Antarctic continent is actually cooling. Ice cap thicknesses in both Greenland and Antarctica are increasing.

OUR CONCERNS

Okay, we do not agree on the facts or causes of extreme weather events. We are not going to argue about each other’s facts. Moving on, do we have the same concerns?

Lynn: I am very concerned about the impact of global warming including: droughts leading to even more poverty, climate-driven migration, and vast wildfires; flooding and erosion in coastal cities and communities; and more damage to already weakened infrastructure including roads, bridges, tunnels, pipelines and drinking water.

I am worried that diseases and epidemics of the 18th and 19th centuries will re-occur as permafrost (the permanently frozen layer of soil) thaw. I anticipate growing health threats as mosquitoes and other insects carrying infectious diseases move north and throughout the United States.

I am outraged about the impact of rising sea levels, intense hurricanes, and extensive flooding in poor and low-income communities near barely protected chemical plants and waste disposal sites when neither government nor corporations fully meet moral obligations to remedy and prevent damage.

I am sad, though not surprised, that federal energy, transportation, housing, and healthcare policies have not kept pace with so much current and potential environmental damage.

Cindy: I am very concerned about the effects of our “global warming remedies.” I worry about extreme regulation leading to economic decline with no real environmental improvements!

OUR AGREEMENTS:

We believe in different facts and have different concerns. What do we agree on?

We agree that although we look at and believe different sets of facts, we both want to protect and repair our environment, and we can agree on specific actions and policies that do that.

We both believe that we are stewards of our shared planet on which we live and that we should take good care of our home.

We both believe that all people, corporations, and governments should protect the environment and be responsible for the damage they inflict upon the earth, and that damage should be assessed impartially, objectively, and without political bias.

We both want to address issues facing communities most at risk from extreme weather events. We want to do more than just throw money at state budgets. We want to see improved building codes and re-designations to stop building in flood zones, seismic zones, and mudslide zones. We both want infrastructure improvements that harden transportation, energy, housing, and health systems against extreme weather events.

We both believe that we are stewards of our shared planet on which we live and that we should take good care of our home.
Dr. Lynn Kahn and Cindy Peak

We both want emergency agencies to help real disaster victims solve real problems without bureaucracy or multiple sub-contractors each taking profits before restoring and protecting neighborhoods.

We both believe that much can be done to reduce pollution including safe and clean energy generation, improvements in waste removal, and taking preventative steps to reduce accidents that pollute our air and water.

We both encourage natural solutions to promote a healthier environment, including planting trees and vegetation. We both believe these solutions should be shared throughout our world.

We both want all nations to step up to the environmental table. We both agree that new energy solutions should be researched and not artificially accelerated to the detriment of our economy; we support a reasonable and managed approach.

We fully support local decision making. We are both heartened that more than 50 cities, five counties and the state of Hawaii have adopted 100% clean energy goals; and recognize that five of those cities are already generating 100% of their energy use from clean, non-polluting renewable energy sources.

Conclusions:

Cindy: I have concluded that ordinary people on both sides of the climate change argument care about our world. No one wants their neighborhood polluted. No one wants to poison himself or herself or our children and grandchildren. And both sides desire people to have the opportunities to prosper.

Far too much of the disagreement and division about climate is driven by misinformation and the political agenda of the day.

Lynn: I agree with everything Cindy just said and I am delighted that when we turn to Agreements and What to Do we both want so many of the same actions to protect, repair, and improve our environment.


Dr. Lynn S Kahn and Cindy Peak met at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the early 1990s where they both worked in the Air Traffic and Systems Engineering organization. Lynn was an organizational psychologist and Cindy served as a Systems Engineering Division Manager. Today, Cindy is President of Cogent Technologies, an Aerospace and Defense company providing Systems Engineering and Proposal and Program Management. Lynn is an independent and Green Party candidate for the United States House of Representatives from upstate New York District 21; www.votelynn2018.com.

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