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Skepticism versus denial

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Reading the letter in the Jan. 23 issue of the Echo asserting that there is "no consensus over global warming," I was reminded of Daniel Moynihan's maxim that everyone is entitled to one's own opinion but not one's own facts.

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The writer makes the curious claim that global warming somehow ended in 1998 and since then, "the temps leveled off, even lowered a bit." The National Climate Data Center shows the period from 2000-2009 to be the hottest decade since 1880 when climatic records were first kept, with seven of the 10 hottest years on record occurring in this time.

As for 2012, it may not have been as hot as 1998, but it still came in at number 10, with 2010 heading the list as the hottest year ever. Although 2012 ranked "only" 10th hottest on the global scale, it was the hottest year on record in the continental United States.

Next, that 30,000 people signed a petition "questioning the science and conclusions behind global warming theory" is not in question; that these were 30,000 scientists and climatologists is dubious at best. According to the petition's own website, only 39 of the 30,000, or .01 percent of the respondents, claimed a background in climatology. This puts the scientific validity of the petition into serious doubt.

As for the oft-repeated "Climategate" meme, both e-mail correspondents involved have been long cleared of any unethical or unprofessional conduct by their respective academic institutions. There is no evidence of any worldwide conspiracy, no mention of George Soros nefariously funding climate research, no admission that global warming is a hoax, no evidence of falsifying of data, and no "marching orders" from shadowy socialist/communist/vegetarian overlords.

A healthy skepticism is essential to effective scientific enquiry, but denial in the face of irrefutable facts tolls its death knell.

James L. Pohl

Alexandria

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