Oh, to be a pilot for 34 years and revel in the marvels of our lovely planet from 30,000 feet. I’ve been a paleontologist for over 42 years. It is my charge to study climate change through time using clues (data) preserved in the rocks and fossil record.
Examples cited in the letter (glaciers, Earth’s wobble, salt flats, Great Lakes) are valid observations and discussion points. Some are accurate, some not so much. Either way, like all strawman arguments, points must be accurate, they must seem relevant and they shall give the illusion of, but in fact not prove anything, except in the mind of the uninformed.
“The climate has been constantly changing for millions of years.” True: Billions, actually. It is a fundamental factor for species evolution and/or extinction. The difference between historical change and our current climate change issue is scope and timeframe. Ice ages and significant warming events happen over thousands or millions of years, not in a hundred or so. There is nowhere in earth’s history where such a rapid change in temperature and atmospheric chemistry occurred without a cataclysmic event like maybe an asteroid the size of Metry hitting the planet.
A common misconception is that humans aren’t powerful enough to affect global consequences. “…Nature’s forces are much more powerful than anything we can do.” Not so fast. There are many examples of planet-scale effects we clearly have made but here’s just a few that are easy to relate to. It only took a few decades of leaded gasoline to spread lead pollution over the whole planet. It is found as a distinct layer in Antarctic ice cores. Atmospheric carbon concentrations were 200 ppm or so a couple hundred years ago. Today they are 400 ppm or so. That time frame is unprecedented and those levels haven’t been observed for several million years when massive volcanic activity in the Middle East was the cause. Globally, our rain and oceans are more acidic now than a couple hundred years ago, a direct result of high carbon concentrations in air. It’s a very simple and common chemical reaction.
Manifestations of acid water are demonstrable by simple observation. Actual rocks are being formed today on Grand Isle because shell fragments are slowly dissolved by the acid rain and then recrystallize to cement sand grains together to form “beach rock.” Go collect some. The calcite shells of oceanic plankton are measurably thinner today (76% thinner) than 144 years ago because of increased ocean acid levels.
I wouldn’t want Greta Thunberg trying to fly my 747 but if I wanted to have an informed debate on climate change, she seems to have done her homework.
AL DUVERNAY III
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