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Is it hot in here or is it us?

Ultimate question: What if doubters are wrong?

March 15, 2009
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JEFF JACOBY correctly states that weather is not climate in his March 8 op-ed column "Where's global warming?" But he goes on to speak critically about the attention lavished on the warming trend.

Just consider that the attention appeared in newspapers and on TV, not in refereed publications. I'm not trying to demean the media, but clearly sensationalism sells, so the media are poised to report the sensations.

The refereed publications almost uniformly find the human touch in warming. There is spirited controversy about many points, but not that humans have affected the globe. There can always be honest mistakes - science is set up to catch these bugs - as well as dishonest mistakes.

It is true that 2008 was anomalously cold in the United States compared to recent years, but North America is still only a small piece of the globe. Globally, 2008 was still among the top 10.

What if the professional climate scientists are wrong? We'd lose some money, several trillion dollars, but this is not a global tragedy.

And what if the climate "creationists" are wrong? The consequences of doing nothing are incalculable. Can we afford to take such a chance? I sure don't think so, and I would think anyone who buys homeowner's and car insurance would see the point.

Gordon Aubrecht
Marion, Ohio
The writer is professor of physics at Ohio State University.

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