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What makes a skeptic? 

I could add to the title "... and downright irritating to those on a mission to save the planet." I respect some of my critics, in particular Andrew Christie. I know he's sincere and has dedicated a good part of his life to protecting the environment and lives accordingly, even though I may disagree with some of his conclusions and proposed solutions. Others, less so, especially if they scold us on how we live while they, like actor Johnny Depp, live like kings. It's reported Depp has 14 residences, including four islands in the Bahamas, a 156-foot steam yacht crewed by eight and a private jet to transport him to various engagements, like conferences to save the planet from man-made climate change. Don't get me wrong, I like Depp as an actor; he's extremely talented and deserves his wealth. I just don't care for his moralizing about the lifestyles of us lowly working classes when he uses more carbon-emitting energy in a month than most working families use in a year. You can't buy enough trees to offset his lifestyle.

Nobody is perfect, not even Mr. Depp, so I dismiss his environmental sins. After all, he means well; his heart (whenever Neptune returns it) is usually in the right place.

That's the problem: too many people place intent or emotions over cold, hard facts. They appeal to the heartstrings of the public, like using images of polar bears in distress (very cute critters, a skill at which most bears excel). Some years back the "climate-alarmist community" told us polar bears were drowning due to lack of Arctic ice and were therefore endangered. The EPA promptly listed them as "threatened," thereby placing legal restrictions on any activity occurring on or near their habitat. I like bears a lot, except when they're in a foul temper and inclined to eat people, as occurs from time to time. In the case of polar bears, that's most of the time as most Arctic indigenous peoples will quickly attest.

The Canadian government (no great fan of President Donald Trump) manages 14 of the 15 family groups of North American polar bears. They said the bears are doing just fine, so well, in fact, that since the 1970s when only 5,000 polar bears populated the continent, they've increased to more than 25,000 bears. The single greatest threat to the polar bear population is not diminishing Arctic sea ice, which this year isn't diminishing at all, but other polar bears that eat little bears and hunting by native populations. Indigenous tribes take about 50 bears a year, but hungry, large male bears take several times that many cubs.

Exaggeration of a problem gets headlines and TV ratings but makes for bad science. They told us the glaciers were melting; some are and have been, since the 1850s when the "Little Ice Age" came to a close. We are now in a gradual warming trend with increasing carbon dioxide (CO2) being released, at about 400 ppm. During the "Roman Warm Period" 2,000 years ago, it was considerably warmer and CO2 considerably greater, at 1,000 ppm. We had another cooling trend that was interrupted by the "Medieval Warm Period": they grew wine grapes in Scotland and the Vikings raised sheep in Greenland until the Little Ice Age hit around A.D. 1350, lasting until around 1850 and nearly freezing to death General Washington and the Continental Army at Valley Forge in the winter of 1777-78. No industrial revolution had yet occurred to release massive amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere; all of these events are well recorded in historical, geological, and archeological records, although some members of the climate change alarmist sect conveniently forget and dismiss these annoyances of established history.

Unfortunately, ethical challenges to the peer review process of scientific papers supporting warnings of catastrophic climate change consequences continually appear. The "climate gate" scandal of the 1990s where climate alarmists deliberately exaggerated worst-case scenarios to motivate elected policy makers to enhance academic research budgets was revealed in a series of pilfered emails and confirmed to be true.

Withholding of source data from other scientists and preventing adequate peer-review has been the norm accompanied by refusal to acknowledge legitimate dissent within the academic atmospheric research community. Instead, persecution of dissenting scientists by politicians and those with academic reputations at stake has become commonplace, including disparagement of those daring to question any part of the science as "deniers" thereby associating dissent with deniers of the Nazis' mass murder of Jews.

The weight of real scientific inquiry is steadily undermining the hysterical alarmist claims of certain and immediate doom: The most recent study challenges NASA, NOAA, and the UK Met Office global average surface temperature (GAST) datasets "as being the result of adjustments made to the datasets after temperatures were recorded, calling into question how much global warming is real and how much assumed." Refusing to discuss or accept rigorous challenge to scientific hypothesis, theory, or data is not science but indoctrination.

The policies advocated by "climate alarmists" will be draconian for billions; nothing is settled, and the public deserves a critical discussion of climate issues, led by an adversarial press, not the "lapdog poodles" they've become. Δ

Al Fonzi is an Army lieutenant colonel of military intelligence who had a 35-year military career, serving in both the Vietnam and Iraq wars. Send comments through the editor at clanham@newtimesslo.com.

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