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Climate alarmism 

Amy Hewes' commentary "Terracide in SLO County" (Sept. 20) was long on fear and very short on well-established facts on the state of the planet. I don't doubt her sincerity, but using fear of imminent climate catastrophe has been page 1 in the playbook promoting climate alarmism.

Hewes cited the threat from hurricanes, wildland fires, drought, heat waves, a dramatic rise in temperatures, and sea level rise as imminent threats to human survival on the planet. Her solution is to adopt the most extreme measures proposed by Gov. Brown and radical environmental groups to curtail greenhouse gas emissions, not to mention electing more Democrats to local, state, and federal offices. The last point reveals her real agenda.

I have to ask, if this is a true emergency with the fate of the earth and all life on the planet at stake ("safeguarding planetary existence") as Hewes stated, then why are we shutting down Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant? The 2,000 megawatts of electricity it generates are free of greenhouse gas emissions and would go a long way to providing power generation for an expansion of the electric car market. It's built and generating carbon-free electricity, alleviating the need for California to purchase power outside of the state, a good amount of which is generated via coal/gas-fired plants.

Wind and solar power both need backup from another reliable source, such as natural gas, to keep the electrical grid from crashing. In fact, it was expanded use of natural gas that allowed the USA to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1992 levels, the only nation to do so.

Hewes cited all of the usual talking points about an angry planet putting us all in peril, as if any of this is new.

Let's take on hurricanes first: The most powerful hurricane on record (going back to the late 19th century) to strike the U.S. mainland was the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935. It struck the Florida Keys and killed more than 400 people (half were WWI "Bonus Marcher" veterans shipped there by the Roosevelt administration to build a railroad and not evacuated by responsible government officials) with winds estimated to be between 186 to 200 mph, creating a storm surge of at least 18 feet. It washed a train off its tracks and obliterated the landscape. It was preceded by hurricanes that devastated Miami and the communities around Lake Okeechobee in 1926 and 1928 respectively. The latter storm killed more than 2,000 migrant workers. The first half of the 20th century saw the hottest and most violent weather on record, surpassing anything we've experienced today. We're being told that current weather is "the hottest on record" but that feat is being accomplished by re-writing the weather records of the 1930s.

I know that the historical record won't be accepted by some but, as I've written before, the science and operations officer of the National Hurricane Center disputed the association of hurricanes with climate change. He said, "There is no statistical change over a 130-year period. Since 1970, the number of hurricanes globally is flat." He also challenged the assertion that storm intensity is increasing and attributed such observations to better technology used to investigate hurricanes and obtaining better data.

The same can be attributed to drought with far more severe droughts historically recorded than present times, some lasting hundreds of years in California. According to Nature magazine, "drought has become shorter, less frequent and covers a smaller portion of the U.S. over the last century." The International Journal of Climatology published a study in 2016 stating that "drought frequency appears to have decreased during the 1901 through 2014 period."

Heatwaves are not uncommon but are often attributed to microclimate conditions, with urban "heat islands" playing a role as well. The predicted rise in temperatures is hotly disputed (excuse the pun) by reputable scientists pointing out that if every extreme measure advocated to "fight climate change" were perfectly implemented, global temperatures would be mitigated at best less than 0.04 degrees over 100 years, but at a cost of trillions of dollars. At most, temperatures are expected to rise as a result of natural processes coming out of the "Little Ice Age" (1300-1850) about 2 degrees per century, not the 8 degrees cited by Hewes. It was worse before: The Medieval Warm Period (900-1300) recorded temperatures that were much warmer than 20th century temperatures.

As for wildfires, foresters have been warning for years about the massive undergrowth and publicly owned wildlands poorly managed by government agencies being a conflagration waiting to happen. Housing developments in such areas exacerbate the danger by putting people in the path of powerful natural forces. That conflagration is now here, and climate change didn't make it happen, we did.

Finally, each and every alarmist "fact" about impending hazards has been addressed and refuted by reputable scientists and observable data, not climate models predicting imminent catastrophe. But then again, if the sky isn't falling, who will fund all those grants for climate research and keep environmental law firms employed? 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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