letter to the editor

Against picking cherries

Mon, 01/16/2023 - 2:45pm

Dear Editor:

Last week (Jan. 12 issue) in his letter to this newspaper, Joe Grant did some painstaking research and has provided us with a number of single years in which record-high temperatures were recorded and certified; of these, only two occurred in this young century.

What remains unclear is his purpose in presenting this data; his final paragraph implies climate-change denial. He concludes by rightly urging us to do our own “due diligence” when pondering global heat records.

Is it possible that he has made the common mistake of confusing “weather” with “climate?” We all share anecdotes of crazy weather extremes (8 degrees here on Wednesday morning, 52 right now) without existential angst. Widen the angle and consider annual, decadal, and centuries-long temperature trends: the small-talk is over.

Scientists average 30-year weather datasets to describe the climate of a given region. Temperature is only one of the variables to be measured; pressure, precipitation, wind, aerosols (dust, soot, ash, salt), atmospheric composition (carbon dioxides, methane, ozone), cloud cover, humidity, and insolation (amount of solar energy received on land or sea surface) are also quantified.

So what do these researchers say about our national and global climate trends?

Greenhouse gases rising steeply; arctic sea ice vanishing rapidly; ocean heat increasing dramatically; sea level climbing; spring snow declining. Why?

“Global average surface temperature has risen by 0.14 degrees F per decade since 1880, but the rate of warming since 1981 is more than twice that ... The nine years from 2013 to 2021 rank among the ten warmest years on record.” (NOAA’s climate.gov)

I respectfully disagree with Mr. Grant: The climate data does not look “unremarkable.”

Bill Hammond

Barters Island