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Letter: Warmer periods in past don’t preclude man-made climate effects in present

I am writing in response to Francis Lake’s letter from Friday, April 27. Mr. Lake states that according to “UN IPCC reports one and two” Roman and medieval warm periods were warmer than what we are experiencing today. If he can provide page numbers from the documents he refers to that support his statements, I would like to see them.

I have searched these publications, and I have found information from both that contradicts his contention. The clearest example comes from IPCC 2, p. 5: “The limited available evidence from climate indicators suggest that the 20th century global mean temperature is at least as warm as any other century since at least 1400 AD. Data prior to that are too sparse to allow reliable estimation of global mean temperature.”

In other words, 20th century temperatures are at least as warm as 15th century temperatures (but no cooler) and that there isn’t enough reliable data to conjecture about temperatures during the Roman times. 

But the real point is that even if it were true that the global mean temperature was warmer during the medieval and Roman times, it would not invalidate the argument for climate change which is, that increasing the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases earth’s temperature. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased since the Industrial Revolution, and the planet has gotten warmer. Industrialization, which produces C02, is an artifact of human culture. Therefore, it is reasonable to believe humans are responsible, at least in part, for climate change.

Mr. Lake also has the misconception that climate scientists predict “earth-ending consequences that follow if we don’t act to reduce C02 emissions.” Climate scientist do not predict earth’s demise; that’s the business of astrophysicists.

The threat from climate change isn’t the destruction of the earth, but it is exactly in the area Mr. Lake seems most concerned: the economies of third world countries. They are the ones suffering the most right now from climate change (Martin Wolf, Financial Times, Oct. 17, 2017) and they are the ones who will suffer the most in the future, so to suggest increasing fossil fuel use in these countries as a solution to their economic problems is counterintuitive, to say the least.

Finally, Mr. Lake’s statement that climate change “is rejected by many renowned climate scientists around the world” is patently false. Rather “Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities.” (

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, year after year, supports the reality of man-made climate change. We are experiencing the warmest period on record. The damage from climate change is felt most by those least responsible, the underdeveloped countries, and there is near unanimity of consensus by climate scientists on what is happening to our planet.

Brian E. Moss


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