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Fairlawn man remains skeptical about global warming

3/27/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Letter to the Editor

To the editor:

I read with interest the March 6 letter to the editor title, “Granger man supports climate change theory.” Perhaps the Earth’s overall temperature average is increasing. I cannot say for sure, as I don’t access the raw data. Nevertheless, I remain skeptical as to how much of the perceived temperature increase is caused by mankind’s activities. I am even more skeptical, especially when I get the impression that many politicians are proposing solutions which would hamstring our economy.

I too have been trained as an engineer/scientist. One of the more powerful tools that I have taken is the branch of mathematics called statistics. In fact, statistics is being used to declare that human activity is causing global warning. The scientists perceive that the average reading of thermometers is increasing. They also claim to see the percentage of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air to be similarly increasing. The proponents for global warning then conclude that the rising carbon dioxide levels are causing global warming.

I think both Mark Twain and the 19th century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli once commented, “There are three kinds of lies: ‘lies, d...-lies, and statistics.’” They were warning us that the most subtle of lies comes through statistics. Statistics seems so true, yet it can mislead us. My statistics teacher verified this concern. She gave an interesting example. She showed a graph that had two curves on it. One curve showed how the eating of ice cream varied throughout the year. The other curve showed how the amount of crime varied throughout the year. The two curves followed each other pretty well. Based on these two curves, one could statistically claim that eating ice cream causes crime. But we know that both crime and eating ice cream varies more with the pleasantness of the outdoor weather, not because eating ice cream causes crime per se, or vice versa.  

Just because CO2 levels may be rising, and global temperatures may be rising, it does not mean that CO2 is directly causing rising temperatures. There are many other factors at play. I am no expert, but I know that the sun has an effect on our weather, and major volcano eruptions also have an effect. Furthermore, if I remember correctly, in the fall of 2012, the weather forecasters were predicting a bitter winter for Ohio in 2012-13. But the bitter winter came one year later. Our meteorologists are getting better, but if they cannot fully predict the weather months in advance, then I am skeptical about those who try to work up our fears about global warming, especially if our economy would be hamstrung, and we would end up having a negligible effect on the global temperatures.

John Burhoe, Fairlawn

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