To the Editor:
I am very disappointed that the Independent would publish a letter filled with so many inaccuracies, inconsistencies, and utter nonsense as the “Stop panicking over global warming inaccuracies” letter from the December 27th issue.
As someone who has her bachelor’s degree in biology and natural resource conservation and a master’s in marine science, I know that simple sounding facts are easy to digest, but based on all that I’ve learned in my many years of classes and research, almost everything in this letter is completely wrong.
I understand that climate change is a sensitive issue and the Independent wants to show different sides of an issue, but I hoped as a quality newspaper, the Independent would publish facts, instead of perpetuating lies in such a poorly written letter.
I am curious where Charles E. Schuster got his information. Just about everything he said is wrong (from a purely scientific standpoint, not an opinion on whether climate change is real).
The Independent publishing such an inaccurate letter devoid of any references to back up these claims forces me to question the journalistic quality and integrity of any other articles published in the Independnt.
To refute all of Mr. Schuster’s points would require more writing than most audiences would interested to read, though I would be happy to do so if you would like.
In an effort to save space, I direct anyone wanting to learn more about this issue to read information produced by NOAA (where qualified scientists are actively researching all these issues) and their YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/NOAAClimate/feed?disable_polymer=1).
One point that really bothered me and showed how Mr. Schuster may not understand basic science is his fourth point about the melting ice caps.
Without getting into the consequences of their melting, basic science shows us that ice has a larger volume than liquid water (i.e. less dense).
If ice had a smaller volume than liquid water, as Mr. Schuster claims, ice would sink and the bottom of the oceans would be frozen solid.
That ice has a higher volume than water is easily shown by putting a plastic water bottle full of water into the freezer and then seeing how the plastic bulges after all the water is frozen.
Mr. Schuster defends this fact that ice has a higher volume than water with his shaved ice example, so I’m not sure if he made a typo about the ice caps floating on liquid water, or is uninformed about basic physics.
I sincerely agree with Mr. Schuster that we must fact check everything and I am so saddened that obviously the Indpendent did no such thing.
My two biggest takeaways are first, that a letter claiming scientific facts should not be published unless it includes references (websites, books, peer reviewed articles, etc) so that others can do their own fact checking and come to their own conclusions.
Anyone can make up their own true-sounding “facts” and that’s how fake news has become such a problem in this country. I would hope that the Independent does not contribute to this problem.
My second takeaway is probably the most important thing to know about climate change, and if you know and understand only one thing this should be it: the RATE of change of the average global temperature is the main concern, not just that average global temperature is warming.
Yes, the average temperate of our planet has changed throughout its history, but never before have we seen such RAPID warming as we do now (simple illustration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-A0VMI6CuKk). The rate of change is more concerning that the change itself.
I hope that in the future, the Independent will have a higher standard for publishing letters by requiring sources and references if a letter makes any kind of factual claim (whether it be scientific, historical, political, etc). And I hope that the Independent will fact check all letters for scientific, historical, political, etc accuracy as they presumably do for their own articles.
M.S. Virginia Institute of Marine Science