Mailbag: Climate-change science is immune to politics

September 03, 2013

Re. "Mailbag: Rohrabacher is right - earth is cooling," (Aug. 26): Letter writer Jason Pitkin seems to have mistaken science for politics, in the same way that Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) has.

My original letter made no mention of political "sides," and neither will this one, except when quoting Pitkin, because "sides" are not relevant in the realm of scientific debate.

And in response to Pitkin's letter, I too have read many rebuttals of global warming, but I've read those rebuttals in "letters to the editor" sections of newspapers, rather than in scientific literature. The scientific literature — backed by data, supported by thousands of scientists, and accepted as overwhelmingly likely to be true by the scientific community — is clear on this.


Science is not tribal. It doesn't stubbornly adhere to incorrect ideas simply because people have already picked a side and don't want to be seen to flip-flop. In fact, scientists are generally overjoyed to prove themselves wrong. These are the most exciting discoveries.

Any scientist who is definitively able to objectively and dispassionately disprove the global-warming hypothesis would become incredibly noteworthy. It is in the interest of scientists to go against the grain, and every scientist wants that "eureka!" moment.

And yet, the vast majority of scientific literature acknowledges that the activities of human beings are having a negative effect on the climate that sustains us. The reason for this is what the evidence says.

Science is not "embarrassed" by modifying its terminology. In this case, the change in terminology was to better explain "global warming" to the public, since it refers to an overall long-term global trend of warming temperatures, not to small, localized differences in the daily temperature.

Somehow, "conservatives" like Pitkin and Rohrabacher have taken on this issue as if it is a political, not scientific, one. Something where one side "wins" and the other "loses." This is not what the scientific community stands for.

The scientific community is interested in advancing the truth as best as it can figure it out, based on evidence, and trying to improve the world by finding out more about it. Denial and obstructionism, as Rep. Rohrabacher and Pitkin have shown, are not productive.

This is not about sides; it's about science. Scientists are not attempting to score points on their political opponents — science should not have political opponents.

The record has already been set straight, and it has been set straight by evidence. The evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of human-influenced climate change. This is not opinion. This is not science "taking sides." This is science examining evidence and coming to a conclusion based on the evidence.

Rohrabacher should acknowledge this, and "conservatives" like Pitkin should not take pride in denying evidence for the sake of politics.

Jamie Dow

Newport Beach

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