Get the facts correct

Randi Pokladnik

Letters to the editor The Parkersburg News and Sentinel

Nov 20, 2021

A Nov. 13 letter titled “U.S. Weather Bureau Report” was a classic example of unsubstantiated claims. The author refers to the November 1922 edition of the Monthly Weather Review, titled “The Changing Arctic.” The report details the observations of both Norwegian scientist Dr. Hoel and Captain Martin Ingebrigsten. Both noted a dramatic increase in Arctic Sea temperatures around the Spitzbergen region between 1920-39. They also noted a lack of sea ice and disappearing glaciers. The geographic features of the region were “almost unrecognizable” from those of the same area from 1868-1917.

The report provided scientific evidence the region was experiencing the effects of a warming planet. Scientists did NOT claim “in just 18 months the earth will melt away.” However, a simple search of NASA data shows that indeed, glaciers all around the world are melting and this melting directly coincides with the increased burning of carbon-based fuels. Even the United States Geological Survey “climate gurus” report our own Glacier National Park has seen a 60 percent loss of glacier ice since 1966.

I was studying environmental engineering in college during the 1970s and none of my professors claimed “in as little as 3-7 years the oceans would entirely cover all land masses.” I would like to see the source of that statement. Ironically, if we had started to address carbon dioxide emissions in the 1970s our planet would be in a much better position to stave off the worst effects of the climate crisis.

The author goes on to claim that “CO2 spewed out in the eruption of one single volcanic event measures greatly more than humans (and moose and cattle) have collectively emitted since life began.” That is incorrect.

In a 2011 peer reviewed paper, U. S. Geological Survey scientist Terry Gerlach summarized data from previous global volcanic carbon dioxide emissions reaching back to the 1970s. The emissions of carbon dioxide measured about 0.2 billion tons per year on average.

In 2015, between fossil fuel combustion, land deforestation, and cement production, man-made emissions totaled about 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide, 200 times greater than volcanic action. To put our emissions in perspective, eruptions from “Mount St. Helens and Pinatubo released carbon dioxide on a scale similar to human output for about nine hours.”

The “Draconian measures” the writer says we will be subjected to include new jobs in the renewable energy sector, which employs almost twice as many workers as fossil fuels. It also includes new jobs in energy efficiency, electric car manufacturing and green building construction. All beneficial to our wallets and the economy.

American taxpayer dollars, $20 billion annually, are used to prop up the very industry that is the main contributor to climate change. The U.N. Development Program recently calculated the world spends $423 billion each year to subsidize oil, gas and coal — about four times the amount needed to help poor countries address climate change.

Exxon Mobil knew as early as 1977 their products were contributing to climate change, yet they spent decades and millions of dollars refusing to publicly acknowledge climate change and instead promoted climate misinformation.

Those “Godless scientific experts” the letter writer belittles are correct. He, however, is not. Refusal to accept scientific data will not bode well for our children’s futures.

Randi Pokladnik


Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action member