Climate change is not about socialism

Published 10:07 am Friday, May 17, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

​​By D. McCoy

In Mr. Winter’s May 11 column titled, “The facts vs. climate control,” he suggests there is a conspiracy to make people fearful of climate change for the purpose of forming a “world socialist government.” 

Mr. Winter claims that climate change is not real because, presumably, thousands of climate scientists don’t realize that clouds can make a hot day a bit cooler and are part of a cycle that helps control global temperatures. In fact, thousands of climate scientists know that clouds are much more complex than Mr. Winter imagines.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Clouds have multiple effects on our climate. Indeed, some scientists spend their entire career studying the effects of clouds on global temperature. Mr. Winter explains that clouds can block heat from the sun, making the Earth’s temperature cooler. While this is true during the daytime, at night, these same clouds hold warmth from the Earth and do not allow it to cool as much as on clear nights.

Considering both day and night, lower clouds usually have a slight, overall cooling effect. But thin wispy clouds high in the sky trap more heat from the Earth than they reflect from the sun, so they tend to warm the Earth during both the day and night. Climate models estimate both the amount of cloud coverage and the types of clouds that will be more common as our climate changes. Climate scientists consider the overall effect of clouds on global temperatures to be small compared to warming from increasing heat-trapping gases such as carbon dioxide and methane.

Mr. Winter tried to bolster his argument by referencing John Clauser, a scientist, but not a climate scientist. In the world of science, expertise in a particular field of science is established by authoring peer-reviewed publications in the field. Before being accepted for publication, these papers are reviewed by other experts in the same field who confirm that the author’s conclusions are reasonable based on both the evidence presented and consideration of relevant, well-supported evidence published by others. The reviewers don’t necessarily agree with the author’s conclusions, but they recognize the conclusions as reasonable.

John Clauser has zero peer-reviewed publications in the field of climate science. In 2023, Clauser won the Nobel prize in physics for groundbreaking research he conducted in the 1970s on quantum mechanics. Since 1997, Clauser has been a self-employed private consultant. At the age of 80, after being awarded the Nobel prize for work in his youth, Clauser proclaimed that the consensus on climate science is wrong. His explanation considers some cloud effects and neglects other known effects. Another “authority” mentioned in Mr. Winter’s column is Ben Carson, who is a neurosurgeon and politician – again, someone who has never published peer-reviewed climate research.

As to Mr. Winter’s concern about creating too much fear of climate change, I agree that it is not good for people to focus on a few studies that show possible climate effects that are more extreme than the effects that most climate scientists think are more likely. But Mr. Winter’s fear of socialism may be better served by facing facts and drawing our attention to the many climate change solutions that don’t require socialism.

(This column by D. McCoy is in response to an earlier column by Ron Winter on climate change. McCoy lives locally as does Winter.)