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Uninformed non-science nonsense again running wild

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On May 13, non-scientist Rolf Westgard again published climate change nonsense in the Brainerd Dispatch. This time, his article was a bit of Gish Gallop, a series of small error-filled arguments that make it hard to respond but I’ll do my best.

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Mr. Westgard claims that the greenhouse effect violates the second law of thermodynamics. This is unequivocally wrong. In fact, students in my undergraduate courses know it is wrong. Scientists in the 1800s knew it is wrong when it was first discovered. But Mr. Westgard must also know it is wrong because later he changed story and wrote that the greenhouse effect associated with water molecules is important to the Earth. So, he disagrees with himself.

What did Mr. Westgard get right? Well he is correct that there was a report issued last week which deals with the present and future impacts of climate change in the United States. That report identified things we are already seeing with climate change and things we expect to see in the future. More intense hurricanes, more drought, particularly in the Southwest US. More intense rainfall, and more flooding. Scientists are already observing these changes. In fact we are seeing it right here in Minnesota. People in California, Texas, Oklahoma, and other parts of the U.S. are seeing this right now. People in the Southeast U.S. are also seeing this occur.

His comments on hurricanes were misleading. As I have written before, there is a clear trend toward more intense hurricanes in the Atlantic. The busiest year was 2005 (with 28 named storms). The third, fourth and fifth busiest years were 2012, 2011 and 2010. Two of the most damaging hurricane seasons were within the past decade. Also, the two largest storms on record were in the past three years. Finally, eight of the most expensive 10 storms were within the past decade.

Finally, have insurance costs risen from extreme weather? An unequivocal “yes.” Just see what the world’s largest reinsurance companies are saying. Westgard’s comments about insured losses within short time spans like five years are irrelevant. Climate change has been happening over decades.

I and many colleagues study this important topic every day of our lives. Mr. Westgard has never done any climate research in his life. Listening to him on this important topic is not wise. It is time to listen to people who know what they are talking about.

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