More cringing on false statements
As a scientist, I cringe whenever I read mangled facts such as those from Mr. Rolf Westgard, published June 26 (Scary Images). Mr. Westgard frequently writes about climate change and frequently makes serious errors. This latest letter is no diffe...
As a scientist, I cringe whenever I read mangled facts such as those from Mr. Rolf Westgard, published June 26 (Scary Images). Mr. Westgard frequently writes about climate change and frequently makes serious errors. This latest letter is no different. It is important for your readers to get accurate information about this complex subject so we can make informed decisions.
What were his mistakes? First, Mr. Westgard claimed there is no role for carbon dioxide on human respiratory health such as asthma and heart attacks. Your readers can visit the Minnesota Department of Health climate change website which states that, "Climate change affects air quality and exposure to air pollutants in many ways. Specific air pollutants that are likely to be increased by climate change and result in negative health impacts include particulate matter, ozone, and pollen and mold ... Mold growth also is enhanced by climate change from increasing temperatures and precipitation. Mold can cause coughing, wheezing, nasal and throat irritation, and can have greater impact on persons with asthma or weakened immune systems ... Others who may have an increased sensitivity include individuals with an existing health condition, such as: asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease, allergies."
So Mr. Westgard's non-scientific view is at odds with experts who work on this issue every day. But, Mr. Westgard made other seriously misleading statements. For instance, he claimed that humans emit humans half a ton of carbon dioxide each year by exhaling. He neglected to tell us that all of that carbon dioxide was originally drawn out of the atmosphere by the plants which we eat. Consequently, humans are not net emitters of carbon dioxide through breathing, period. Finally, Mr. Westgard suggested that carbon dioxide is good for plants but he neglected to tell readers that scientists have now shown that many plants are becoming less nutritious in a carbon rich environment.
These errors and omissions show why we (and Mr. Westgard) should listen a little more closely to our health and climate experts - those who work on this topic every day. It is time we work together on sensible solutions to solve this climate change problem, but to do that, we need accurate information.
Dr. John Abraham
Thermal Sciences professor
University of St. Thomas