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Not enough angry smart people

From: Michon Scott, Lakewood, CO:

I have been reading some of the responses to Roger Ebert's review of "An Inconvenient Truth. " I see that Mr. Ebert doesn't make his own email address readily available. Considering the letters he gets, this is not hard to understand. But I would like to thank him for his review of the film and, more importantly, for "getting it" about the so-called controversy regarding whether global warming is real and has anything to do with us.

So you can consider the source: I work as a science writer and Web designer at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), part of a larger research institute at the University of Colorado-Boulder. NSIDC has announced, for the last few years now, record lows in Arctic sea ice cover, ice shelf breakup in the Antarctic Peninsula, and the resulting acceleration of glaciers that once fed the shattered ice shelf. My salary is actually paid by NASA to work on a Web site called the Earth Observatory, which deals with all aspects of Earth observation from space. Global warming occasionally surfaces there, too. I am, however, writing as a private citizen, not as a representative of CU or NASA.


A couple research scientists at NSIDC actually vetted Al Gore's recent article in "Vanity Fair." They felt that a couple things were overstated, but that overall the science was right. And another research scientist there once put it very plainly to me: "It may be 15 years before we have an air-tight case that we're causing global warming. But the real question is, what are we going to do in those 15 years?" Sure, there is room for debate, and any responsible scientist will tell you that we haven't figured out precisely where natural variability ends and anthropogenic change begins, but one of those scientists who vetted Al Gore's article used to be a fence sitter about climate change, and now he's not. The evidence is adding up.

It appears lots of people are accusing Mr. Gore (and Mr. Ebert) of being narrow-minded in saying the debate's over. But insisting the debate continue is, to my mind, a rather cheap, cynical ploy to put off doing anything. What, if anything, will ever end the debate? Eighty years after the Scopes Monkey Trial, the town of Dover put evolution on trial again. When the (church-going, Republican, Bush Jr.-appointed) judge handed down a ruling the creationists didn't like or expect, they called him Scalia-like. As theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss points out, "People like to say there are two sides to everything, and everything's open to debate. But some sides are wrong. The Earth, for instance, is not flat. How do we know? Because we can go around it. End of story."

Finally, I'd like to share with you what one of NSIDC's librarians wrote me about Mr. Ebert's critics:

Wow! Some of these folks are scary. For example, "Moreover, I see that politics drives climatology as surely as it did Germany's racist brand of anthropology." I really hope they aren't reproducing. This is why I had to leave the public library. Too many angry stupid people. Not enough angry intelligent people. I wonder why that is....
Please tell Mr. Ebert to keep up the good fight.

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