Heated Views

September 8th, 2008

Professor Emeritus of Geological Sciences and global-warming skeptic Robley Matthews attempts to counter the fact that he is a paid consultant to the oil industry with the contention that scientists who study global warming are motivated by a seemingly limitless flow of government money supporting their research ("The Planet Will Be Fine," May/June). Given the skepticism of the U.S. government about global warming, this is a rather startling assertion.

The Kyoto Protocol is the most significant international agreement dealing with global warming, yet on July 25, 1997, the U.S. Senate voted, 95–0, against signing the Protocol, even though doing so would be a purely symbolic act.

Although Vice President Al Gore did eventually sign the Protocol, the Clinton Administration never submitted the agreement for the critical step of ratification. Today, the United States and Kazakhstan are the only signatories to the treaty who have not ratified it.

The Bush Administration has systematically attempted to manipulate and distort the scientific evidence regarding global warming and to muzzle government scientists who attempt to make public that evidence.

I wish that we, in reality, had a government as willing to address this looming catastrophe as Professor Matthews erroneously asserts it is.

Bob Siegel '67
New York City


I beg to differ with the letter writers who responded to your article on Brown professors researching climate change. The fact that climate change is occurring, and that it is due primarily to anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, is supported by strong scientific evidence that grows stronger almost daily.

First, it is an uncontested fact that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are rising (as measured on Mauna Loa, Hawaii, for example). Second, we can determine that fossil fuel combustion and other human activities are responsible for this rise through conducting global carbon budgets, and through isotopic studies. Third, the historical record shows us that every time carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have risen, global temperatures have also gone up. The fact that we are seeing higher temperatures and other changes in climate regimes around the world bolsters these lines of evidence even further.

I feel confident that any BAM readers who dive into the wealth of data and research available on this topic will come to the same conclusion I have: global climate change is happening, and it's primarily due to human activities.

Laura Schmitt Olabisi '99
Saint Paul, Minn.

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Related Issue
September/October 2008