Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Political science 101

Curiously, I sometimes catch myself staring at the cleanup crews as I slowly drive by a recent auto accident. Just as curiously, I will admit, sometimes I scan David Reinhard's syndicated column to agonize over what ultra-conservative rhetoric he is preaching.

Last Wednesday's article dealt with the human effect on global warming. "But isn't ... the Arctic ice melting?" Mr. Reinhard asks, and then answers with, "According to the latest data from the Snow and Ice Data Center, sea ice extent on July 16, 2008 was 3.44 million square miles—a half-million square miles more than it was in July 2007." While the above is true, the same data include the fact that 3.44 million square miles was a half-million square miles below the 1979-2000 average, a significant scientific omission. It is misleading and harmful when people such as Mr. Reinhard only present selected pieces of information.

The same Snow and Ice Data Center recently reported that "officials said Tuesday (July 29) a chunk of ice about seven square miles in size broke off Canada's largest remaining ice shelf last week." The center also stated that "in a development consistent with climate change theories, an enormous icy plain broke free sometime last week and began slowly drifting into the Arctic Ocean. The piece had been a part of the shelf for 3,000 years." What should disturb the reader is Mr. Reinhard's quoting sources that actually contradict his conclusions.

Like many folks in the valley, I possess a deep fascination with the scientific process. It is misleading to reduce data to sound bites and I apologize for, like Reinhard, doing the same. Yet, there is no breakup of the global warming consensus. The only "breakup" I see is one of political inactivity as a result of confusing articles such as Reinhard's. Yes, science class still requires doing homework.

Buck Drew


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