Global Warming Debate Kept Alive to Protect Profits, Prevent Regulation

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In a letter by Patrick Mosman titled “There Should Be Debate When it Comes to Climate Change,” (May 16) he claims that there has been no scientific debate reported in the newspapers on this issue as there was over quantum theory in the 1920s.

But newspapers have reported on scientific debates about climate change, especially during the 1990s, when many scientists engaged in debates on global warming that included various hypotheses put forward that negative feedback mechanisms, such as those involving clouds, would prevent global warming from worsening.

However, based on actual observations of temperature, it turned out that whatever effects any negative feedbacks had were overwhelmed by the accumulation of greenhouse gases and positive feedbacks and, therefore, global warming has continued. Basically, this debate among scientists largely ended around the end of last century, although not entirely as a few well-regarded scientists such as Richard Linzden from MIT disagreed with the vast majority of scientists and kept the debate going well into this century.

In addition to the debate that took place among scientists, there has also been a parallel debate in the public media that continues to this day, and the letters section of this newspaper provides a good example. This debate has been facilitated by disinformation about climate change from fossil fuel companies and well-funded right-wing institutions, and apparently will last as long as global warming continues.

Perhaps if humans can ever bring global warming to a halt the debate in the public media will finally end. However, the purpose of continuing this debate seems to be to prevent action to halt global warming in order to protect profits or avoid government regulation, so there is little reason to be optimistic about stopping global warming before it reaches catastrophic levels or ending the debate.

Robert Liebman
Mount Kisco

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