Editorial misrepresented facts on climate change 

Submitted by Jim McEvoy
Posted 5/25/21

Dear Editor:

This is in response to Kevin Killough’s editorial regarding climate change on May 6. There are a number of issues but I will focus on his use of the 2018 IPCC “Special …

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Editorial misrepresented facts on climate change 


Dear Editor:

This is in response to Kevin Killough’s editorial regarding climate change on May 6. There are a number of issues but I will focus on his use of the 2018 IPCC “Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius.”

The main theme of his piece is that climate activists and politicians with “agendas” are incorrectly misinterpreting the report by promoting a deadline of 2030 for acting on climate change. He cites study authors James Skea and Myles Allen, who clarified that the report does not say that global catastrophe will occur in 2030 as a result of a 1.5 degrees Celsius rise in mean global temperature. He concludes that we have time to solve the problem.

Mr. Killough does some misinterpretation of his own. He claims that the predicted 2030 to 2051 range by which we will reach 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming is a “worst-case scenario” due to the presence of a “natural warming trend.” Such ideology is a traditional climate change denier falsehood completely debunked by science. His statement that acting in a panic “could well cause far more harm than climate change ever could” is also a common denier meme that no scientist or serious policy expert promotes.

Killough’s recommendations to “accurately and scientifically assess the actual magnitude of the problem” and to do a “reasonable cost-benefit analysis of the proposed solutions” are also denier distractions intended to cloud the issue. The magnitude of the global warming problem and the needed solutions are well documented. There is no net benefit to global warming.

Mr. Killough is using the arguments now made by conservative think tanks that are referred to as “non-denier deniers.” They can no longer claim that global warming is a hoax but instead say that the scope of the problem is overstated and that actions to mitigate the effects of climate change will be economically destructive and environmentally insignificant. They come across as “reasonable” and aware of “the science,” but the goal is to generate confusion and doubt so that no or minimal action is taken. In effect, they are kicking the can down the road.

Mr. Killough neglects to mention most of the key facts in the report. One of the most important is that significant climate change impacts on natural and human systems are already being observed and will be greater and much more difficult to mitigate if global mean temperature increases significantly above, rather than being stabilized at, 1.5 degrees Celsius.

He also neglected additional important comments by report author Allen, who states that today’s teenagers are absolutely right to be angry about climate change. Allen expresses deep concern about geopolitical breakdown as global warming worsens. The IPCC report states that greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by half of their present levels by 2030 if mean global temperature is to be kept below 1.5 degrees Celsius. He emphasizes that we must act now, not in 2030. Every year that we don’t reduce emissions results in another 40 billion tons of CO2 that today’s teens must remove from the atmosphere in the future to preserve Arctic ice or the world’s corals. He calls climate change a “festering injustice” and that action is long overdue.

Those are significant omissions and are inexcusable. Your op-ed shows obvious confirmation bias and discomfort with climate change science, and especially the courageous activists who are calling out the powerful politicians and business interests. You have a duty to be accurate even when writing an opinion.

Jim McEvoy