Charles Krauthammer’s Feb. 22 column attacks climate science and scientists on the basis that the science is not “settled,” and those “who pretend to know exactly” what human-caused carbon dioxide emissions will cause at specific times in the future “are white-coated propagandists.”
Krauthammer’s straw man argument claims that climate scientists are predicting the exact timing of global warming effects. They are not. If anything, climate scientists are overly conservative in both the extent and timing of global warming impacts. What’s settled about the climate science of global warming is that the carbon dioxide we humans are releasing into the atmosphere is causing the unprecedented warming we are experiencing.
The fossil record informs us that atmospheric levels of heat-trapping carbon dioxide hovered reliably between 200-280 parts per million throughout humanity’s entire history. Now, due to human activities, carbon dioxide is nearing its highest concentration in human history: 400 ppm.
We must move now to rein in the production of carbon dioxide. Our best first step is to reflect the true cost of burning carbon-based fuels in how we price those fuels. A revenue-neutral carbon fee and dividend is the most promising proposal for doing that (see www.CitizensClimateLobby.org).