Letter to the Editor: Nitpicking at molehills while the climate trainwreck has already started

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I think that the “give” in a recent commentary by David T. Stevenson (“Energy director gives UD offshore wind research an F,” April 28) might, itself, deserve an F. I would like to explain why.

Any specific study is carried out only for one of two purposes. One purpose is to be fair and comprehensive and get the truth. Another purpose is to start with a predetermined or preferred conclusion and then develop a supporting argument.

The first kind of study is very, very hard to do and can take a long time.

The second kind is intended as misinformation or disinformation and usually helps a political agenda or somebody’s profit motive rather than produce truth, justice or fairness. It depends on cherry-picking supporting details and hiding details that negate the conclusion. It is an artform rather than science. And it is a “kangaroo court.”

Stevenson‘s commentary cites many numbers while criticizing a University of Delaware offshore wind research paper and its assumptions. I would want to see Mr. Stevenson’s “full research paper” critiquing the UD report and see for myself if maybe his research is or is not all squeaky-clean.

A proper criticism of the UD report would, itself, be about equally long and have its own website link where anyone could get a downloadable copy for proper scrutiny.

A link to the UD study showed me a 50-page downloadable report. I did download it and paged through it. It had the names of over a dozen reviewers and contributors and cited over two dozen references. It had many graphs and tables. It would take a month of my time, 40 hours per week, to properly review it, including reading all the references. So I cannot, now, give it a “thumbs-up” or “thumbs-down” grade.

I listened to the audio record of an interview with Stevenson on The Rick Jensen Show (post.futurimedia/wdel/playlist/listen-5580.html). To me, it sounded a lot like something on the Rush Limbaugh show. Readers can connect the dots at their discretion.

Who am I to criticize? Long ago, I was principal investigator (with collaborators) for a nuclear study, and I authored two unclassified U.S. Army military project reports about that study (56 and 70 pages, respectively, and full of references). The study and report writing took almost two years of full-time work. The reports were published some decades ago. They were meant to promote the unit mission. They were all legal and proper and not dishonest, but going into counterarguments would be, obviously, “off-mission” (get my drift?). My reports can be found by a search of my name at worldcat.org. Others of my peer-reviewed publications can be found by a search of my name at scholar.google.com.

Mr. Stevenson ends his commentary with (1) vague references to “other (electricity) generation options” but no specific details, analyses or sources, and (2) what clearly appears to me to be an anti-mandate attitude by asking why a mandate is needed (this throws a political “can of worms” into the pot).

Without going into details about my “two cents” on the subject, my casual and continuous monitoring of the news says that, first, renewable-electricity generation has been the fastest-growing segment in most of the world in the last few years, and, second, the climate change “trainwreck” we are going to see some few decades from now is going to be of epic proportions.

There are two more new items for world climate disaster forecasts. The first one is about extra carbon release from recent worldwide above-average record wildfires (do an internet search on “wildfires Siberia”) and deforestation from slash-and-burn agriculture (internet search on “deforestation facts”). Internet sources say that climate change has caused, recently, the worst-yet drought and heat wave crop damage in India and Pakistan. Crop yields are said to be down some 50%.

The second item is the recent discovery from high-precision special satellite radar measures of 100 or more coastal cities worldwide that are sinking faster (1-2 inches per year) than sea levels are rising! You can get a free download of the original primary source journal report that I saw if you search on this title: “Subsidence in coastal cities throughout the world observed by InSAR,” in the journal Geophysical Research Letters (accepted March 2022, open access). My search led to many other recent reports of subsidence rates discovered to be faster than sea level rise. This means that coastal city flooding will come much sooner than what sea level rise, alone, would predict.

Personally, I am pleased with the rapid rate of worldwide progress in renewable-energy installation and electrification of transportation. On the other hand, I fear that still too few people realize how bad the environmental trainwreck will be. It is a very easy calculation that, if all Antarctic ice melted tomorrow, sea level would rise by at least a hundred feet.

Quite frankly, Stevenson’s nit-picking is a molehill compared to the climate trainwreck threat facing our whole planet.

Arthur E. Sowers

Harbeson