On Jan. 8 a letter by Steve Singleton entitled "CO2 is beneficial to the planet" was published. Singleton is right: greenhouses gases are beneficial to the planet, in moderation.
In fact, with no greenhouse gases, the Earth's surface would be an average temperature of zero degrees Fahrenheit and life as we know it could not exist. Luckily, a blanket of gases, one of which is CO2, surrounds the Earth and absorbs heat from the sun as infra-red radiation.
Instead of reflecting back into space, this heat remains in our atmosphere and keeps the Earth at a temperature suitable for life. Just as a blanket is welcomed by someone who is cold, it can be stifling to someone who is warm. Our planet is warming up, and our blanket of gas is becoming stifling, making things uncomfortable for life on Earth.
We know the Earth is warming; in the last 130 years the average surface temperature has gone from 57 degrees to 59 degrees. We know that CO2 traps heat; it is a physical property of the molecule observed in laboratory experiments. We know that levels of CO2 in our atmosphere are increasing; CO2 was measured at 316 parts per million in 1959 and 387 ppm in 2009.
We know that certain human activities, such as burning fossil fuels and logging, release CO2; again, this is a chemical reaction that has been measured.
We also know that the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere is directly correlated with an increase in these human activities beginning with the Industrial Revolution in the mid-18th century; for 10,000 years before 1750, the atmospheric content of CO2 was at a stable 280 ppm.
For most scientists, those facts are enough to know that humans have caused the climate to change. In fact, according to CNN survey of 3,146 scientists, 97 percent of climatologists involved in climate research agreed that humans have played a role in global climate change.
Of course, there are some who don't agree, only 47 percent of petroleum geologists share that view.
In Singleton's letter, he attributes the theory of climate change to scammers with entrenched interests.
According to this survey, entrenched interests do play a part in consensus on climate change, for petroleum geologists have a financial interest in keeping us on a fuel system that benefits them in the short term but is detrimental to the long-term health of this planet.