Now wait a minute, Bill...
To the Editor:
A friend asked me the other night if I ever read fiction.
“Occasionally,” I replied, “I will read a Bill Scholly Letter to the Editor.”
After chastising David Belton for not understanding the “very difficult and knotty problem” of global warming,
Mr. Scholly writes: “Pssst and we should look into the statement that '96 percent of greenhouse [g]ases come naturally from the oceans,’ that just doesn’t sound quite right.”
It sounds right to me. The gas in question is water vapor. The oceans cover roughly 80 percent of the Earth’s surface, and water evaporates from the surface of the oceans. The current level of carbon dioxide in the air which is causing all this ruckus is 385 parts per million by volume, or 582 parts per million by weight. On a mild, pleasant day (77 degrees F, 50 percent relative humidity), the concentration of water vapor in the air by weight is 10,000 parts per million.
These numbers result in a calculated value of 94.5 percent. This is lower than Mr. Belton’s quoted figure of 96 percent, but in the same ballpark.
Perhaps Mr. Belton performed his calculation using concentrations by volume, or by assuming a higher average temperature or relative humidity. Mr. Scholly’s letter is one fallacy after another, beginning with the classic argumentum ad hominem, complete with scare quotes.
The scientists at OISM become “scientists,” their original research becomes “research,” the degreed scientists who signed the OISM petition become “scientists” with “degrees.” (Full disclosure: I am one of the Ph.D. scientists who signed that petition.)
Mr. Scholly describes Arthur Robinson, one of the founders of OISM, as an “eccentric renegade scientist.” I haven’t met Dr. Robinson, so I take Mr. Scholley’s word that he is eccentric. But renegade? A. Q. Khan is a renegade scientist, but Dr. Robinson’s crime appears to be that he disagrees with the opinions of Mr. Scholly.
Mr. Scholly fails to mention that Robinson has a Ph.D. from Cal Tech (not, the last time I checked, a hot bed of renegades), that he worked with Linus Pauling, that one of the cofounders of OISM was a Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, and so forth.
Apparently the fact that Dr. Robinson associates with an “ultra right wing conservative Christian” taints his ability to do science to Mr. Scholly’s satisfaction.
This is the fallacy of bad company. Presumably Mr. Scholly holds all physicists in contempt because they use the work of Johannes Kepler and Isaac Newton, two noteworthy religious zealots.
Another one of the “facts” that Bill Scholly fabricated is “The problem is, not one of the 31,000 signers [of the petition] works or has published peer-reviewed material pertaining to climate change.”
I found the web site that contains the petition, and there I found posted the first page of a reprint of a paper that was published in a peer-reviewed journal, authored by three of the signers of the petition, on the subject of climate change. This is a free country, and Mr. Scholly is perfectly free to make up any wild story and call it a fact. He is free to try to convince his fellow citizens that he knows what he is talking about, though that is increasingly an uphill struggle.
But while he is free to maintain delusions of rationality, I am free to discount his nonsense as (to use his phrase) “hack pseudo science.”
George L. Batten, Jr.