04/10/2007: "Will Someone Ask A Question On My Behalf?"
Since I won't be able to attend the global warming conference on April 15 sponsored by the Spring Street International School and Navigating the Future, I'm writing to request that someone who does attend this conference ask a question on my behalf.
It's clear from the scientific evidence that the earth now is warming, and it's reasonable to assume that human activity plays at least some role. But climatologists tell us that the temperature of our planet has always fluctuated within a band of about 4 degrees Celsius. Moreover, the scientific evidence shows that the earth was "hottest" during the 11th and 12th centuries -- a period that climatologists call "The Medieval Climate Optimum". The coldest period -- what's called the "Little Ice Age" -- came late in the 18th century, just when our country was being founded. The earth's current temperature is, very roughly, halfway between these two extremes.
Here's my question: What caused the earth to become so hot during the 11th and 12th centuries?
I'm asking because -- to point out the obvious -- in those centuries human activity couldn't possibly have been the cause of the earth's warming. Yet from what I read, the organizers of this conference are convinced that human activity is the primary cause of the current warming trend. And they seem ready -- even eager -- to propose a range of economic and political measures to reverse or slow down the current warming trend whose impact on our lives, and on the lives of people throughout the world, will be enormous.
Until we know the answer to my question, doesn't it make more sense to -- so to speak -- hit the pause button, rather than to fast-forward with measures that may be irrelevant or, worse, destructive?
San Juan Island