This Letter of the Day to the Barrie Examiner from local resident Mike Fox was written to respond to a couple of rather misleading (or outright fallacious) articles, one of which also criticized me specifically.
Once again I am compelled to comment on the barrage of misinformation presented by columnists in this paper. I respect that everyone is entitled to their opinion, but it infuriates me that those opinions are riddled with statements that many readers might assume are based on fact. Columns are apparently much more interesting when you simply fabricate facts to support your point of view.
Case in point is a column by Lorne Gunter in Tuesday’s paper that states the Earth hasn’t warmed in the last 16-17 years, therefore debunking any claims of global warming. Well just to verify this I went to Goddard Institute for Space Studies (Division of NASA) to look at their Surface Temperature Analysis. Low and behold, I find a series of graphs displaying the average annual temperatures over the past century and they all show a steady increase. Most notable is the spike upwards over the past 30 years (which coincidentally parallel a massive increase in the fossil fuel usage that Mr. Gunter argues is not causing any change). This information can be found at www.data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs_v3/
My true frustration was in reading today’s paper with a column by Barrie’s own Paulo Fabrizio, where under the illusion of stating fact he tries to argue that fears of global warming are overstated. Unfortunately, his column is riddled with misinformation, unsubstantiated claims and even more disturbing, personal attacks (albeit anonymously) on an individual who has a much different point of view on the subject.
His lack of knowledge of the topic becomes apparent when he talks about global warming which is an issue of climate change and then offers that weather is unpredictable. Anyone with any understanding of climate science would know that weather and climate are two entirely different terms. Weather (meteorology) is what is going on around us at any given time. It changes from moment to moment, region to region and season to season. Climate (climatology) is the long term study of conditions that are impacted by the land mass, bodies of water and the layers of our atmosphere. Climate is typically measured in periods of 30 years or more.
He goes on to compare some unnamed ‘Polar Bear movie’ to a soda commercial claiming that movies are manipulative. Perhaps he is referring to last year’s release of ‘Chasing Ice’. This movie, by award winning National Geographic photo-journalist documents the melting of several glaciers around the world using time lapse photography over several years. The results are both incredible and shocking. The film received over 30 awards and accolades for its unquestioned display of the reality of our warming planet.
He then goes on to state (as if it were fact) that in Barrie, winters are colder and longer than ever. Well I have lived in Barrie for 25 years and I would have to disagree. Over the past 30 years the average temperature in Barrie has increased. Summer, winter and overall annual temperatures have steadily gone up. www.climateontario.ca/doc/publications/datasheet_barrie.pdf
Next Paulo would suggest that global warming/climate change is a hoax perpetrated by high paid scientists who want to validate the ‘millions’ of dollars they receive to pay their salary. The reality here is that while a few tenured university professors studying climate change earn $100K+, the average climate scientist earns much less. On the other hand, the average compensation for oil executives is measured in millions and CEO packages can be tens of millions. Who has the most incentive here to twist the facts?
Finally I would like to comment on Paulo’s personal attack on a single individual in his column. This is a low blow and I find equally despicable that the editor would allow it. The really telling point is that he criticizes the ownership of a second home for rental purposes! He starts his column stating his belief in capitalism yet criticizes one of the most practiced (and totally legal) avenues for the common citizen to partake in self employment; being a landlord.
Perhaps this paper needs to be more selective in the people they engage as columnists. Or perhaps they too believe that facts should never get in the way of a good story.
Mike Fox, Barrie
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