I was initially annoyed by Alan Moore’s recent piece on the opinion page in Broadside; I’m now thankful for the opportunity to set the record straight. After thoroughly refuting the baseless claims he made in his last piece about climate change that appeared in Broadside, I can’t pass up the chance to further educate Mr. Moore on the truth about climate
change and the so-called “Climategate” scandal.

However, doing so is easier said than done; like his previous piece, this one is so chock-full of errors it would take pages to refute them all. In fact, the quality of Mr. Moore’s arguments is so ridiculously feeble that I’m assuming most people that had the misfortune of reading them realized what they are: a distasteful and deceitful attempt to mislead the George Mason University community. That said, I will point out the inaccuracies in some of his more inflammatory claims.

First of all, the so-called “Climategate” scandal is a non-issue. To give you a little background, the scandal in question is the result of computer servers at the Climate Research Center in the U.K. being hacked in late last November.

The perpetrators of the crime released stolen e-mails to the public that skeptics claimed showed that the data that climate science is based on has been misrepresented. Skeptics took a few key sentences out of thousands of pages and used them out of context to try to make the public think that the scientists that wrote the e-mails were trying to make the data fit their conclusions.

The truth is that the e-mails in question did no such thing. The fact that climate change is real, caused by humans and is having dramatic negative effects across the planet has never really been in question as a result of these e-mails.

Bernard Finel directs research on counterterrorism, defense policy and climate change as a senior fellow at the American Security Project. He had this to say in The Washington Post about the so-called controversy: “While skeptics are doing a valuable service by pointing out ambiguous data or weak arguments, there is no compelling alternative to the core consensus, which is simply that greenhouse gases contribute to climate change and that human activity contributes to greenhouse gas
concentrations in the environment.”

David Hales, president of College of the Atlantic, the first college in the U.S. to become carbon neutral, probably summed the whole thing up best: “A few of the e-mails released — if they are accurate and not manufactured — should embarrass the authors of those e-mails,” David Hales stated recently in The Washington Post. “But they have nothing to do with the soundness of the basic science.”

He goes on to say, “Taken as a whole, the stolen material strengthens the scientific basis for concern and emphasizes the need for urgent and decisive action — far more than the pallid measures being considered by the United States Congress.”

Not only is the science not in question, it keeps piling up. According to a report released last week by NASA, “2009 was tied for the second warmest year in the modern record.” In fact, over the last 30 years, “the Goddard Institute for Space Studies surface temperature record shows an upward trend of about 0.2°C (0.36°F) per decade . . . In total, average global temperatures have increased by about 0.8°C (1.4°F) since 1880.” Furthermore, NASA reports that, “January 2000 to December 2009 was the warmest decade on record” and that 2009 was also the warmest year on record in the Southern Hemisphere.

Mr. Moore makes an unsupported claim that “only 34 percent of the country rightfully believes that global warming is caused by man.” Even if that were true, separate studies released on the same day last month, one conducted by USA TODAY and the other by the Associated Press, show that Americans want the U.S. to take action to combat global warming.

The USA TODAY poll shows that the majority of people in this country feel that the U.S. should sign a binding international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The AP poll shows that the majority of Americans think the U.S. should be doing a “great deal/quite a bit” to combat global warming.

Perhaps the most offensive sentence in his entire piece is when Mr. Moore asks, “Do eco-radical liberals come from such privileged lives that they really think that there aren’t serious problems in the world like starvation, poverty, war and disease?

” What makes that question particularly odious is the fact that climate change is responsible, at least in part, for starvation, poverty, war and disease around the world.

Mr. Moore fails to understand why so-called eco-radicals such as the Environmental Action Group, the Office of Sustainability, the Center for Climate and Society, as well as the majority of Americans,
feel the need to take action on climate change.

Because not doing so would spread starvation, poverty, war and disease throughout the world. According to the World Health Organization, “many important diseases are highly sensitive to changing temperatures and precipitation. These include common vector- borne diseases such as malaria and dengue, as well as other major killers such as malnutrition and diarrhea.” Furthermore, the WHO states that “Climate variability and change cause death and disease through natural disasters, such as heat waves, floods and droughts.”

The Center for Naval Analysis Corporation, a national security think-tank based in Arlington, released a report in late 2007 titled National Security and the Threat of Climate Change. The study, authored in part by eleven retired U.S. admirals and generals, states that “Projected climate change poses a serious threat to America’s national security.

The predicted effects of climate change over the coming decades include extreme weather events, drought, flooding, sea level rise, retreating glaciers, habitat shifts and the increased spread of life-threatening diseases.”

According to retired Marine Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, as reported by the Los Angeles Times, “We will pay for this one way or another. We will pay to reduce greenhouse gas emissions today . . . or we’ll pay the price later in military terms. And that will involve human lives.” Obviously, as the polls show, most people now realize that we can’t wait to stop the climate crisis.

As I stated in my last response to Mr. Moore, George Mason University is committed to climate neutrality. That means, as an institution, we are committed to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions to zero. In order to reach that goal, we’ll need the help of every person in the Mason community.

In the coming months, the Office of Sustainability, in conjunction with many other Mason departments and organizations, will be conducting extensive outreach efforts to make people aware of our commitment and to solicit their help in reaching the goal of climate neutrality.

Perhaps one of the things we can organize is an open debate between Mr. Moore and myself. Such an event would give the Mason community the opportunity to learn the facts about climate change and clear up any misconceptions they may have because of Mr. Moore’s unsubstantiated claims.

Colin Bennett
The Office of Sustainability