By Roger A. Sabbadini

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Currently, modern science is being deconstructed and devalued. Consider the issue of climate change. For climate change deniers, no mountain of evidence will convince them that human activity has significantly contributed to global warming. President Donald Trump has reinforced the deniers by repeatedly referring to climate change as a hoax and has argued that the Chinese invented the concept to hurt U.S. industry.

A good example of erroneous denials of the science is the recent op-ed in The Bulletin authored by Paul deWitt, chair of the Deschutes Republicans, who argues that human activity “plays a minor role … (and the) … misguided belief that humans are the cause of climate change and carbon dioxide (CO2), a mostly harmless by-product of human activity, is the chief cause of global warming.” Mr. deWitt’s flawed assessment of climate change flies in the face of scientific fact and it is in direct opposition to climatologists of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other august scientific groups. DeWitt is also in contradiction to the U.S. defense and intelligence community as well as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), hardly left-wing progressive entities.

Recently, the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) consider climate change to be an “accelerant risk to insecurity” in that droughts, migration and scarcity issues directly and indirectly promote conflict and terrorism in areas of the world that are prone to political instability. According to the DoD’s report, “The United States will probably have to manage the impact of global human security challenges, such as threats to public health, historic levels of human displacement, assaults on religious freedom, and the negative effects of environmental degradation and climate change.” The DoD report goes on to describe accelerating sea level rise, heat waves, droughts, floods and food insecurity. Climate change will “discourage foreign investment and trade.” The DNI cautions in his report, “The effects of a changing climate are a national security issue with potential impacts to Department of Defense (DoD or the Department) missions, operational plans, and installations.” The IMF predicts that, “climate events also threaten global growth prosperity … those vulnerable to climate-related events face additional complex challenges of diversifying their economies.” The IPCC has warned us of the long-term and devastating effects of greenhouse emissions in warming the planet and that humans must reduce the amount of greenhouse gases we release into the atmosphere. The IPCC was created in 1988 to “provide policymakers with regular scientific assessments on climate change, its implications and potential future risks, as well as to put forward adaptations and mitigation options.” Since 1990, the IPCC has issued five reports and three special reports or supplements. All have withstood the worldwide scrutiny of thousands of scientific experts in the field.

As a scientist and a concerned citizen, I am in agreement with the DoD, DNI, IPCC and the IMF that climate change is real and in desperate need of mitigation. Paul deWitt and other deniers will harm our environment, our economy and our national security by their promotion of untruths and their refusal to accept that we have to reduce our carbon footprint.

The Bulletin could have exercised better journalistic judgment in publishing such unsubstantiated factoids such as those advanced by Mr. deWitt. Responsible journalists and editors should check the facts and sources before giving credibility to authors who have no credentials. By publishing deWitt’s piece, The Bulletin may claim it is promoting free speech. Would The Bulletin publish an op-ed by a neo-Nazi who claims that the Holocaust never happened or from a group that might argue incorrectly that vaccines cause autism? In contrast to the many fallacious and unsubstantiated statements made by deWitt, I have cited the relevant reports to back up my comments and I have submitted copies of those reports to The Bulletin’s editorial staff along with this op-ed.

— Roger A. Sabbadini is an emeritus distinguished professor of biology at San Diego State University and lives in Bend.

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