Letter to the editor | Jonathan Katz

Jonathan Katz

Dear Editor,

Much of Ms. Plovnick’s information is wrong, and her enthusiasm is misdirected.
There is no evidence that global warming will lead to increasing droughts or tropical storms (which make a lot of rain, the opposite of a drought). The climate has been steadily warming since the end of the Little Ice Age about 300 years ago. Some of this has been natural and some of it anthropogenic. There has been no evidence for an increase in either droughts or storms.

Sea level is rising at the rate of about 3.5 millimeters per year.  At that rate, a rise of four meters would take over 1,000 years. We rebuild our cities and infrastructure continuously, as they wear out or become obsolete, roughly every 50 years. Low-lying coastal cities will move inland, but the effect of rising seas will be only a small part of this natural process. There won’t be any climate refugees.

The world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases is China, not the U.S. Chinese emissions are growing rapidly, while those of the U.S. are nearly static. Are the Chinese supposed to remain poor peasants forever?

Why does she think she has the moral right to deny people in developing countries a fraction of the comforts we in America expect?

People won’t freeze in the dark for the sake of a scientific theory, even a correct scientific theory. It is inevitable that greenhouse gases will continue to rise until they are far above present levels.

Humanity will adapt. We may even benefit from longer growing seasons and milder winters (for good physics reasons, summers and the tropics are no hotter than they were 100 years ago and won’t get hotter).

Jonathan Katz
Professor of physics

  • [The world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases is China, not the U.S. Chinese emissions are growing rapidly, while those of the U.S. are nearly static. Are the Chinese supposed to remain poor peasants forever?]

    China has 2 trillion dollars in currency reserves. They can afford to control their greenhouse gas emissions.

  • wustl

    Katz is correct. 2/3’s of China and India don’t have electricity. Where are they going to get it? COAL! It is the only form of energy those countries can afford. Really who are we to tell China they can’t emit greenhouse gases based on a hypothesis. Global is not based on science whatsoever. It has exceeded the scale of the scientific method and pretending that we can understand it is foolish.

  • Lauren, it is one thing to take issue with his position on homosexuality, which many of us who are considered conservative in fact do. But to go from there and indict his science requires proof that he is not compliant with established scientific standards of experimentation and analysis, and is acting to manipulate information to fit his preconceived notions. I see zero evidence of that, and would ask that you provide some before continuing to attack the man’s credibility. It really is rather indecent of you to do otherwise.

  • Lauren

    We should not give Dr. Katz any more attention than he has already given for his pseudoscience and hate speech.

  • max

    Is the only way to improve living standards through raising greenhouse emissions? If so, any nation that has reasonable caps on emissions must be extraordinarily poor.

    I’m sure the reason for the low-quality of living for many Chinese people must be that China does not emit enough green house gasses. It seems that the leader in emissions remains a nation of “poor peasants” because they are not emitting enough,

    It’s teriffic how Professor Katz claims that Ms. Plovnick has the “moral right to deny people in developing countries a fraction of the comforts we in America expect” while assuming that the “poor peasants” in China desire nothing more than to have, if just a piece, the American lifestyle. Yikes.

    As usual, an unbiased and well-researched letter to the editor.

  • As I pointed out in a response to “Back to the Land of Censorship,” the issue is not really free speech so much as the privilege of rank: tenure in a Department unlikely to be cut. I have made a point not to read Professor Katz’s online posts, lest it interfere with my ability to defend his right to free speech.

    “Freedom is meraly priviiege extended, unless enjoyed by one and all.”
    –The Internationale, Billy Bragg version

  • Steve Howerton

    For those of you who have come to campus in the last three or four years, a little background on Prof. Katz is in order. Here are some other pieces that he has published on his Washington University website. I’m a strong supporter of people exercising their right to free speech, but that doesn’t mean that their views should go unchallenged.
    Katz’s “In Defense of Homophobia”
    “Nature Cannot Be Fooled”