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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Legislature should look at climate change facts

By Jonathan Deesing

When we were in elementary school, we were taught countless scientific “theories.” The theory of plate tectonics. The theory of evolution. The theory of the Big Bang.

Although these ideas are presented as theories, they are accepted by enough of the scientific community to be presented in textbooks, referenced in journals and generally understood to be facts.

Therefore, in many cases, those who refute these theories generally have an agenda apart from science. Evolution deniers are commonly religious groups, because the theory conflicts with creationism. Furthermore, many religious groups disagree with the Big Bang theory, as it can be interpreted to conflict with the book of Genesis in the Bible. Ironically, this theory can also complement the Old Testament.

Regardless, when a scientific theory holds consensus among the vast majority of the scientific community, making or even considering policy to the contrary is ill-recommended.

Last week, the Utah State Legislature heard testimonies from both sides of the climate change debate so it could continue to sit on the fence about the issue. This time, lawmakers managed to find Roy Spencer, a research scientist at the University of Alabama, who is foremost among deniers of man-made climate change.

Spencer vehemently rejects the idea that humans affect climate change and on his website,, said climatologists in favor of the theory are only promulgating it for government funding. Meanwhile, much of Spencer’s funding came directly from ExxonMobil, which stands to gain quite a bit if humans don’t limit their fossil fuel consumption.

In January, Eos, the weekly newspaper of the American Geophysical Union, released a study documenting opinions on climate change from the general public to climatologists who are active publishers on climate change. The study found that percentages increased dramatically with each level of education on the topic8212;97.4 percent of the most educated agreed with this theory.

Tim Garrett, a professor in the U’s department of atmospheric sciences, said, “I can’t quite understand where he’s coming from.”

His co-researcher Jim Steenburgh, professor and chairman of the department of meteorology at the U, appeared as a legislative witness last week to present the 2007 findings to former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. by a committee of meteorologists from the U, Utah State and BYU.

“Scientific support for human-induced climate change is extremely strong for a wide variety of reasons,” Garrett said.

Utahns know full well the difference between natural and man-made effects on the environment. The inversion we face nearly every year, a natural occurrence in valleys, is not necessarily bad until we fill the valley with pollutants from our cars and other sources.

The Legislature obviously feels that we are paying it to go out of its way to not make decisions. Apparently, a 97.4 percent consensus among experts is not enough to make legislation on climate change and we need to hear the opinions of every Exxon-funded fanatic in order to maintain the status quo. Yet another victory for post-Huntsman Utah.

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