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join the discussion - What are your thoughts on this history of how three U.S. administrations failed to take bold action on global warming? Are you hopeful things will change in the future?

atmospherepro-coal protest

Dear FRONTLINE,

I just caught the last part of your program on Global Warming (The effect of CO2 on 'Global Warming'). As a 68 year old scientist/engineer most of my life I hate to see any unproven conclusions sold by constant rhetoric repeated over and over without any proof. And this program tonight reminds me of the old truth that "you can sell anything by a constant repetition". From what I heard this program was clearly propaganda.The fact is that NOT ALL climatologists agree that CO2 produced by human burning carbon fuels has produced enough of an increase in CO2 to produce the present Global Warming. In fact a survey several years showed that scientists overwhelmingly did not believe that human activity caused this Global Warming.1.PBS refused to even mention that signs of Global Warming were recently observed on other planets where no humans exist.

2.Patrick J. Michaels a research professor of environmental studies at the University of Virginia and a past president of the American Association of State Climatologists gives a litany of falsehood, exaggeration, and misstatement in his book "MELTDOWN". And many other scientists refuse to accept either the dire effects of Global Warming or our ability to control it.

3.All energy comes from the SUN which PBS ignores, and it is THE overwhelming source of all warming. It delivers about 50,000 times as much energy to the earth as all of our fossil fuels. And this solar radiation is not constant due to solar activity producing numerous effects.

4.The amount of CO2 in our atmosphere is only about 350 parts per million by weight (i.e. .035%).

5.The greenhouse effect due to the water vapor (clouds which produce tens of degrees temperature difference from day to day) is many times that of the CO2 which remains constant in comparison. Isn't water vapor more likely the primary greenhouse gas? The technology is so complex and the credibility of the radical environmentalists is so low that we should require a logical series of proofs to believe the outrageous effects of Global Warming.

Larry Siebert
Ann Arbor, MI

FRONTLINE's editors respond:

For more on Dr. Patrick Michaels, see the Center for Investigative Reporting's profile of him and four other global warming skeptics.

Dear FRONTLINE,

The media fails to address all the components of global climate change. I have not heard or read about an investigation that includes the cumulative effects of other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, or any discussion about how deforestation and loss of carbon dioxide sinks will operate to accelerate warming trends.

When the Earth warms, especially in the northern hemisphere, methane will release into the atmosphere. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 15 times more effective than carbon dioxide in warming the atmosphere. Methane hydrates are ice crystals containing methane, trapped in permafrost, or frozen soils. Methane is the byproduct of decayed organic matter. Methane hydrates also exist in the frozen ground at the bottom of the ocean. When frozen soils melt and oceans warm, methane will release into the atmosphere to combine with carbon dioxide to create rapid increases in climate warming.

Phytoplankton, which operates as a carbon dioxide sink, will diminish because phytoplankton relies on cold oceans to survive. Phytoplankton is the greatest carbon dioxide sink in the world.

Just these two aforementioned naturally occurring systems--increase in methane as a greenhouse gas and loss of phytoplankton as a carbon dioxide sink--will cause the effects of global warming to rapidly accelerate, once the Earth reaches a tipping point increase in global temperature.

I have not heard much discussion about what will occur if ocean currents, which act as the Earth's air conditioner, cease to operate. Ocean currents flow in circular patterns across the Earth from north to south, from the northern hemisphere across the Equator and into the southern hemisphere, and back again. When water reaches the far northern hemisphere, it cools, becomes higher in saline content and drops to depths. Cold oceans at depth act as drivers for ocean current movement. Europe, which is at the same latitude at Alaska, might become very cold if ocean currents from the Equator cease to warm the continent.

Just the other day, I heard that Toyota is building new automobile plants in the US. They plan to build 100,000 new Camry automobiles each year (and that is just one model and one automobile company). China, the world's largest and most populous country, builds one new coal-fired plant a week. China is a rapidly growing member of the global marketplace, taking its place as a newly transformed consumer of all the material wealth the world has to offer and China has fallen in love with automobiles.

For most people, it is business as usual. I think the problem is far greater than the media is portraying it. Surely, when a sequence of incremental warming events occurs to cause rapid increases in global temperatures, natural catastrophes will operate to maintain the Earth's carrying-capacity. It is a scenario we would not want to imagine and should not allow.

J. Schumacher
Ogden, Utah

Dear FRONTLINE,

Everytime I watch your program, I am more and more convinced of my stand of not donating to PBS as long as they take such a biased view of most controvesial issues. There is not even one shred of balance in your reports. I guess you must be competing for the next Oscar award, now the that uneducated-but-gifted-in-arts-people (mostly) have anointed themselves the arbitors of the global warming debate and started dishing out awards to anyone that toes their line. what a shame! There are over 5000 scientists that signed the petetion and the related study sponsored by Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine which showed very minimal (if any) link between human activities and global warming, yet you are unable to find one to provide a counter argument. If you are unable to find someone that can make counter argument to your view, please let me know and I will have at least ten names for you to chose from, and all of them with Ph.Ds from premier institutions. I don't expect to hear from you, because you have no intention of being objective.

Prabhakar Somavarapu
El Dorado Hills, CA

FRONTLINE's editors respond:

FRONTLINE interviewed the scientist who disseminated the Oregon Petition, Frederick Seitz. Seitz was criticized for his involvement in the petition, which included a paper in the same font and format as a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) document, prompting the NAS to issue a statement criticizing the petition. The scientific paper had not been peer-reviewed by climatologists.

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thanks for this excellent program. No wonder that the Bush administration wants to cut funding for PBS to prevent this type of real journalism to be broadcast.

The sad news is the lack of scientific literacy amongst the public. If 2,000 scientists from over 100 countries conclude that climate change is man-made, the opinions of a handful of doubters are statistically insignificant.

Swiss Re, the world's largest re-insurer attributed the intensity of the four hurricanes in Florida in 2004 to global warming. They ought to know and certainly spent a lot of money on research since they will have to pay for all the damage that will be caused by climate change.

As the saying goes, the early bird catches the worm. European and Japanese companies already make billions of dollars in green energy and created good paying jobs. Toyota just became the world's largest auto manufacturer while GM might go bankrupt because they didn't read the sign of the times and followed outdated strategies. Unless the US does an immediate and significant u-turn on carbon emissions and green energy policy, she will fall like the Roman empire.

Gainesville, Florida

Dear FRONTLINE,

I love to watch Nova and Frontline whenever I get the chance. You always hit on so many great topics and this one, I believe, is at the top of the list. I am a farmer in central Kansas and I can tell you that our weather has never been worse than it is now. Just about two weeks ago, around April 10th, we had a record lowest temp for the state.....and we also had the most snow too...around 6 inches. It is a really weird feeling to see green wheat in the field that has been out of dormancy for almost a month being broken over by snow. Right now we are assesing the freeze damage.I also wanted to hit on another point with this discussion. I recently read an article that said that the total amount of greenhouse gasses that come from "all" vehicles in the world only amount to 14 percent of the total. Think about it, that means that at least 60 to 80 percent has to come from industry. It is almost comical to think that epa regulations which only affect vehicles manufactured after the year 2007 will have any significant impact on the amount of green house gas.I believe the fact of the matter is that we are on the downhill slope to our own demise. Forget for a minute that we are starting to take measures to help the problem.....what if we completely quit releasing these gasses today? I believe that we have already done too much damage and this is going to be the earths way of healing itself. Its a good thing we are looking to space exploration because some day we may be looking down on earth from a space station. And we will be waiting for scientists to tell us when it is ok to return to the planet that ultimately kicked us out of our home because we were messy tenants.

Darren Mawhirter
Saint John, Kansas

Dear FRONTLINE,

We need some of the wisest, most trustworthy, and creative geniuses to lead us to real solutions to stop global warming now. It's pretty clear that Washington doesn't qualify for the job. Some governors and mayors are trying to solve problems locally. We need the cooperation of corporations, or entreprenneurs. The majority of us can hardly afford solar panels right now, or expensive hybrid cars. We can do some little things that may add up to a big impact. And we can make our voices heard and get people to join in a fight for our future. Thank you PBS for putting the facts together. Everyone needs to see it and believe it.

Stella Godbey
Brandenburg, KY

Dear FRONTLINE,

Dear Frontline:

My reaction to this excellent documentary goes beyond criticism of the past three administrations. George Bush and Dick Chaney, most obviously and most outrageously, reflect the role of money in American politics. But as our political system is currently structured--with money being a dominant force--one must question the basic functioning of our democracy. On the most important issues, where the stakes are so high, there is a breakdown that is most disturbing. I blame the media, but most of all I blame the people and their passive acceptance of the information that is fed them by the most powerful elements in our society. Jefferson saw a vital link between an educated populace and a thriving democracy, and I think he was right. We are, in some fundamental way, not an enlightened people. That is the core problem.

Larry Chamblin
Pensacola, FL

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you, thank you! MN legislators are currently debating a cap on CD emissions and my representative is in the court of believing there is no global warming issue. The map of each state's emissions and current regulations was insightful.I found your information about political parties being influenced by either big business or labor interests clarifying why we are not moving ahead on solutions. I will contact Mr. Gunther and share this show's information with him. Wish me much luck!Terry

Fairmont, MN

Dear FRONTLINE,

No politician is brave enough to tell the American people just how wasteful and greedy most of us are...no politician will commit political suicide and take on the far right. The solutions to global warming must be draconian! The world's population is exceeding the earth's natural resources to sustain it; yet I have yet to hear any presidential candidate address this alarming conclusion! Droughts in Africa and Australia continue, the polar bear is literally on thin ice, honey bees are drastically vanishing in Europe and America, and the American southwest will soon be a vast desert. God forgive us...

Theresa Siskind
St. Petersburg, Florida

Dear FRONTLINE,

I applaud the corporations for stepping up. However, I must say that when Sen. Warner said they'd gotten his attention, I was disgusted that what it took to get the attention of our government was not the science, nor the obvious changes taking place before their very eyes, nor the desire of those it represents that something be done about this problem. It was the sight of all that corporate campaign money possibly going to someone else....

Gainesville, FL

Dear FRONTLINE,

I'm convinced that any progress in helping global warming must happen at an individual level. This documentary had to open up a lot of eyes around the globe, but how do we help in our individual homes - that is what is really going to help - until the federal government decides to get beyond the political gains and look out for the common wellfare of the individual taxpayer (not to happen within my lifetime)...so, if we could somehow broadcast how each state contributes to the c02 levels - what industries are the major culprits, educate individuals on how we can help by not just changing light bulbs - setting up workshops within communities that relate directly to each state's actual c02 level and how our state relates to other states - conduct best practices comparing how one state is so much lower in their c02 level than another and why....trying to individualize each state's contribution to the c02 level and finding ways to reduce it - bring this major issue down to the level of each state and keep refining it to the community level so individuals understand how they can make an impact within their own communities...right now, the problem is so overwhelming it is hard to relate to at an individual level.

Shelley Pulver
hoagland, in

FRONTLINE's editors respond:

To see how much CO2 your state puts out -- and what each state is doing about it -- check out this map.

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thanks for your great documentary that recapitulates what we have learned and discussed on the NOW forum over the past 5 years.

I'm wondering how much the temperature is already destined to rise, with the amount of carbon dioxide already released, and the amount that will be released in the next decade, because so much time has already been lost since 1988, in development of alternative energy production systems.

I also wonder if there will be an exponential multiplier of the heat rise: that is, more CO2 in the atmosphere will produce more heat which will rapidly desertify more formerly green zones (with central and northern Texas as one model) creating even hotter radiation. So, the rise of earth temp would not just be a simple relation of increased CO2, but also increase exponentially, as more plants die off.

You touched on climate change bringing droughts and more sever storms. But they are also linked together, as seen in Florida, which is not only suffering more hurricanes, but more severe droughts in the dry season that precedes the onslaught of hurricane season in June. Oceans that are hotter on the surface will also create bigger hurricanes and typhoons (e.g., Katrina), which will no longer bring the gentle rains needed to sustain agriculture, but will follow extreme droughts with extremely powerful storms with catastrophic downpours and floods.

Someone needs to invent a CO2 precipitator, that will split the carbon off for storage for later use.

Alan Zachwieja
Port Angeles, WA

FRONTLINE's editors respond:

For more on the possibilities of carbon sequestration, see CIR's report on the pros and cons of potential alternate energy sources.

Dear FRONTLINE,

I watched most of the program. After about 40 minutes of opinions, comments by journalists, politicians, and non scientific individuals, I decided to turn the channel. There was no mention of the various volcanoes that have erupted and how much pollutants they shot into the atmosphere. There was no scientific data shown to prove global warming. Just because there is a concenses among scientists, does not make global warming a fact. There was no mention of how Sun Spots or increased solar activity could be causing global warming. There was no mention of the Nova episode showing how the Earth's magnetic poles were changing which could reduce the magnetic shield around the globe that protects earth against solar radiation. Could this be the main cause of global warming? It is a real shame PBS once again shows its left leaning bias and cannot just present adequately both sides of the issue.

hampton, georgia

Dear FRONTLINE,

As a former history teacher, I used to use the same old song about the role of government in our society; that the ultimate role of government is to "serve the people." This could be balancing the budget, or going into debt for some purpose which benefited all, or regulating the stock market, providing scientific research, providing for reasonable health care, and even protecting the land and the environment. Looking at Frontline, I have to say that we have a Presidential administration which is in total defiance to most all that government should be. But no more detructive element of the indifference to public interest exists than the Bush administration's indifference to global warming. The reasons for this detructive position are directly related to the choosing of Bush as a candidate by the petrochemical fossil fuel oligarchy. What poor Mr. Bush fails to see is that even those corporate organizations can be moved by conscience when the planet itself is imperiled. Is President Bush the last to get it, and what is the cost to the rest of us??

Jack Sallee
Cookeville, TN

Dear FRONTLINE,

The unspoken truth throughout the program was haunting...As long as the policy-makers continue to take money from the creators of the pollution, whatever it may be, no policy change will ever be forthcoming.

Anyone who looks to this or any administration/politicians for a solution to the problem only needs a short review of vintage Ronald Reagan quotes..

"Government isn't the solution to the problem...government IS the problem"

Amazing how large an area that statement truly encompasses.

S. Crabtree
Pleasant Hill, Missouri

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posted april 24, 2007

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