Scientists’ warning should set off alarm bells


The thing to keep in mind when reading about climatologists’ reactions to changes in Arctic temperatures and weather conditions is that scientific terminology was developed specifically to minimize emotional responses. (“Eastern Arctic warming trend alarms scientists,” Nunatsiaq Online, Dec. 15, 2010.)

While the popular conception of scientists is based on this style of communication, it’s a mistake to think that these experts don’t care deeply about what they study.

The participants in the Ottawa ArcticNet conference obviously love the Arctic, and their use of words like “unusual” and “dramatic” when discussing current conditions should set our alarm bells ringing.

Those are strong words for scientists, the sort an epidemiologist might employ to describe an outbreak of bubonic plague; the sort a zoologist might utter when faced with a living, breathing Sasquatch.

If Arctic specialists are sounding perturbed, it means the evidence of catastrophic system failure is overwhelming.

We — all of us, everywhere on the planet — ignore their observations at our peril.

Warren Senders
Medford, Mass.

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