Seeking scientific truth


Regarding the article “On leaving the government” (HCN, 5/29/17), I would caution HCN to avoid reporting petty arguments between scientists, and to research their backgrounds more carefully before framing some scientists as more mainstream than others. There are many types of scientists working on climate change, and calling them all “climate scientists” is misleading and even inaccurate. Some scientists, such as Jane Zelikova, choose to work on policy in the U.S. government or nonprofits, such as the Berkeley nonprofit Center for Carbon Removal, which is more of a political action group rather than a scientific research organization. That is valuable work and needs to be pushed forward. But policymakers are often not scientists; they have social science training.

The reporting of public attacks between scientists blocks progress and confuses the general public and our politicians in Washington, D.C. My scientific opinion: None of the current climate models can say for certain whether wildfires are directly caused by long-term climate change or by local weather variations that have been happening since long before humans populated Washington state, or by both. When scientists with knowledgeable opinions based on years of weather modeling, such as Cliff Mass, clash with other scientists, such as oceanographers with strong scientific viewpoints about the cause of fires, such as Sarah Myhre, this is part of the normal scientific process, which eventually vets out what the truth is.

Patricia A. Cullen
Longmont, Colorado