Council Member Don Zimmerman recently asserted to climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe that CO2
cannot warm the Earth because heat comes from the sun ["Quote of the Week
," News, May 1]. This is akin to claiming that insulation should not affect the warmth of a house in the winter because heat comes from heaters. Indeed, CO2
is not a source of heat, but it serves as an ever-thickening layer of insulation which causes increased warming.
While it's tempting to ridicule Mr. Zimmerman for his poor understanding of thermal physics, his level of scientific proficiency is forgivable – the Earth's climate system is complex and we cannot expect elected officials to be experts in all fields of science. What's more concerning is his refusal to consider testimony from experts. Representatives must be able to weigh advice from a wide array of experts to make informed decisions for our city.
If Mr. Zimmerman can disregard recommendations from a worldwide community of scientists who present overwhelming evidence of anthropogenic climate change, how well does he consider advice from experts in transportation, economics, education, law enforcement, public health, or any of the disciplines that affect our daily lives? By heeding advice from experts, our elected officials should make evidence-based decisions that boost the local economy, reduce traffic congestion, increase classroom effectiveness, reduce criminal recidivism, and increase our preparedness for the long-term effects of climate change.