Letters to the Editor

Jim Kraft: Population adds to carbon use

Regarding the Nov. 29 front-page news article “U.N. summit could bring first progress in years”: The article stated that this year is the warmest on record, as have been the previous 14. Oh?

It also stated we are already seeing the effects in sea-level rise due to rapidly melting “Arctic ice caps.” Oh? There is only one Arctic ice cap, and it is over the North Pole floating on the Arctic Sea. Since it is floating, it is displacing the same amount of water as it weighs. This is really basic science. If the Arctic ice cap were to melt, it would not raise sea level by even a millimeter.

As for the warmest years “on record,” there are reliable records only for 250 to 300 years. With all the evidence of warm and cold periods, I would venture that there have been warmer years than the last 15.

Land-based ice is a different story. Glacial ice melt will raise sea levels. Many glaciers have been receding for hundreds of years. Vancouver documented Glacier Bay, Alaska, in the 18th century extending all the way to the mouth of the bay. An exploration in the mid-19th century found that the glacier had receded 20 miles, long before the Industrial Revolution had really set in. Now it is about 40 miles from the mouth of the bay.

Major land-based ice masses include Antarctica, Greenland, Siberia and northern Canada. Recent reports show the southern ice mass to be growing, and I believe the amount of northern ice has increased somewhat as well.

As pointed out, what this current climate conference does not address is forests and their role in storing carbon. Also wood-framed houses store carbon. But the elephant in the room is population.

As long as it keeps growing, our carbon use will, too. As an engineer and climate scientist, I remain a skeptic. The earth is over 4 1/2 billion years old, and there are cycles upon cycles that her atmosphere has experienced. These will continue to play a role no matter what we humans do or don’t do.

Jim Kraft

Morehead City

The length limit was waived to permit a fuller response to the issue.