Gavin Schmidt book cover
© Gavin Schmidt and Joshua WolfeLike that of all reservoirs in the American West, the water level of Lake Powell has fluctuated since the day it was dammed.

What follows is an open letter to the Salon writer Peter Dizikes, who recently published an article about a new book by NASA scientist Gavin Schmidt on climate change.

Dear Mr. Dizikes:

I recently read your overview of Gavin Schmidt's new book as well as your interview with him on Salon.

I was surprised to see that you consider the effects of manmade global warming to be "oddly invisible." Having studied the subject for a couple of years now, while performing my own research, it has been my observation that newspapers, magazines, and television news sources show images of supposed manmade climate change on a daily basis. Such images include: floods, polar bears, glacial calving, etc. If anything, images of global warming might be said to saturate western media.

As with so many other products generated by the AGW industry, Schmidt's book Climate Change: Picturing the Science is part of an ongoing effort to frighten the credulous. Its messages include: weather will kill you; our moment on Earth is unique; and climate did not used to change.

Had you wanted to fulfill the responsibilities of an objective and hard-hitting journalist, you might have asked Schmidt about the image of Lake Powell on his book's cover. Now, of course, we are all told never to judge a book by its cover - but this is a visual book that demands to be judged on visual terms. There are a lot of people, unfortunately, who don't know enough about the facts to perform this kind of analysis themselves. Failing to do so for them is a pity.

Were you aware, may I ask, of the controversial nature of the damming of the Colorado River that led to Lake Powell? Environmentalists were and are appalled by this particular dam. It has changed an important piece of the American natural landscape. But, like all manmade dams on Earth, it has changing water levels. Dammed lakes in the American west are particularly prone to fluctuating water levels, within single years, year to year, and on the decadal level. Water use varies as well, although it can be counted on to slowly increase. Using an image of lowered water level on Lake Powell, which is a reservoir, sitting in a desert, to indicate anything about climate change is perverse. I would even go to far as to call it anti-science.

The assumption that industrial production of co2 has altered precipitation patterns is exactly that, an assumption. Further, what you are going to find, in the next decade, is that global temperatures are going to remain flat (as they have since 1998) and/or start to decline. What you are also going to find is that science writers in the American media establishment are going to peel off, one by one, from the AGW heterodoxy.

Group-think has affected many societies negatively, and it has not disappeared during our own time. The fact that neither Mr. Schmidt's editor, nor his publisher, nor you, nor the photographer, nor Mr. Schmidt himself would stop to reflect on the oddity of this cover is enough to give one pause.

Sincerely yours,

Harold Ambler