The cartoon that appeared on the Oct. 8 opinion page was spot on. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the article immediately below it ("This year's wildfires don't top the one you've never heard of").
Although the writer is correct that many wildfires have been caused by human mismanagement of forests, his comments on climate change omit the fact that scientists have shown conclusively that the intensity and frequency of all kinds of extreme weather events are exacerbated by human-caused climate change.
Digging deeper, we found it impossible to find any information on his company, "Environmental & Resources Technology, Inc."
However, we quickly found several web pages that list him as a writer for The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, an organization that lists first among its climate principles the following: "There is no convincing scientific evidence that human contribution to greenhouse gases is causing dangerous global warming." The group does not disclose its funders.
Having a Ph.D does not qualify a contributor to comment on science if he or she speaks from a perspective other than a scientific one. In the current example, readers have no way of knowing that the author's scientific statements are likely influenced by his religious views or funding sources.
It is imperative that newspaper opinion editors do reasonable due diligence with regard to authors' affiliations and funding sources prior to publishing articles that purport to contain scientific content.
Last year a group of local scientists that included multiple disciplines offered to volunteer their time to review opinion columns that contained scientific content. That offer was ignored. The result is a newspaper that lacks scientific integrity.
Publishing suspect or inaccurate scientific content can do serious harm to people's understanding of information that is vital to our society, including the current scientific consensus on vaccines and climate change.
David Gerhart, Ph.D, aquatic ecology
Gwen Plumb, respiratory care
Rich Axler, Ph.D, limnology and water quality
John Green, Ph.D, geology
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