Op-Ed: In Response to “BC Professors’ Core Science Textbook Contains Climate Change Skepticism”

“Exploring the Earth System” is a required text in some core classes, despite (or perhaps because of ) its skepticism on climate change. / Amazon.com

The contents of the Opinions section are unedited and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Kingsman or its staff.

Stephen U. Aja is an Associate Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Brooklyn College.

Dear Dylan Campbell:

I am writing on account of the recent article in the BC Kingsman (11/28/17) written by your staff writer, Ahmed Aly. The article “BC Professors’ Core Science Textbook Contains Climate Change Skepticism” deals with a textbook written by Professor Cranganu and I. The central thesis of your article is that our textbook “appears to deny anthropogenic climate change or at the very least justify the arguments of the “skeptics” who deny human-caused climate change”. This conclusion represents a misreading and misrepresentation of what the textbook actually contains.

First, your attribution of authorship of the textbook is wrong. The textbook “Exploring the Earth System” was not written by Cranganu and Aja as you advertised in your write-up but rather by Aja and Cranganu. I note this only to underscore you apparent eagerness to choose the facts as you would have them rather than what the facts actually are concerning this work. Secondly, the textbook contains several chapters in which the scientific basis and empirical evidence for global climate change were explicitly discussed (chapters 12, 13, 14). In fact, from pages 157 – 165, the reader is presented with the most recent facts (as of the time of publication) pertaining to global warming and its environmental impacts. In addition, Appendix A is an exercise that allows the student to explore the consequences of climate change for the New York City Metropolitan Area. It would be most illogical and inconsistent for us to have provided the reader with evidence demonstrating the reality of global climate change and then turn around and deny same (in the same textbook).

It is to be regretted that in your article you seem to confuse questions of scientific uncertainty as contained in the discussions of chapters 21 and 22 with denial of global climate change.

Uncertainty in climate science research is not a trivial issue. Besides the inherent uncertainties associated in scientific measurements (which we discussed in chapter 2), scientific understanding of global climate change is still evolving; this implies that climate change models are still evolving to incorporate increasing amounts of physics, chemistry, and biology as scientists become smarter in how these areas affect the global climate. In fact, the recent U.S. Global Change Research Program’s Climate Science Special Report (CSSR) (which you cited in your article) recognized as much.

It is my expectation that fair-minded people will find your critique of our textbook unjustified and misguided. It seems your agenda is to have the textbook declared as unfit for instruction because of your misreading of two chapters in a book that contains twenty-two chapters. This is yellow journalism, par excellence, which should not be the hallmarks of a students’ newspaper in an institution of higher learning. I look forward to reading my rebuttal in your next issue of the Kingsman.

Stephen U. Aja

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