Dudley Greeley is an adjunct instructor at the University of Southern Maine School of Business.

With innuendo so thick it’s amazing the editor found room for punctuation, M.D. Harmon has managed once again to convince himself that he has exposed a conspiracy by major media to ignore “critical news” (“News continues to expose false ‘global warming’ claims” Dec. 2).

Even more amazing is that he has accomplished this feat by quoting the Wall Street Journal in the largest paper in the state of Maine!

What’s the “critical news?” Mr. Harmon believes that humans do not cause global warming.

To be precise, he says there are “two problems with anthropogenic (human-caused) catastrophic worldwide warming.” The insinuations seem to be that humans aren’t responsible for any significant global warming and that the consequences of warming that might occur will not be as severe as some have maintained.

How does Harmon know human activity doesn’t contribute significantly to global warming? He doesn’t tell us. Perhaps he has been doing research in his garage but isn’t quite finished?

The column lurches on, laden with inaccuracies, irrelevancies and discredited old news stories pasted together in an attack on science and scientists.

Harmon suggests that a single study about tropical cyclone activity is an appropriate proxy for “severe weather events.” It isn’t. Maybe tornadoes and thunderstorms slipped his mind? And, contrary to his argument, even this study shows a net increase in the intensity of cyclones over the study period.

One of Harmon’s “vitally important facts” was that the BEST Report, which was not designed to determine the cause of global warming, did not make a determination on this point. No wonder major media didn’t pick up on the story!

To try to defend another point, Harmon uses a single, unconfirmed study when even the study’s first author, Andreas Schmittner, says it’s too early to draw firm conclusions from the results and notes, “Very small changes in temperature cause huge changes in certain regions.” (Newscientist.com 24 Nov 2011)

The column ends with the re-release of old “news”; hacked emails from a climate research center in England were said to show that the center falsified climate science data. They didn’t.

Numerous independent investigations, widely reported in the media, concluded there was no evidence of fraud or of manipulated data.

With 5,000 stolen emails for the fossil-fuel franchise to sift through for embarrassing snippets, the biggest surprise was they hadn’t found something juicier. We can only wonder what a random review of 5,000 of Harmon’s emails might turn up?

Alan I. Leshner, chief executive officer of the AAAS and executive publisher of the journal Science said at the time that “The vast preponderance of evidence, based on years of research conducted by a wide array of different investigators at many institutions, clearly indicates that global climate change is real, it is caused largely by human activities, and the need to take action is urgent.” (AAAS News Archives)

We could go on, but must shift to address the more serious worry Harmon writes about — he envisions a power grab by central planners that might threaten free-market capitalism itself!

Economist Gernot Wagner wrote in a New York Times oped column that “markets are truly free only when everyone pays the full price for his or her actions. Anything else is socialism.”

A U.S. National Academies’ National Research Council report (Hidden Costs of Energy 2010), makes it uncomfortably clear that market prices of fossil fuels don’t cover their true costs.

The problem is not meddling central planners but “free” marketers who shift costs of their actions onto others. These costs are too-often paid in lives — roughly 20,000 premature deaths annually due to particulate pollution from coal-fired power plants alone.

Other hidden costs are due to water pollution from mining operations, reduced crop yields due to air pollution, reduced IQ from mercury released by coal-fired power plants and much more.

Between Europe and the U.S., these hidden costs are calculated to be hundreds of billions of dollars annually. And this is before any climate change impact costs are added.

According to British economist Sir Nicholas Stern, the sooner we switch to sustainable energy sources, the lower the total costs to society.

The reality is that the markets are not free and fossil fuels are much more expensive than we think. Even if there were no other problems with using fossil fuels, they’re a limited resource and society MUST develop alternatives.

China appears poised to lead in solar electric. Denmark’s doing offshore wind. What are we waiting for?

— Special to the Press Herald