Comment On Letter From Keith Seitter, Executive Director Of The American Meterological Society

In the April 2011 issue of the Bulletin of the American Meterological Society there is a Letter from the Executive Director of the American Meterological Society Keith Seitter titled

Neutralizing Some of the Language in Global Warming Discussions

I have reproduced the Letter below since it is not available as a url from the BAMS website. Followng the Letter is an exchanges of e-mails with Keith on this Letter [with Keith’s permission]

Date: Fri, 10 Jun 2011 08:29:34 -0600 (MDT)
From: Roger A Pielke Sr To:
Subject: Your BAMS article

Hi Keith

I read your Letter From Headquarters in the April 2011 issue of BAMS. I applaud your request for more “neutralizing” of the language in global warming discussions.

However, I feel you have conflated two significant views of those who are “convinced” regarding evidence that anthropogenic change is occurring. We discuss these two distinctly different views in our paper

Pielke Sr., R., K. Beven, G. Brasseur, J. Calvert, M. Chahine, R. Dickerson, D. Entekhabi, E. Foufoula-Georgiou, H. Gupta, V. Gupta, W. Krajewski, E. Philip Krider, W. K.M. Lau, J. McDonnell, W. Rossow, J. Schaake, J. Smith, S. Sorooshian, and E. Wood, 2009: Climate change: The need to consider human forcings besides greenhouse gases. Eos, Vol. 90, No. 45, 10 November 2009, 413. Copyright (2009) American Geophysical Union.

As we discuss in that paper (and implied by your Letter), one view is the CO2 and a few other greenhouse gases dominate anthropogenic climate change (the IPCC and CCSP view). Our view is that these are important climate forcings but that [from our EOS paper]

“In addition to greenhouse gas emissions, other first-order human climate forcings are important to understanding the future behavior of Earth’s climate. These forcings are spatially heterogeneous and include the effect of aerosols on clouds and associated precipitation [e.g., Rosenfeld et al., 2008], the influence of aerosol deposition (e.g., black carbon (soot) [Flanner et al. 2007] and reactive nitrogen [Galloway et al., 2004]), and the role of changes in land use/land cover [e.g., Takata et al., 2009]. Among their effects is their role in altering atmospheric and ocean circulation features away from what they would be in the natural climate system [NRC, 2005]. As with CO2, the lengths of time that they affect the climate are estimated to be on multidecadal time scales and longer.”

and that

“The evidence predominantly suggests that humans are significantly altering the global environment, and thus climate, in a variety of diverse ways beyond the effects of human emissions of greenhouse gases, including CO2. Unfortunately, the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment did not sufficiently acknowledge the importance of these other human climate forcings in altering regional and global climate and their effects on predictability at the regional scale. It also placed too much emphasis on average global forcing from a limited set of human climate forcings.”

Would you be willing to follow up your Letter with a discussion of this issue? The topic of “anthropogenic global warming” is just a subset of the much broader topic of “anthropogenic climate change”. Not only “skeptics” are being marginalized (and they actually represent a very small segment of our community), but those who accept the view in our EOS paper are also often ignored.

Best Regards


Keith replied

On Fri, 10 Jun 2011, Keith Seitter wrote:


Nice to hear from you and I appreciate your comments. I remember reading the Eos paper when it came out.

I completely understand that trying to simplify this issue into two “camps” is a gross oversimplification, and I should probably have done a better job making that clear. I have column topics lined up for the next several months (including another column on issues of climate change communication in the July issue), but I will certainly give serious thought to a column on the issue you raise here. I would very much like to play some small role in helping to refocus our energies on getting the scientific picture as complete and correct as we can.

All the best,


which I folllowed up with on June 10 2011

Hi Keith

Thanks for the quick feedback. I am concerned that the separation into two camps is more than a gross oversimplification but is actually misleading policymakers and others. I hope you address this issue.

I do plan to post on my weblog about this issue, and will alert you when it appears.

Best Regards


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