Readers React

Using the right words to talk about climate change

To the editor: This outstanding article has a poor title. Instead of "heat," which can refer to high temperatures but more properly to energy flow, you meant "temperature," which essentially everyone understands. ("How hot was it? 2014 was Earth's warmest year on record, data show," Jan. 16)

Most environmental scientists have argued for years that temperatures have been rising due to the burning of fossil fuels. I exposed my ecology students to this inevitable consequence beginning in 1980. Yet skeptics had reason to complain, as the temperature changes were small, local events that differed from the averages, and scientists are generally not good politicians.

However, some politicians, including Gov. Jerry Brown, have been ahead of the game, proposing legislation related to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide leading to increasing global temperatures.

Anyone who has recently visited island countries threatened by sea level rise can feel the emotion. Factually, your excellent graph showing the gradual increase in Earth temperatures from 1880 to the present is simple, clear and amazingly convincing.

Park S. Nobel, Los Angeles

The writer is a UCLA professor emeritus of biology specializing in environmental responses.

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