I just resigned from my column “Reality Check” in the medical society magazine, Sombrero, after nearly a decade of writing.

I wrote about 80 columns during my tenure, and it is sad that I will write no more.  The writing made me better, for one needs to practice to write well.  And that is the primary reason I left.  There is now a counterbalance column, so to speak, to my  column.  The primary issue is not that the writer has a far right wing perspective, but that he writes poorly.  The magazine deserves the best writing possible.

This individual had his first column published a few months ago, and I was not told, as an invited columnist, that he would be a regular.  That was unfortunate.  The first column  was about climate change being not true, using evidence from 3 cold days last winter and a cold winter in Iceland as examples.  This to me showed an inability to distinguish climate from weather.  At the same time he wrote, northern Scandinavia experienced temperatures nearly 13 degrees F. (7 C) above normal throughout the autumn, and while I won’t say the presence of Sandhill Cranes over winter in Nebraska is due to climate change, any more than 3/5s of the bird species in the Christmas Bird Count have the center of their range at least 160 km (100 miles) further north, it is suggestive. Nearly every climate scientist thinks manmade climate change is occurring, and most of those who don’t believe the Earth is warming.  Those who believe neither are truly on the fringe.  Of course, the fringe might be right, but everything we are seeing suggests under predicting of the effect.  It isn’t just warming, it is the rapidity at which it is occurring, that is an issue.

Conrad Anker, the world famous climber, who is going to take a group of physiologists up Mt. Everest, says the change in the high altitudes is incredible.  Routes that were snow covered 35 years ago no longer are.  I can speak to changes in the high latitudes.  As Mr. Anker put it, if one plays golf in Kansas, one doesn’t see climate change.  But if one is at high latitudes or elevations, or happens to live in the Seychelles or Bangladesh, where the oceanic rising is occurring, it is another story.

The writer was in favor of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), calling it a “god-forsaken place” where only “Birkenstock clad hikers go.”  I have been to ANWR twice, I think it is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, and I fail to see what hikers wear (I don’t have any Birkenstock outfits) has to do with climate change.  How much oil is in ANWR is a controversial subject; what is clear is that we should use every conservation method possible before even beginning to consider drilling in what many call the “American Serengeti.”

The editor of the magazine is libertarian-right wing, and has consistently argued many times about what I have said, yet he did not check these climate statements out.  The heat island effect is the simplest proof of manmade climate change; the rapid acidification of the oceans (pH has fallen 0.1 unit, which is nearly a 30% increase in hydrogen ion concentration) is a quiet problem that is going to devastate world food supplies, should there be an interaction between acidity and oceanic warming, which many scientists feel there is.  An interaction means that the sum of two variables is greater than simple addition.

Today, the new writer’s fourth column appeared; 8 column inches longer than mine, rambling, and with false statements, such as he paid $500,000 into SSI, when the current rate is about 5% on $106,000.  He said it would take him until age 137 to get that money out, when in fact if he started at age 70, it would take him 17 years to obtain $500,000.  This shows a lack of attention to detail, unwillingness to check important numbers for validity.

Edmund Burke once said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”  I have done plenty, without much to show for it.  In any case, it is up to the medical society to decide whether they want a writer who writes 1200 words of vitriol and doesn’t check facts.  It is not up to me to respond.  I will continue to post on my blog, where I will fire salvos when I think necessary, but pay attention to detail as well.

Would I return?  It is difficult to say.  I would have several requirements, and I don’t see any of them being met.  I am leaving quietly, with no fanfare, no final column, no goodbys.  It is the same way I will be leaving Tucson, when the time comes, now getting sooner.  I will leave quietly with no fanfare and goodbys to perhaps five people.

There are few things worse than staying too long, be it as a guest, a writer, a worker, or a sports star.  The best stop sooner, rather than later.  I won’t say I am the best, but I think I made a few people think.


3 Responses to “RESIGNED TO MY FATE”

  1. denisehelmkay Says:

    It is sad that sooooooo many still refuse to research their propaganda. What you have said here should be posted. Maybe they really want to set up a debate. We can only hope.

    • Mike Says:

      It took me a long time to figure it out, but there are four requirements for a DISCUSSION.
      1. De-personalization, and I fall into that trap, too.
      2. Use of statistics.
      3. Statement of consequences if you are wrong.
      4. Statement of what it would take to change your beliefs.

  2. lmotta2014 Says:

    Oy, what sadness! I so wish it could have been different. The magazine, and its readers, lost much.

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