Archive for Thursday, September 29, 2005

Some certainties

September 29, 2005

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To the editor:

In the recent article "Skeptic rejects global warming theory" (Journal-World, Sept. 24), certain views were highlighted. Other scientists were interviewed who took varying views, ranging from describing without evaluation the views of the skeptics (with a clarifying letter since published in this newspaper by M. Lee Allison, Sept. 27), to uncertainty about a "stuck" global debate on causes, to highlighting that something drastic is going on.

Nothing in the article emphasized that there is a consensus: "Human activities are increasingly altering the Earth's climate. These effects add to natural influences that have been present over Earth's history. Scientific evidence strongly indicates that natural influences cannot explain the rapid increase in global near-surface temperatures observed during the second half of the 20th century. : Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have increased since the mid-1700s through fossil-fuel burning and changes in land use, with more than 80 percent of this increase occurring since 1900. : It is virtually certain that increasing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will cause global surface climate to be warmer." - from the 2003 statement of the American Geophysical Union, representing more than 41,000 scientists.

While no connection can be drawn between a particular hurricane and global warming, more such extreme events are predicted. A disservice has been done by an article which does not make this clear.

Science sometimes finds results that make us uncomfortable. A current strategy by science deniers in both the evolution and climate-change areas is a propaganda campaign to make uncertainty seem much greater than it really is.

Adrian Melott,

Lawrence

Comments

Jamesaust 9 years, 9 months ago

Okay, so certain scientists think one thing, others think other things, but yet there is a consensus - a statement acceptable to ALL members.

No. There is a predominant view and there are minority views. (This is in stark contrast to evolution vs. creationism.) The statement quoted is the consensus of the signatories only.

The disservice of the original article was the broad headline that did not represent the focus subject's opinion, which disputed simplistic links between hurricane frequency and severity in the last year or so with a general rise in global tempatures. Indeed, the article's subject wrote a letter to the editor emphasizing that he does not question the broad statement that there is a rise in temperatures attributable to human actions.

This author's statement, "While no connection can be drawn between a particular hurricane and global warming..." is literally true but false by implication, the implication being that there is a simplistic connection between a rise in global temperatures and "extreme events." In fact, weather "events" are surprisingly complex and hurricane data itself easily demonstrates -- During the last TWO CENTURIES of measured temperature increase, the frequency and severity of hurricanes in the North Atlantic rose, fell, and is now rising again. The observable increase over the last decade does not yet equate to the much higher levels recorded as part of the normal variation in this weather phenomena. Thus, the original article's point, i.e., no linkage.

mermily 9 years, 9 months ago

in response to "whining critics" yesterday and the comment that several scientists had pointed out that there have always been devastating Category 4 and 5 hurricanes and Global warming did not cause Katrina, i wrote:

"this is very true about evidence of category 4 and 5 hurricanes and their frequence, however, the hurricane scale takes into account only the mph of wind, the amount of surge above average, and the likely degree of resulting damage (see US army corps of engineers for example).

what isn't taken into account, and there is an increasing trend amongst scientists to do so, is the duration of the storm, width it runs, rainfall associated with it, and other factors. there is evidence that these formly unaccounted for factors, but clearly very important in terms of distruction, are increasing."

this may or may not mean global warming could turn out to be linked....i tend to think it does, but i only offer this comment as yet another reminder that there are different views and always additional questions to be asked of ourselves and our scientists.

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