Thursday, December 18, 2008

Will Global Warming Cause the Next Ice Age?

Will Global Warming Cause the Next Ice Age?
By Robert F Allison

One major problem in the debate over climate change is a general lack of knowledge on the subject. People usually don't think about where their electricity, gasoline, or toilet paper comes from. Part of this acceptance comes from the way industry separates products from the production process...When we turn on lights in L.A., we don't see the plants and coal mines that generated the power...Only those paying careful attention make the connections. Another part of the problem is that we are reluctant to question science, which has such prestige that people rarely stop to question who is funding research and whether that could compromise findings. (Gibson 17)

Most people also don't understand how the theory of global warming works. They think that a really cold winter is evidence that global warming is a myth. However, scientists that support the ideas of global warming are referring to long-term climate change. Climate refers to environmental patterns over a long period of time. Weather refers to short-lived events, and can have isolated extremes. One of the predictions of many scientists is that global warming will cause more extreme weather: hotter summers, longer droughts, colder winters, and stronger storms. According to their theories, Europe could be tossed into another ice age because of global warming, not turned into a tropical paradise. This is because of the effect global warming could have on ocean currents.

Skeptics will often find any opportunity to attack the views of scientists based on some isolated weather event, or the lack of such an event. If the scientists predict increasing frequency and intensity of hurricanes, skeptics will point out that this last hurricane season was extremely mild, with the only intense storms hitting Mexico. Ultra-conservative commentator, Rush Limbaugh, doesn't just consider global warming to be a myth; he calls it a hoax and a religion.

"It's got salvation, got everything in it. It has the primary ingredient of every religion: faith. Because none of it can be proved" (Limbaugh 4). Limbaugh also takes issue with the use of the word "consensus" by global warming activists, and is right to do so. "Consensus and science-I got blue in the face saying this-don't and cannot mutually co-exist" (Limbaugh 4). If scientists had reached any sort of consensus, this would be a dead issue. Most scientists agree that the temperature of the earth has been gradually increasing, but that doesn't mean they agree on the possible causes or consequences.

A survey of more than 530 climate scientists from 27 different countries showed that 82% of the scientists agreed that global warming is occurring. Only 2.6% said they "strongly disagree." When asked if current scientific knowledge can allow for a reasonable assessment of greenhouse gases, two-thirds of the scientists disagreed with the statement.

The question most people are most keen to ask climate scientists is probably "do you agree or disagree that climate change is mostly the result of anthropogenic (man-made) causes?" Slightly more than half (55.8%) of climate scientists surveyed agreed, 14.2% were unsure, and 30% disagreed. Interestingly, more scientists "strongly disagree" than "strongly agree" that climate change is mostly the result of anthropogenic causes. The survey clearly shows that the debate over why the climate is changing is still underway, with nearly half of climate scientists disagreeing with what is often claimed to be the "consensus" view. (Bast 4)

The study goes on to clarify that the question wasn't whether humans have any effect on climate, but whether they are mostly to blame. It's certainly quite possible that humans are having at least some effect on the climate, but nothing can be proven with any certainty.

Some skeptics believe that mankind is too insignificant and could not possibly have so much influence on the environment. S. Fred Singer is a well-known climate change skeptic. He has been trying to gain support for the theory that climate change is a natural, cyclical process. He believes the earth has a 1,500-year cycle of warming and cooling, with minor ice ages interspersed with interglacial periods. Singer claims that his research shows this cycle going back at least one million years, often with abrupt changes. At one time, Greenland was quite green, with crops and livestock farming. Warm waters were abundant with fish and seals. There were two thriving settlements, but they were eventually lost to glaciers, malnutrition, and starvation.

Dairy farmers were even forced to eat their cows. This was due to a 1.5 degree Celsius drop in average temperatures between 1100 and 1400. "Denmark would not re-colonize Greenland until 1721, when the Little Ice Age was losing its grip on the huge island. Today, 150 years into the Modern Warming, Greenland has 50,000 people" (Singer xii). Singer believes that these cycles are caused by solar changes, not greenhouse gases. He is skeptical of activists who "ask society to renounce most of its use of fossil fuel-generated energy and accept radical reductions in standards of living to "save the planet" (Singer 3). While it makes sense to not be swept up in the alarmist propaganda of activists, being unwilling to sacrifice an air conditioner or SUV, if it is truly necessary, seems selfish and defiant.

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Monday, December 1, 2008

Melting Arctic Sea Ice And Global Warming Hype

Melting Arctic Sea Ice And Global Warming Hype
by James William Smith

There can be no dispute that the ice over the Arctic is melting pretty fast. Satellite pictures clearly show the extent of the decrease in Arctic ice during the last several years. In fact, observations from instruments on the ground, balloons, and satellites indicate that the Arctic is warming much faster than the rest of the planet.

Last year's seasonal ice shrinkage set records, reaching a September minimum of 2.6 million square miles, some 23 percent smaller than the previous record, set in 2005. If it sets another record this year, it would mark the fifth season of record declines since 1998.

In fact, preliminary data in June 2008 from University of Colorado researcher Sheldon Drobot does show that the vast expanse of ice at the top of the world is some 55,800 square miles smaller than it was on the same date last year.

The proponents of man-made global warming now point to the melting Arctic sea ice as proof that the planet is in immediate dire peril. Their climate models show that the Arctic sea ice is melting nearly three times faster than global warming computer models had previously projected.

Of course, melting Arctic Sea ice linked to the warming of the planet seems like an easy public relations correlation to make. Ice melts when temperatures rise. Arctic temperatures are rising fast apparently due to man-made global warming. The faster the ice melts, the faster the impact on the planet. So, everyone needs to spend more money and change behavior to eliminate CO2 gas to save the planet.

It all seems so logical until you think about it for awhile and do some research. Then, it really begins to not make much sense. Ultimately, I find that when things don't make sense then they are usually not true. Here is what bothers me about melting Arctic sea ice caused by man-made global warming from an increase in CO2 gas.

First, no study has ever directly linked the increase in global temperatures of the last several decades with melting Arctic ice. There is no scientific evidence of a direct connection, only media hype. In fact, with the climate projection models predicting only one third of the Arctic ice melt that is actually occurring, then maybe another reason outside of global warming is really at work.

Next, there has been a record melt in Arctic ice each year since 1999. However, the average global temperature has not increased and has actually started to decrease in the last few years while that Arctic ice has been melting at an increased pace. Ice melting faster when the planet's actual average temperature is going lower? Doesn't seem to make much sense, does it?

Now, consider that in 2008 ice between Canada and southwestern Greenland reached its highest level in 15 years according to Denmark's Meteorological Institute. The Institute used satellite images to track the southward expansion of the ice.

In fact, on a global basis, NOAA had this to say about world sea ice in April 2008. “Global sea ice reached levels that were “unprecedented” for the month of April in over 25 years. Levels are the third highest (for April) since the commencement of records in 1979, exceeded only by levels in 1979 and 1982."

So, if global warming is creating melting Arctic ice, then why is ice not melting everywhere? In fact, the world had more global sea ice in April 2008, than it had for over the last twenty five years. Again, if it doesn't seem to make much sense, it probably is not true.

So, the actual reason for melting Arctic ice may well have nothing to do with global warming. There have been several recent studies and discoveries in the Arctic that would suggest as much.

Recently, a team of scientists led by Dr. Robert Sohn of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts got a first-ever glimpse of the ocean floor (13,000 feet) beneath the Arctic pack ice. Indeed, they were astonished with what they saw.

Massive volcanoes had risen from the ocean floor deep under the Arctic ice cap, spewing plumes of fragmented magma into the sea. The eruptions took place in 1999 along the Gakkel Ridge, an underwater mountain chain snaking eleven hundred miles from the northern tip of Greenland to Siberia.

Remember, that the record Arctic sea ice melt began in 1999 the same year as these volcanic eruptions began on the ocean floor. The truth is if you overlay the area of melting Arctic sea ice over the area of these massive volcanic eruptions on the ocean floor, a compelling circumstantial case can be made that volcanic eruptions may indeed be the cause of Arctic ice melt.

Other studies also indicate that global warming may not be the cause of melting Arctic sea ice. Last year, a team led by Son Nghiem of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, Calif., studied trends in Arctic perennial ice cover by combining data from NASA’s Quick Scatterometer (QuikScat) satellite with a computing model based on observations of sea ice drift.

The conclusion of the NASA team was as follows: "Unusual atmospheric conditions set up wind patterns that compressed the sea ice, loaded it into the Transpolar Drift Stream and then sped its flow out of the Arctic". So, in effect, polar wind patterns changed and blew the sea ice further south to warmer waters leading to the record Arctic ice melt.

The fact is that there is so much that is unknown about how our climate changes over many thousands of years of time. This lack of knowledge makes it very easy for environmental alarmists to use melting Arctic ice and blame it on global warming due to a man-made increase in CO2 gas.

The point is that the cause of all that melting Arctic sea ice may have many different explanations. Indeed, melting Arctic Sea ice may well turn out to be just more misguided man-made global warming hype.

By: James William Smith

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