Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What happened to the climate consensus?


What happened to the climate consensus?

Tue. Jan 20 - 4:46 AM

CAN we all agree – yet – that the issue is settled?

Scientists DON’T all agree the planet is warming precipitously, or that humans are responsible for that supposed warming. In fact, more and more experts in a number of fields have been speaking up to challenge the supposed scientific "consensus" on climate change.

As the headlines scream out the latest sensational warning – a NASA scientist now predicts U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has just four years to save the planet – let’s not forget that last month, more than 650 international scientists went on record as dissenting from the man-made global warming findings of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Who are these scientists?

The list, which grew by a substantial 250 new names from a similar statement in late 2007, includes prominent names in fields ranging from geology, atmospheric science and solar physics to meteorology, oceanography and paleoclimatology. According to the U.S. Senate’s environment and public works committee minority report, released Dec. 10, the skeptics also include many current and former IPCC scientists.

You can check it for yourself with a quick Google search, but here’s a sample of some of the comments from scientists:

"It is a blatant lie put forth in the media that makes it seem there is only a fringe of scientists who don’t buy into anthropogenic global warming." – atmospheric scientist Stanley B. Goldenberg

"Fears about man-made global warming are unwarranted and are not based on good science." – physicist Will Happer

"For how many years must the planet cool before we begin to understand that the planet is not warming? For how many years must cooling go on?" – geologist Dr. David Gee

According to the document, the planet has actually been in a cooling trend during the last decade, not getting warmer.

That claim certainly fits the theories of scientists who say warming and cooling trends on Earth are closely related to sunspot activity, and that the lull in the numbers of these solar phenomena in recent years has corresponded with dropping temperatures.

More worrying are claims by Russian scientists that their research has convinced them the planet faces not overheating, but the imminent return of a major ice age.

Talking about ice ages as we shiver through another winter of record-setting cold in many parts of North America (though Nova Scotia just seems snowier this year) is not meant to suggest there’s more than coincidence at work in terms of short-term weather patterns. That, of course, would be as unfair as suggesting global warming is out of control in the middle of a summer hot spell.

But the fact remains that scientists have long known the Earth has gone through a cycle – for perhaps a million years – of ice ages, lasting perhaps 100,000 years, which have been regularly interrupted by short, warmer periods of 12,000 years or so. According to that clock, we’re apparently overdue for a major refreeze, since the last ice age ended more than 12,000 years back.

I’m not buying that we’re on the brink of kilometre-thick ice sheets stretching down south from the Arctic, but the report – and the undisputed fact that the planet has cycled through ice ages and warm periods for a very long time – certainly shows that not everyone’s on board with Al Gore, UN IPCC and the global-warming conformists.

Regardless of the shifting sands in terms of the science, I think it’s safe to say that many people are far more worried about the current global economic crisis than about claims by either the warming or cooling crowd. We’ve already seen European countries recently move to water down their Kyoto treaty requirements.

The acknowledgement there actually is a scientific debate about global warming and its causes would be, at the very least, a refreshing change from the monotonous droning of the climate change cultists that it’s all a done deal. Um, no, it’s not.

Prominent scientists, in ever greater numbers, are now speaking up to reject the group-think paradigm. While there’s no doubt the climate is changing, there’s less certainty about just where it’s going.

I expect one trend to continue, however. I predict the number of scientists willing to defy the global warming "consensus" is only going to get bigger.

( pauls@herald.ca)

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