climate researcher: We've got 10 years left
While a leading U.S. climate researcher claims there's a decade at most left to address "global warming" before environmental disaster takes place, the federal government issued a report showing the year 1936 had a hotter summer than 2006.
"I think we have a very brief window of opportunity to deal with climate change ... no longer than a decade, at the most," said James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
Addressing the Climate Change Research Conference this week, Hansen said if "business as usual" continues, world temperatures will rise by 3.6 to 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit and "we will be producing a different planet."
Ironically, a report issued yesterday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says that while the summer of 2006 was the second-warmest on record, the hottest year for the contiguous 48 states since statistics began in 1895 was 1936 – seven decades ago.
"The average June-August 2006 temperature for the contiguous United States (based on preliminary data) was 2.4 degrees F (1.3 degrees C) above the 20th century average of 72.1 degrees F (22.3 degrees C)," said the NOAA report. "This was the second warmest summer on record, slightly cooler than the record of 74.7 degrees F set in 1936 during the Dust Bowl era. This summer's average was 74.5 degrees F. Eight of the past ten summers have been warmer than the U.S. average for the same period."
Looking back to the winter and spring months of this year, NOAA points out, "The persistence of the anomalous warmth in 2006 made this January-August period the warmest on record for the continental U.S., eclipsing the previous record of 1934."Hansen, who has claimed previously the Bush administration tried to silence him about his findings on the climate, says the U.S. "has passed up the opportunity" to impact the world on global warming.
He's now urging not only more energy efficiency, but a reduction in dependence on carbon-burning fuels.
"We cannot burn off all the fossil fuels that are readily available without causing dramatic climate change," Hansen said. "This is not something that is a theory. We understand the carbon cycle well enough to say that."
NASA this week also released the results of two studies suggesting large reductions in the amount of winter Arctic sea ice.
Dr. Son Nghiem, who led one of the projects at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said, "the change we see between 2004 and 2005 is enormous."
British professor Julian Dowdeswell, director of the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge, said the variations shown by the U.S. studies were "huge," but he told the Independent newspaper, "It remains to be seen whether the rate of change is maintained in future years."
As if to allay fears of rising waters, the paper pointed out: "The melting of the Arctic ice will not itself contribute to global sea-level rise, as the ice floating in the sea is already displacing its own mass in the water. When the ice cube melts in your gin and tonic, the liquid in your glass does not rise."
Despite the recent claims, the idea the Earth is heating up is hardly a universal belief.
As WND previously reported, another NASA-funded study noted some climate forecasts might be exaggerating estimations of global warming.
The space agency said climate models possibly were overestimating the amount of water vapor entering the atmosphere as the Earth warms.
The theory many scientists work with says the Earth heats up in response to human emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, causing more water to evaporate from the ocean into the atmosphere.
WND also reported that Dr. Fred Singer, professor emeritus of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia, maintains there has been little or no warming since about 1940.
"Any warming from the growth of greenhouse gases is likely to be minor, difficult to detect above the natural fluctuations of the climate, and therefore inconsequential," Singer wrote in a climate-change essay. "In addition, the impacts of warming and of higher CO2 levels are likely to be beneficial for human activities and especially for agriculture."
In July 2004, the London Telegraph reported on a study by Swiss and German scientists suggesting increased radiation from the sun – not human activity – was to blame for climate changes.
"The sun is in a changed state," said Dr. Sami Solanki of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Gottingen, Germany. "It is brighter than it was a few hundred years ago and this brightening started relatively recently – in the last 100 to 150 years."
The research adds credence to the beliefs of British professor David Bellamy, president of the London-based Conservation Foundation.
"Global warming – at least the modern nightmare version – is a myth," Bellamy told the Telegraph. "I am sure of it and so are a growing number of scientists. But what is really worrying is that the world's politicians and policy-makers are not.
"Instead, they have an unshakeable faith in what has, unfortunately, become one of the central credos of the environmental movement: humans burn fossil fuels, which release increased levels of carbon dioxide – the principal so-called greenhouse gas – into the atmosphere, causing the atmosphere to heat up. They say this is global warming, I say this is poppycock."
Yet another study this week teaming scientists at the Planck Institute with others in the U.S. and Switzerland claimed the energy from the sun has varied only slightly in the past 1,000 years, suggesting human factors were to blame for any increase in temperatures on Earth.
"Overall, we can find no evidence for solar luminosity variations of sufficient amplitude to drive significant climate variations on centennial, millennial or even million-year timescales," the report said.
"Our results imply that over the past century climate change due to human influences must far outweigh the effects of changes in the sun's brightness," said Tom Wigley of the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research.
In December 2003, NASA reported global warming on Mars, even though the red planet is not subject to pollutants of human habitation.
"One explanation could be that Mars is just coming out of an ice age," William Feldman of the Los Alamos National Laboratory told Space.com.
In July 2004, WND reported on a controversial study released by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation suggesting white people were most to blame for global warming.
The study alleged responsibility for the problem does not lie primarily with blacks, stating, "African-American households emit 20 percent less carbon dioxide than white households. Historically, this difference was even higher."
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