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Monday, February 25, 2008

Global Warming-Global Cooling- Battle of the Experts

When one set of experts and scientists claim we are suffering global warming and another set of scientists and experts say we are not, then a third group of scientists and experts say we might be headed toward global cooling... what are we to think?
If the experts cannot agree, looking at the same data but interpreting it differently, then how are we, as the worlds population, supposed to make heads or tails of the whole warming/not warming/cooling battle?

Lets first show the arguments on all sides of the issue.

52 scientists signed off on the UN IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Summary for Policymakers, stating that there was a "consensus" that determined that global warming, the 21 page PDF report can be found here.

Changes in the atmospheric abundance of greenhouse gases and aerosols, in solar radiation and in land surface properties alter the energy balance of the climate system. These changes are expressed in terms of radiative forcing, which is used to compare how a range of human and natural factors drive warming or cooling influences on global climate. Since the Third Assessment Report (TAR), new observations and related modelling of greenhouse gases, solar activity, land surface properties and some aspects of aerosols have led to improvements in the quantitative estimates of radiative forcing.

Follow that up with 400 experts and scientists that dispute man made global warming.

Over 400 prominent scientists from more than two dozen countries recently voiced significant objections to major aspects of the so-called "consensus" on man-made global warming. These scientists, many of whom are current and former participants in the UN IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), criticized the climate claims made by the UN IPCC and former Vice President Al Gore.

We see the scene set for the battle of experts which cannot seem to agree on whether global warming is occurring nor the reason for it if it is occurring.

Both sets of experts above have impressive credentials, both sets are citing statistical data that support their claims and both sets have researchers and scientists that come from a vast collection of countries across the globe.

The battle is being fought out in the media, blogs, op-eds and news articles written by reporters and/or citizen journalists, none of which hold the education or resumes that the experts hold and yet all using this battle for political purposes.

It is enough to make your head spin but wait!!!

We now have a third argument, brought in by another op-ed journalist who is citing another set of experts, looking at different data and statistics, adding in addition information and lo and behold- now the question of global cooling is being added into the confusion.

According to Robert Toggweiler of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory at Princeton University and Joellen Russell, assistant professor of biogeochemical dynamics at the University of Arizona -- two prominent climate modellers -- the computer models that show polar ice-melt cooling the oceans, stopping the circulation of warm equatorial water to northern latitudes and triggering another Ice Age (a la the movie The Day After Tomorrow) are all wrong.

"We missed what was right in front of our eyes," says Prof. Russell. It's not ice melt but rather wind circulation that drives ocean currents northward from the tropics. Climate models until now have not properly accounted for the wind's effects on ocean circulation, so researchers have compensated by over-emphasizing the role of manmade warming on polar ice melt.

This writer also provides data from the U.S. National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) which shows that "many American cities and towns suffered record cold temperatures in January and early February. According to the NCDC, the average temperature in January "was -0.3 F cooler than the 1901-2000 (20th century) average."

The talk of China having the most "brutal" winter in centuries, they speak of snow and ice storms in Ontario and Quebec in the past two months and the point out that Toronto, in the first two weeks of February, received 70 cm of snow, smashing the record of 66.6 cm for the entire month set back in the pre-SUV, pre-Kyoto, pre-carbon footprint days of 1950.

The we have Gilles Langis, a senior forecaster with the Canadian Ice Service in Ottawa who asserts that the Arctic Sea ice that last Fall had melted to its "lowest levels on record, has not only recovered that ice but it is actually 10 to 20 cm thicker in many places than at this time last year."

So we have three sides of one issue being presented by experts in the field, all of whom disagree with each other on the interpretation of the data collected and each one with impressive credentials.

Perhaps we, as the citizens across the globe, should quit trying to pressure any group of experts by using the media to make this a political issue and let the experts do their jobs, come to indisputable conclusions before we race onto the bandwagon of any given side of this issue.

Maybe we should acknowledge that we do not have the education, the background nor the all of the statistical data and it is possible that our injecting ourselves into an issue that even the experts cannot agree on yet, by offering all of our collective uninformed opinions, we might just be making the whole battle worse.