Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Global warming and real science

Here is a great article on global warming by actual scientists. I found it in a recent issue of Chemical & Engineering News, one of those geeky science publications that I only know about because my wife is a Ph.D. chemist.

"Clearly, Earth is warming. Surface air temperature records, radiosonde (a small instrument package suspended below a balloon) data, and satellite observations all indicate that the planet has heated up over the past century. The 11 warmest years since the beginning of instrumental records have occurred since 1990. The warming observed in the Northern Hemisphere since 1900 has been greater than any other during the past millennium. At the same time, ocean temperatures have risen significantly since the mid-1950s.

Even without temperature records, there is strong evidence the planet is heating up. Mountain glaciers all over the world are retreating. Snow cover is decreasing. Snow is falling later in the season and melting earlier than it did a few decades ago.

Concomitant with the warming have been increases in cloud cover and precipitation at mid to high latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere, and decreases in precipitation in the subtropics. Droughts are more severe in Asia and Africa and in some parts of the U.S. and Europe. Since 1900, sea levels have risen 10 to 20 cm, from thermal expansion and melting glaciers. El NiƱo events--the periodic warming of the tropical Pacific that affects weather patterns around the world--have apparently become more intense and more frequent."

The article is densely packed with real scientific data and takes pains to expose a lot of the myths that right-wing groups tout and which frequently end up in the popular media.

I was going to point out a particularly bad column by J. Francis Gardner that parrots some of those same right-wing myths (Part II on his Kyoto bashing series), but for some reason it is not online. Maybe the E-N decided to yank it for being so filled with wrong-headed and incorrect statements. But if that were the case, they still have not pulled the Jonathan Gurwitz' column that was quoting an article in the London Daily Telegraph that turned out to be based on forged documents. And of course Gurwitz has never offered a correction either.

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