Tuesday, August 08, 2006

GLOBAL WARMING LEGENDS

With the sweltering heat this summer, while many don’t take it as direct evidence of human influence, it at least brings the topic of global warming to the forefront of their minds. I don’t know how many times I have seen good morning America do a story on recent weather events and link them to global warming caused by human progress. The media, MTV, and academics all love to share the stories and legends of global warming.

Legend 1: The warming earth is causing the polar ice caps to melt. – Real data stands behind the fact that the arctic temperature was just as warm in the 1940’s as it is today and possibly warmer. A recent issue of Science indicated that in some areas ice sheets are actually growing.

Legend 2: The recent increase in major hurricanes has resulted from global warming. –The truth is while hurricane activity may be picking up; it is due to the ordinary multidecadel time cycles that govern sea surface temperature and hurricane intensity.

Global mean surface temperatures have increased by about 1 degree over the last century, however satellite data indicate that there has been no increase of atmospheric temperature since 1979. While the green house effect is an accepted phenomenon, and while levels of green house gases have increased over the last 100 years, there is no way to prove that human activity is causing global warming. Making this assumption is pretty bold, but the increased speculation about hurricanes and melting ice caps really pushes credulity to the limit.

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