Saturday, February 24, 2007

GLOBAL WARMING: UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

I have been critical of the media's portrayal of climatologists vs. economists. While they rarely seek genuine material from economists, there have been a few occasions that I have witnessed interviews with economists discussing the 'pros and cons' of popular policies such as increasing the minimum wage.

I seldom see any news stories where climate change is discussed in any context other than one being inexorably connected to human activity. Positions held by 'skeptics' such as Richard Lindzen of MIT are seldom debated. Here are some issues I would like to see cleared up with good reporting.

1) Global warming is supposed to lead to increased numbers and/or intensity of hurricanes. If global temperatures are increasing at the poles, then shouldn't there be fewer hurricanes since it is temperature differences across global regions that cause hurricanes? Shouldn't the warmer temperatures decrease the excitation energy responsible for their formation?

2) Do climate models account for the 'Iris Effect'? This is where upper level cirrus clouds contract with increased temperatures. It provides a strong negative feedback effect that actually decreases the warming effect of increased CO2 levels.

3) Do climate models incorrectly emphasize positive feedback mechanisms while empirical evidence supports negative feedback loops?

4) Can you empirically link past CO2 levels to climate change and forecast what effect anthropogenically produced CO2 will have on the climate in the future? How can you statistically separate the effects of solar cycles, the earth's rotation, and its axis tilt from anthropogenically increased levels of CO2?

5) Can you explain or debunk the early February article published in the journal Science that documents a reversal of ice melting in Greenland?

These are questions posed by a layman. I have no background in climate science. These are ideas that I have been able to gather from multiple sources. I have seen numerous stories in the media linking human activity to global warming (AGW), but have never witnessed a comprehensive discussion of these views in the media. To an expert, many of these questions may seem naive, and unworthy of reporting. However, until even naive assertions are taken seriously and addressed formally by the media with facts, skeptics of AGW will remain.

When credentialed skeptics are attacked personally, dubbed as lunatics, and dismissed on a regular basis, I think members of the thinking population ( that are not climatologists) will remain unconvinced regardless of how large the consensus about AGW is reported to be.

note: AGW- anthropogenic global warming

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