The ever-changing debate on climate change

Have you heard the latest on climate change? The Arctic Sea ice has increased 60 percent from September of last year. It grew from 1.32 million square miles in 2012 to 2.35 million this year.

This is after a 2007 BBC report predicting that the Arctic would be free of ice in 2013 and the Northwest Passage would once again be navigable. John Roach reported in a Sept. 17, 2007 article in National Geographic News that melting ice was opening the Northwest Passage (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/pf/38614724.html).

As a result of believing that prediction, there are now more than 20 yachts which are ice-bound in the Northwest Passage. Arctic ice now extends from Canada’s northern islands to Russia’s northern shore.

Professor Anastasios Tsonis of the University of Wisconsin studies ocean cycles. He concludes, “We are already in a cooling trend, which I think will continue for the next 15 years at least. There is no doubt the warming of the 1980s and 1990s have stopped.” David Rose writes in the British Mail publication that “the pause – which is accepted as real by every major climate research centre is important because the models’ predictions of ever-increasing global temperatures have made many of the world’s economies divert billions of pounds into green measures to counter climate change.”

We all know that the “doom” of global warming attributed to human activity and carbon dioxide has been the popular message in recent years. Climate alarmists attribute this global warming to the human activities of burning fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change included such predictions in its 2007 report on climate.

However, some of us were faced with the “doom” of the coming ice age in the 1970s. That too, was attributed to human activity such as industrial soot, dust from farms, jet exhaust, aerosols, urbanization and deforestation. The National Academy of Sciences issued a report warning of the coming ice age in 1975. A July 9, 1971 Washington Post article reported that “the world could be as little as 50 or 60 years away from a disastrous ice age, a leading atmospheric scientist predicts.” Magazines like Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report carried similar articles.

On the first Earth Day celebration in 1970 environmentalist Nigel Calder warned “the threat of a new ice age must now stand alongside nuclear war as a likely source of wholesale death and misery for mankind.” Kenneth E. F. Watt also said, “If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature by 1990 but even 11 degrees cooler by the year 2000.”

Even the U. S. Counter Intelligence Agency feared global cooling in the 1970’s. It ordered several studies of the world climate. The studies concluded, “The world is entering a difficult period during which major climate change (further cooling) is likely to occur. That is the consensus of the CIA, which highlights the fact that we are overdue for a new ice age.”

A review of the literature indicates that there have been dire warnings of devastating climate change for many years. According to R. Warren Anderson of the Business and Media Institute, “The media has warned about impending climate doom four different times over the last 100 years. Only they can’t decide if mankind will die from warming or cooling.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is preparing to release a new version of its climate assessment on Sept. 27. The word is that it will state that the expected temperature rise as a result of man-made emissions of carbon dioxide will be lower than projected in 2007. Panel Chairman Rajendra Pachauri now acknowledges that the pause in global warming might already have lasted for 17 years.

Many climate experts believe that warming of less than two degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels will cause no environmental or economic damage. Consequently, the new report is expected to say that, based on the middle range of the panel’s emission projections, there is a 50–50 chance that the benefits of climate change will outweigh harm by 2083.

Such warming is actually thought to be beneficial, as it would allow farming farther north, improve crop yields, increase forest growth and increase rainfall. The increased carbon dioxide causes plants to grow faster and require less water.

It is sometimes good to try to put things into perspective. Much of what is now our country is thought to once have been hot and humid jungle where the landscape was covered with conifers and ferns and dinosaurs roamed. Glaciers that changed the landscape also covered much of what is now the northern United States at times. These events were real significant climate changes!

The most interesting climate change theory that I found was research published in Current Biology in the UK. Dr. Dave Wilkerson from Liverpool Moores University calculated that huge plant-eating dinosaurs may have produced enough greenhouse gas by breaking wind to change the earth’s climate. His calculations indicate that the methane-producing bacteria in the dinosaurs’ stomachs produced more methane than all modern natural and man-made sources. Methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

The information behind the climate changes that we talk so much about again appears to be somewhat questionable. It could well be just another earth cycle or solar effect that we can do little about.

Chuck Drury is an Anoka resident, retired engineer and former technical director of Federal Cartridge Company.

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