Global warming

Lee Poulsen
Fri, 03 Mar 2006 16:17:05 PST
It has been very interesting for me this past couple of weeks to see 
Eric Rignot's name in virtually every major newspaper, all over Google 
News, and even in some of the email lists I belong to (which are on 
completely different unrelated topics). He is in the office right next 
to mine at work. (I.e., his office is behind the wall I face when I'm 
sitting at my desk.) And just yesterday, his wife Isabella Velicogna, 
who works downstairs, showed up in Google News (for example on Fox News 
<,2933,186637,00.html>) with her results 
from a completely different method of measurement (change in gravity) 
showing that the Antarctic ice cap has also been losing ice for the 
past 3 years that the satellite she used has been in orbit 
<…>. One of the 
things that Eric showed that even the worst-case scenarios forgot to 
take into account is that the melting is causing the still frozen ice 
to slip and slide into the ocean anyway 
<…>. Since it 
displaces nearly as much volume as it would if it were melted, the net 
effect on world sea level is the same: Melted or not, all that ice and 
additional water will cause sea level to rise. Also today, as in the 
recent past, it was announced that the Iditarod race route in Alaska 
will have to be changed again due to a lack of snow along part of the 
original route.

So while there is some argument as to what kind of global climate 
change is occurring and just how much of it is due to human effects, no 
scientists are arguing that you can add all the extra CO2 and other 
compounds to the atmosphere that humans are adding and that it will 
have absolutely zero effect. That is scientifically ridiculous. Most 
people around here I know therefore refer to it as global climate 
change rather than global warming because no one knows for sure what 
the actual effects will be. But they all agree that there has to be 
effects of some kind.

I also haven't heard any results of anyone showing actual models or 
simulations that the earth will become nearly uninhabitable. That 
sounds like a huge overstatement of the problems that might occur. 
However, it would be very difficult to state with a straight face in 
the face of all the measured data showing up that nothing different 
will occur and that all will be the same as it has been for the past 
several centuries. I've even heard some people around here mention that 
Russia and Canada are already taking the very first initial steps to 
plan for setting up future shipping and trade routes and ports between 
the two countries for when the Arctic Ocean becomes mostly ice-free all 
year round.

Personally, I don't know what the solutions are. But ignoring what the 
data are starting to show more and more, and act as if none of it is 
really happening, or expect it to all go away sounds even more foolish 
or even childish to me. One can prepare for various scenarios just as 
people everywhere should prepare for things such as earthquakes or 
hurricanes or winter blizzards that are sure to occur depending on what 
area of the world you live in. I can't imagine living in North Dakota 
and living my annual life exactly as I would here in California and 
expect to have no problems of any kind in the future.

And it might be fun to be able to grow things outside that weren't 
possible a decade or two ago. Maybe that is a small silver lining that 
will help us get through things if the overall effects are worse than 
we expect...

--Lee Poulsen
Pasadena, California, USDA Zone 10a

On Mar 3, 2006, at 1:59 PM, Dell Sherk wrote:

> Here is an interesting article that was quoted from John Atcheson on 
> the
> yahoo mesembs group:
>> Climate change models predicted that it would take more than 1,000
>> years for Greenland's ice sheet to melt. But at the AAAS meeting in
>> St. Louis, NASA's Eric Rignot outlined the results of a study that
>> shows Greenland's ice cover is breaking apart and flowing into the sea
>> at rates far in excess of anything scientists predicted, and it's
>> accelerating each year. If (or when) Greenland's ice cover melts, it
>> will raise sea levels by 21 feet - enough to inundate nearly every sea
>> port in America.

>>  But they will spit on our bones and curse our names if we pass
>> on a world that is barely habitable when it was in our power to
>> prevent it.

More information about the pbs mailing list