WASHINGTON (AP) -- The rumblings of global warming are echoing across Greenland.
Groups of scientists studying ancient climate, tweaking computer models of future climate and even listening to earthquakes add to the evidence that global warming is melting polar ice, according to a series of papers in this week's issue of the journal Science.
At the current rate of rising temperatures, by the year 2100 Arctic summers could be as warm as they were 130,000 years ago. Back then, in a time known as the last interglacial, the oceans were 20 feet higher than they are now.
That does not mean the researchers are predicting a 20-foot ocean rise by the end of this century; more like a couple of feet, they think. But such a warming is expected to accelerate melting of the polar ice and could lead to considerable additional sea-level rise, they said.
The article (you can read it on CNN.com) goes on...
Hmmm...seems that the earth was once warmer than it is now? Could it be that not all "global warming" is caused by evil humans?
Another interesting point in the same article was that the polar ice caps on Mars have also been shrinking steadily for a while now. Now, this could
be caused by SUV's, of course, but it would seem more likely to be an effect of some kind of increase in the output of solar radiation. I mean, the thing burns at what, a couple billion degrees? Seems to me like the few degrees of extra heat that are routinely cited as the cause of "global warming" (ie, my
fault), could in fact possibly be caused by what amounts to little more than a statistically insignificant flare-up of solar activity.
Don't get me wrong, I'm cool with cutting back some, but I don't think that some of the Holy Grail proposals that have been bandied about are the way to do it.
This was an interesting article from the Wall Street Journal (yes, that purveyor of evil capitalist thought!) a few days ago. Just food for thought:
Kyoto? No Go.
How to combat "global warming" without destroying the economy.
BY PETE DU PONT
Tuesday, March 28, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST
Did the 1970s mark the beginning of an ice age? Scientists and the press thought so. In 1971 Global Ecology forecast the "continued rapid cooling of the earth." The New York Times reported in 1975 that "many signs" suggest that the "earth may be headed for another ice age," and Science magazine that this cooling could be the beginning of "a full-blown 10,000-year ice age." It seemed sensible because, as NASA data show, there was indeed a 30-year, 0.2-degree Celsius cooling trend from 1940 to 1970.
So are we now at the beginning of a global warming catastrophe? Again, scientists and the press think so: the same NASA data indicates a 0.7-degree warming trend from 1970 to 2000. The Washington Post's David Ignatius reflects the media view in saying that "human activity is accelerating dangerous changes in the world's climate."
But it is not clear that human activity is wholly responsible. The Washington Policy Center reports that Mount Rainier in Washington state grew cooler each year from 1960 to 2003, warming only in 2004. And Mars is warming significantly. NASA reported last September that the red planet's south polar ice cap has been shrinking for six years. As far as we know few Martians drive SUVs or heat their homes with coal, so its ice caps are being melted by the sun--just as our Earth's are. Duke University scientists have concluded that "at least 10 to 30 percent of global warming measured during the past two decades may be due to increased solar output."
So what is causing these cooling and warming increases? Normal temperature trends? Solar radiation changes? Or human-caused global warming? There is little we can do about historical temperature or solar heat cycles, but if human actions are in fact causing global warming, what could be done to reduce it?
One remedy is improved technology, and here America is making significant progress. Philip Deutch's article in the December edition of Foreign Policy lays it out: "Today's cars use only 60 percent of the gasoline they did in 1972; new refrigerators about one third the electricity; and it now takes 55 percent less oil and gas than in 1973 to generate the same amount of gross domestic product." The cost of wind power production is down 80% over 20 years, and "the cost of solar power has fallen from almost $1 per kilowatt to less than 18 cents."
On the other hand, there are some remedies that are not being pursued. "More than 50 percent of U.S. consumers," Deutch notes, "have the option of buying electricity generated from renewable energy sources. . . . Only 1 or 2 percent actually do." And while two dozen low-pollution nuclear power plants are under construction in nine nations (and another 40 are planned), in America government regulation has virtually stopped nuclear plant construction. Our last nuclear plant was ordered in 1973 and completed in 1996, and no others are under construction.
We also know that the Kyoto Treaty will do little to solve the carbon-dioxide problem. Masquerading as a global environmental policy, Kyoto exempts half of the world's population and nine of the top 20 emitters of carbon dioxide--including China and India--from its emissions reduction requirements. It is in fact an effort to replace the world's markets with an internationally regulated (think U.N.) global economy, perhaps better described as a predatory trade strategy to level the world's economic playing field by penalizing the economic growth of energy efficient nations and rewarding those emitting much greater quantities of noxious gasses. Which explains why in 1997 the U.S. Senate voted 95-0 to oppose the signing of any international protocol that would commit Western nations to reduce emissions unless developing countries had to do so as well.
As The Wall Street Journal recently pointed out, almost none of the nations that signed on are meeting Kyoto's requirements. Thirteen of the original 15 European signatories will likely miss the 2010 emission reduction targets. Spain will miss its target by 33 percentage points and Denmark by 25 points. Targets aside, Greece and Canada have seen their emissions rise by 23% and 24%, respectively, since 1990. As for America, our emissions have increased 16%, so we are doing better than many of the Kyoto nations.
In the December 2004 issue of Environment, Princeton professors Robert Socolow and Stephen Pacala calculated what actions would be necessary to keep global emissions at their current levels for the next 50 years. Rejecting the Kyoto approach, they conclude that new energy strategies would be monumental efforts that "must be implemented on a massive scale across all sectors of the economy and in countries at all stages of economic development":
For starters, replace every burned-out incandescent light bulb in the world with a compact fluorescent bulb, which is four times as energy-efficient.
Then construct two million new wind turbines--a 50-fold expansion of wind power machines. To function properly they must be far enough apart to allow wind pressure to flow between them, so about five turbines per square mile can be installed. But windmill construction is controversial. The environmentally dedicated Kennedy family has already forbidden wind power off their summer island of Nantucket. Why? Because, says Robert Kennedy Jr., a lawyer with the Natural Resources Defense Counsel, the wind farm would "damage the views from 16 historic sites." One of them, of course, is the Kennedy family summer compound.
Using natural gas instead of burning coal would help a great deal too. Messrs. Socolow and Pacala say that "50 large liquefied natural gas (LNG) tankers docking and unloading every day" would do it, or "building the equivalent of the Alaska natural gas pipeline . . . every year." In America today LNG terminals and pipelines can't get anywhere near the support they need from members of Congress or state legislators, for both are believed to be too dangerous and too environmentally risky.
One million square miles--about the size of India--of cropland to grow sugar cane to turn into ethanol is another option the Princeton scholars offer up.
Finally there is the nuclear energy option, not one that the U.S. has been willing to participate in for the past 30 years. Globally some 700 new nuclear plants would be needed to meet the carbon-dioxide reduction goal, assuming of course that we can deal with the nuclear weapons risk posed by each of these plants, as we are now trying to do with Iran.
None of these startling recommendations--except perhaps the light bulbs--are economically or politically inexpensive, and none are going to come to pass in the foreseeable future. So the Princeton professors suggest a 10-year, 20% solution as a first step: just 400,000 new wind turbines, 140 nuclear plants, 10 natural gas pipelines and so forth.
As these politically explosive ideas are endlessly debated, the best things we can do are, first, to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses in ways that do not reduce economic growth; and second, to keep improving technology--in cars, electric generating plants and manufacturing machinery. Third, we must keep researching the real cause of climate change to understand better the sun's solar output and the historical rise and fall of global temperatures.
Finally, we must permanently reject the Kyoto concept, for international regulation of the world's economic process would be the beginning of the end of the world's opportunities.