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Friday, August 12, 2005

Evidence of global warming

It's nearly 100 degrees Fahrenheit in Louisville today. I've complained about this summer's heat previously, and there's been no improvement.

Is today's heat (and this summer's heatwave) evidence of global warming?

Probably not.

However, there is plenty of evidence that the earth is warming -- and major scientific organizations agree. Chris Mooney wrote this in his June 2005 piece for Mother Jones:
In 1988, under the auspices of the United Nations, scientists and government officials inaugurated the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a global scientific body that would eventually pull together thousands of experts to evaluate the issue, becoming the gold standard of climate science. In the IPCC’s first assessment report, published in 1990, the science remained open to reasonable doubt. But the IPCC’s second report, completed in 1995, concluded that amid purely natural factors shaping the climate, humankind’s distinctive fingerprint was evident. And with the release of the IPCC’s third assessment in 2001, a strong consensus had emerged: Notwithstanding some role for natural variability, human-created greenhouse gas emissions could, if left unchecked, ramp up global average temperatures by as much as 5.8 degrees Celsius (or 10.4 degrees Fahrenheit) by the year 2100. “Consensus as strong as the one that has developed around this topic is rare in science,” wrote Science Editor-in-Chief Donald Kennedy in a 2001 editorial.
In another article in that issue, Ross Gelbspan wrote:
The IPCC’s conclusions, that the burning of fossil fuels is indeed causing significant shifts in the earth’s climate, have been corroborated by the American Academy for the Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical Union, the American Meteorological Society, and the National Academy of Sciences. D. James Baker, former administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, echoed many scientists when he said, “There is a better scientific consensus on this than on any other issue I know—except maybe Newton’s second law of dynamics.”
Non-scientists perhaps prefer anecdotes, which is why I began this post with today's temperature.

An accompanying map provides such anecdotal evidence to highlight many of the numerous changes scientists have noted. All indicate that global warming is occurring. However, this is by far the funniest:
A melting glacier in the Yukon revealed an 8-foot-tall, half-mile-long pile of ancient caribou dung.
It's scatalogical and old news in blogtopia, but think about the poor scientist who came across that discovery.

In its 10 day forecast for Louisville, the National Weather Service predicts temperatures greater than 90 degrees Fahrenheit every day through August 21.

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