Snow cover around the world is greater than it’s ever been in over four decades. The Arctic Sea ice that was hysterically lamented this past year for having hit the "lowest levels on record” (which actually weren’t even kept for the region before 1972) is on the rebound. Temperatures in the US are at record-breaking lows. According to the National Weather Service, temperature were just one degree shy of beating a record low held since 1888 earlier this month, as temperatures fell to an extreme 40 below zero in Embarrass, Minnesota. (Yes, that is the real name of the city, and it’s purely a humorous coincidence that the name appears to cleverly poke fun at global warming alarmists everywhere.)
According to Canadian newspaper National Post, a senior forecaster with the Canadian Ice Service in Ottawa, Gilles Langis, recently confirmed that the Arctic winter has been so bitterly cold that the ice has not only recovered, but is significantly thicker than it was this same time last year in many places. Siberia and China are experiencing some of the most bitterly cold winter in years. According to the U.S. National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) the average temperature in January for the US was -0.3 F cooler than the 1901-2000 (20th century) average. Does that mean that Global Warming is an over-hyped “hoax”, or at least based on well intentioned, yet limited science? That’s a fair question.
Anthropological and geological evidence both show that there have been much greater melts and freezes than we’ve seen at any time during this last century or even millennium. The Earth has experienced extreme cycles of prolonged warmth and cold long before humankind stepped onto the scene with our SUVs and penchant for plastic. We may be polluting the environment with our wanton waste; however, we’re still too puny of a factor to significantly raise the temperature of planet Earth, according to some critics.
Okay, so maybe we haven’t heated things up as bad as we’ve been told, but what if the Hollywood hit The Day After Tomorrow had it right all along and climate change really means we’re all going to freeze to death? Well, that probably isn’t going to happen either, admits two prominent climate model experts, Robert Toggweiler of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory at Princeton University and Joellen Russell, assistant professor of biogeochemical dynamics at the University of Arizona.
They say that their computer models showing polar ice-melt cooling the oceans (which would then stop the circulation of warm equatorial water to northern latitudes and trigger another Ice Age) were wrong too.
"We missed what was right in front of our eyes," admits Prof. Russell. Apparently, it's not ice melt but rather wind circulation that drives the ocean currents northward from the tropics. Climate models until now have not accounted for the wind's effects on ocean circulation, so researchers over-compensated by unduly emphasizing the role of manmade warming on polar ice melt. After Toggweiler and Russell updated the models to include the 40-year cycle of winds, they found there was nothing particularly alarming going on.
Even so, several prominent scientists say that we’re more in greater danger of record cold temperatures than record highs in the coming years. According to Canadian scientist Kenneth Tapping of the National Research Council solar activity has entered an inactive phase. Oleg Sorokhtin, a fellow of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences agrees. He calls manmade climate change "a drop in the bucket" compared to the cold brought on by inactive solar phases. He advises people to "stock up on fur coats."
In fact, the last time the sun was this inactive, Earth suffered unusually cold weather that lasted about five centuries up until around 1850, which led to widespread crop failures and subsequent famine. While no one is suggesting that the same thing is about to happen, it’s worth noting that if scientists can’t agree on whether we’re about to roast or freeze to death—it’s safe to say that they probably don’t have all of the answers yet. It seems a bit premature to assume much of anything at this point.
Maybe global warming is going to be as bad as some experts surmise, or maybe it isn’t even worth worrying about. Hopefully, however, the growing trend of greater environmental responsibility, that global warming fears helped usher in, will not be abandoned should global warming prove to not be as dire as predicted. Devastating climate changes or not, the Earth is still in desperate need of better stewardship. Habitat destruction resulting in rising plant and animal extinction rates, air pollution, contaminated water, and many other man-made maladies, should still serve as reminders that the need for humankind to figure out how to generate clean energy and better conserve our resources hasn’t disappeared—even if global warming headlines have.
Posted by Rebecca Sato
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