Ice Storms and Blizzards Don’t Mean We’re Cool (Global Warming Still Happening)

February 18, 2009 | | Comments Off on Ice Storms and Blizzards Don’t Mean We’re Cool (Global Warming Still Happening)

Professor Ryan’s ACS contribution emphasized the importance of the new Green Deal for stimulating the economy and saving the planet. However, recent severe winter storms may have some of us wondering, “This can’t be global warming, is the environment okay now?” The February 15 edition of EarthTalk, the question-and-answer column of E-The Environmental Magazine, responded to this question and their answer seems to be that no, the environment is not really okay now. First and foremost, the column explains that no single storm/season/year can serve as a solid indication of where the environment is heading, and that extremes on either end of the thermometer are a bad sign. And, while the reports of destructive ice and snow and plummeting temperatures are distracting, the overall trend over the last few decades has been one of warming. In fact, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported last week that January 2009 temperatures are above the long-term average.

Other reports on this topic confirm that the Earth is getting warmer, despite the low temperatures in the headlines. ScienceDaily’s Monday article on the melting Greenland and Antarctic ice sheet explains the impact warming oceans are having and will continue to have on the ice sheets and, consequentially, on the global sea level. Of course some say that the data on global warming’s cause, even its existence, is not conclusive. There are drastically conflicting views on the issue. Web sites such as the Skeptics Global Warming question the idea, specifically the contention that the earth’s warming is caused by humans. In contrast, a February 10 New Scientist article argues that climate scientists are actually quite certain about global warming and attributes the confusion to inconclusive vocabulary (“virtually certain”, “very likely”, etc.), not inconclusive data.

The cause of global warming, our ability to stop it, and even its existence continue to be debated. However, for those of us who believe that the Earth is in trouble, it is clear that winter storms are not a signal to sleep on global warming.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user FotoDawg.

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