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Sat, Aug. 24

The heat rises on global warming

Nothing says Thanksgiving like a political and cultural intersection of Gotcha! and Wait Let Me Explain. Oh, make that scientific as well.

It's hard to say whether the recent stolen emails between climatologists will change peoples' opinions or merely increase the strength of already invested viewpoints on both sides of the ongoing outbreak that Will Ferrell-as-George-W.-Bush calls, "the warming of the globe."

Unless you missed it while riveted by the Browns-Lions game on Sunday, climate change critics found the missing JFK films from Dallas wrapped up in Roswell UFO photos and a caged Loch Ness. 1,000 pirated emails from climatology scientists, some of which date back 13 years, circulated the world faster than you can say Copenhagen.

I certainly have an interest in climate change, and I'm thankful for the unrelenting support of the public in this conviction.

R.F. "Buz" Williams: "What an arrogant, condescending elitist Steve Stockmar must be."

Bill Wegman: "Stockmar's blog is full of himself and his opinions, which is fine. You only have to read one post to know his political agenda."

Just a Thought: "Sounds like Stockmar is already "dumbed down". What he really needs is to "wise up"."

Gee, I feel just like George Bailey at the end of It's A Wonderful Life.

Wait, here comes Uncle Billy!

I have to agree with Stockmar: "Denying the impact of human kind on our environment at this stage of our development is like saying second hand cigarette smoke is not harmful."

All aboard: "Keep writing Steve. You have many fans and kindred spirits who put life on land - in all its amazing forms, living oceans, posterity, prudence, virtue, clean air, some of us God and his creations, and faith in science over politics, first; that would be, before the almighty dollar."

No name provided: "I feel very sorry for my children and their children- to live in a world without enough water or sustainable energy where wars are the natural occurance of too little needed resources and too many people."

First, let's fess up. The emails are damaging. Greenhouse gasses have nothing on the current earthbound fumes of fury in the emails' wake - on both sides of the discussion. Those scientists who suggested in personal emails that they would deliberately diminish dissent prove another mathematical fact: that every cause, study, laboratory, courtroom and corner of society has its share of fringe loons. Whichever side you think the good guys are on, there are loons among you.

Of course, the lingering effects of the emails can pose as long-term a risk as carbon dioxide emissions. Let's talk about those for a minute.

The Copenhagen Diagnosis, a report written by 26 international scientists released Tuesday just before the global summit on Dec. 7, offers data that proves global carbon dioxide emissions are rising fast, that global temperatures continue to climb at a pace in line with projections, and that polar regions are losing ice faster than climate models have projected.

Let me repeat that for those lost in the gaseous emissions of AM radio: more than two dozen of the world's leading climatologists, including 14 from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), issued a report based on hundreds of peer-reviewed research papers analyzed over three years. The study featured - among others - the leader of the Ice Ocean Atmosphere and Climate program in the Australian Antarctic Division; a professor of environmental physics in Zurich; and American Konrad Steffen of the University of Colorado, who is chair of the World Climate Research Program's climate and cryosphere project, and once spent 18 consecutive springs installing weather stations on the Greenland ice cap.

In the new diagnosis:

• Arctic sea ice is melting 40 percent faster than the panel estimated just a few years ago.

• Over the past 25 years temperatures have increased at a rate of 0.19°C per decade, in very good agreement with predictions based on greenhouse gas increases.

• A wide array of satellite and ice measurements now demonstrate beyond doubt that both the Greenland and Antarctic ice-sheets are losing mass at an increasing rate.

• The IPCC's prediction for average sea-level rise this century is 13 inches.

"Science doesn't work because we're all nice," Gavin A. Schmidt, a climatologist at NASA whose e-mail exchanges with colleagues over a variety of climate studies were in the exposed cache, told The New York Times. "Newton may have been an ass, but the theory of gravity still works."

If Al Gore wants to profit off these scientists, that doesn't interest me (I'll repeat, as I have earlier, that I have never seen An Inconvenient Truth and have no plans to, nor did Gore get my vote in 2000). What interests me are the findings of the scientists and how we can all live more responsibly and protect our environment. I won't be here 100 years from now, but that doesn't mean I want my trash to outlive me.

Even the News Corp.-owned Wall Street Journal's news department, in a display of journalistic objectivity, offers a disclaimer to the phony fury. "Most climate scientists argue that the earth's temperature is rising and nearly all of those agree that human activity is likely to be a prime or at least significant cause," writer Keith Johnson noted this week. "But a vocal minority dispute one or both of those views."

A vocal minority. Like a few loons with email.

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