Environment Forum

from Tales from the Trail:

Amidst the shivering in Washington, the case for global warming

WEATHER/OK, it's cold in Washington. It's really cold. And snowy. And blizzardy. It's hard to recall that long-ago moment -- what was it, six days ago? -- when you could go for a walk without cross-country skis and a flask of brandy. But just because it's winter doesn't mean global warming is a myth.

But the storms gave conservatives fresh fodder for mocking former Vice President Al Gore and his efforts on global climate change.  Senator Jim DeMint tweeted "It's going to keep snowing in DC until Al Gore cries 'uncle'," Politico reported.

For decades, scientists have struggled to explain the difference between weather, which changes in the short term, and climate, which changes over the long term. There's a good explanation at the new government Climate Service Web site called "Short term cooling on a warming planet." The new site went up this week, between blizzards, and is supposed to guide consumers and businesses so they can adapt to climate change. The Climate Service itself is expected to be up and running by the start of the next U.S. fiscal year that begins on October 1.

The last decade was the warmest on record, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the United Kingdom's Met Office and the World Meteorological Organization. “The bottom line is that current temperatures are way above the long-term average,” NOAA's David Easterling says.

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is certainly not backing away from its 2007 report that global warming is occurring and human activity is causing it. But climate change skeptics have focused on what they see as problems with how some of the data that led to this conclusion were collected and reported. To most scientists, though, this is all beside the point.

Life in a blizzard

It was a cold night with the wind chill reaching -18.4 degrees Celsius. By 5.00 a.m. I’d had enough of being cold and weather beaten by the Katabatic wind smashing the side of my tent and bouncing off my head so I decided to make my way to our base, the Sorensen Hut, for a warm cup of tea and read a couple of pages of my book.

BlizardI should have known we were in for bad weather as my neighbours the Adelie penguin colony were no where to be seen or heard this morning.

Before I could walk the five minutes to the hut I had to get dressed for the journey.