Tuesday, March 13, 2007

"Cool the Hype"

So says this reasoned article in the New York Times. This is good reporting in that it attempts to tell more than one side of the story and does so without becoming pedantic. Scientists are named and sources can be sought and checked.

Al Gore doesn't come out of it all that well. There is a general admittance that he has selected evidence (for example the time scale of evidence goes back only 400 years which would mean excluding a lot of geologically meaningful data). But perhaps worse is the criticism that he is too alarmist in his assertions that there is an impending crisis.

Huricane Katrina figures large in Al Gore's documentary with the prediction that such storms will be more frequent and more powerful. Using Gore's own short term statistics (such as saying that 2005 was the hottest year) we can judge his predictions and say they have failed. 2006 was a quiet hurricane year although he says it should not have been.

(Of course, from a geologist's point of view such annual statistics mean very little little so we would discount 2006 hurricane intensity anyway.)

The major problem with Gore's thesis remains this: the evidence that says it is entirely man-made is far from conclusive and there is good evidence that cycles of global warming are unrelated to man-made CO2 sources - sunspot activity studies are rarely mentioned yet they point to a strong correlation that CO2 increases in step with but after periods of sunspot activity.

So it is possible to predict that any attempts by man to modify climate change could lead to catastrophes that Gore has not imagined. That is not to say that we should do nothing but whatever we do decide to do must be the result of well-balanced research based on models that work. That there is so much funding still pouring in to climate research is indicative that the working models are still a long way off.

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