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Confused about global warming? A volunteer’s perspective

By Valerie Mitchell

Global warming iconDo you ever feel frightened and confused about global warming? Well I do. So I did a little research to see if I could better understand the science behind all of this. What I discovered is that you can find information to make your opinion seem valid no matter what side you are on. There are most definitely sides in this issue.

One of the most recently hotly debated issues with global warming, according to the Energy Tribune, is that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted based on a computer model, that the average temperature in 2009 would be one full degree warmer than the temperatures in 2001. It would seem that temperatures have not lived up to those expectations. This has given fuel to those who don’t believe in Global Warming. Adding more fuel is the fact that the sun was more calm and faint in 2008 than it has been since 1913. “We’re experiencing a very deep solar minimum,” says solar physicist Dean Pesnell of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA’s) Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD.“This is the quietest sun we’ve seen in almost a century,” agrees forecaster David Hathaway of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL.

In September of 2008 scientists at the University of Bremen pieced together NASA satellite images and discovered that for the first time in at least 125,000 years both the Northwest Passage around Canada and the Northeast Passage around Russia were simultaneously free of ice making it theoretically possible to circumnavigate the North Pole in a ship. The lack of ice has continued in 2009. According to Center, the September sea ice extent was the third lowest since the start of satellite records in 1979, and the past five years has seen the five lowest ice extents in satellite record.

If the sun intensity is faint and the temperatures are lower than expected, why aren’t the glaciers making a comeback? The National Resource Defense Council says it is because the temperatures in the Arctic Region are rising twice as fast as they are elsewhere in the world. NASA satellite images show that the area of permanent ice cover is contracting at a rate of nine percent each decade. If this rate remains constant the Arctic will become ice-free by the end of the century.

Why are the temperatures in the Arctic heating up twice as fast as the rest of the planet? If we have only been recording satellite images since 1979; how do we know that the ice shelf has been there for 3,000 years? Scientists estimate that the Earth is around 4.6 billion years old, so 3, 000 doesn’t seem like very long in that time frame. Scientists estimate that the modern looking Cro-Magnon man has existed for 100,000 to 200,000 years. So it would seem that we managed to survive before the ice-shelf was formed. What does all this mean? Frankly, I have absolutely no idea. The thing that frightens me the most is that I really don’t think anyone else does either.

Reply to Global Warming Being Frightening

By Dr. Richard Crouthamel

There are indeed different sides on global warming but in my research the controversy does not question if global warming is really taking place but asks if it part of a natural cycle? Is humankind causing most of the increase in temperatures? If so, is it due to our generating massive amounts of CO2, which is more than any time in the past 650,000 years, collectively (according to the Antarctic ice cores).

It is true that the sun spot and solar flare activity is lower but that really doesn’t have an effect on global warming. Did you know the earth is closest to the sun in January, however the weather is hotter in July. The cause has to do with the planet’s tilt.

This is really the scary part. When the Greenland ice melts, the sea level will rise over the entire earth by 20 ft, inundating most coastal cities and displacing more than 200 million people worldwide.

Most scientists believe that the Earth’s warming is caused by an increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. How do we really know what is happening? One way is to look back as far as we can and then look at the trend. Both sides of the issue do agree on one thing…more historic environmental data is needed and that’s where we come in to locate, rescue and digitize old weather data for the use of ALL researchers and scientists to finally come to the correct conclusion.

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