My Bookmarks on Science & Technology, Climate Change, Astrobiology, Genetics, Evolution

January 1, 2010 – Original Source: The Independent, UK

I liked Ben Chu’s article on why climate naysayers are failing (24 December). What many people tend to forget is that the warming story is not simply based on the air-temperature records of the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia.

We have records of bird, animal, plant and insect migration; of earlier frozen-river melt; of permafrost melt; of below-ground borehole temperature warming; of Arctic sea-ice melt; of Greenland and Antarctic ice melt at increasing rates; of sea-level rise; of ocean-temperature rise focused in the upper 700m.

And, of course, ice-core records show temperature increase since 1800, along with CO2 rise. No matter how much anyone might wish that these records did not exist or that they showed cooling rather than warming, they clearly show the opposite.

The world is warming whether we like it or not. And, again, whether we like it or not, the rate of change is gaining speed. We cannot relate it to the sun. The logical alternative is to relate it to greenhouse -gas increases, which we can measure and which increase at the same time.

Some who would deny that man has any effect on global warming point to the current dearth of sunspots. But the changes in energy caused by sunspot changes are known to be vanishingly small compared with the effects of greenhouse gases (it’s basic physics; do the math).

To those who imagine that a sunspot minimum will make the Thames freeze, as happened in the Little Ice Age, my response is that we will have to wait until the next ice age, due in a further 20,000 years from now, to walk on a frozen Thames.

Dr Colin Summerhayes
Executive Director, Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research, Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge

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