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Tuesday, February 16, 2010



The Real Climate Controversy

By Mark Boslough
Albuquerque physicist
Global warming is occurring. It is caused by human activities. Both the theoretical basis (fundamental laws of physics) and observational evidence for warming are incontrovertible. The first decade of this century was the warmest ever recorded in human history, just as the models predicted. The current decade will almost certainly be warmer.
But it's not just the atmosphere that is heating. Ice is melting at an accelerating rate, and sea level is rising. Weather patterns are changing as the atmosphere and oceans adjust their flow in response to the warming. These phenomena were all predicted. They have been independently verified many times, using many methods, by researchers throughout the world. The successful predictions of global warming theory represent a major scientific achievement.
In 1998, a team of scientists combined thermometer measurements with preinstrumental temperatures determined from tree rings and other natural records. The resulting graph demonstrated how exceptional the recent rapid warming has been, rising so sharply that it looked like the blade of a hockey stick. The "Hockey Stick" graph became an iconic symbol of global warming, even though it was only one of many lines of evidence. The general validity and significance of the Hockey Stick has since been reproduced by several independent groups of scientists. Nevertheless, the idea of human-caused global warming has offended the cherished belief system of some individuals who, for philosophical or self-interested reasons, are convinced that people cannot possibly affect the global temperature — regardless of the laws of physics. Because the Hockey Stick had become a symbol, its authors became the target of a political smear campaign.
In 2005, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., referred to global warming as the "greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people." Reps. Joe Barton, R-Texas, and Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., sent a letter to the Hockey Stick scientists, demanding that they immediately provide them with extensive documentation about what the politicians claimed were "methodological flaws and data errors" in their work.
Barton and Whitfield held Congressional hearings, and asked for a review of the Hockey Stick by a panel led by Edward Wegman, a statistician with no background in or understanding of climate science. The Wegman panel wrote a report that criticized the statistical methods used by the scientists. Climate change denialists embraced this criticism. Ever since they have claimed that the Hockey Stick has been discredited and, in a leap of logic, that global warming is not real. .......

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