Below are excerpts from three important items on climate change. Unfortunately, they are not good news.
The first item contains a pretty good description of the difference between climatology, meteorology and other TV weather forecasters. When you’re dealing with global warming “deniers,” ask if they prefer to get science from NASA’s Goddard Institute or Sarah Palin.
Among Weathercasters, Doubt on Warming
By Leslie Kaufman, New York Times, March 30, 2010
The debate over global warming has created predictable adversaries, pitting environmentalists against industry and coal-state Democrats against coastal liberals.
But it has also created tensions between two groups that might be expected to agree on the issue: climate scientists and meteorologists, especially those who serve as television weather forecasters.
Climatologists, who study weather patterns over time, almost universally endorse the view that the earth is warming and that humans have contributed to climate change. There is less of a consensus among meteorologists, who predict short-term weather patterns.
The split between climate scientists and meteorologists is gaining attention in political and academic circles because polls show that public skepticism about global warming is increasing, and weather forecasters — especially those on television — dominate communications channels to the public. A study released this year by researchers at Yale and George Mason found that 56 percent of Americans trusted weathercasters to tell them about global warming far more than they trusted other news media or public figures like former Vice President Al Gore or Sarah Palin, the former vice-presidential candidate.
The reasons behind the divergence in views are complex. The American Meteorological Society, which confers its coveted seal of approval on qualified weather forecasters, has affirmed the conclusion of the United Nations’ climate panel that warming is occurring and that human activities are very likely the cause. In a statement sent to Congress in 2009, the meteorological society warned that the buildup of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would lead to “major negative consequences.”
Yet, climate scientists use very different scientific methods from the meteorologists. Heidi Cullen, a climatologist who straddled the two worlds when she worked at the Weather Channel, noted that meteorologists used models that were intensely sensitive to small changes in the atmosphere but had little accuracy more than seven days out. Dr. Cullen said meteorologists are often dubious about the work of climate scientists, who use complex models to estimate the effects of climate trends decades in the future.
Death of coral reefs could devastate nations
By Brian Skoloff – Associated Press Writer, News and Observer, March 25, 2010
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Coral reefs are dying, and scientists and governments around the world are contemplating what will happen if they disappear altogether.
The idea positively scares them.
Coral reefs are part of the foundation of the ocean food chain. Nearly half the fish the world eats make their homes around them. Hundreds of millions of people worldwide – by some estimates, 1 billion across Asia alone – depend on them for their food and their livelihoods.
If the reefs vanished, experts say, hunger, poverty and political instability could ensue.
“Whole nations will be threatened in terms of their existence,” said Carl Gustaf Lundin of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
Numerous studies predict coral reefs are headed for extinction worldwide, largely because of global warming, pollution and coastal development, but also because of damage from bottom-dragging fishing boats and the international trade in jewelry and souvenirs made of coral.
Disputed isle in Bay of Bengal disappears into sea
By Nirmala George – Associated Press Writer, News and Observer, March 24, 2010
NEW DELHI — For nearly 30 years, India and Bangladesh have argued over control of a tiny rock island in the Bay of Bengal. Now rising sea levels have resolved the dispute for them: the island’s gone.
New Moore Island in the Sunderbans has been completely submerged, said oceanographer Sugata Hazra, a professor at Jadavpur University in Calcutta. Its disappearance has been confirmed by satellite imagery and sea patrols, he said.
“What these two countries could not achieve from years of talking, has been resolved by global warming,” said Hazra.
Scientists at the School of Oceanographic Studies at the university have noted an alarming increase in the rate at which sea levels have risen over the past decade in the Bay of Bengal.
Until 2000, the sea levels rose about 3 millimeters (0.12 inches) a year, but over the last decade they have been rising about 5 millimeters (0.2 inches) annually, he said.
Another nearby island, Lohachara, was submerged in 1996, forcing its inhabitants to move to the mainland, while almost half the land of Ghoramara island was underwater, he said. At least 10 other islands in the area were at risk as well, Hazra said.
“We will have ever larger numbers of people displaced from the Sunderbans as more island areas come under water,” he said.