Friday, June 23, 2006
The National Academy of Sciences released an important report yesterday detailing the fact that the Earth’s temperatures in the last few decades have been the warmest in recorded history, raising concern about the impact of global warming. Warming skeptics have responded with their typical denial and spin.
Electricity Daily (sub. req’d), which covers news from the perspective of the electricity industry, reported:
The NAS report casts serious doubts on the conventional scientific wisdom of man-made climate warming, particularly as described by political advocates such as former Vice President Al Gore. … Those who argue that solar activity drives global climate, not CO2, will take heart.
In fact, the report specifically states that “human activities are responsible for much of the recent warming.” Moreover, as ThinkProgress noted, the report factored in the natural variations in temperature — volcanic activity, solar radiation, etc. — and concluded that these can’t explain the warming trend.
Another well-known skeptic, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), zeroed in on a study conducted by climatologist Michael Mann that is reviewed in the NAS report. Through his famous “hockey stick” graph, Mann argued that recent years have been the hottest on record in the last millennium. Inhofe responded:
Today’s NAS report reaffirms what I have been saying all along, that Mann’s ‘hockey stick’ is broken.
In fact, the NAS report “largely vindicates” Mann’s central thesis, stating it is “plausible that the Northern Hemisphere was warmer during the last few decades of the 20th Century than during any comparable period over the preceding millennium.”
As House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) said, “There is nothing in this report that should raise any doubts about the broad scientific consensus on global climate change…or any doubts about whether any paper on the temperature records was legitimate scientific work.” But science has never stood in the way of global warming skeptics. The NAS report is no exception.
On a conference call that Al Gore held with bloggers this afternoon, I asked him for a response to the claims made by Electricity Daily and Sen. Inhofe. He said that global warming skeptics “will seize on anything to say up is down and black is white.” Gore explained that science, by nature, thrives on uncertainty and tries to eliminate it; politics, on the other hand, is vulnerable to being paralyzed by uncertainty. When science and politics converge, Gore argued, the chance for “cowardice is high.”