ACHRNEWS

Global Warming: What’s Not to Believe?

June 5, 2000
Maybe it was because I had global warming on the brain that I did a double take. Then again, it was a headline one could not ignore: “BIBLE PREDICTS STORMIEST SUMMER IN HISTORY!”

In truth, there are several reasons why I decided to purchase that June 6, 2000 issue of Weekly World News, which was setting in its rack, begging to be held, right by the grocery checkout line.

  • Curiosity.
  • Just a few days earlier, there was a headline that screamed across the pages of the May 28 issue of The Detroit News and Free Press, “Global warming report has foes.”
  • To see if David S. Chapman, Ph.D., was quoted in the story. Chapman is the associate vice president for Graduate Studies, dean of the Graduate School, and professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Utah. It was Chapman who discussed “Global Warming: Just Hot Air?” at the recent Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association (GAMA) meeting.
  • To see if Earl Muir, Copeland Corp. senior vice president for Global Technology, was mentioned somewhere in the exposé. Muir spoke his mind regarding refrigerants and global warming at the recent Food Marketing Institute show. (For more details, see page 36 of this issue.)
  • I had an extra $3 in my wallet, so I could buy “America’s Most Exciting Newspaper!”

As I suspected (and one should always trust one’s first instincts), neither Muir nor Chapman were among those interviewed in the article.

To sum up the article’s predictions: Don’t plan on living past the summer of 2000. Doom and gloom will soon arrive at your doorstep. As the second headline states, “Deadliest weather ever will bring America to its knees!”

Wow.

Reputable Reports?

Of course, one realizes that any magazine that prints the above story (plus articles such as “Hero pig rescues drowning cat!” and “Sex with girlfriend wakes man from 2-year coma!”) should be read more for its entertainment value. Consider the source, right?

However, when it comes to global warming, information reported in other sources does seem to be getting a little fuzzy.

The Detroit News and Free Press article notes that this summer, the White House is expected to release a high-profile report on the effects of global warming in the United States, “predicting droughts, floods, and extreme weather region by region.”

Reporter David Mastio, of the Detroit News Washington Bureau, zeroed in on conflicting research. On one side of the equation is the upcoming White House report, “Climate Change and America: The Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change for the United States.” On the other side is the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which is preparing to release a research update which concludes that the soon-to-be-released White House report is highly unreliable.

Concerns about global warming have led government scientists to attempt detailed projections of the possible local impact of climate changes. But critics say that the science does not support such focused forecasts.

Meanwhile, the UN panel is expected to say that global warming is underway, but that predicting localized effects is not yet possible. In many circles, the UN report is widely considered the most up-to-date summary of scientific knowledge about climate change.

The Best Solution: Be Proactive

I can honestly say that even after listening to Chapman’s intense, 2-hr discussion at GAMA, it’s still difficult to sort out what is accurate and what is not. (And I highly encourage you to read Chapman’s 20-page written presentation at http://thermal.gg. utah.edu/gould.)

At the end of his “Global Warming: Just Hot Air?” speech at GAMA, Chapman offered the following five points to ponder.

1. The warming is real.

2. The feedback system is complex.

3. The consequences of warming are mixed. (Chapman did add that “The losers would outnumber the winners.”)

4. Attribution requires research.

5. Greenhouse gas emissions are growing.

He concluded that it’s better to address the possibilities of global warming today rather than let the possibilities become a frightening reality.

Translation: It’s better to be proactive than reactive. I wholeheartedly agree.

“The solution to these problems and issues are complex,” writes Chapman. “The scales are global and the time scales are decades to centuries. The challenge, and overall goal, is appropriate environmental stewardship of the planet. Global warming may just be the alarm that brings us, albeit with much debate, to action.”