Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Hansen's Warning

Many critics of anthropogenic global warming find the new report from the IPCC too radical, but experts like James Hansen and his team at NASA have found a flaw, and that is in sea level rise predictions. They are too rosy given what we know about the instability of ice sheets found in the evidence of Earth's history.

British columnist George Monbiot found this dichotomy last summer with chilling effect.

Reading a scientific paper on the train this weekend, I found, to my amazement, that my hands were shaking. This has never happened to me before, but nor have I ever read anything like it. Published by a team led by James Hansen at Nasa, it suggests that the grim reports issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change could be absurdly optimistic(1).

Hansen’s paper argues that the slow melting of ice sheets the panel expects doesn’t fit the data. The geological record suggests that ice at the poles does not melt in a gradual and linear fashion, but flips suddenly from one state to another. When temperatures increased to 2-3 degrees above today’s level 3.5 million years ago, sea levels rose not by 59 centimetres but by 25 metres. The ice responded immediately to changes in temperature(3).

It's a damn shame idiots like this get more readers than our smartest people. My advice is follow the former. Do it now.

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