Monday, May 21, 2007

Smithsonian Dumbs Down the Science

If you live in Montgomery County, you know people who work for the CIA, the Secret Service, the Smithsonian. You hear stories. I had a friend from the Smithsonian a while back, telling me about his job. Huge amount of responsibility, he was supervising a bunch of people -- and they had him at a GS-9. The whole place had jobs graded way low, because there's never enough money. They're so glad to work there, the museum gets them cheap.

And you know, when people come to town, what do you tell them? Go see the museums. They're free, and they're great. Air and Space, Natural History, Gallery of Art, all of those, go see them.

Yeah, well, it's not what it used to be.
The Smithsonian Institution toned down an exhibit on climate change in the Arctic for fear of angering Congress and the Bush administration, says a former administrator at the museum.

Among other things, the script, or official text, of last year's exhibit was rewritten to minimize and inject more uncertainty into the relationship between global warming and humans, said Robert Sullivan, who was associate director in charge of exhibitions at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.

Also, officials omitted scientists' interpretation of some research and let visitors draw their own conclusions from the data, he said. In addition, graphs were altered "to show that global warming could go either way," Sullivan said.

"It just became tooth-pulling to get solid science out without toning it down," said Sullivan, who resigned last fall after 16 years at the museum. He said he left after higher-ups tried to reassign him. Smithsonian Accused of Altering Exhibit

Man, I'm sick of this. These guys decided to make global warning a political issue -- see their talking-points memo HERE (scroll to page 137) -- and now the Smithsonian, an institution that we are proud of -- it's more than just a museum, it's our national museum -- is distorting the scientific results, just so some politicians won't cut off their funding.
Smithsonian officials denied that political concerns influenced the exhibit, saying the changes were made for reasons of objectivity. And some scientists who consulted on the project said nothing major was omitted.

Sullivan said that to his knowledge, no one in the Bush administration pressured the Smithsonian, whose $1.1 billion budget is mostly taxpayer-funded.

Rather, he said, Smithsonian leaders acted on their own. "The obsession with getting the next allocation and appropriation was so intense that anything that might upset the Congress or the White House was being looked at very carefully," he said.

White House spokeswoman Kristen Hellmer said Monday: "The White House had no role in this exhibit."

Again, you live in Washington, you know what they're saying. Of course the White House didn't send a guy over to say, this-this-this-and-this gotta go. You've got Congress on the Hill, looking for anything they can do to defend their greedy spending. They found this global-warming cash cow, and they're milking it for all it's worth. You're at the Smithsonian: you know what you have to do.

And the ones that work there now -- same thing: they know what they have to say.

You can see stuff from this exhibit HERE.

44 Comments:

Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

Once again I point out that the main denialist or scientific dumbing down organization we need to watch out for is the Bush Administration IMHO.

Again I urge everyone to read "The A to Z Guide to Political Interference in Science" here:

http://www.ucsusa.org/scientific_integrity/interference/a-to-z-guide-to-political.html

Check out "C is for Can’t Say Climate Change at Carbon Conference" and "Gw is for Manipulation of Global Warming Science" and "Nr is for Press Releases Controlled for Political, Not Scientific, Importance" etc.

The Bush Administration is relentless and leaves no scientific finding untainted by their "quaint" beliefs.

May 22, 2007 8:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Among other things, the script, or official text, of last year's exhibit was rewritten to minimize and inject more uncertainty into the relationship between global warming and humans"

Hate to ruin any celebratory comraderie among alarmist fringes but where is the evidence that ties global warming to human activity?

May 22, 2007 10:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"now the Smithsonian, an institution that we are proud of -- it's more than just a museum, it's our national museum -- is distorting the scientific results"

Hey, that's kind of like MCPS inappropriately claiming that homosexuality is innate when no scientific evidence exists of such a claim and hiding the sociological fact that leading a homosexual life is dangerous.

How distorted can you get?

May 22, 2007 10:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a good place to start.

http://www.ipcc.ch/SPM040507.pdf

May 22, 2007 10:14 AM  
Anonymous MCPS Mom said...

that's kind of like MCPS inappropriately claiming that homosexuality is innate

No it isn't. MCPS is in agreement with every mainstream medical and mental health professional organization. The Smithsonian downplayed science that agreed with every mainstream scientific organization while the crap they noted in the museum instead does not. This is one reason why some topnotch scholars like Robert Sullivan have left the Smithsonian.

Everyone sees who's doing the distorting except those in denial.

May 22, 2007 10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"MCPS is in agreement with every mainstream medical and mental health professional organization. The Smithsonian downplayed science that agreed with every mainstream scientific organization while the crap they noted in the museum instead does not."

Reverence for the opinions of these professional without any questioning is sad commentary on our times. There is no evidence for the human contribution to global warming or for the innateness of homosexuality. Either could be true, but if these scientists believe there is evidence, they should be able to share it with us rather than just trying to persuade by petition. Science is not unanimous on either issue despite what you've heard.

May 22, 2007 10:55 AM  
Anonymous MCPS Mom said...

Who said anything about science being unanimous? With you blogging here over the years, we are well aware of the radical fringe that believes all science is a crock. Would you still use DDT and leaded gasoline if you could get them?

May 22, 2007 11:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Who said anything about science being unanimous? With you blogging here over the years, we are well aware of the radical fringe that believes all science is a crock."

Science is conclusions drawn from evidence not guesses as to where the evidence will eventually lead.

TTF tries to create the impression that scientists are uniformly agreed about the innateness of gaiety and the cause of global warming. They aren't.

"Would you still use DDT"

Some interesting studies have been done showing how many human lives would have been saved over the years if DDT had never been banned. But why listen to science? Unless it supports a liberal agenda, TTF thinks its a crock.

May 22, 2007 11:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrea- not anon
Anon- don't pretend you know anything about science. You don't nor do you understand the nature of scientific review. People like you are the reason Venganza came up with the idea that the decrease in pirates caused the increase in global warming- to make fun of the no-nothings.

The Smithsonian and the Library of Congress have had poor leadership and some of the decisions are made not to rock the boat of this sad administration and others not to offend donors.

May 22, 2007 2:24 PM  
Blogger Randi Schimnosky said...

This just shows how dangerous religious beliefs can be. Christianity teaches that the earth is people's to do with whatever we choose and it doesn't matter how we harm it because the world is going to end soon anyway and if it doesn't god will make it all better somehow. A hopelessly ignorant excuse to abuse and destroy the only environment we have.

Even if we only had a fraction of the evidence we do that humans are causing global warming we would be wise to err on the side of caution and rein in greenhouse gases rather than risk total disaster. Only fools would ignore the warning signs and bet their world on "well maybe it isn't happening".

Anonymous said "TTF tries to create the impression that scientists are uniformly agreed about the innateness of gaiety and the cause of global warming. They aren't.".

The majority are increasingly in agreement that humans are causing global climate change and an even larger majority are in agreement that being gay is innate. Its no coincidence that virtually all the minority who think otherwise believe in religious magic and are thus susceptable to accepting any nonsense as truth. Religious people push the laughable idea that people are indifferent to being gay and on a whim try it out and gradually get hooked on it like one might get hooked on alcohol. Of course gay people know that's crazy, the desires exist prior to any sexual activity and are very strong, not something someone just casually tries, one is driven to it without any experience in the same way heterosexuals are.

No heterosexual believes they chose to be straight, or that they gradually conditioned themselves to be that way, and only someone who is lying would say its any different with gays. We know being gay is innate in the same way we know handedness is - it just comes naturally without being willed or conditioned into being.

May 22, 2007 3:20 PM  
Anonymous MCPS Mom said...

How distorted can YOU get?

I am MCPS Mom, not "TTF." During the time I have been visiting this website, TTF has never issued a position on global warming.

If you are the Anon who quoted the Post recently, you should read today's front page article about evolution of evangelicals (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/21/AR2007052101581.html). Only about 10% of evangelicals over the age of 30 favor marriage equality but three times as many evangelicals younger than 30 favor it.

May 22, 2007 6:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Anon- don't pretend you know anything about science. You don't nor do you understand the nature of scientific review."

You don't have to be Einstein to know that when scientists make judgments without evidence, they ain't engaging in science.

Where's the evidence that human activity is causing global warming?

May 22, 2007 6:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where's the evidence that homosexuality is innate?

May 22, 2007 7:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I am MCPS Mom, not "TTF." During the time I have been visiting this website, TTF has never issued a position on global warming."

You don't think this post by Jim had a position on global warming?

"If you are the Anon who quoted the Post recently, you should read today's front page article about evolution of evangelicals...Only about 10% of evangelicals over the age of 30 favor marriage equality but three times as many evangelicals younger than 30 favor it."

I don't know if I'm the one you refer to but I am a contra-TTFer and I read that article. Seems not completely inaccurate to me except that it's not that big a change. Evangelicals always, at least the ones I've known, have been more like Rick Warren than Jerry Falwell. Falwell was always more an obsession of the media than anything else.

May 22, 2007 7:44 PM  
Blogger Randi Schimnosky said...

Anonymous said "Where's the evidence that human activity is causing global warming?".

Its been presented at the last several conferences on climate change. Its in the increasingly warmer recorded temperatures and more extreme weather noted over the last hundred years and the last decade in particular.

Anonymous said "Where's the evidence that homosexuality is innate?"

Its in the self-reports of gay people just like the self-reports of handedness show that that's innate. Its in study after study all pointing to biological origins of being gay. Any one study may not be convincing by itself, but the fact that many, many studies point in this direction has lead reputable scientists to conclude that its highly unlikely that being gay isn't innate. Studies that show that finger length is related to being gay, hearing ability is linked to be gay, eye-blink rate is related to being gay, startle response is related to being gay, brain structures are, same chromosone deactivation in mothers are, having mutiple older biological brothers are, reaction to and production of pheremones are, and on and on. To a reasonable person the fact that all these studies point to a biological cause simply cannot be coincidence, it is almost certainly the case that being gay is biological and innate.

May 22, 2007 7:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Its in the increasingly warmer recorded temperatures and more extreme weather noted over the last hundred years and the last decade in particular."

No one's denying a general recent global warming, Randi. The question is what's causing it. It hasn't increased in tandem with the rate of carbon emissions by humans for the last hundred years. Indeed, about thirty years ago, there was a concern we were entering a new ice age.

May 22, 2007 8:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Its in the self-reports of gay people just like the self-reports of handedness show that that's innate."

Self-reports are subjective. They aren't evidence.

"Its in study after study all pointing to biological origins of being gay."

You need to read the studies. They either document biological reactions rather than causes or are explainable by characteristics which might cause problems for which homosexuality could be a misdirected adjustment.

May 22, 2007 8:34 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

Self-reports are subjective. They aren't evidence.

Are you sure about that?

If you believe that then let me remind you that "subjective" "self-reports" that "aren't evidence" are the data the Spitzer study relied on.

If self-reports aren't good enough to prove how homosexuality exists, then they aren't good enough to prove if change is possible. You can't have it both ways.

May 22, 2007 9:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If self-reports aren't good enough to prove how homosexuality exists,"

Homosexuality exists. It just has been proven to be innate. Besides the subjectiveness, there are other issues of personal psycho-analysis

"then they aren't good enough to prove if change is possible."

And the burden of proof is different saying something is possible vs saying something is definite. Heck, I think it's POSSIBLE, homosexuality is innate.

May 22, 2007 10:39 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Who's Rick Warren? What is he like? How is he different from Falwell/Robertson/Dawson?

rrjr

May 23, 2007 7:00 AM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

I think it's just delightful that the only believers left in Freudianism are the fundamentalism totalitarians of the Christian right. That they would dig their heals in for the pseudo-science of a Jewish atheist is precious.

May 23, 2007 7:52 AM  
Anonymous MCPS Mom said...

Anon said TTF tries to create the impression that scientists are uniformly agreed about the innateness of gaiety and the cause of global warming.

I replied TTF has never issued a position on global warming.

Anon replied You don't think this post by Jim had a position on global warming?

Last month Jim said (http://www.teachthefacts.org/2007/04/waiting.html) he might discuss other topics besides the new curriculum while we wait for the decision of the State Board of Education on the suers' appeal. "Anyway, I might not stay so close to the immediate topic while we wait."

In this current thread, Jim expressed "a" position, not the "TTF" position about another topic, federal employees at the Smithsonian who dumbed down the science "of last year's exhibit" about global warming to avoid angering conservatives (who prefer pseudo-science) because they controlled the purse strings at the time.

Try to keep up.

May 23, 2007 9:03 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

Rick Warren's congregation isn't the only religious group that cares about protecting Earth from the ravages of man. Restoring Eden is one more religious organization dedicated to:

1. Protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil drilling

2. Strengthening the Endangered Species Act to restore creation to fruitfulness

3. Justice and human rights for subsistence tribal cultures

4. Getting serious on ending human-caused global climate change


In fact, there are many more Judeo-Christian environmental organizations. You can find many of them listed here:
http://www.acton.org/ppolicy/environment/theology/orgs.html

May 23, 2007 9:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Try to keep up."

I'll try.

OK, TTF is now officially neutral on the issue of global warming.

We've all seen that.

May 23, 2007 10:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"In fact, there are many more Judeo-Christian environmental organizations."

Yes, there are. Scripture gives mankind stewardship responsibilities for God's planet.

Still, nobody here has yet produced a study demonstrating that global warming is caused by human activity.

May 23, 2007 10:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"nobody here has yet produced a study demonstrating that global warming is caused by human activity."

I did. I repeat:

"Here's a good place to start.

http://www.ipcc.ch/SPM040507.pdf"

May 23, 2007 10:31 AM  
Blogger JimK said...

OK, TTF is now officially neutral on the issue of global warming.

Anon, of course TTF is, and always has been, neutral on the issue of global warming. Why in the world is it a political issue? I'll tell you why, and the memo I linked to in this post proves it: it's a political issue because the Republicans realized they could use it to drive a wedge between Americans.

I personally am perfectly happy to let the experts study the problem and propose solutions to it, and I trust that my government will listen to the very best scientific advice on the matter. TTF exists to promote comprehensive and inclusive sex-ed in Montgomery County, and has no position at all on global warming.

I will continue to post news on the subject occasionally, where the real story is the politicization of science -- which is a subject that I do have an opinion about, and which underlies our controversy of interest here.

JimK

May 23, 2007 10:41 AM  
Blogger Randi Schimnosky said...

Anonymous said "You need to read the studies. They either document biological reactions rather than causes or are explainable by characteristics which might cause problems for which homosexuality could be a misdirected adjustment.".

That's preposterous. You're damned hard pressed to explain how the gayness of a son causes same chromosone deactivation in a mother - mothers with this genetic anonomaly are much more likely to have gay sons. And the idea that finger length, eye-blink rate, startle response, pheremone reaction and production cause a person problems resulting in an attempt to adapt by becoming gay is beyond the pale. The idea that the brain modifies itself in response to gay behavior is decidedly the far far more unlikely explanation than the difference in the brain causes one to be gay. Once again, you might dispute any one study, but the idea that the least likely explanation is true for all of them becomes increasingly unlikely with each new study to the point where that idea simply can't be taken seriously - and isn't by the majority of scientists.

May 23, 2007 12:16 PM  
Blogger Randi Schimnosky said...

Anonymous said "No one's denying a general recent global warming, Randi. The question is what's causing it. It hasn't increased in tandem with the rate of carbon emissions by humans for the last hundred years. Indeed, about thirty years ago, there was a concern we were entering a new ice age.".

Nonsense, the rate of carbon emissions and increases in temperature may not perfectly correlate but they do to a degree only a fool would ignore. And I remember 1977 very well and no one was talking about a new ice age, in fact when it hit -40 we were all complaining about the promised global warming being overdue. No coincidence that in the past 10 years we've seen precious little of that -40 weather.

May 23, 2007 12:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Randi

Here's the global temperature trends in the last century:

1900-1910 down
1910-1940 up
1940-1975 down
1975-2000 up

Greenhouse gases rose steadily during this period.

Interesting that in 1977 someone was "promising" you global warming after 25 years of cooling.

May 23, 2007 3:16 PM  
Blogger Randi Schimnosky said...

Where did you get those figures? I'm highly skeptical.

May 23, 2007 4:08 PM  
Blogger Randi Schimnosky said...

I just did some quick checking and as I suspected, you've totally distorted reality. Clearly your "up-down" stuff doesn't reflect the overall trend which is clearly significantly up as is shown by the graph on this page of average global temperatures from 1860-2003:

http://www.aip.org/history/climate/20ctrend.htm

The periods where you noted a slight drop in temperatures are massively overshadowed by much larger increases in temperature and the overall trend is dramatically up from 1860 to the present. Take your lies and BS elsewhere. Only a fool would ignore these trends.

May 23, 2007 4:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I just did some quick checking and as I suspected, you've totally distorted reality. Clearly your "up-down" stuff doesn't reflect the overall trend which is clearly significantly up...

The periods where you noted a slight drop in temperatures are massively overshadowed by much larger increases in temperature and the overall trend is dramatically up from 1860 to the present. Take your lies and BS elsewhere. Only a fool would ignore these trends."

No one's ignoring them, Randi. Global temperatures are clearly up. There's just no evidence that greenhouse gases are a significant contributor. Greenhouse gases steadily increased in the atmosphere during this period, but the temperature patterns were anything but steady.

Good you chose 1860 for your comparison. It helps your case because temperatures had dropped since 1850. Indeed, what you call a slight drop from 1900-1910 actually returned average temperatures to about the 1850 level. Overall trend indeed.

During the thirty years after 1910, temperatures rose signicantly but most scientists think the cause was volcanic and solar activity.

After 1940, the temperatures dropped significantly, bottoming out about thirty-five years later. They didn't reach 1940 levels again until 1980, forty years on.

True, the rise in the last twenty-seven years has been dramatic.

Still, if greenhouse gases were a person, I don't think they could be convicted of global warming by an impartial jury.

May 23, 2007 11:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_average_temperature

reference for above

May 23, 2007 11:40 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

We're talking about a planet that is 4.5 billion years old. Look at 1,000 years of North Hemisphere surface temperatures shown on the lower graph shown here: http://forumpolitics.com/pics/ipcc-global-warming-chart.bmp

It's quite obvious when the Industrial Revolution began.

May 24, 2007 11:47 AM  
Blogger Randi Schimnosky said...

Anonymous, with something like climate that's a long term event (100s or thousands of years) of course there's going to be up and down fluctuations in the short (decades) term however looking over the whole time period the trend is unmistakably dramatically upwards.

Your delusions are obviously affecting your vision, the slight drop in temperatures in 1910 did not bring levels down to 1850 levels - look at the graph in the middle of the page I posted.

The temperatures after 1910 and 1940 didn't drop so much as level off, thats why the overall trend is undeniably upwards for the period of 1860-2003. The normal state of weather is natural fluctuations in temperature around the mean and naturally the emission of greenhouse gases doesn't totally erase such patterns by showing a linear increase in temperature. Nevertheless, looking at longer time periods like the 1000 years Aunt bea posted shows the dramatic increase compared to long term trends that has convinced the majority of scientists that humans are causing global warming.

More and more scientists are on board with the fact that human activity is responsible for global warming. The majority of them recently stated that it is virtually certainly the case.

If there were undeniable proof that global warming isn't taking place as a result of human activities then it would be acceptable to do nothing about greenhouse gas emmisions. Obviously this is not even remotely the case and it is undeniably prudent to take action now.

May 24, 2007 1:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If there were undeniable proof that global warming isn't taking place as a result of human activities then it would be acceptable to do nothing about greenhouse gas emmisions."

Preposterous. Why would that be a default position that one has the burden of disproving?

May 24, 2007 2:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Your delusions are obviously affecting your vision, the slight drop in temperatures in 1910 did not bring levels down to 1850 levels - look at the graph in the middle of the page I posted."

Maybe you're delusional.

The chart on your page goes from 1880 to 1935. It also looks hand-drawn.

The average temperatures in 1910 was about the same as 1850. the average temperature in 1980 was about the same as 1940, after sinking for 35 years and then rebounding.

While it's true these are blips in geological time, there are two-thirds of the time between 1850 and 2000, which is the period you discuss, when greenhouse gases were rising. Furthermore, if you and Beatrice want to talk about the last 1,000 years, you'll lose the scientists, who uniformly believe we have been in a cyclical shift away from an ice age. Based on geological history, this will continue for thousands of years, regardless of what we do.

May 24, 2007 3:00 PM  
Blogger Randi Schimnosky said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

May 24, 2007 4:40 PM  
Blogger Randi Schimnosky said...

Anonymous said "Preposterous. Why would that be a default position that one has the burden of disproving?".

No, not preposterous, profoundly rational. Its a given that the climate won't be harmed by maintaining greenhouse gas levels at pre-industrial age levels, while the risk of being wrong in assuming greenhouse gases don't hurt is huge and one we most definitely shouldn't take. Its just like you going to Iran to proclaim your Christianity - you have no solid proof to assure that you will be killed for doing so, but you'd be wise to assume that to be the case and act accordingly.

Anonymous said "The chart on your page goes from 1880 to 1935. It also looks hand-drawn.".

No, you're looking at the wrong graph. I was referring to the large one in the middle of the page, not to the small ones off to the side.

Anonymous said "The average temperatures in 1910 was about the same as 1850. the average temperature in 1980 was about the same as 1940, after sinking for 35 years and then rebounding.".

No, look at the large graph in the middle of the page, it shows the temperature in 1910 was higher than the temperature in 1860(albeit not hugely so), and that the temperature by 1920 was again dramatically on the upswing. You've got your religious blinders on so you can only look at the periods where the temperature was down slightly while you ignore the broader trend which is on average solidly upwards.

Anonymous said "While it's true these are blips in geological time, there are two-thirds of the time between 1850 and 2000, which is the period you discuss, when greenhouse gases were rising.".

They most certainly do not cover two-thirds of that time. The graph starts at 1860, not 1850 and from 1850 to about 1905 the average temperatures are up and from 1905 to about 1915 there is a short drop and then temperatures start a dramatic rise again to far above 1905 levels and temperatures drop slightly from 1940 to 1980, but not even remotely close to back down to 1860 levels and then are up sharply from 1990 to 2003. The graph speaks for itself, I suggest you actually look at it in its entirety rather than simply focusing on the 50 years where a slight and later reversed drop in temperatures occurs.

Anonymous said "Furthermore, if you and Beatrice want to talk about the last 1,000 years, you'll lose the scientists, who uniformly believe we have been in a cyclical shift away from an ice age. Based on geological history, this will continue for thousands of years, regardless of what we do.".

Scientists that believe that are a rapidly dwindling bunch. Its HIGHLY peculiar that global temperaturs were stable for 1000 years and on a slight downward trend which suddenly reversed itself with the advent of the industrial age and the increases seen since then greatly exceed any of the upward fluctuations seen up until that time.

May 24, 2007 4:43 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

where is the evidence that ties global warming to human activity?

Here's some.

Check out this graph. It shows the variations in Earth's atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) over the last 400,000 years, which covers multiple ice age cycles.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Carbon_Dioxide_400kyr-2.png

Note that the Industrial Revolution has caused these levels to rise dramatically.

So what has the temperature been doing since these CO2 levels have skyrocketed?

As Randi's graph shows, temperatures have been trending upward overall since the Industrial Revolution. It is not good science to only look at (what you call) two thirds of the data. You must look at all of it.

Furthermore, if you and Beatrice want to talk about the last 1,000 years, you'll lose the scientists, who uniformly believe we have been in a cyclical shift away from an ice age. Based on geological history, this will continue for thousands of years, regardless of what we do.

No, I don't think so and here's why.

Many scientists fear that rising levels of so-called "greenhouse gases" from the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities will cause global warming, with potentially grave consequences for human agriculture and society. One of the clearest signs that elevated levels of greenhouse gases can result in warming comes from an ice core taken near the Russian Vostok station in Antarctica. This graph tracks temperature and atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) from the present back to about 160,000 years ago. (This represents about 11,350 feet of ice accumulation.) The graph clearly shows how a rise in gases will mean a rise in global temperature (though whether rising gases trigger rising temperatures, or vice versa, remains unknown). Also note that (though the graph, which has data up to two decades old, does not show this), at about 360 parts per million, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere today far exceeds levels at any time in the past 160,000 years--indeed, in the past few million years. For those worried about global warming, this is a sobering statistic.

To see the graph, scroll all the way to the bottom at
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/warming/stories/

May 24, 2007 10:20 PM  
Blogger Randi Schimnosky said...

Damn Aunt Bea, you're good.

May 25, 2007 11:47 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

Thanks, Randi. Sometimes I get lucky and Google directs me to the right source.

You're a great advocate for our LGBT youth. Thank you!

May 26, 2007 1:17 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

For those who might be interested, the NY Times ran a story today about the effects of global warming in Alaska.

Victim of Climate Change, a Town Seeks a Lifeline

By WILLIAM YARDLEY

NEWTOK, Alaska — The sturdy little Cessnas land whenever the fog lifts, delivering children’s bicycles, boxes of bullets, outboard motors and cans of dried oats. And then, with a rumble down a gravel strip, the planes are gone, the outside world recedes and this subarctic outpost steels itself once again to face the frontier of climate change.

“I don’t want to live in permafrost no more,” said Frank Tommy, 47, standing beside gutted geese and seal meat drying on a wooden rack outside his mother’s house. “It’s too muddy. Everything is crooked around here.”

The earth beneath much of Alaska is not what it used to be. The permanently frozen subsoil, known as permafrost, upon which Newtok and so many other Native Alaskan villages rest, is melting, yielding to warming air temperatures and a warming ocean. Sea ice that would normally protect coastal villages is forming later in the year, allowing fall storms to pound away at the shoreline.

Erosion has made Newtok an island, caught between the ever widening Ninglick River and a slough to the north. The village is below sea level, and sinking. Boardwalks squish into the spring muck. Human waste, collected in “honey buckets” that many residents use for toilets, is often dumped within eyeshot in a village where no point is more than a five-minute walk from any other. The ragged wooden houses have to be adjusted regularly to level them on the shifting soil.

Studies say Newtok could be washed away within a decade. Along with the villages of Shishmaref and Kivalina farther to the north, it has been the hardest hit of about 180 Alaska villages that suffer some degree of erosion.

Some villages plan to hunker down behind sea walls built or planned by the Army Corps of Engineers, at least for now. Others, like Newtok, have no choice but to abandon their patch of tundra. The corps has estimated that to move Newtok could cost $130 million because of its remoteness, climate and topography. That comes to almost $413,000 for each of the 315 residents.

Not that anyone is offering to pay...


Continues at: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/27/us/27newtok.html?hp

May 27, 2007 2:10 PM  

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