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Michael Winship: Global Cooling? Tell It to the Jellyfish

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Below is an article by JOURNAL senior writer Michael Winship. We welcome your comments below.

"Global Cooling? Tell It to the Jellyfish"
By Michael Winship

There are certain newspaper headlines that catch your eye and stop you in your tracks. Like the NEW YORK POST's famous "Headless Body in Topless Bar." Or such tabloid greats as "Evil Cows Ate My Garden," "Double Decker Bus Found on Moon," and my personal favorite, "Proof of Reincarnation: Baby Born with Wooden Leg."

Along similar lines, I was startled this week when London's DAILY MAIL published an article headlined, "Could we be in for 30 years of global COOLING?" Triggered by the unusual cold and snow in the United Kingdom over the last few weeks, the article began, "Britain's big freeze is the start of a worldwide trend towards colder weather that seriously challenges global warming theories, eminent scientists claimed yesterday."

The story went on to reference various researchers and their institutions, including the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado in Boulder, which reported, according to the Mail, that, "the warming of the Earth since 1900 is due to natural oceanic cycles, and not man-made greenhouse gases."

This was followed by an article on the Fox News Web site with the headline, "30 Years of Global Cooling Are Coming, Leading Scientist Says."

There are only two small problems, as was pointed out by Steve Benen on WASHINGTON MONTHLY magazine's "Political Animal" blog: "First, the National Snow and Ice Data Center said no such thing. The director of the NSIDC said, 'This is completely false. NSIDC has never made such a statement and we were never contacted by anyone from the DAILY MAIL.'" (Subsequently, both Fox and the MAIL removed the reference to the NSIDC in their articles.)

Second, as proof of global cooling, both stories cited research conducted by Mojib Latif, a prominent climate modeler with the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Latif's response to their reporting? "I don't know what to do," he said. "They just make these things up."

Latif's work on climatology is complex and often difficult to understand, which is why the Fox and DAILY MAIL reporters may have his story mixed up - it wouldn't be the first time journalists have been confused by his findings. But as cogently interpreted by the physicist and climate expert Dr. Joseph Romm of the liberal Center for American Progress, "Latif has NOT predicted a cooling trend - or a 'decades-long deep freeze' - but rather a short-time span where human-caused warming might be partly offset by ocean cycles, staying at current record levels, but then followed by 'accelerated' warming where you catch up to the long-term human-caused trend. He does NOT forecast 2 or 3 decades of cooling."

In fact, as Latif told the British newspaper the GUARDIAN, "I believe in manmade global warming... There is no doubt within the scientific community that we are affecting the climate, that the climate is changing and responding to our emissions of greenhouse gases."

And if you don't believe him, ask the jellyfish.

Jellyfish don't lie. Well, sometimes they lie - deceased and desiccated along the beach, which from strolling along various Eastern Seaboard shores is about the extent of my knowledge of them. That, and that Ogden Nash couplet, the one that goes, "Who wants my jellyfish? I am not sellyfish!"

But according to the Associated Press, the jellyfish population is rising. The news service reports, "Scientists believe climate change - the warming of oceans - has allowed some of the almost 2,000 jellyfish species to expand their ranges, appear earlier in the year and increase overall numbers, much as warming has helped ticks, bark beetles and other pests to spread to new latitudes."

This has led to all manner of consequences, some you would expect, others not. A 2008 National Science Foundation study found populations growing along the East Coast - in the Chesapeake Bay area, people are stung about half a million times a year. In the Middle East and Africa, swarms have jammed hydroelectric and desalination plants, forcing them to shut down. In Japan, the fishing industry is losing up to $332 million a year because jellyfish swarms fill the nets, crowding out mackerel, sea bass and other fish.

The AP reports that in October, off the eastern coast of Japan, "Jelly-filled nets capsized a 10-ton trawler as its crew tried to pull them up. The three fishermen were rescued." I know this all sounds like something out of a Godzilla movie, but it's serious stuff.

And speaking of jellyfish, here's a headline you may not see anytime soon: "Senate Passes Sweeping Climate Bill."

Although in a January 14 speech to the Energy Finance Forum, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, "Taking on the clean-energy challenge... may be the most important policy we will ever pass. And we cannot afford to wait any longer to act," the cap-and-trade climate bill that narrowly passed the House of Representatives back in June malingers in the purgatory of the Senate.

And next week, Senator Reid will allow a vote on an amendment to the legislation lifting the Federal debt ceiling. Proposed by Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, it would block the enforcement funding of the Environmental Protection Agency, giving free rein to the coal industry and other big polluters to ignore the Clean Air Act.

The activist group Credo Action, part of the company Working Assets, notes "You would think this would be easy to stop, but the vote is predicted to be close with many Democrats considering voting for the bill... The coal industry has been working furiously to close deals with senators across the political spectrum, including those who say they want to protect the environment."


Please note that the views and opinions expressed by Michael Winship are not necessarily the views and opinions held by Bill Moyers or BILL MOYERS JOURNAL.


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For those of you that do not quite understand why this “global warming” is such a big deal.

Let there be no misunderstanding, we are in the beginning of global warming. The world’s scientific community is as one on that. There may be questions as to why or can humans do anything about it but there is no question about global warming.

As the world’s scientific community studies the global warming situation, the quantity and quality of the data they have been able to accumulate has grown exponentially.

The models they are using today are generating projections that produce reactions of fear, anxiety, and down right horror. It is interesting to note that this alarm has not percolated into the public sector.

Just one example of that concern:

If the Antarctic melted, worldwide sea level would rise 60 meters. Let us say that only 10% melted and then the Antarctic reached a freeze/melt balance. Worldwide sea level would rise 6 meters. We know that this ice is melting as you read this. The melt is accelerating. The mechanism of that acceleration is under study.

A 1-meter rise in worldwide sea level would reduce worldwide human civilization to hunter-gatherer level. “Most” coastal cities and coastal land would be underwater. The billions migrating inland would be unsustainable. The eventual famine, plague pandemics, genocide would eventually result in cannibalism.

The weather pattern changes due to atmospheric heating would be impacting agriculture at the same time the seas are rising.

Wake up. The seas are rising as you read this.

Assuming man can change climate on planet Earth, AND that all mankind is willing to do anything toward making 'positive' change:

How long will it take to
STOP the 'bad' direction?

How long will it take to make a meaningful impact on the 'good' change?

Once the 'good' climate is reached how will the 'right' climate be maintained or will the change prove difficult to control & a major turn-around be required?

Are there any 'good' results that might evolve from the 'bad' warming direction if it is allowed to continue?

Is there evidence of the Artic having less ice than now, & if so, what were the 'bad' or 'good' affects?

Hey, if interstate competition for healthcare is so hard to negotiate, what chance does global ANYTHING have?

Billy Bob Florida

Hi, i must say fantastic site you have, i stumbled across it in Bing. Does you get much traffic?

Since we're back to a "Depression", Part Deux, we might as well start bringing out all the other social common denominators.

Dust storms and the geniuses of the day selling the "belief":

"The rain follows the plow."

Here's the certainty. We will continue to have weather on this planet. All advances in civilization come from improving the INFRASTRUCTURES - which means architecture, more than ONE energy source (always need a back up) and transportation.

Plus the most important thing - keep the shelves a bit over-stocked with the necessities - WATER and food - LOCALLY.

The whole decades long discussion has been framed in such a way as to make sure no one figures out anything!

World's fair to bring forward all innovation so that people can pick and choose what best suits their lifestyle and topographical realities (sustainable natural resources)

And nail down the the POLITICAL acknowledgement that "third/fourth world" economies are doomed to failure because they never had a chance to FIRST evolve a sustainable civilization through agriculture and land management. Bragging that the population of those countries will over run the "white" race is really nothing worth bragging about - is it? Already the consumption has over run the production...out of a litter of 8, 4 are "normal" and 4 have "special needs" - which means ZERO progress in sum.

Instead of "cooling" and "warming", the REAL SCIENTIFIC ISSUE is establishing the SUSTAINABLE GLOBAL man to land ratio.

Well, Mr. Winship, appears that you are misquoting Mojib Latif as much as the next fellow. He did state and I quote:

"But it is increasingly clear that global warming is on hiatus for the time being. And that is not what the UN, the alarmist scientists or environmentalists predicted. For the past dozen years, since the Kyoto accords were signed in 1997, it has been beaten into our heads with the force and repetition of the rowing drum on a slave galley that the Earth is warming and will continue to warm rapidly through this century until we reach deadly temperatures around 2100.

While they deny it now, the facts to the contrary are staring them in the face: None of the alarmist drummers ever predicted anything like a 30-year pause in their apocalyptic scenario."

Latif also says he expects warming to resume in 2020 or 2030.

Look, a number of scientists predicted that a nautural spat of cooling was due - and that it was mostly solar controlled. They apparently hit it on the head of the nail.

Yes Virginia, there has been global warming ever since the end of the little ice age, some 400 years ago. Before that there was global cooling from the end of the last global warming cycle some 1000 years ago. A Smithsonian/Harvard study, in 2003, looked at 240 global climate studies and found that the consensus scientific view was that the earth's climate in the 20th century was no warmer than it was 1000 years ago, and that the weather was no more radical than it was at any other time either in that time period. For the record, the national academy of sciences made the same view public a couple of years back, saying that there was little to no confidence that it was warmer now, than then. Yet, they still believe in the future that man's emissions will cause more warming than normal.

Once again, there is no evidence that the earth is doing something unusual right in the moment. There are some $50 billion in governmnet grant induced climate studies that are suggesting that things may change, but there are thousands of scientists that are strongly convinced that there is nothing more than a political hypothisis which suggests so. As the eminent physicist Freeman Dyson (yes, a very well loved social progressive socialist), these global warming alarmists are so religous in their views, that they believe that their own man-made computer models are actually correct.

It may be just this simple about global warming. As the sun compresses it gets smaller,hotter and yet gives off less light. Ask NASA if Mercury,Venus,Earth,Moon,Mars are all getting hotter. Ask if the Earth's magnetic poles are shifting,then ask if the Moon's orbit around the Earth is changing. The answer is you can't stop Mother Nature. Hold on for the most interesting and ever changing ride around the Sun.

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