The Right Coast

November 24, 2004
 
Artic Global Warming?
By Mike Rappaport

The US and seven other countries have been discussing changes in the Arctic climate, but does the evidence support the concern? For a layperson, like myself, it is hard to know, but there are reasons for skepticism. Consider this article by Ronald Bailey, and the following excerpt:

Furthermore, those same records show that the Arctic warmed twice as fast between 1917 and 1937 as it has in the past 20 years. After 1940, the Arctic saw a big cool-down and climatologists noted sea ice expanding in the northern Atlantic. Christy argues that what he calls the Great Climate Shift occurred in the late 1970s and caused another sudden warming in the Arctic. Since the late 1970s there has not been much additional warming in the region at all. In fact, on page 23, the Arctic Council Assessment offers very similar data for Arctic temperature trends from 60 degrees north latitude—the area that includes most of Alaska and essentially all of Greenland, most of Norway and Sweden, and the bulk of Russia.

But what to make of the report earlier this year in the scientific journal Climate Change by Petr Chylek and his colleagues from the Los Alamos Laboratory, which found that average temperatures in Greenland have been falling at the rather steep rate of 2.2 degrees Celsius since 1987?
Given this type of uncertainty, I tend to agree with the Bush Administration position that voluntary measures (or low cost efforts unlike Kyoto) should be employed.