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Is Antarctica warming or cooling? Either way it proves global warming, according to climate modelers.

In the 1990s, predictions of a greenhouse-warmed Antarctic abounded. As time passed, though, problems surfaced. Research paper after paper indicated that, other than the tiny Antarctica peninsula, the continent was in fact cooling -- and had been doing so for many decades.

Skeptics pointed to this as a flaw in global warming theory. Not so fast, cried the climate modelers. They quickly spun a number of possible explanations, including ozone holes, ocean currents, and terrain that cut off Antarctica from the world's warming. As the certainty in the cooling trend grew, so did their statements, until they eventually began stating that they had predicted a cooling trend all along.

As the folks at RealClimate put it, "Doesn't this contradict [global warming]? Not at all, because a cold Antarctica is just what calculations predict… and have predicted for the past quarter century."

Cooling was thus cast as proof of global warming, not refutation. The media dutifully shifted their cameras from penguins to polar bears. The world was safe for Kyoto again.

But now a new paper has appeared, saying that Antarctica is warming after all. Written by Eric Steig and Drew Shindell, the paper purports to prove that past evidence of cooling was incorrect. But doesn't that contradict the models? Not if one can again rewrite history.

Speaking at a news conference today, Steig says, "We now see warming is taking place [in] accord with what models predict as a response to greenhouse gases."

In 2004, Shindell had something very different to say. That year he authored a paper that stated, "Surface temperatures [had] decreased significantly over most of Antarctica," Shindell added, "This cooling is consistent with circulation changes". He dedicated the rest of the paper to demonstrating that climate modeling "reproduces the vertical structure and seasonality of observed [cooling] trends."

Today, Shindell says, "It’s extremely difficult to think of any physical way that you could have increasing greenhouse gases not lead to warming at the Antarctic continent.". One can only wonder if he kept a straight face.

Even the New York Times is playing along, saying that cooling "ran counter to the forecasts of computer climate models". Memories are short.

The real story here isn't Antarctica. It's the willingness to rationalize model results to fit any and all scenarios. To the modelers, their results are consistent with. . . well, everything. Whether warmer or colder, flood or drought, more storms or less -- it's all proof that global warming is real and happening now.

This, of course, isn't real science. A true theory require something called falsifiability -- a set of conditions under which it can be disproven. So far, this is something the modelers have failed to give. It allows them to maintain a facade of unflappable certainty-- but it isn't science.

Among researchers who work with actual climate data, skepticism is climbing. The modelers at least remain faithful. But as of now, their predictions are rather like the gypsy fortune teller who tells you, "You will live a long life -- unless you die young."

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RE: Lets do a quick risk assessment...
By rdeegvainl on 1/22/2009 2:32:33 PM , Rating: 5
you are aware that once upon a time Mars had an atmosphere? How do you think that disappeared?

Definately wasn't man made global warming.

RE: Lets do a quick risk assessment...
By Amiga500 on 1/22/2009 3:10:52 PM , Rating: 2
Thats another little gripe of mine.

Who really cares if climate change is man made or not?

Humans have always sought to control the local environment - it has what has made us the No.1 species on the planet. Extending control to the global environment should be near the top of our priorities.

(Now, obviously getting control of the environment means so much more than building a few wind farms - as they do not control the environment at all)

By WTFiSJuiCE on 1/23/2009 2:14:36 AM , Rating: 2
It honestly does matter if climate change is man made or not, because if it is then we actually can take steps within ourselves to contain that.

Extending control to the scale of the global environment? We can't even stop China from creating toxic winds that swoop down from the Gobi Desert, picking up all of the pollution particles from its grand industrialization and spreading it slowly all over the globe (while making thousands in Korea ill). And yet, you want to control the Earth's environment in its entirety?

Ok, hold on. I think I still have August De Wynter on speed dial, maybe he'll let us use his weather machine for kicks one more time.

Even if we could control the Earth's climate, we can't stop the sun from creating sunspots (in particular I believe we are just coming off of a maximum period of sunspots), therefore creating a strong solar wind, and reducing cloud cover which warms the planet surfaces.
What do we do about that? Shoot sulfur bombs into the atmosphere to cool ourselves until the danger goes away?

What about when global cooling happens? Are we going to send nuclear missiles into the sun to give it a jump start?

Major Tectonic Shift? Develop an enormous glue gun on the ISS and paste California back to the mainland?

What if a supervolcano erupts? There's nothing in our bag o' tricks for that one.

The problem with your gripe is that nature isn't something that is outside of us. We didn't just evolve above nature thanks to social contract. It's our arrogance as the 3rd most intelligent species that makes us think we can control the very environment we live in completely.

In the meantime, I'll just sit here and wait for the dolphins to thank us for the fish and leave the planet just before it explodes.

"Intel is investing heavily (think gazillions of dollars and bazillions of engineering man hours) in resources to create an Intel host controllers spec in order to speed time to market of the USB 3.0 technology." -- Intel blogger Nick Knupffer

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