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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 Amiga500 on 1/22/2009 3:23:55 PM , Rating: 0
Listen up, son, and listen good.

Do you realise that greed will prevent the global relief of human suffering and death anyway?

Are you that stupid you'd happily risk the entire human population on the basis of one theory* being absolutely right over another?

*Both of the theories have substantial backing in the science community - and both can point towards evidence supporting their theories. Its not like we are dealing with some tinfoil hat idiot from Roswell saying aliens are gonna invade tomorrow.


By clovell on 1/22/2009 4:28:58 PM , Rating: 2
> Do you realise that greed will prevent the global relief of human suffering and death anyway?

Let's think about this rationally for just a bit. The masses can accept and address only a certain number of crises at a time. Pushing the curbing of global CO2 emissions is going to huge and expensive and is going to crowd out other, more eminent calamities.

And no, I'm not that stupid. I just don't think the potential risks are currently outweighed by the potential returns, that's all. The shock and awe style is just to put my arguements against the AGW crisis on a proportionate level with yours for it.

And as for the son thing - I got a bit carried away there, my bad.


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