Monday, March 8, 2010

After errors, global warming gets a cold shoulder

Critics point to mistakes, e-mail theft to raise doubts on research; poll shows less public concern
A UN report mistakenly said the Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035.

A series of highly publicized errors in a landmark report about manmade global warming - and lingering controversy over hacked e-mails between climate scientists - is eroding public confidence in the research and could further stall efforts in Congress to pass climate legislation.
The errors - involving projections, citations of source materials, and geography - have been seized on by skeptics of the scientific consensus that the burning of fossil fuels is almost certainly the most significant cause of earth’s rising temperature. Now, there are signs the critics are succeeding at raising doubts.

In recent weeks, Texas, Virginia, and Alabama officials filed challenges to the Environmental Protection Agency’s finding that manmade greenhouse gases threaten public health, and Senator Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat from the coal state of West Virginia, introduced a bill to postpone for two years EPA rules stemming from that determination.
Republican senators have pointed to the errors as another reason to oppose a climate bill, spearheaded by Senator John F. Kerry, that would limit carbon dioxide emissions.
Even in Massachusetts, where environmentalism has long been good politics, GOP gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker said recently when asked whether global warming was manmade: “I absolutely am not smart enough to believe I know the answer.’’
In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations scientific body considered the leading authority on global warming, concluded the widespread warming of the atmosphere and oceans and the melting of sea ice and glaciers could not be explained without taking into account manmade emissions of heat-trapping gases. The group said it was 90 percent certain that humans are the main reason for the world’s temperature rise in the past 50 years.
Governmental scientific bodies around the world, including in the United States, have supported that conclusion, which was based on a review of decades of research by international scientists. Read more.

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