|The Week That Was
August 25, 2001
NEW ON THE SEPP WEB:
August 22, 2001
The world's climate is changing, but a group of international scientists meeting in Halifax this week says it may not be mankind's fault. About 80 scientists from around the world are meeting at Dalhousie University this week for the First International Conference on Global Warming and the Next Ice Age.
"This is really probably the largest conference ever held on climate change in Canada," said Petr Chylek, conference organizer and professor of physics and atmospheric science at Dal.
The event, sponsored by the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society and the American Meteorological Society, was planned after Mr. Chylek read a newspaper story describing melting ice caps in Greenland. The article, which he said was based on a scientific report, warned that global warming was causing higher temperatures, melting the ice caps at a dramatic rate.
Mr. Chylek's research on Greenland found that previously recorded temperatures - even higher in the 1920s than now - didn't have an effect on the ice. "This (other study) creates the wrong impression, that there is really currently a major problem with global warming and it is caused by man," he said. "And many scientists believe it is not correct."
Mr. Chylek said he organized the conference so that theories on climate change other than conventional thoughts about global warming could be discussed. "None of us here (at the conference) has any doubt that climate is changing, and very probably it's getting warmer," he said. "Where people differ in their opinion is what is the cause of this change."
According to Mr. Chylek, there are two schools of thought when it comes to climate change. One group of scientists believes that greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide created by man are causing temperatures to rise.
The other group believes that factors such as solar radiation or natural variation in climate patterns are producing the change.
"Climate naturally changes - and changes drastically, much more than what we have seen within the last 100 years," he said.
Greg Holloway, a physical oceanographer with the Institute of Ocean Studies in B.C., agrees that changes in climate may not be caused by people. After making a presentation on whether the Arctic ice caps were melting, he said that dramatic climate changes, such as the ice age, occurred in the past without human influence.
Mr. Holloway said that many members of the scientific community, as well as the public, aren't willing to accept this. "Everybody's ready for more evidence of global warming and not as ready for the scientific balance - which is what you are receiving here," he said.
While Mr. Holloway said he didn't want to ignore the possibility that people could have a detrimental effect on the environment, he said there should be some room for discussion on the issue.
Mr. Chylek said the global warming theory remains predominant because scientists know it is widely accepted. "Scientists who want to attract attention to themselves, who want to attract great funding to themselves, have to (find a) way to scare the public . . . and this you can achieve only by making things bigger and more dangerous than they really are," he said.
Mr. Chylek said he isn't arguing that efforts to lower greenhouse gases, such as in the Kyoto agreement, should be stopped. "Yes, we have to definitely look to alternative sources of energy than burning of fossil fuels . . . for good reasons - the major reason is health," he said, adding that Canada spends millions on health care for pollution-related illnesses every year.
"We should create good reasons that we want to do it, and not to create artificial threats such as . . . the world will be flooded," Mr. Chylek said.
From The Guardian (London):
"I am no supporter of Mr Bush nor of "smokestack utilities" (Leader, March 16), but I am passionate about truth and honesty in science. In the last three months, a series of heavyweight scientific papers have appeared in journals such as Nature and Climate Research, showing incontrovertibly the "incomplete state of scientific knowledge" about climate change. The critical focus has been on the role of water vapour, which is unquestionably the most important "greenhouse" gas, not carbon dioxide; the geological relationships between carbon dioxide and temperature; the many missing, or little-known variables, in the main climate models, including soot and "Pacific" vents; and the need to correct many temperature measurements, especially those over the oceans.
It is surely time in the UK for a more adult scientific openness about the limitations of our current knowledge. Emissions may be politically important, but their precise scientific role has been seriously questioned."
--Prof Philip Stott, University of London, The Guardian, 19 March
Tuesday, August 7, 2001, 10:33 AM EDT
The spiders attacked eight people in the region in July, an official in the parasitology division of the regional Sanitation and Epidemic Prevention Service told Interfax on Tuesday. The people suffered from high fever, back pain and kidney disorders.
The spiders caught are different from the conventional ones in shape and color. The appearance of the mutants may be connected with global warming.