Journal, a publication of the Natural Resources...

THE AMICUS

September 13, 1993

THE AMICUS Journal, a publication of the Natural Resources Defense Council, has this to say about the possibility of changes in the Earth's climate:

"Suddenly last summer, destructive floods devastated the upper Mississippi Valley and the Midwest, while severe droughts blighted the East from New York state to South Carolina, and unusually cool temperatures and cloudy weather grayed skies in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere. Afterward, meteorologists (and science writers) struggled to make sense of it all. . .

"One phenomenon conspicuously absent from weather discussions has been global climate change due to emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from fossil-fuel burning, and other gases . . . While recent weather disruptions cannot be attributed to the onset of a greenhouse effect, they give us a foretaste of what could happen in the future under climate change . . .

"Perhaps because the last two years have not seen record high temperatures (which climatologists attribute to Mount Pinatubo's eruption and its raining of volcanic dust into the atmosphere), public concern over global warming has waned, and another trend has emerged: a backlash in certain scientific quarters against the greenhouse effect theory. 'Global warming alarmists are vastly overstating the risks of climate change, often to further their own agendas,' wrote Henry Linden in an article that appear in the July 1993 Electricity Journal. No doubt about it: environmentalists would advocate curbing fossil fuel pollution for host of other good reasons, but that does not make the risks associated with climate change any less powerful nor the science any less strong.

". . . New scientific evidence about climate change continues to emerge, some of it profoundly unsettling. In late July, one ecological study found that even if rising levels of CO2 did not directly warm the Earth, the gases could fundamentally alter the Earth's carbon and nitrogen cycles, affecting photosynthesis, root development and plant growth, for example. Earlier, two studies publicized in the British scientific journal Nature (July 15, 1993) revealed even more troubling concerns over the potential instability of the world's climate in the face of greenhouse gases. Studies of ice cores in Greenland found that 'catastrophic' climate changes occurred in past ages. . .

" 'The new ice core results bring rapid climate change to our

doorstep; changes of up to 10 degrees Centigrade (18 degrees Fahrenheit) in a couple of decades, or perhaps in less than a decade, appear possible,' wrote the commentator in Nature. 'The speed with which the climate system can shift states gives us pause. Adaptation -- the peaceful shifting of food growing areas, coastal populations and so on -- seemed possible, if difficult, when abrupt change meant a few degrees in a century. It now seems a much more formidable task, requiring global cooperation with swift recognition and response.'. . ."

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