Reader questions – Part 4 of 4


This is the last of my series of articles based on the questions of one of my readers, Brittany.  Brittany sent me an email and asked 4 questions. I have broken up each of these questions into 4 different articles.  If other readers have specific questions regarding global warming, please drop me a note (you can find my contact information in the About page).

Question 4: I read that it will take hundreds of years for Arctic/Greenland glaciers to melt and close to a 1,000 years for West Antarctica to melt.  I don’t know if those facts are correct.  But if they are correct, why would the earth’s temperature increase 6 egress Celsius in the next 100 years?  That’s a very scary proposition if it’s true. 

I am not aware of any credible scientist that is suggesting a 6 degree C increase in temperature in 100 years. I have heard that number from extremists, alarmists, and hacks though but nothing that is scientifically credible.

It is unfortunate that there are hacks and extremists on both sides of this issue. My general contention is that when people say that the time for discussion is over, it is a bad thing. When people stop listening and only speak, extremism takes over without regard to its consequences of actions.

In my previous article on your questions, I discussed how greenhouse gases work.  The theory is that as greenhouse gases build up in the atmosphere so will the temperature increase. As we have seen though, this relationship is hardly steady or even. All of these forecasts come from computer models. These models are being run on relatively slow computers and use computer models that are fairly limited when compared to the complexities of the weather.

It would be wonderful if we had an initiative to use the Internet connected computing power of the world to solve this type of problem with a model that was incredibly complicated to match Earth’s climate.  I am thinking of an initiative similar to SETI where the unused compute power of millions of computers are used to crunch through computations.

Using the above mentioned computer models, the most reliable forecast for the next hundred years (or at least the most referenced forecast) comes from the UN.  The particular UN body that is charged with this effort is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  Their latest prediction is that the temperature of Earth will increase between 1 and 2 degrees Celsius. Some scientists do not accept that conclusion and recently held a meeting to discuss their views and express their frustrations.  In general, I think meetings like this are very healthy to the conversation and they should be encouraged rather than discouraged.

I have enjoyed answering Brittany’s questions.  Thank you to her for allowing me to put them on my site.  If there are other questions that readers would like me to write about, send me a note via the email on my About page or put a comment below.

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