Friday, November 25, 2005

On the bubble

Looks like the jury is close to a verdict on global warming.

There is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today than at any point during the last 650,000 years, says a major new study that let scientists peer back in time at "greenhouse gases" that can help fuel global warming.

By analyzing tiny air bubbles preserved in Antarctic ice for millenia, a team of European researchers highlights how people are dramatically influencing the buildup of these gases.

The remarkable research promises to spur "dramatically improved understanding" of climate change, said geosciences specialist Edward Brook of Oregon State University.
The study, by the European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica, is published today in the journal Science.

[snip]

Levels of carbon dioxide have climbed from 280 parts per million two centuries ago to 380 ppm today. Earth's average temperature, meanwhile, increased about 1 degree Fahrenheit in recent decades, a relatively rapid rise. Many climate specialists warn that continued warming could have severe impacts, such as rising sea levels and changing rainfall patterns.

Skeptics sometimes dismiss the rise in greenhouse gases as part of a naturally fluctuating cycle. The new study provides ever-more definitive evidence countering that view, however.

[snip]

Today's still rising level of carbon dioxide already is 27 percent higher than its peak during all those millenia, said lead researcher Thomas Stocker of the University of Bern, Switzerland.

"We are out of that natural range today," he said.

Moreover, that rise is occurring at a speed that "is over a factor of a hundred faster than anything we are seeing in the natural cycles," Stocker added. "It puts the present changes in context."

Researchers also compared the gas levels to the Antarctic temperature over that time period, covering eight cycles of alternating glacial or ice ages and warm periods. They found a stable pattern: Lower levels of gases during cold periods and higher levels during warm periods.

The bottom line: "There's no natural condition that we know about in a really long time where the greenhouse gas levels were anywhere near what they are now. And these studies tell us that there's a strong relationship between temperature and greenhouse gases," explained Oregon State's Brook. "Which logically leads you to the conclusion that maybe we should worry about temperature change in the future."
I think the study speaks for itself. Now if only someone in the White House had the balls to tell Bubble Boy something he doesn't want to hear. Hey, tell him it's a story about bubbles! He will be able to relate.

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