NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Scientists Differ On Reality, Extent Of Global Warming

January 14, 2000

Some scientists, including members of an 11-member panel organized by the National Academy of Sciences' National Research Council, have different perspectives on the committe's new report that concludes a worldwide rise in temperatures at the Earth's surface is "undoubtedly real."

The report is fueling a debate which has long simmered among scientists concerning the seemingly contradictory data gathered on global temperatures from land-based stations and satellites. Land-based stations have detected a rise in temperatures, but satellites that record temperatures in the upper atmosphere have shown little change in 20 years.

  • John M. Wallace, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington and chairman of the panel, dismissed as insignificant the glaring contradiction between the land-based as satellite-obtained data.
  • But two other scientists who were members of the panel, Roy Spencer of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and John R. Christy of the University of Alabama at Huntsville, have long contended that global warming -- if it were occurring at all -- was likely very mild.
  • While concurring with the panel's conclusions, Christy says that predicting future climate trends remains fraught with peril.
  • And Arthur Robinson, the president of and a professor of chemistry at the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, called the report a "political document" and "evidence that the National Academy Board has pretty much been taken over by enviros."

Source: Joby Warrick, "Global Warming Is 'Real,' Report Finds," Washington Post, January 13, 2000.


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