IGNORE AL GORE -- BUT NOT HIS NOBEL FRIENDS

November 13, 2007

This week, the United Nations' climate scientists will release a major report synthesizing the world's best global warming research.  It will be the first time we've heard from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) since its scientists won the Nobel Peace Prize with former U.S. vice-president Al Gore.

The IPCC's Assessment Report will tell policy-makers what to expect from man-made climate change.  The difference between Gore's claims and IPCC research is instructive, says Bjorn Lomborg, the author of "Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming."

  • While Gore was creating alarm with his belief that a 20-foot-high wall of water would inundate low-lying cities, the IPCC showed us we should realistically prepare for a rise of one foot or so by the end of the century.
  • Beyond the dramatic difference, it is also worth putting that one foot in perspective: Over the last 150 years, sea levels rose about one foot.

Most tellingly, while Gore was raising fears about the Gulf Stream halting and a new Ice Age starting, the scientists discounted the prospect entirely:

  • The Gulf Stream takes warm water from around Mexico and pushes it toward Europe.
  • Around 8,000 years ago, a melting lake in the region of the present-day Canadian Great Lakes broke through and a massive torrent of cold, fresh water flooded into the North Atlantic, significantly slowing the Gulf Stream for around 400 years; Gore worries that Greenland's ice shelves could melt and do the same thing again.
  • Ice in Greenland is obviously melting, but over the next century, it'll spill 1,000 times less water into the ocean than occurred 8,000 years ago; in other words, it will have a negligible effect on the Gulf Stream.

Source: Bjorn Lomborg, "Ignore Al Gore - but not his Nobel friends," London Daily Telegraph, November 11, 2007.

 

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