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New climate data reignite debate

The New Straits Times

Since comprehensive studies of the world’s climate began 20 years ago, the evidence for global warming has been steadily growing. Study after study has found temperatures on land and at sea increasing, while the Arctic ice sheet has diminished in extent and thickness, and sea levels have risen. These studies were drawn together in the landmark report on climate change produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007. The 3,000-page report said climate change was “unequivocal” and there was a 90 per cent likelihood that much of the earth’s warming was due to the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels.

But when the “climategate” scandal broke last year – e-mails among climate scientists appeared to show them distorting data to suit their theories, and this was followed by revelations of a few flaws in the IPCC report – many people decided the science of climate change was in doubt. Polls showed public faith in climate science dropping, and an increasingly vocal chorus of “climate sceptics” protesting that the credibility of climate science had been destroyed.

But new research released by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Wednesday reignited the debate. Peter Stott, of the UK’s Met Office, which contributed to the NOAA report, said the data showed clearly human influence over the climate.

For instance, he pointed to research showing temperatures in the stratosphere were falling. “This would be expected as a consequence of a combination of ozone depletion and greenhouse gas increase.” He added that an increasing concentration of greenhouse gases would be likely to cause the upper atmosphere to cool even as the lower atmosphere warmed.

“This is part of a very distinctive pattern of change, associated with human influence on climate systems. The evidence is so clear the chance there’s something we haven’t thought of [that could be warming the climate other than greenhouse gases] seems to be getting smaller and smaller,” he said.

The NOAA research gathered together much new data published since the last IPCC report. Although that report was published in 2007, most of the data used were from several years before.
Two pieces of research also found the first half of this year was the warmest on record. This refuted the claims of many climate sceptics that global warming had stopped or reached a plateau in the past 10 years, Mr Stott said.

However, he added that people should not infer too much from a single year’s data. Sceptics claim that as the sea ice in the Arctic has recovered slightly from its record minimum in 2007, that global warming is not happening. Mr Stott said that the climate could vary strongly from year to year, while still following a general warming trend.

Myles Allen, of Oxford University, said it was clear from the accumulated work of climate scientists that greenhouse gases were the problem. He said: “Climategate never really brought climate science into question at all.” Sceptics remain unconvinced. Myron Ebell, of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said: “I think climategate is nowhere near done and people will become more sceptical as they find out more and more about how these conclusions were not based on science but were in fact based on political calculation.”

El contenido de las noticias que se presentan en esta sección es responsabilidad directa de las agencias emisoras de noticias y no necesariamente reflejan la posición del Gobierno de México en este u otros temas relacionados.


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