Robert C. Balling1
(1) Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
Abstract: A climate of doubt about global warming
According to numerical models of climate, the continued buildup of greenhouse gases will lead to a substantial rise in planetary temperature and many related changes to the climate system. Empiricists have noted that thermometer-based planetary temperatures have increased over the past century thereby providing support for the theoretical predictions of the models. Many nations have called for action to combat the threat of global warming, and the Kyoto Protocol represents a major first step in the policy arena.
However, many of the most fundamental global warming issues remain in a state of considerable debate in the scientific community. For example, in the most recent half decade, the atmospheric concentration of many greenhouse gases has slowed or even stabliized. The numerical models of the climate continue to have serious weaknesses including their representation of cloud processes and the coupling of the atmosphere and the ocean. Thermometer records may show warming, but serious concerns remain about the true representativeness of their readings. In addition, increased output of the sun, lack of recent volcanism, and trends in El Nino/Southern Oscillation have certainly contributed to any observed warming. The entire issue is further complicated by the fact that satellite-based and balloon-based measurements of lower atmospheric temperatures show no warming whatsoever over the past few decades. Also, there appears to be no increase in tropical cyclone activity, severe weather events, or variability of climate. Finally, the evidence is overwhelming that the climate impact of a fully-implemented Kyoto Protocol will be trivial over the next fifty years.
AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90914©2000 AAPG Annual Convention, New Orleans, Louisiana