Sunday, July 30, 2006

Global Warming

There is no serious controversy among scientists over whether the earth is getting warmer or not—it clearly is. People can have legitimate differences of opinion over what (if anything) to do about it, but

I haven't seen Inconvenient Truth, but I bet it's pretty good if it's anything like this podcast by Al Gore that I heard recently courtesy of the Stanford Center for Social Innovation.

Oh, and remember that question I had last month about ice at the north pole? Well Al Gore answered my question. Of course ice melting at the North Pole won't directly raise sea levels, but there's not that much ice there in the first place. Something like 90% of the world's landlocked ice is in Antarctica.

This week's Economist adds

If all these weather forecasts come true, where will be the best place to live? Probably not fast-growing south-western cities such as Phoenix or Las Vegas. With few trees and plants to cool things down through evaporation, and with heat pumping out of buildings and cars (what is called the "urban heat island effect"), these cities may roast. Up in the mountains, skiers too will have a tough time of it, as snowpacks melt.

For those who like rain, Canada may do nicely. Most models show Mexico getting drier and Canada wetter in the future, according to Isaac Held, a researcher with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. By extension, northern parts of the United States will generally get wetter, and southern parts generally drier. The Pacific north-west may not be too bad. Summer temperatures west of the Cascades will rise by up to 1.7° C, as against up to 2.2°C for areas east of the mountains, predicts Clifford Mass of the University of Washington. Seattle may get cloudier in the spring and early summer. That is a bright spot of sorts, on an otherwise unhappy canvas.

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