Friday, June 1, 2007

Goddard Institute Issues a Warning on Global Warming

Sometimes the fact of global warming gets a short shrift due to the more politically-charged discussion on whether it is caused naturally by, for example, an unusual cycle of sun flares, or human activity.

I think the latter question will never be settled to the satisfaction of all parties involved because it has political undertones and repercussions for people who do not share the same political views.

However we should keep the causality question separate from the more urgent one of whether there is indeed a global warming or not. And on that note, the evidence keeps piling on a daily basis from sources whose credentials are in general beyond reproach.

Take the Goddard Institute of Space Studies at Columbia University, for example. The Institute represents as intense a concentration of scientific minds as any.

Dr. James Hansen, the President of the Institute, said during a presentation of Al Gore's Oscar-winning movie "An Inconvenient Truth" in Dennison, Iowa, that global warming has reached a "crisis" state and its full impact might be felt within as short as ten years.

Hansen also dealt with the "former question" that I've underlined above, namely, "who" causes all this warming. He said the quality of the scientific evidence which pointed at "human activity" and "burning fossil fuels" as the culprit was beyond discussion.

Hansen, leaving diplomacy aside, has also dashed the hopes that his fellow Iowans invested in corn-produced ethanol for reducing the impact of the green house gases.

"There is a lot of potential in biofuels," he said. "[But] corn-based ethanol, in the long-term, is not very helpful… it still puts a lot of CO2 in the atmosphere."

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