Legislature hears climate findings from U scientist

By By Jake Hibbard , Staff Writer

By Jake Hibbard , Staff Writer

The battle between the U and the University of Alabama was rekindled again8212;this time on Capitol Hill.

James Steenburgh, the chair of the U’s department of meteorology, and Roy Spencer, a researcher from the University of Alabama, presented their opposing arguments concerning climate change to the Public Utilities and Technology Interim Committee last Wednesday.

“The Earth’s climate system is warming,” Steenburgh said, adding that the average temperature for the planet has increased 1.3 degrees during the past 100 years. Steenburgh cited findings from researchers’ models that simulate all aspects of Earth to determine what is causing climate change and what the effects will be of the changes.

“Ongoing greenhouse emissions at or above the current levels will likely produce global temperature, sea level and snow and ice changes greater than those observed in the 20th century,” Steenburgh said.

Spencer said he does not deny the existence of climate change but doubts the accuracy of the Earth models used to determine the effects of man-made emissions.

The models react to extra carbon dioxide by magnifying the effect it will have on temperature increase, because, Spencer said, most scientists have concluded that the more Earth’s temperature rises, the less cloud coverage there will be, resulting in more sunlight reaching Earth.

Spencer argues, however, that the cause for warmer temperatures throughout the year is from natural fluctuations in the amount of cloud cover, not a magnification of sunlight burning through the atmosphere.

Despite Spencer’s doubt, Steenburgh said no alternative explanation, other than man-made emissions, has survived such rigorous tests.

“The Earth’s climate is changing at rates and in patterns that are not natural and best explained by human activity,” he said.

Spencer said he has problems gaining support for his research because the media largely ignore research that challenges the current position on climate change. A poll taken by the American Geophysical Union reported that 97.4 percent of actively published climatists think humans are a significant factor in global warming.

“There is no such thing as unbiased research in this field,” he said, adding that many people’s careers depend on the threat of man-made global warming.

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