Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Antarctica redux: climate change

My previous post discussed a report that was meant to verify that overall temperatures in Antarctica were slowly on the increase. The report, featured in the journal Nature, has come under considerable scrutiny and the methodologies used to derived the results are being questioned.

Should it be proved that the researchers involved in the report chose to stretch the limits of sound, solid research and analysis, that would be unfortunate as it provides fodder for critics of climate change. In the end, the extremist positions taken on any issue never seem to help the various camps on either side of the debate.

Some critics of climate change seem to take the position that it doesn't exist at all, that it's a total fabrication amounting to some elaborate conspiracy theory to make money or gain political power.

Others seem to accept that the climate is changing but that it is due to a natural cycle, not influenced by man-made activities, and therefore there is nothing that can be done about it (unfortunately, I do not hear much from them in the way of suggestions on how to deal then with the inevitable consequences).

Something is happening to the planet's climate. And with a population of over 6.5 billion, we are definitely having an impact on the depletion of many natural resources - from water to timber to wildlife and sealife. After two centuries of dependence on fossil fuels, resulting in vast and verified quantities of greenhouse gases being generated, it doesn't take a phenomenal leap of faith or judgment to consider that our quality of life would be improved by developing alternatives to our current consumption habits.

For the brief time I have remaining on this planet, I would like to think I can make a positive difference in my life, the lives of my children, and the planet. Go ahead, call me an optimistic dreamer. I don't mind.

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