U.S. Climate Scientists Prepare Campaign Against Global-Warming Skeptics

Shutterstock_2824481_2 The American Geophysical Union plans to announce that 700 researchers have agreed to speak out on the issue. Other scientists plan a pushback against congressional conservatives who have vowed to kill regulations on greenhouse gas emissions. An analysis by a liberal think tank found that half of the more than 100 new Republican Congress members are skeptics on global warming.

Faced with rising political attacks, hundreds of climate scientists are joining a broad campaign to push back against congressional conservatives who have threatened prominent researchers with investigations and vowed to kill regulations to rein in man-made greenhouse gas emissions.

The still-evolving efforts reveal a shift among climate scientists, many of whom have traditionally stayed out of politics and avoided the news media. Many now say they are willing to go toe-to-toe with their critics, some of whom gained new power after the Republicans won control of the House in Tuesday's election.

On Monday, the American Geophysical Union, the country's largest association of climate scientists, plans to announce that 700 climate scientists have agreed to speak out as experts on questions about global warming and the role of man-made air pollution.

Two vivid representative examples of the current effects of global warming are taking place in the Earth's tropical zones.

The Quelccaya Ice Cap in the heart of the Peruvian Andres, is the largest tropical body of ice in the world. The ice cap is at an average altitude of 5,470 meters (18,600 ft) and spans an area of 44 square kilometers (17 miles).  As the ice cap is retreating, it is exposing almost perfectly preserved plant specimens dating back 5,200 year, indicating that it has been more than 50 centuries since the ice cap was smaller than it is today.

According to recent research, one of the glaciers in this ice cap, the Peruvian Qori Kalis, like the snowfields of Africa's Mount Kilimanjaro, is rapidly melting and could soon vanish completely (comparisons with previous mapping showed 33% of Mount Kilimanjaro's ice had disappeared in the last two decades – 82% since 1912).

"I would not be surprised to see half of it disappear in this coming year," said climatologist Lonnie Thompson, from Ohio State University. Thompson has been studying the Qori Kalis glacier since 1978.

"In the first 10 years [that] we observed the glacier, it was retreating 6 meters (19.7 feet) every year," Thompson said. "In the last few years, it has started retreating 60 meters (197 feet) every year – a 10-fold increase. On top of that you will have natural phenomena like El Nino, which release heat into the lower atmosphere," he predicted.

MountkilimanjarofromAmboseli "The combination of those two things will have a big impact on glaciers throughout the tropics," said Thompson. "No matter what we do, we are going to lose the glaciers on Kilimanjaro and the lower elevation glaciers in the Andes."

"Kilimanjaro could be gone by 2020," he suggested. "In the Andes, some of the glaciers are bigger, but I think we are talking 30 to 50 years."

This will cause many problems for some of the poorest people on earth since they depend upon annual glacial melt to sustain their crops. Loss of these glaciers will cause a huge drought and crop failure.

"These changes are going to take place and these people will be impacted," observed Thompson. "They have to find ways to adapt."

Jason McManus via  LA Times


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