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The Denial of Climate Change

Over the past few weeks, the chorus of ominious climate change warnings has continued unabated.

Here in Canada, Environment Canada says this summer is officially the second warmest ever, continuing a nine-year trend of above-average temperatures. The only summer warmer than 2006 was 1998. The high temperatures extended right across the country, on both coasts, and also in the north. Down south, the US also suffered through its second hottest summer ever, its hottest being in 1936 in the midst of the Dust Bowl crisis.

Meanwhile, an American researcher says he has “closed the loop” in linking warmer temperatures to stronger hurricanes like Katrina. While there haven’t been any monster storms this year, there have been two — Ernesto and Florence — that have caused significant damage and minor loss of life, mostly through flooding. A Category 2 hurricane named Gorden is currently lurking in the Atlantic, though it’s not expected to make landfall anywhere. Meteorologists are keeping an eye on a tropical storm named Helene as well.

This year’s fairly mild hurricane season may not be as reassuring as it looks, though. A weak El Niño has formed in the Pacific, and scientists say this will help temper hurricanes in the Atlantic by “increasing vertical wind shear,” whatever that means. So, without the predictable cycle of El Niño, which will end by 2007, this storm season might in fact be worse.

Finally, new NASA satellite images show, pretty convincingly, that the rate of arctic ice melting is accelerating rapidly. Scientists are naming global warming as one of the main reasons, raising fears again of negative feedback loops that could lead to ever faster melting.

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