There are a few interesting news stories about climate change this week. In the USA, the latest American opinion on climate change poll from Yale University includes for the first between them and other political parties. 53% of ”Tea Partiers” do not believe in global warming, compared to nearly 80% of Democrats. 52% of Tea Partiers also do not believe in evolution; one can draw ones own conclusions from this. Tea Partiers are much more confident that they are right than others – the majority are quite convinced they need no more information on the subject, thank you very much. And yes they know all about the Climategate emails and need no more information on that either. Read more on this from the Economist and join in the international crossing of fingers that they remain out of power next term The extent of the effect climate change has had on the ice-caps of Greenland is also hotly disputed. The latest edition of the Times Atlas of the World was released last week, and some of its publicity stated that 15% of Greenland’s ice-covered area is now green and ice-free. This fact is disputed by scientists from the Scott Polar Research Institute who say it has not melted nearly as much. The publicity for the atlas (described as “glossy”) says,
”This is concrete evidence of how climate change is altering the face of the planet forever – and doing so at an alarming and accelerating rate.”
But the Scott Polar Research Instiute insists this is just “wrong” and in a letter to the Times newspaper says,
“It is… crucial to report climate change and its impact accurately and to back bold statements with concrete and correct evidence” ”We do not know why this error has occurred, but it is regrettable that the claimed drastic reduction in the extent of ice in Greenland has created headline news around the world.
NB. The Times Atlas is not owned by The Times newspaper. It is published by Times Books, part of HarperCollins which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. Back in the UK again, geoscience Professor Iain Stewart has been locking himself in a box for 48 hours in order to show the British public just how important plants are. The box in question does not have enough air for the Professor to survive unassisted, but does contain a lot of plants, which will be photosynthesising hard to produce the oxygen he needs. The experiment is being filmed for a BBC TV programme about the importance of plants. Professor Stewart says,
”I cannot think of a more powerful way of driving home to the viewer the importance of photosynthesis.”
Comments on the article include supportive ones who believe this is an excellent way to demonstrate the science to the public. Some argue about the maths behind it. There are also many more negative ones bemoaning the dumbing down of science and the rise of “celebrity” scientists. There were also some funny ones, my personal favourite being….
“Oh what a shame. I thought someone was going to have a go at proving the ‘Schroedinger’s Cat’ thingy” (Ruth Harris).
Polar Bear photograph by Thomas Picard.