Living in a town full of researchers, I always cringe when I hear the bloviates on the radio talk about junk science. Yep, the world of academia has it’s weird side and anyone trying to make a point can find something that looks like science to back it up. The latest logjam over global warming is an example of how the sharply polarized political climate (pardon the pun) is shaping policy.
In this state, the policy debate over climate change and what to do about it is taking place in the Legislative Commission on Global Climate Change, which meets again on Monday. While there are a number of things the state can do to reduce its greenhouse gas output, the big hurdle for the commission will be getting a buy-in from the business community. Right now, the majority are saying “what’s in it for me?” And they don’t seem to mind that there are pro-business legislators playing the alternative science card.
So, it might be time for the state’s science community to weigh in.
There’s plenty of research being done around here that could help legislators shed a light on things.
Reading through a recent batch of UNC info, I was struck by how much work on global warming is being done in the area.
For instance, the American Geophysical Union meets Monday in San Francisco and a bunch of UNC researchers are headed out there with their latest earth science studies in hand. A glance through the Tip Sheet for the event shows a lot of work on climate change (and some other pretty cool stuff). From the summary:
* Climate change
o Viking trash holds climate change clues
o Greenland ice quakes forecast faster melting
o Solar radiation drives abrupt climate change
o Earthquakes speed up eastern California
o How new faults are born
o Super-eruptions don’t need super-sized sources
o Giant waves in Massachusetts Bay
* Restoring rivers and streams
o Natural dams cool hot summer streams
o Sourcing nitrogen contamination in the Northeast
o Shining a light on sunlight to streams
Consider this work in Greenland by Professor Jose Rial:
Climate Variability, Melt-Flow Acceleration, and Ice Quakes at the Western Slope
of the Greenland Ice Sheet
Jose Rial, professor, department of geological sciences
Measurements of seismic activity in Greenland’s ice sheet indicate the activity is related to the ice sheet’s probable fragmentation due to global warming. Project SMOGIS (Seismic Monitoring of Greenland’s Ice Sheet), a collaboration between UNC-Chapel Hill and the University of Colorado at Boulder, has detected intense microearthquake activity throughout the region close to the Jacobshavn glacier, one of the world’s fastest moving glaciers. The seismic activity is clearly related to glacial sliding (at the base of the ice sheet) and crevassing, or large fractures expanding under the increased warming. “The area we are inspecting could be seen as belonging to the buttresses of a giant cathedral, which is the Greenland ice sheet,” Rial said. “If the buttresses fail, the entire cathedral could collapse, perhaps in just a few years. This may be part of what has been called abrupt climate change.”
Cross-posted from Exile on Jones Street.