Snow Fuels Global Warming Debate

Two men walk backwards into the blowing snow as another winter blizzard hits the nation's capital with whiteout conditions, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2010, in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) AP

After a week of blizzard conditions that buried some parts of the East Coast under record-breaking amounts of snow, the debate over climate change continues to simmer.

Critics of global warming science gleefully point out their windows to mounting snow drifts, which they see as clear evidence that the idea of man-made climate change is bunk. Advocates insist that unusual weather events signify climate change is already underway. (Ironically, while the East Coast is buried under snow, Vancouver, the home of the 2010 Winter Olympics, has experienced weather so balmy officials have had to bring snow in by helicopter).

The back and forth between skeptics and proponents has become increasingly sardonic.

According to the New York Times, the family of Oklahoma Republican Sen. James M. Inhofe, a leading skeptic, built an igloo on Capitol Hill, dubbing it "Al Gore's New Home."

Inhofe told the Times by e-mail that the snowstorms show that doubts about global warming science - which has been the subject of controversy in recent months - are well founded.

But Joseph Romm, a climate change expert at the Center for American Progress, dismissed the claim, telling the paper that "ideologues in the Senate keep pushing the anti-scientific disinformation that big snowstorms are evidence against human-caused global warming."

Climate scientists maintain that no single weather event can be used by either proponents or critics as justification for their beliefs. But Jeff Masters, a meteorologist who writes for the Weather Underground, notes that government and academic studies point to the increasing frequency of severe weather, according to the Times.

The debate between the two factions will likely last far past the last snows have melted. In the latest bit of news, the University of East Anglia - the university at the center of the most recent climate controversy - says it will conduct a new review of the science published by its Climate Research Unit.

The university says the presitigious Royal Society science academy will help find independent scientists to run the new inquiry.

The Climate Research Unit found itself at the heart of the scandal after claims that scientists there and elsewhere tried to suppress or spin the science of global warming.

Leaked e-mails appeared to show researchers stonewalling climate skeptics and discussing ways to dodge Britain's Freedom of Information laws.

An inquiry led by former government bureaucrat Muir Russell is already investigating, but the university said Thursday that it also wanted an audit of the Climate Research Unit's scientific work.
  • Daniel Carty

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