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"The Planet Is Warming Up!"
Volume 4, Number 11: 14 March 2001

How do we know? Because someone who apparently dislikes the reports of peer-reviewed science journal articles we post on our web site says so. Does he have a better source of knowledge than we do? It's hard to say, but it sure is easier to come by. All you have to do, he says, is "open your eyes" because "the evidence is all around us."

Well, we thought, maybe there is an easier way to get to the bottom of the whole global warming mess. Maybe we can just look around and see that it's here. So, being wed to the web, we thought we'd begin by checking out a number of internet news sources to see what's happening around this sweltering world of ours.

Our first stop was MSNBC, where we found a story by NBC News correspondent Dana Lewis, who reports that "extreme cold has blasted Russia into the coldest winter in a century." From Siberia to the Far East, he says, there have been bone-chilling temperatures some 30 degrees below normal, making it "a battle just to survive." On the nightly television news, in fact, NBC's Tom Brokaw said the political fallout of the inability of Russian officials to cope with the disaster has reached all the way to the top of the government, with President Putin firing Russia's energy minister and accusing regional leaders of "condemning people to death," all because of their failure to supply the populace of the regions worst hit by the cold with the fossil fuels needed to produce warmth and electricity. As correspondent Lewis asks, "why are people here freezing and in the dark?" And as we would add, "especially if we are experiencing the warmest period of the last thousand years, and since global warming is supposed to be the most pronounced of all in Siberia." Clearly, something is rotten in more than Denmark!

Checking a little further, we came across a report by Red Cross staff writer Stephanie Kriner, who wrote about some other recent cold-induced disasters. She reports that in the first week of January of this year, many people died "as a result of a bitter cold front sweeping across northern India," which brought "the coldest temperatures to hit the region in several years." Kriner notes that the same cold front also swept into Pakistan, threatening the lives of hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees. In China, she says, "the worst winter weather conditions in decades" have left many people dead, and that Barbara Wetsig of the American Red Cross fears thousands of other people "are at risk of frostbite, hypothermia and starvation," especially "the poor, homeless, elderly and children." In fact, Kriner says that the Inner Mongolian Branch of the Russian Red Cross estimates that "up to 1.35 million people are affected." She also reports that "the worst snowstorm in 50 years" had stranded "tens of thousands of herders and their livestock" in Inner Mongolia, that "blizzards have paralyzed South Korea" in what weather forecasters there were describing as "the worst snowstorm in 20 years," and that the Central Asian state of Kazakhstan has been subjected to "its coldest winter weather in 40 years."

Not to be outdone, Birgitte Hygen, writing in The Times Newspaper of 29 January from Oslo, reports that Scandinavians have been feeling the wrath of old man winter too: "A severe cold snap has hit much of Scandinavia, gripping Norway, Sweden and Finland in some of the lowest temperatures recorded here this century." In Northern Norway, the temperature fell to minus 56C, "the lowest for 100 years," while at Karasjok, high in the Arctic Circle, it fell to minus 51.2C, just two-tenths of a degree short of the all-time record set in 1886.

Visiting MetLink International was also an enlightening experience. One of the network's respondents reported that "the lowest temperature of the century in Finland" was registered on January 27th in a village named Kittila. How cold was it? There are reports that television reporters in a city of comparable cold threw cups of warm water into the air and the water "became a cloud of ice crystals before reaching the ground." In terms most of us are more familiar with, the temperature was a minus 51C. Then, in a "cold weather update" the following day, a new low record temperature was reported - minus 57C - in another Finnish village.

Back in the United States, we also have a new record to crow about. Last November and December the country recorded its lowest two-month average temperature ever. That's right, the coldest such temperature that has ever been measured in the 48 contiguous U.S. states, which is really an accomplishment, considering that the buildup of urban heat islands that has occurred over the past century or more has produced a several-degree warming bias that has to be overcome merely to put modern thermometers on an equal footing with those in use a hundred-plus years ago. Viewed in this light, the new low temperature record of the United States is incredibly impressive.

So what do we see when we look around us? At a time when we're told the world is hotter than it's ever been in the past thousand years, we find temperatures that are colder than they've ever been over the entire past century of supposedly unprecedented global warming. Furthermore, we find these record low temperatures all around the world. Yes, the man who prompted our writing of this editorial was at least partly right; people really do need to "open their eyes," for the evidence truly is "all around us." As an impeccably astute observer of the human condition once suggested, he that hath eyes to see, let him see.

Dr. Craig D. Idso
Dr. Keith E. Idso
Vice President