Perhaps the Chicken Littles are right and the sky really is falling, but that opinion is hardly unanimous. There are quite a few skeptical scientists, including eminent climatologists, who doubt the end-of-the-world scenario. Why don't journalists spend more time covering all sides of the debate instead of just parroting the scaremongers?
Only rarely do other views pierce the media's filter of environmental correctness. A recent series by Lawrence Solomon in Canada's National Post looked at some of the leading global-warming dissenters, none of whom fits the easy-to-dismiss stereotype of a flat-Earth yahoo. There is, for example, Richard S.J. Tol -- IPCC author, editor of Energy Economics, and board member of the Centre for Marine and Climate Research at Hamburg University. Tol agrees that global warming is real, but he emphasizes its benefits as well as its harms -- and points out that in the short term, the benefits are especially pronounced.
Another dissident is Duncan Wingham, professor of climate physics at University College London and principal scientist of the European Space Agency's CryoSat Mission, which is designed to measure changes in the Earth's ice masses. The collapse of ice shelves off the northern Antarctic Peninsula is often highlighted as Exhibit A of global warming and its dangers, but Wingham's satellite data shows that the thinning of some Antarctic ice has been matched by thickening ice elsewhere on the continent. The evidence to date, Wingham says, is not "favorable to the notion we are seeing the results of global warming."
Still other scientists profiled by Solomon contend that the sun, not man, plays the dominant role in planetary climate change.
Henrik Svensmark of the Danish National Space Center, for instance,believes that changes in the sun's magnetic field, and the corresponding impact on cosmic rays, may be the key to global warming. Nigel Weiss, a past presidentof the Royal Astronomical Society and a mathematical aerophysicist at the University of Cambridge, correlates sunspot activity with changes in the Earth's climate. Habibullo Abdussamatov, who heads the space research laboratory at Pulkovo Astronomical Observatoryin Russia, points out that Mars is also undergoing global warming -- despite having no greenhouse conditions and no activity by Martians. In his view, it is solar irradiance, not carbon dioxide, that accounts for the recent rise in temperature.