'Throw out the record books'

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Feeling hot yet?

A record-breaking week, after last year's scorching summer, could again ignite the battle over climate change and whether humans are to blame.

The latest salvo in the war over warming came in a report issued by the Environment Georgia Research & Policy Center. According to Feeling the Heat: Global Warming and Rising Temperatures in the United States, the mercury has been rising in the state for several years.

"Throw out the record books, because global warming is raising temperatures in Georgia and across the country," Jennettee Gayer, a policy advocate with the group, said in a statement accompanying the report's release.

Environment Georgia focused on the findings about 2006, which showed above-average heat in at least some temperature categories for every major weather station in the state.

For example, at Augusta's Bush Field, the average temperature in 2006 was 1.6 degrees higher than the average temperature from 1971 to 2000.

At Athens Municipal Airport, the difference was 1.8 degrees; at Savannah Municipal Airport, it was 0.6 degree.

"The long-term forecast is for more of the same unless we quickly and significantly reduce global warming pollution from power plants and passenger vehicles," Ms. Gayer said.

According to the report, the answers lie in national solutions to global warming, including cutting emissions of gases believed to cause climate change, boosting energy efficiency, increasing fuel efficiency for cars and other vehicles and relying more heavily on alternative fuels.

Actually getting cooler?

Others in Georgia aren't so sure global warming is happening now - or, if it is, that it poses a grave threat.

"Widespread locations in the world show no clear trend," wrote Harold Brown, an adjunct scholar at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, in 2005. "Some have warmed; others have cooled. Average temperatures for the Southeastern United States haven't changed since 1895."

Mr. Brown, the author of The Greening of Georgia: The Improvement of the Environment in the Twentieth Century, also challenged the idea that climate change was necessarily a bad thing.

For example, an increase in the level of carbon dioxide would also boost plant growth, and a warmer climate also means "Arctic regions will become more habitable, the Arctic ocean navigable," Mr. Brown said.

David Stooksbury, Georgia's state climatologist, agrees that there hasn't been drastic warming in the state in the past century. It might even be the opposite.

"In the Southeast ... the temperatures have been flat or slightly cooling over the last 100 years," he said.

That doesn't change the fact that the global climate has been warming over a similar period, about the past 150 years, Dr. Stooksbury said.

The cooling likely springs from changes in the way the region's land is used, climatologists believe. The warmth of Earth comes not from heat absorbed by the atmosphere - sunlight largely passes through the air. Instead, the ground absorbs energy from sunlight. Some of that energy evaporates water, while the rest provides the warmth.

In recent decades, the Southeast has moved away from agriculture, leading to less farmland and more forests. Trees cause more evaporation than crops, meaning that forests divert more of the energy that would otherwise go into warming the region, possibly causing the cooling.

"What this shows, though, is what one region is doing versus the entire globe may not be in agreement," Dr. Stooksbury said.

More than a year

Besides, Dr. Stooksbury said, data from one year doesn't prove that Georgia is getting warmer or cooler - whether it's the warmth of 2006 or the heat wave of the past week.

For example, the average temperature in 2006 might have been up because of the La Nia weather phenomenon, which generally leads to above-average winter temperatures. Because summer temperatures stay relatively constant, a spike in the winter is the most likely cause of a rise in the mercury for any given year.

The Environment Georgia report does offer some evidence that the summer in 2006 was warmer also. And it points out that the average temperature from 2000 to 2006 was also up when compared with the period from 1971 to 2000, though the increases tend to be more modest.

Dr. Stooksbury said there is widespread agreement among climatologists that global warming is taking place and that humans are at least part of the cause. However, agreement can get harder after that.

Some steps that combat global warming make sense on other fronts, he said. Increasing energy efficiency could save money on electric bills; reducing the nation's reliance on oil would keep money away from hostile countries; cutting back on emissions from coal plants will reduce some negative health effects.

"To me," Dr. Stooksbury said, "this is where there are some things that we probably should be doing regardless of what you think about global warming."

Reach Brandon Larrabee at (678) 977-3709 or brandon.larrabee@morris.com.

A HOT YEAR

2006 was one of the hottest years on record, according to a recent report from Environment Georgia. Here's a look at the figures.

June-August 2006 average temperatures compared with normal (1971-2000):

Station 1971-2000 2006
Athens Municipal Airport 78.2 80.1
Atlanta Hartsfield Airport 78.6 80.0
Augusta Bush Field 79.2 80.6
Columbus Metropolitan Airport 80.8 83.3
Macon Middle Ga. Regional Airport 79.7 81.5
Savannah Municipal Airport 80.6 81.0

Number of days with temperatures over 90 degrees in 2006 against "historical average" (period varies):

Station Average 2006
Athens Municipal Airport 50 69
Atlanta Hartsfield Airport 35 49
Augusta Bush Field 73 87
Columbus Metropolitan Airport 75 96
Macon Middle Ga. Regional Airport 80 99
Savannah Municipal Airport 69 81

Average daily temperature

Station 1971-2000 2000-2006 2006
Athens Municipal Airport 61.5 62.4 63.3
Atlanta Hartsfield Airport 62.1 62.7 63.6
Augusta Bush Field 63.2 63.9 64.8
Columbus Metropolitan Airport 65.1 66.2 67.2
Macon Middle Ga. Regional Airport 63.7 65.0 65.3
Savannah Municipal Airport 66.2 66.5 66.8

Sources: Feeling the Heat: Global Warming and Rising Temperatures in the United States, Environment Georgia Research & Policy Center

HOT TIMES

The number of days when temperatures hit 90 degrees or above in Augusta in 2007:

January 0
February 0
March 1
April 1
May 10
June 20
July 19
August* 11
Total 62

*So far, including Saturday


Source: National Weather Service

Comments (20) Add comment
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patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 08/12/07 - 03:39 am
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My, what a scientific

My, what a scientific article. It sounds just like every other scientific article concerning global warming. The last month of spring and all summer it's hot. I'll bet, because of my powers of extrapolation, that the first month of fall will be hotter then the last two months and all of winter. Mark my word, I HAVE SPOKEN !! Global cooling is on the way. (praise God)

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 08/12/07 - 03:43 am
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My favorite scientific part

My favorite scientific part is where they compare a one year average to a 29 year average..... scientifically.

Does_it_really_matter
1
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Does_it_really_matter 08/12/07 - 06:33 am
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right you are patriciathomas

right you are patriciathomas - wouldn't it be nice to see an actual yearly spreadsheet with temps? I remember full well when I was 4, 5, 6 years old ( that would have been 1971-72-73) that temps in the summer months regularly hit 100+ degrees. It is the south and it is SUMMER! talk to me in another 10 years or so and let's compare real numbers to real numbers and see the trend for the year

JimCox
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JimCox 08/12/07 - 07:18 am
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I grew up a little north of

I grew up a little north of here and I remember how unusually bad the winters were in Kentucky back in the late 70's and early 80's...strangely enough, I don't remember anyone saying anything about an impending ice age.

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 08/12/07 - 07:42 am
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itis, were you aware of the

itis, were you aware of the news in general at whatever age you were at that time? I was in my late twenties during that era and I DO recall the hoopla over global cooling. It was just as serious with just as much scientific data as the current global temperature change. Of course, Gore didn't have a movie for proof back then. That may be why the global cooling thing fell through. He's much better prepared this time. Have you bought your carbon credit yet?

aaa
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aaa 08/12/07 - 08:37 am
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When I was a boy growing up

When I was a boy growing up in hot, humid south Georgia, I remember reading a Newsweek or Time magazine article about the impending catastrophic climate change that would occur in my lifetime - they called it "The Comeing Ice Age". That was about 35 years ago.

aaa
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aaa 08/12/07 - 09:02 am
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I just did a little research

I just did a little research on the Environment Georgia Research & Policy Center. If you go to their website, they have an icon you can click on to read about their staff. They have one staff - the same Jennette Gayer mentioned in the article. That's it, folks - she is the Environment Georgia Research & Policy Center! The article above makes you think this is some authoritative group - this is nothing more than another liberal propaganda "army of one" that compiles junk data, writes a news release, and suckers in some "news journalist" too lazy to do any research on his own - he just regurgitates the same old stuff. The EGRPC's claims that it's major supporters are the Turner Foundation (Ted), The Sapelo Foundation, and the Educational Foundation of America - all left-leaning environmental whacko groups. Keep this in mind when you read the above data - it is not objective data - it is "submitted" to unassuming journalists who need to get that last artilce out by print deadline!

johnsmith
9
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johnsmith 08/12/07 - 09:09 am
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Well, I don't know...they

Well, I don't know...they quote the state climatologist, who says "In the Southeast ... the temperatures have been flat or slightly cooling over the last 100 years," Not sure how anyone could get from that unequivocal statement to the idea that we are "heating up due to global warming"...

bone
23
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bone 08/12/07 - 09:16 am
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has anyone noticed that a

has anyone noticed that a li'l cloud cover outside seems to be causing some global cooling? i might actually be able to go for a midmorning walk in a few minutes.

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 08/12/07 - 09:25 am
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johnsmith, it's called a leap

johnsmith, it's called a leap of faith. Those that worship at the alter of global warming have to do a lot of that. I think that's why some refer to it as a new religion.

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 08/12/07 - 09:29 am
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bone, when it got to 85 last

bone, when it got to 85 last night, I cut off my air conditioner and opened all of my windows and doors and let the fresh air blow through all night. Did anyone watch the meteor shower last night? Started about 11pm and ran 'til after my bedtime. It'll be happening again tonight if you don't have street lights to contend with.

bone
23
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bone 08/12/07 - 09:41 am
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unfortunately, i am having to

unfortunately, i am having to recalibrate my sleep cycle since school starts tomorrow (insert underwhelming hooray here). no meteor showers for me. hopefully global cooling will continue next week - or at least i hope the air conditioner in my classroom doesn't conk out like it did last week.

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 08/12/07 - 09:54 am
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Edgefield county starts on

Edgefield county starts on the 20th. Somehow that cuts into my late night activities too.

bone
23
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bone 08/12/07 - 10:59 am
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the morning walk was not too

the morning walk was not too hot, but the global warming which has melted all the glaciers in our area caused some extreme global humidification. i am drenched.

sjgraci
2
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sjgraci 08/12/07 - 11:06 am
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Georgia Public Policy

Georgia Public Policy Foundation: "dedicated to limited government, private enterprise, and personal responsibility", i.e. a conservative think tank.

hakkamacher
0
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hakkamacher 08/12/07 - 12:33 pm
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This is all rhetoric. Is

This is all rhetoric. Is there the possibility we've done something that has altered our climate? If so, we shouldn't be talking about it but trying to fix it. All of the counter-climate alteration arguments are idioctic when one considers the consequences.

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 08/12/07 - 02:35 pm
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no need to worry hakkamacher.

no need to worry hakkamacher. I've burned a squirrel tail, rubbed it with a half potato and buried it under a new moon. There's no way global warming can harm us now.

bone
23
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bone 08/12/07 - 04:16 pm
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i've decided that since i am

i've decided that since i am a CO2 emitter when i exhale, i will now hold my breath several times a day in order to reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. anyone else want to join me? we could be the pioneers in a brave attempt to thwart global warming.

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 08/12/07 - 04:20 pm
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And, bone, we won't need to

And, bone, we won't need to buy carbon credits.

bone
23
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bone 08/12/07 - 04:22 pm
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GENIUS! calling all liberals,

GENIUS! calling all liberals, we've stumbled on the solution: HOLD YOUR BREATH and the problem will be solved!

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