Scientists Hopeful Despite Climate Signs

The Associated Press
Sunday, September 23, 2007; 7:31 PM

WASHINGTON -- Climate scientist Michael Mann runs down the list of bad global warming news: The world is spewing greenhouse gases at a faster rate. Summer Arctic sea ice is at record lows. The ice sheets in Greenland and West Antarctica are melting quicker than expected.

Is he the doomsayer global warming skeptics have called him?

Mann laughs. This Penn State University professor _ and many other climate scientists _ are sunny optimists. Hope blooms in the hottest of greenhouses.

Climate scientists say mankind is on the path for soaring temperatures that will melt polar ice sheets, raise seas to dangerous levels, and trigger mass extinctions. But they say the most catastrophic of consequences can and will be avoided.

They have hope. So should you, Mann said.

"Sometimes we fear that we are delivering too morose a message and not conveying enough that there is reason for optimism," Mann said.

Mann is not alone in laughing, even though the news he delivers could make people cry.

"It's hard at times," said University of Victoria climate scientist Andrew Weaver. "You can't give up hope because what else is there in life if you give up hope? When you give up hope, that's quitting and scientists don't like to quit."

That optimism is based on science and faith.

The science, Mann said, is because climate researchers are sure of one thing that the public isn't: The numbers show that there is still time to avert the worst.

NASA's James Hansen, who forecasts some of the bleakest outlooks on global warming, said in an e-mail: "I am always surprised when people get depressed rather than energized to do something. It's not too late to stabilize climate."

"I am not about to give up," Hansen wrote. He has hope, he says, because he has grandchildren.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2007 The Associated Press