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Hard Data on Climate Change

Monday, July 27, 2009

George F. Will once again ignored scientific evidence when he claimed that there has been no global warming over the past decade ["Climate Fixers' Hard Sell," op-ed, July 23].

Earth's average temperature rises and falls in large part because of multiyear ocean cycles, such as El Niño and La Niña. At the same time, human-induced global warming has been steadily pushing average temperatures higher. Because of the natural ocean cycles, 1998 was a warm year. Global warming made it even hotter. Conversely, 2008 was a cooler year, but global warming made it less cool.

That said, there are plenty of obvious signs of global warming over the past decade, including shrinking Arctic summer sea ice. In 2007, the region's sea ice was at an all-time low since satellite observations began. Last year marked the second-lowest year.

All corners of America are already experiencing the effects of climate change. Mr. Will should take a look at the federal government's recent report "Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States" to find out the facts.

BRENDA EKWURZEL

Washington

The writer is a climate scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists.

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George F. Will couldn't be further off base with his continually baffling approach to climate change. Should we expect to see a piece from him this week arguing that Earth is flat?

First and foremost, development need not be sacrificed in the name of climate change. In 2008, the World Bank's Independent Evaluation Group found that there is no significant trade-off between climate change mitigation and energy access for the world's poorest. The provision of basic electricity services for the world's unconnected households would add only a third of one percentage point to global greenhouse gas emissions!

The argument for renewable energy is not an attack on economic growth; it's a plea for responsible and sustainable development.

As for the "no one else cares about climate change so why should we" case, the United States has an important role to play as a leader -- the last eight years of stalled climate negotiations are the result of an administration that refused to play the part.

Furthermore, as a World Bank donor country, the United States is able to push the bank to allocate its sizable resources to renewables in place of coal.

REBECCA HARRIS

Washington

The writer is information services coordinator for the Bank Information Center, which advocates for public accountability at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

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