Friday, April 24th 2009, 5:25 PM EDT
You may be interested in seeing the attached "Statement of Geological Sciences Committee of the Polish Academy of Sciences" on climate.
POSITION OF THE GEOLOGICAL SCIENCE COMMITTEE OF THE POLISH ACADEMY OF SCIENCES ON THE THREAT OF GLOBAL WARMING
Geologic Science Committee - Polish Academy of Sciences
The climate change of our planet, which can be observed more frequently in recent years, has become alarming for public opinion. Various methods to remedy the situation are elaborated on the international level by decision makers, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (operating since 1988) and different ecologic organisations.
Having a part in this significant debate, the Geologic Science Committee of the Polish Academy of Sciences wishes to turn to 10 fundamental aspects of the problem closely related to the functioning of geosystem - the complex interdependence of processes occurring in the lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere. The knowledge of these factors should be the foundation for any rational and careful decisions, which could interfere in the geosystem.
1. The climate of the Earth depends on the interaction between the surface and the atmosphere, both of which are heated by solar radiation characterized by a cyclical, variable intensity. The climate is influenced by the Earth's yearly revolution around the Sun, thermics, changes in ocean waters flow, air mass movement, mountain massif position, their uplift and erosion in time perspective as well as changes in the continents' position as a result of their permanent wandering.
2. Geologic research proves irrefutably that the permanent change is the fundamental characteristic of the Earth's climate as throughout its entire history, and the changes occur in cycles of varied length - from several thousand to just a few years. Longer climate cycles are provoked by the extraterrestrial factors of astronomic character as well as by the changes of the Earth's orbital parameters, in brief - by regional and local factors. Not all reasons for climate change or their phenomena are fully known yet.
3. Although in the history of the Earth, a considerably warmer climate than today had dominated, there had been repeated occurrences when the Earth experienced massive global cooling which always resulted in vast ice sheets that sometimes even reached the subtropics. Therefore, reliable forecasts of changes in the Earth's climate (not to mentioned efforts to prevent, shape, or act against them) must take into account the results of its research of the Earth's geological history - a time when humanity (and the industry) were not on our planet.
4. Since twelve thousand years ago, the Earth is in the another phase of cyclical warming and is near the maximum of its intensively. Just in the last 2.5 million years, periods of warming have on several occasions intertwined with ice ages, which have already been well identified.
5. The current warming is accompanied by an increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere: water vapour is dominant among them, and in smaller quantities there are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides and ozone. This has always happened because it is an occurrence that accompanies cyclical warming and cooling. The periodic increase in the number of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, sometimes a value even several times larger than at present, has accompanied previous warming even before man inhabited the Earth.
6. Over the past 400 thousand years - even without human intervention - the level of CO2 in the air, based on the Antarctic ice cores, has already been similar 4 times, and even higher than the current value. At the end of the last ice age, within a time of a few hundred years, the average annual temperature changed over the globe several times, in total, it has gone up by almost 10 °C in the northern hemisphere, therefore the changes mentioned above were incomparably more dramatic than the changes reported today.
7. After a warm period in the past millennium, by the end of the thirteenth century, a cold period had begun and it lasted up to the mid-nineteenth century, and then a warm period in which we are living had begun. The phenomenon observed today, in particular the temporary rise of global temperature, is the result of the natural rhythm of climate change. Warmer and warmer oceans have a smaller ability to absorb carbon dioxide, and reducing the area of the long term permafrost leads to more rapid decomposition of organic compounds in the soil, and thus to increased emissions of greenhouse gases. For billions of years, Earth's volcanic activity along the lines of lithosphere plate boundaries, hidden mainly beneath the surface of the oceans, has been constantly providing the atmosphere with CO2 with various levels of intensively.
In the geo-system gas is removed from the atmosphere to the biosphere and from the lithosphere through the process of photosynthesis that is bound in the living organisms - including the shell carbonate marine organisms and after their death it is stored in the huge limestone on the bottom of the seas and the oceans, while on land it is bound in various organic sediments.
8. Detailed monitoring of climate parameters has been carried out for slightly over 200 years; it only covers parts of the continents, which constitute only 28% of the world. Some of the older measuring stations established - as a result of progressive urbanization, in the peripheries of the cities, are now within them. This factor, among other things, is the reason for the rise of the measured values of temperature. The research of the vast areas of the oceans has only been launched 40 years ago. Measurements taken for this kind of short periods of time can not be considered as a firm basis for creating fully reliable models of thermal changes on the surface of the Earth, and their accuracy is difficult to verify. That is why far-reaching restraint needs to be kept regarding blaming, or even giving the biggest credit to man for the increased level of emissions of greenhouse gases, for such a theory has not been proven.
9. There is no doubt that a certain part of the rise of the level of greenhouse gases, specifically CO2, is associated with human activity therefore, steps should be taken to reduce the amount on the basis of the principles of sustainable development, a cease of extensive deforestation, particularly in tropical regions. It is equally important to take up and pursuit appropriate adapting actions that will mitigate the effects of the current warming trend.
10. Experiments in natural science show that one-sided observations, those that take no account of the multiplicity of factors determining certain processes in the geo-system, lead to unwarranted simplifications and wrong conclusions when trying to explain natural phenomena. Thus, politicians who rely on incomplete data may take wrong decisions. It makes room for politically correct lobbying, especially on the side of business marketing of exceptionally expensive, so called eco-friendly, energy technologies or those offering CO2 storage (sequestration) in exploited deposits. It has little to do with what is objective in nature. Taking radical and expensive economic measures aiming at implementing the emission only of few greenhouse gases, with no multi-sided research into climate change, may turn out counterproductive.
The PAN Committee of Geological Sciences believes it necessary to start an interdisciplinary research based on comprehensive monitoring and modelling of the impact of other factors - not just the level of CO2 - on the climate. Only this kind of approach will bring us closer to identifying the causes of climate change.
Wroclaw-Warsaw, 12 February 2009
EDITOR'S NOTE: The original document (in Polish) is available at