by Peter Freyne
On this day 229 years ago George Washington and the Continental Army were shacked up in snowy winter quarters at Valley Forge. But times change, don't they?
Here's a picture of yours truly on Church Street in Burlington yesterday - great biking weather, eh? And not a flake of snow in sight on December 18. Also yesterday, this was posted on Congressman - now Senator-elect - Bernie Sanders' website:
"Recent reports show that 2006 will end up being one of the hottest years on record since we began tracking global temperature. It is long past time for the federal government to address the problem of global warming by moving us away from polluting energy resources, like coal and oil, and toward clean and renewable energy, like wind, solar, bio-mass and hydrogen. To learn more, read the following New York Times article."
Here's an excerpt:
Scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies said that the Earth’s five warmest years since the late 1880s were, in decreasing order, 2005, 1998, 2002, 2003 and — if no unexpected fluctuations occur the rest of this month — 2006.
James E. Hansen, the director of the Goddard center, said that 2007 was likely to be warmer than this year because one of the periodic hot spells in the tropical Pacific Ocean, called El Niño, has begun and should persist into next spring.
In February, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will release the main findings of its first update since 2001 on causes of global warming. The previous report concluded that most of the warming since 1950 was probably caused by human activities.
Research and fresh computer simulations considered under the new review have greatly strengthened that link, while also closing in on a possible warming of 5 degrees above the 1990 average, more or less, should the concentration of carbon dioxide double from the longstanding peak measured before the industrial era.
For at least 600,000 years before the Industrial Revolution, the concentration of carbon dioxide rarely nudged beyond 280 parts per million. It is now 382 parts per million and rising steadily.
Without a worldwide shift to nonpolluting energy technologies, such a doubling is considered almost unavoidable given the growth in such emissions in both wealthy and developing countries, but particularly in China and India.
Well, at least Gov. Jim Douglas isn't worried. As he said the other day, a unidentified ski-area operator he was talking to told him it's always slow until Christmas.