(CNSNews.com) - Attempts by a wide array of environmentalists and scientists to link the recent Asian earthquake and tsunami to human-caused "global warming" are "abject rubbish," according to another expert in the field from the University of Virginia.
"If one wants to make the argument that alterations in weather patterns have an effect on the stresses of the earth's tectonic plates, which are far beneath the ocean, one is ignoring virtually every physical aspect of the ocean," said Patrick J. Michaels, an environmental sciences professor at the University of Virginia. He spoke with the Cybercast News Service Wednesday.
Michaels, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and author of a new book "Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians, and the Media," believes that claims of human-caused catastrophic "global warming" are scientifically unfounded.
Michaels said he was especially bothered by a report from the Russian News and Information Agency Novosti, which last week quoted Russian scientist Arthur Chilingarov as saying that the cause of the earthquake and tsunami were "probably global climate change." Chilingarov is the vice speaker of the State Duma and co-chairman of the organizational committee that is planning the International Polar Year in 2007.
According to Novosti, Chilingarov also believes that "scientists have registered lately a change of the average temperature, which is now growing at fantastic rates." These changing temperatures, he added, are allowing "the atmosphere and oceans to accumulate additional energy," which can cause natural disasters like the recent underwater earthquake and tsunami.
Michaels rejected the Russian news report.
"This is just abject rubbish. That is all I can say. That is the most charitable thing I can say," Michaels said. "What happens at the surface of the ocean is not reflected at all in any measurable fashion at the depth of which the earthquake took place."
If Chilingarov's assertions were correct, Michaels said, "then there would be a high correlation between tsunamis and El Ninos because El Nino warms the ocean substantially over regions that are tectonically active." El Ninos are defined by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as disruptions of the ocean-atmosphere system that impact global weather.
Arguing the link between 'global warming' and tsunami
A wide range of individuals and organizations have used the tsunami disaster as an example of how "global warming" can affect the planet.
The Discovery Channel website posted an article on Wednesday, explaining that "global warming" can act as a trigger for the root causes of tsunamis and quoting tsunami scientist Neal Driscoll from the University of California at San Diego.
"Even global warming could theoretically play a role in weakening undersea slopes if frozen gas hydrates locked in deep-sea slopes are warmed enough to shift from solid to gas state," stated Driscoll. "That shift of the abundant deep-sea deposits could bloat slopes with gas and cause them to collapse, sending tsunami-generating pulses all the way to the surface," the Discovery Channel article explained.
Sir David King, the chief scientific adviser for the government of the United Kingdom, said he believes that the recent tsunami served as a warming of what was yet to come through human-caused climate change.
"What is happening in the Indian Ocean underlines the importance of the earth's system to our ability to live safely," King told BBC radio last week. "And what we are talking about in terms of climate change is something that is really driven by our own use of fossil fuels, so this is something we can manage."
King, who in 2004, said the threat of "global warming" was greater than any threat from terrorism, believes the only solution to catastrophic climate change is to change the world's "energy industry - in other words, to move away from fossil fuels."
University of California professor Naomi Oreskes, a member of the university's Department of History and Science Studies Program, also linked climate change to tsunamis this week.
"I wouldn't want to exaggerate the interrelationship to the tsunami. It doesn't have anything to do with global warming, it has to do with earthquakes," Oreskes told Voice of America on Monday.
But Oreskes said global climate changes, which she believes are impending, will have tsunami-like effects.
"As sea levels begin to rise, things like coastal flooding will become more and more common and it will be some of the poorest and most vulnerable people of the world that will be most severely effected by that," Oreskes said, predicting future greenhouse gas caused climate changes.
Oreskes wrote an essay in Science Magazine last December, entitled "The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change," which was ridiculed by skeptics of "global warming."
Farah Sofa a spokesman for the environmental group Friends of the Earth in Indonesia told Agence France Presse last week, "We can expect in the coming years similar events happening as a result of global warming and therefore help and prevention are the responsibility of the Northern countries as well."
Reuters news service environmental correspondent Alister Doyle, wrote a Dec. 27 article, explaining that "a creeping rise in sea levels tied to global warming, pollution and damage to coral reefs may make coastlines even more vulnerable to disasters like tsunamis or storms in [the] future." Doyle attributed the information in his story to "experts," but did not include any quotes directly referring to the theory of global warming.
'Four inches means nothing'
Michaels dismissed the idea that "global warming" induced rising sea levels will produce a catastrophe.
"The best estimate for sea level rise for the next half century is about four inches ...The recent tsunami was 40 feet. Four inches means nothing to 40 feet," Michaels said.
Noting that past tsunamis have been as high as 120 feet, Michaels said any comparison between a potential four-inch rise of sea level and a tsunami is misguided.
"It is the difference between your index finger and a ten-story building," he said.
Michaels also said that sea levels in Asia, where the tsunami struck, have actually been declining.
"Satellite data published in 2001 in Science magazine ... show that the region where the tsunamis were most devastating has, in general, experienced a recent decline in sea level," Michaels said.
"Additionally, the long-term record of sea level changes for Bombay (India) was published by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 1995. It shows a net decline in sea level in the last 50 years," he added.
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'Ignore Global Warming,' Says Former Greenpeace Member (Dec. 14, 2004)
Exclusive: UN Conference Shuts Up Reporter; Calls Global Warming Science Questions 'Silly' (Dec. 16, 2004)
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