global warming to a group of scientists and you're almost sure to
get, well … a heated debate.
facts from emotional arguments can be a challenge, and one that
will be addressed in a panel forum at the AAPG Annual Meeting on
Wednesday, April 21.
Change — Sense and Nonsense in Our Great Geophysical Experiment,"
will be chaired by Julio Friedmann with the University of Maryland
and ExxonMobil upstream operations in Baltimore.
has recruited four panelists from industry and academia to discuss
a topic he calls "controversial, important and timely." He said
he wanted to present the forum at AAPG because members are active
on many levels — as scientists in their communities and schools,
and in business.
a great deal about the environment and also the realities of business,"
Friedmann said. "They often find themselves between two constituencies."
As a result,
he said, "these people can absorb an awful lot of knowledge and
the subject of climate change stirs passions because the stakes
are so high.
is significant evidence to suggest that global warming is real,
and it's bad — it's too big to ignore," he said. "On the other
hand, energy is the biggest industry on the planet. People want
and need affordable energy.
proud of that role," he said. "We're not bad guys."
academics, global warming "is a done deal," while for many industry
scientists "the jury is still out," Friedmann said. "They want more
much new data has become available in recent years, he added, and
it's time to revisit the topic.
Tom Wigley, a physicist trained in meteorology with the National
Center for Atmospheric Research, said he hopes to add to the knowledge
base that AAPG members take away from the meeting.
passionate about it; it's facts," Wigley said. "That's all I deal
impinges on humanity and the environment, you move a little beyond
science, into attitudes and social context," Wigley said.
very hard — and my colleagues do, too — to present as balanced
a view as we possibly can. We should focus on what we're experts
in," he said.
debate stirs emotions, the cause "is a single word, and that's money,"
Wigley said. "If you think some possible new policy is going to
cost you money — even if you're wrong — you're going to be concerned.
thing is that, as a scientist, money doesn't enter into it for me,"
said there appears to be no doubt that humans are changing the climate.
Fossil fuels "do cause global warming," he said, "but there are
other natural processes that complicate the issue.
difficult issue," he continued. "The United States has huge reserves
of coal. The real challenge is not to throw away that resource,
but use it in a way that's not damaging to the environment. It's
not impossible, but it's a big issue."
said he is disappointed by the current administration's lack of
response to the issue.
serious problem. It shouldn't cause us to panic, but it requires
long-term effort," he said. "It's like we're driving this Hummer
toward a cliff — it's quite a long way off, but the brakes aren't
Dana Royer, a research scientist at Penn State, says the past may
help point to future solutions.
his research shows a "pretty good positive correlation" between
elevated carbon dioxide levels and warmer temperatures over the
past 500 million years.
researchers "found the opposite" based on temperature records, "they
didn't generate their own CO2 data," Royer said.
from a deeper time record than that available from tree ring studies
or more modern instruments "is useful because we can see how the
earth was operating at that time, say 100 million years ago, and
that can shed some light on what we can expect in the near future,"
the research lends credence to current global warming theories.
the data comes out, let it lie and try not to take it personally,"
are opportunities there if we, as a society, decide to address this
potential problem," Royer said.
will include Haroon Kheshgi, climate researcher with ExxonMobil,
and Dag Nummedal with the University of Wyoming Institute of Energy