James Spann is a Birmingham-area meteorologist for ABC's 33/40. He has been one meteorologist (there may be others) who has responded to Heidi Cullen. Heidi Cullen's statements at the Weather Channel have raised quite a few eyebrows as she has boldly ridiculed anyone who denies her view of global warming, even going so far as to call for the revoking of their meteorologist certification. Her actual words from December 21st:
"I'd like to take that suggestion a step further. If a meteorologist has an AMS Seal of Approval, which is used to confer legitimacy to TV meteorologists, then meteorologists have a responsibility to truly educate themselves on the science of global warming."
James Spann writes an interesting op/ed that raises issues not only with Cullen's extreme statements, but with the "foregone" conclusion that society has caused global warming. Among the interesting points that Spann makes are the record high temperatures for the month of January in the state of Alabama. In a blog reply he writes: "The warming in recent years is statistically no different from the “global warming” in the decade of the 1930s. Our warmest January temperatures on record in Alabama came in 1949 (81 degrees on January 10), as well as 1932, 1937, 1943, 1950 among others."
One Question in the Debate
What Spann brings up is something that I have wanted someone to address: namely, what about all those other "hot" years in the past? Recently quite a fuss was being made about the fact that NYC had no snow - the latest since some year they stated from the 1800's (let's say it was 1883.) So, my question is: what about 1883? There were obviously warmer winters in years prior to the impact of the industrial revolution.
Average temperatures are just that - averages. Averages are developed over all the years on record (I assume) and then we state that the average temperature for January 19th in Birmingham, AL is 53. While it will actually be fairly close to that today, there really is about a 40-50 degree range that one might expect for a high temperature on January 19th.
As far as the WARMING thing goes, all the facts point to a difference in temperatures now as compared to previous decades. Are we in a warming trend? Yes. James Spann and nearly every meteorologist would agree. Does the earth go through warming and cooling trends? Again, "yes" seems to be the widely accepted answer.
So, what is the cause? It seems that it is too soon to tell. Hindsight may prove or disprove many of the current theories on global warming. Stories may be told about the winters of '01-'07 the way most people talk about the winters in the last '70's being the coldest ones they've experienced.