"Large Area of USA below Avg. Temps last 12 months... Source Drudgereport.com
"Former astronaut speaks out on global warming
By Associated Press
Sunday, February 15, 2009 - Added 16h ago
"SANTA FE, N.M. - Former astronaut Harrison Schmitt, who walked on the moon and once served New Mexico in the U.S. Senate, doesn't believe that humans are causing global warming.
"I don't think the human effect is significant compared to the natural effect," said Schmitt, who is among 70 skeptics scheduled to speak next month at the International Conference on Climate Change in New York.
Schmitt contends that scientists "are being intimidated" if they disagree with the idea that burning fossil fuels has increased carbon dioxide levels, temperatures and sea levels.
"They've seen too many of their colleagues lose grant funding when they haven't gone along with the so-called political consensus that we're in a human-caused global warming," Schmitt said.
Dan Williams, publisher with the Chicago-based Heartland Institute, which is hosting the climate change conference, said he invited Schmitt after reading about his resignation from The Planetary Society, a nonprofit dedicated to space exploration.
Schmitt resigned after the group blamed global warming on human activity. In his resignation letter, the 74-year-old geologist argued that the "global warming scare is being used as a political tool to increase government control over American lives, incomes and decision making."
Williams said Heartland is skeptical about the crisis that people are proclaiming in global warming.
"Not that the planet hasn't warmed. We know it has or we'd all still be in the Ice Age," he said. "But it has not reached a crisis proportion and, even among us skeptics, there's disagreement about how much man has been responsible for that warming."
Schmitt said historical documents indicate average temperatures have risen by 1 degree per century since around 1400 A.D., and the rise in carbon dioxide is because of the temperature rise.
Schmitt also said geological evidence indicates changes in sea level have been going on for thousands of years. He said smaller changes are related to changes in the elevation of land masses - for example, the Great Lakes are rising because the earth's crust is rebounding from being depressed by glaciers.
Schmitt, who grew up in Silver City and now lives in Albuquerque, has a science degree from the California Institute of Technology. He also studied geology at the University of Oslo in Norway and took a doctorate in geology from Harvard University in 1964.
In 1972, he was one of the last men to walk on the moon as part of the Apollo 17 mission.
Schmitt said he's heartened that the upcoming conference is made up of scientists who haven't been manipulated by politics.
Of the global warming debate, he said: "It's one of the few times you've seen a sizable portion of scientists who ought to be objective take a political position and it's coloring their objectivity."
Information from: The Santa Fe New Mexican, http://www.sfnewmexican.com
"Hamburgers are the Hummers of food in global warming
"When it comes to global warming, hamburgers are the Hummers of food, scientists say.
Simply switching from steak to salad could cut as much carbon as leaving the car at home a couple days a week.
That's because beef is such an incredibly inefficient food to produce and cows release so much harmful methane into the atmosphere, said Nathan Pelletier of Dalhousie University in Canada.
Pelletier is one of a growing number of scientists studying the environmental costs of food from field to plate.
By looking at everything from how much grain a cow eats before it is ready for slaughter to the emissions released by manure, they are getting a clearer idea of the true costs of food.
The livestock sector is estimated to account for 18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and beef is the biggest culprit.
Even though beef only accounts for 30 percent of meat consumption in the developed world it's responsible for 78 percent of the emissions, Pelletier said Sunday at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
That's because a single kilogram of beef produces 16 kilograms carbon dioxide equivalent emissions: four times higher than pork and more than ten times as much as a kilogram of poultry, Pelletier said.
If people were to simply switch from beef to chicken, emissions would be cut by 70 percent, Pelletier said.
Another part of the problem is people are eating far more meat than they need to.
"Meat once was a luxury in our diet," Pelletier said. "We used to eat it once a week. Now we eat it every day."
If meat consumption in the developed world was cut from the current level of about 90 kilograms a year to the recommended level of 53 kilograms a year, livestock related emissions would fall by 44 percent.
"Given the projected doubling of (global) meat production by 2050, we're going to have to cut our emissions by half just to maintain current levels," Pelletier said.
"Technical improvements are not going to get us there."
That's why changing the kinds of food people eat is so important, said Chris Weber, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania.
Food is the third largest contributor to the average US household's carbon footprint after driving and utilities, and in Europe - where people drive less and have smaller homes - it has an even greater impact.
"Food is of particular importance to a consumer's impact because it's a daily choice that is, at least in theory, easy to change," Weber said.
"You make your choice every day about what to eat, but once you have a house and a car you're locked into that for a while."
The average US household contributes about five tons of carbon dioxide a year by driving and about 3.5 tons of equivalent emissions with what they eat, he said.
"Switching to no red meat and no dairy products is the equivalent of (cutting out) 8,100 miles driven in a car ... that gets 25 miles to the gallon," Weber said in an interview following the symposium.
Buying local meat and produce will not have nearly the same effect, he cautioned.
That's because only five percent of the emissions related to food come from transporting food to market.
"You can have a much bigger impact by shifting just one day a week from meat and dairy to anything else than going local every day of the year," Weber said.
For more information on how to eat a low carbon diet, visit www.eatlowcarbon.org."