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Inside the Beltway
Question of the Day
NASA scientist James E. Hansen, who has publicly criticized the Bush administration for dragging its feet on climate change and labeled skeptics of man-made global warming as distracting “court jesters,” appears in a 1971 Washington Post article that warns of an impending ice age within 50 years.
“U.S. Scientist Sees New Ice Age Coming,” blares the headline of the July 9, 1971, article, which cautions readers that the world “could be as little as 50 or 60 years away from a disastrous new ice age, a leading atmospheric scientist predicts.”
The scientist was S.I.Rasool, a colleague of Mr. Hansen’s at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The article goes on to say that Mr. Rasool came to his chilling conclusions by resorting in part to a new computer program developed by Mr. Hansen that studied clouds above Venus.
The 1971 article, discovered this week by Washington resident John Lockwood while he was conducting related research at the Library of Congress, says that “in the next 50 years” — or by 2021 — fossil-fuel dust injected by man into the atmosphere “could screen out so much sunlight that the average temperature could drop by six degrees,” resulting in a buildup of “new glaciers that could eventually cover huge areas.”
If sustained over “several years, five to 10,” or so Mr. Rasool estimated, “such a temperature decrease could be sufficient to trigger an ice age.”
Post staff writer Victor Cohn penned the story about the article, which appeared that same day in the journal Science. For his part, Mr. Cohn contacted Gordon F. MacDonald, a top scientist in the Nixon administration, who considered Mr. Rasool a “first-rate atmospheric physicist” whose findings are “consistent with estimates I and others have made.”
Who to believe?
“If greenhouse gases continue to increase, climate models predict that the average temperature of the Earth’s surface could increase from 2.5 to 10.4 degrees Fahrenheit above 1990 levels by the end of this century.”
— Rep. Mike McIntyre, North Carolina Democrat, in a speech this week on Capitol Hill.
Lunch is served
The Palm, a favorite restaurant and watering hole for Washington’s movers and shakers, reopens its remodeled facilities tomorrow, showing off a new glass-enclosed atrium, expanded bar (more elbow room for Democratic strategist JamesCarville’s bar-stool lunches) and refurbished kitchen.
“I hear the phones are ringing off the hook with regulars wanting to be sure they’re among the first to set foot inside,” says Washington publicist Wendy J. Gordon, who spots several new caricatures on the Palm’s wall of fame, from TV news hosts Bob Schieffer and George Stephanopoulos to D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty.
“Wow, I guess women really do think alike,” says Lisa De Pasquale, CPAC director at the American Conservative Union, calling Inside the Beltway’s attention to the voting record of former Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln Chafee, who abandoned the Republican Party in recent days because he says it no longer fits his “status.”
By Tom Harris and Madhav Khandekar
Bad science puts rich nations on the hook for trillions in climate liabilities
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