Peter Bonk: Reporting on the 4th ICCC from the Edge of a Long-Melted Glacier
I arrived in Chicago Sunday morning after a weekend in the Detroit area to see the Redsox play the Tigers and visit family, in the area where I grew up. Flying from DTW to Midway on this clear morning, one can’t help but notice the many lakes in Michigan that we fly over; and there are literally thousands more scattered in bands across the state.
Lakes are temporal bodies, always getting filled up and filled in around the edges from the encircling plant growth. These many lakes, made by huge blocks of ice that remained as the bulk of the last ice sheet from the Wisconsinan epoch retreated, are evidence for just how recently the last glaciers shaped this landscape, and it is this knowledge of geologic history that has always made me skeptical of the alarmism of the global warming crowd.
I am in Chicago to attend the 4th International Conference on Climate Change: “Reconsidering the Science and Economics of Climate Change”. The 4th ICCC is organized by The Heartland Institute, a 25 year old conservative/libertarian think tank based in the Windy City, and co-sponsored by about twenty other organizations.
I received my Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from the University of Michigan, but when I started school I was planning to study geology. My doctorate, in organic chemistry was from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A thousand mile Ice Age National Scenic Trail runs across Wisconsin, highlighting the Ice Age landscape aftermath.
Every state I have lived in for any period of more than six months has been shaped by glacial ice, of very recent origin, as geology goes. The four major cycles of the last 2 million years are clear evidence of the breadth of what has to be considered natural in the range of climate.
It’s a lovely spring day in the city and I hope to play tourist a bit before the 4th ICCC starts at 5 pm this evening. I was fortunate to have been able to attend the 2nd ICCC held in NYC in March 2009, and was very impressed with the diversity of the theories (and the evidence to support them) to try and explain climate. As a scientist, this range of theory has an innate appeal to me, in that a wickedly complex phenomena such as long term climate variation is bound to have many, many factors shaping long term behavior.
Other aspects of the global warming/climate change debate were also eloquently covered in NYC last year, including policy, economics and even morality. I expect no less from this conference. Stay tuned.
Peter Bonk resides in Westerly. A chemist by training and profession, he, along with millions of us, scientists and laymen, has been attempting to discern whether the core science supports the policy positions, enacted and proposed, that have evolved out of the debate on anthropogenic global warming.