Cold weather continues, and so does the threat of climate change.


Does the recent cold snap prove global warming is wrong? Not according to Lonnie Thompson, an adviser to Al Gore’s film, An Inconvenitent Truth. He spoke at the University of South Florida in Tampa today

Rising seas aren’t the best forecast for the Tampa Bay Area, when so much of the local economy depends on the port and other waterfront activity. But scientists are urging the public not to let the climate change get out of hand. Lonnie Thompson was consulted for his extensive research into glaciers for Al Gore’s documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, and says that while Florida freezes, other parts of the world are far warmer than average.

2009 was the second warmest year on record, but last year the US, England and Siberia were unusually cold. However, Thompson notes that other regions also had abnormally high temperatures in 2009.

Drilling ice cores has allowed Thompson to analyze millions of years of data relating to atmospheric conditions. His research shows that the tropical ice caps may soon melt.

High temperatures have caused rapid glacial retreat in the Peruvian Andes, the Himalayas, and on Mount Kilmanjaro in Africa. Thompson claims that the last hundred years have had far more ice loss than previous centuries.

Thompson claims that many could suffer if climate change is not met with plans for prevention or adaptation. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels is prevention. Ways to adapt changing farming methods, and building dams and dykes to prevent fresh water loss and rising sea levels. But last month the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change admitted making an unfounded claim that Himalayan glaciers could melt by 2035. But Thompson says that glacial retreat is still a pending danger.

According to USF geology professor Mark Stewart, mitigating the changing climate is challenged with the global energy crisis.

Today Tampa students will have the chance to change the world in a new way, as the University of South Florida launches their school of Global Sustainability. To usher in the new school, the university is hosting panel discussions with climate change scientists and professors. USF Executive Vice President Ralph Wilcox warned that climate change threatens Tampa, as it’s especially vulnerable to rising sea levels. He also mentioned the effects of over-consumption and pollution on the health of the community.

The challenge of facing climate change on a global level is something that Thompson said may bring the world’s people together for the first time in history. Tomorrow the conference concludes with a presentation from George Luber, who will show how climate change affects public health. The event starts at 10:00AM at the Marshall center on the USF Tampa campus.

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