Don Easterbrook

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Don Easterbrook is a Professor Emeritus of Glacial Geology and Environmental and Engineering Geology at Western Washington University. The Don J. Easterbrook Distinguished Scientist Award is presented by the Quaternary Geology and Geomorphology Division of Geological Society of America to an individual who has shown unusual excellence in published research. Prof. Easterbrook was a speaker at the International Conference on Climate Change (2009) hosted by the conservative think tank, the Heartland Institute. His presentation for the Institute was titled, "Global Warming Is Over: Geologic, Oceanographic, and Solar Evidence for Global Cooling in the Coming Decades." [1]

Climate Change Views

Easterbrook does not deny that the global climate has been warming, but holds that this was primarily caused by an alternating warming/cooling cycle due to the ocean currents forming the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), that warming stopped early in the present decade, and that the global climate will actually cool over the coming decades. He "challenges the theory that the global warming of the past century was caused by human input of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere." Easterbrook's theory puts him at odds with a majority of the scientific community and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), whose reports have found that "[c]ontinued greenhouse gas emissions at or above current rates would cause further warming," and that the "best estimate" for the "low scenario" of temperature change in the next century is a "likely range" of an increase between "1.1 degrees Celsius to 2.9 degrees Celsius." [2] Josh Willis, a scientist who tracks ocean changes in relation to climate at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, rebuts Easterbrook's global cooling theory, which Willis says is based on a poor understanding of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. Willis points out that while "its true that the PDO has brought cooler than normal temperatures to a big chunk of the Pacific off and on for most of the last 10 years", the PDO is not "a big see-saw that rocks back and forth, cooling and then warming the whole planet every 20 years. Sometimes it flips back after just 5 years and sometimes it stays pretty much the same for 25 or so. Furthermore, the so-called "cold phase" of the PDO is not exclusively cold. It also involves warmer than normal waters in the western and northern parts of the Pacific. So the effect of the PDO on global temperatures is not nearly as clear as it is for its smaller and better known cousins, El Nino and La Nina. It's a pretty wild statement to claim that the PDO data shows conclusively that global cooling will occur for the next 10 years." [3]

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