Look for climate change in oceans, says professor

If you believe that global warming is cooling off, Alan Journet would like to have a little chat.

"While there is some suggestion that during the last few years our atmosphere has not been warming as rapidly as previously, the claim that global warming has stopped is both naive and misinformed," said Journet, 67, who lives in the Jacksonville area.

Journet, professor emeritus of biology and environmental science at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Mo., is cofounder of Southern Oregon Climate Action Now. The goal of the non-profit group is to help educate and prepare people for climate change and its ramifications.

Journet will discuss why he believes there is ample evidence that global warming continues unchecked in a session before the regular SOCAN monthly meeting begins Tuesday evening in Medford.

The session, from 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., will be held in the Adams Room of the Medford Public Library, 205 S. Central Ave., Medford. There is no admission fee.

Anyone willing to consider the evidence is welcome, he said.

"One of the reasons some believe there is a slowing or stopping of global warming is because we are a land-based organism," he said. "We have a tendency to focus only on the atmosphere.

"Only a small percentage of that increased heat ends up in the atmosphere," he added. "The main place where it is being absorbed is in the oceans. They are still warming up."

In addition to harming marine life which provide food for humans the world over, warming oceans are impacting our global weather, he said.

"My bottom line response is that we are measuring the wrong place," he said of discussing the issue with those who deny global warming is occurring.

In addition to warming the oceans, the fossil fuels being burned around the globe are putting more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which ends up in the oceans, increasing the acidity and harming marine life, he explained.

"If this continues, the planet will still be here," he said. "The question would be whether we could continue to survive. Cockroaches will probably be OK."

Some people maintain that the recent severe weather disturbances around the globe are part of a natural phenomenon, Journet observed.

"When someone tells me its part of the natural ebb and flow of the planet, I always ask them what natural phenomenon that is," he said, adding that, if it were true, it is one that science has yet to discover.

"But, on the whole, folks who are not committed to a contrarian point of view are becoming more conscious of what the planet is trying to tell us," he said

Last year, projections by the Ashland-based Geos Institute and other climate watchers indicate the Rogue Basin climate in the future will likely include higher average temperatures, less snow in the mountains and increased flooding in the coming decades.

A compilation of those predictions by Journet shows average summer temperatures increasing by up to 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit by 2040 and winter temperatures increasing by 3.3 degrees during the same period. By 2080, the annual average temperature increase could be 8.1 degrees, he concluded.

"If we can raise the social consciousness and develop a political will to address the problem, I think we can do something about it," he said of global warming.

"I have to be optimistic — it's in my nature," he added.

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 776-4496 or e-mail him at pfattig@mailtribune.com.

Correction: This headline has been updated to remove incorrect information about the university where Journet worked.

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