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The Daily Nightly began on May 31, 2005. As Brian wrote in his first post it aims to provide a narrative of the broadcast day and a window into the editorial process at NBC Nightly News. Brian weighs in every weekday and NBC News correspondents and producers post regularly.

Brian Williams became the seventh anchor and managing editor in the history of NBC Nightly News on December 2, 2004. Read his full biography.

THE WORLD IS WARMER

I used to be a global warming doubter. When the theories of greenhouse gas build up began appearing in the late 1960s and early 1970s, they were hypothetical speculations with little evidence to back them up.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, many prominent environmentalists were saying that the world would run out of oil with supplies peaking in 1990. When we were still awash in oil, the same environmentalists embraced the threat of global warming as the reason to cut back on our use of fossil fuels. There are plenty of good reasons for eliminating our carbon habit. But when people embrace the same end for different reasons it raises my level of suspicion.

But science proceeds by trying to prove or disprove hypotheses and today’s report from the National Academy of Sciences [LINK] destroys as much doubt as science ever can with its conclusion that the past few decades have been the warmest in 400 years. And all the evidence points to human activity –- that is, burning carbon fuels -– as the main driver of this warming.

The political reason for today’s report -– which is a consensus of top experts  -- was a 1999 study [LINK] that got a lot of popular and political attention. It claimed that the 90s was the hottest decade in 1,000 years and 1998 was the hottest ever.

That paper and its famous "hockey stick" chart of temperature elevation made up a significant part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) reports, which tried to form a consensus on climate change.

Today’s report says that 1,000 years may be a bit much. But it concludes that since 1600 the record is powerful and the world is getting hotter.

A lot of powerful interests do not want to believe the world is getting warmer due to human activity.  And there are still significant unknowns. No one can say yet what the specifics effects of global warming will be. But the scientific evidence shows we are entering a period of massive human-induced climate change. There will be doubters about today’s report. There  will always be a scientist to say the Earth is flat, but there is not much doubt now the Earth is getting warmer.

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COMMENTS

Virtually every climatologist in the world agrees on two points: 1. The earth is warming; and 2. Burning fossil fuels is the primary culprit. There's no scientifically valid arguement to refute these two points. Now, the question is what affect will it have? One or two degrees F may not sound like much, but it could completely change our landscape by just slightly altering weather patterns. America's heartland coud become a desert, while the Sahara turns into prime farmland. These events would cause extreme social and economic turmoil as the balance of natural resources shifts to find it's new equilibrium. How'd you like to pay $20 for a loaf of bread? A five-degree F change would be enough to melt most of the polar ice caps, flooding the world's coastal areas - where most of the world's population lives - and may shut down the Gulf Stream, causing temperatures in Europe to plunge and crops to fail. Yes, rising global temperatures could cause another mini ice age. The point here is that global climatic change is happening, will be extremely disruptive, and human activity is the main culprit. Build a bridge and get over that.

Why was the Little Ice Age from the 1600s to the 1800s so short? Could Earth be trying to enter a cooler period, but greenhouse emissions are fighting against the cooling trend?

If we've brought the temperature on Earth back to the same as it was 400 years ago, what's to prevent a continued swing to 5 or 10 degrees above the traditional average? What happens when Earth starts trying to warm up instead of cool down?

It's tough to separate cause and effect, emissions vs. natural cycles. But it's dangerous to assume that because the temperature is higher, the natural cycle must be trending hotter.

What shall we do, oh my! How many people shall we eliminate - and how? Shall we just say at age 30 you have produced enough CO and off them or shall we prevent people from having more children and where to start. Who would be allowed to have children and who would be offed at 30? Maybe the bird flu will be a good thing. Here in the Mojave Desert we have been having cooler temps for the past 10 years - we did have 120 degrees for three weeks and now only a few days each summer - oh well you can still be ok at 120 degrees even if you need to work outside. Either control the population or build a bridge and get over it

The best way to reduce carbon emissions? Go nuclear. We need to begin building nuclear power plants and fast. Zero carbon emissions! Dealing with the disposal of the spent fuel rods is a small problem compared to a heating up world.

Ok - but what if global warming is true and we do nothing - could it be the end of human life?
What if we ditch the suv's and drive smaller cars and global warming is not true - we save money on gas.
So to minimize the regret is it not prodent to at least cut down now?
Just a thought!

Global warming is a huge problem that many American's frankly don't care about or are in disbelief of. We live in a lifestyle that focuses on "me, me me." More cars, better houses, more consuming, this all leads to more energy having to be created (aka - more fossil fuels released). We need to change our lifestyles and soon. I hate to break it to some people, but it is not a cyclical trend. All of the fuel we burn doesn't just magically go away.

Re: Global warming,The denial on this topic is bordering on brain dead or plain ignorance of what those who devout their profesional carries to climatology are trying to communicate to us.
Now I understand the frustration Jane Goodall must of experienced attempting to communicate with that troupe of chimpanzees.
Time could be better spent reading comments from those who actually work with the complexities of climatology and have some ideas on what could be done to head off a man made global climate crisis, fueled by 6.5 billion consumers.
Most of which are led by politicians lacking the necessary merits for an ever increasingly complex job.

As a former resident of Phoenix, I have seen 118-120 degree days and this is air temp not heat index. I view global warming as a political issue and not as a true science issue. The hottest it was in Phoenix was 122 (offical count) and no one blammed Pres. Clinton for it even though it happened in 1992. It hasn't been that hot since.

Earth has undergone cooling and warming cycles since it was formed. Humans have only been around for the last 6 million years so who was to blame before this-SUV driving Space Aliens or Dinos!

Since all energy on Earth comes from the Sun, maybe we should look at at Earth's eccentricity, obliquity and other space reasons rather than human activity. These parameters are in constant change can trigger drastic changes. Even the our Sun is in constant change. Some years it radiation is stronger than other years. Remember, it helped to bring down the US Space Station- Skylab because it heated and expanded Earth's atmosphere. Don't think a few changes in Human lifestyle can change this even if its by law because the Sun is about 1,000,000 larger than Earth. Even Al Gore can't change the fact that the Sun is 1,000,000 larger than the Earth.

Re: climate change,As the human race moves from one crisis to the next, are latest is without a doubt the doozy of doozy's that is effecting every sq.metre of our planet.
Painfully slow as it is though, the political system we rely on is the best tool at our disposal to help mitigate the damage and put us on a course to develop new technologies that will replace our outdated infrastructure.
It really is past the point of finger pointing and time to get on with each individuals personal responsibility on behalf of this planet that up until now has been sorley taken for granted.

Thanks.

It used to be that a tornado, earthquake or hurricaine was considered an act of GOD. But liberals no longer believe in that quaint concept any longer. It can't be that GOD is sending these weather problems to remind us that we are not pleasing GOD with our wars, abortions, murders, drugs, immorality, inhumanity to other people and unbelief, could it. Does not the Bible say that the world will be destroyed by fire in the last days? Does it not also say that in the last days that the seas will roar? The answer to both questions is Yes. Could the global warming problem be a sin problem? If it is, then Al Gore would be correct in saying that global warming is caused by people or rather is GOD's punishment for our sin. The answer is to repent of our sins and ask GOD to forgive us of our sins and heal our land.
The other answer is to put our faith in Al Gore and his solution. Of course that is another faith based solution.

Where are temps currently mesured? Airports and city centers. With the constant increase of tar-mac and concrete over the years, tepms in those local areas have increased sharply over the past 100 years. There where no concrete jungles just a few generations ago, rather temps where mesured in cooler rural areas.

No doubt we need to be better stewards of our natural world, but I'm afraid environmentalism is mearly shroud, and tool for extreme political views, fishing for a symathethic ear. Besides, who is not for "saving the environment"? Please...the sky may fall but must every third story in the news, and especially documentaries conntinually babble on about how evil we are?

well everyone i am no rocket builder or colage profeser or any of those sposed to be smart ones.i am just an old man of 63 and have seen the tenp go up every year and don't really know why but god will do what it takes to make it all work out so quit worrying you heads too much god has it undr control

I think the truth of the matter is that no one really knows what effect mankind has had on this planet over the last 400 years when the topic of global warming or, more appropriately, "global temperature differences" are concerned. Let's look at something as simple as average yearly rainfall in a particular city. Rarely does a city actually receive it's average rainfall right on the nose. One year it could receive 10 inches more or 10 inches less than the average. That's why it's called an average. Weather data is nothing more than an average of extremes, is it not? Therefore, 400 years, or even 2,000 years, are merely a blip over the course of the age of the planet. So, if the "average" temperature has been barely one degree higher over the last "few" years, how do we know that's not just an extreme that will be averaged out over the course of time. Earth's "average temperature" is nothing more than a collection of extremes over a given period of time.

We have already lost one major American city as well as had Oklahoma and Texas suffering from major fires in January. Where I live lakes and rivers have risen so high homes and property are threatened constantly. And yet, as I read through some of the questionable comments here I cannot believe that people are still doubting this. Go figure...

Does Al Gore scare the hell out of the neocons, or what?

What concerns me isn't that the polar caps are supposed to melt and raise sea levels over 20ft in 300 years. My concern is whether the climate models accurately show the additional increase in greenhouse gasses due to the permafrost melting. My other is ocean acidity.

Permafrost melt is supposed to supply far more carbon molecules to the atmosphere than we could have added in our worst pollution. Yet the tipping scale of our pollution causing the permafrost to melt could drastically speed up the damage to our climate through this release. If the process accelerates too fast it could create a point where our civilizations cannot adapt fast enough.

I also worry about ocean acidity because 2/3 of our oxygen is created in the ocean. If we raise ocean acidity to the point of killing the microbes, plants and bacteria that produce our oxygen, most large land animals will die off, including us.

I know events like these have occured in the past and I don't know whether we understand the scale of what will happen.

With this oil crowd in the White House, of course, everything environmental has been downplayed. For the average American, trusting these guys obviously puts at odds the scientific findings whether believed or not. As a former student of Climatology, I have been following the Hawaii carbon studies since the sixties and have noted higher rates of carbon dioxide output ever since. The oceans can act as a carbon absorber for so long until effects of grenhouse warmth is felt. But with oil cracking facilities near Houston, the ongoing sinking of that area to groundwater-seawater saturation, maybe these oil guys might just recognize that science does hold the keys to facts afterall. But then again W. attempts to downplay almost anything and FantasyLand is alawys on the horizon. I wonder what a lecture by good ol' W. on glacial melting, arctic sea ice loss, and so forth would sound like. Something like, "they cant' fool me again!." Insanity reigns.

As more and more of the world achieves the Sprawl-McMansion-SUV lifestyle it is not in the interest of either the companies which profit from it nor the consumers who demand it. In short, human greed and short sightedness make global warming perhaps impossible to stop.

500 years ago, the earth's average temperature hit the lowest it had been in thousands of years. This is known as the "Little Ice Age". The Greenland colony died out, people starved and the North Atlantic storms became fierce. Since then, the world has been warming up - without the assistance of man. But it is not as warm as 1000 years ago, or 2000, or even 3000 years ago. Archaeologists have found that people on the Orkney Islands ate fish and mussles now found much farther south in the warmer waters by Spain.
There are many other points I could use to show that Earth's climate has and will change despite man. Don't be a modern day Luddite. Destroying technology out of hysteria will fail to achieve anything except our own destruction.

I think it would be interesting to ask cities all across the United States to compile a chart showing daily highs and lows since records began. Have them post record highs in red, lows in blue. If you see more color on the right side of the chart-- there's the red flag. I'm a fifty-nine year old grandmother and throughout my life I have vacationed in the Rockies Mountains. I have witnessed haze so bad you can't see past the vally in the last twenty five years of my life. Yes we do live on an ever changing planet but those changes took thousands of years to come about not twenty five years! The bark beetle can winter over as far north as Alaska. There are pine trees all across the Rockies waiting to burn with million dollar homes scattered about. (more insurance claims) With haze and damage from the bark beetle, my heart breaks for my grand children because the TRUE beauty is no longer there. Several years ago I heard a report about safty on commercial airlines, no accidents with over TWO million take off and landings within the year. Add that to the military flights, space flights, factories, trucks, cars, cement and asphalt and we have a problem. One idea I have to help this sounds like a grain of sand in a ocean of sand, but forty years ago you could have said the same thing about our space program. For now, stop spending the millions of dollars and the man power on seeing what's on Mars and Saturn and use that money to build large fans forcing air through water, similar to a brand name vacuum cleaner. Starting with metropolitan areas, place these large fans on all tall buildings and especially around large airports. Over half can be solor power. It makes little sense to me to spend money on Mars and Saturn, etc. while at the same time we are letting our little speck in the universe go to heck in a hand basket.

What's not mentioned in the article is that from around 1400 until around 1850 there was mini iceage going on. The 1814-1815 year was the worst with most of the northen hemisphere not having any summer. Some of the speculation is that with the advent of the industrial revolution and the buring of more coal it brought about the end of this mini iceage, while other scientists believe it was the sun's output increased too.

After reading the report it doesn't look like this iceage was given much importance when it should be.

Little Doubt? This is PURE speculation and hypothesis. NOT fact. And their assertion that it's manmade is ridiculous. 10 years ago we were in a Global Cooling phase. I guess it's where the grant money lies. Create your own catastrophe and capitalize on it through government stipends. There is NO proof that this is man-made.

Will the warming trend not lead to a new ice age? As the polar caps begin to mealt and the frigid waters are released into the world currents. And it seems possible that if too much of the polar cap is melted the Earth could change its tilt.

The Earth were created from Bio-organism as they clung together and died over billion or year and produce the material as we know it today. What the Earth is going through is a period of new fusion deep down in it mantle around the world which causing the weather changes.

A country with 4% of the world population, 2% of the oil reserves consumes 25% of the fuel produced everyday.... Probably that country should be demanded the next time there is a natural disaster related to fossil fuels emissions. Whent will the US stop?

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