“Now we’re getting a break,” Anastasios Tsonis, Distinguished Professor of Mathematics at UWM, said in an interview with the MacIver Institute.
Tsonis published a paper last March that found the world goes through periods of warming and cooling that tend to last thirty years. He says we are now in a period of cooling that could last up to fifty years.
With record breaking cold temperatures around the world this winter, his research is starting to get a lot of attention. Over the past couple of weeks, Tsonis has been featured in the British newspapers The Guardian and the Daily Mail.
Current figures from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirm that temperatures have trended downward over the last ten years. In Wisconsin, temperatures dropped 1.68 degrees Fahrenheit from 2000 to 2009, according to NOAA.
“Around 2001 the climate began shifting. It’s cooling now. That doesn’t mean that the warming was a fluke,” said Tsonis.
He believes man could have played a role in the warming the world recently experienced. However, Tsonis says natural forces, particularly ocean currents, are playing a greater role in the world’s climate than man. Tsonis says it’s dangerous to place all the blame for climate change on one or the other.
“I think both views are extreme, and the truth lies somewhere in between,” Tsonis said.
Regardless, Tsonis believes mankind should take steps to minimize its impact on climate further. Now that we’re in a period of cooling, we have time to do it right.
“This could be a blessing,” Tsonis told the MacIver Institute. “I think we need to understand this shift better, instead of taking it out of proportion.”
Meanwhile Governor Jim Doyle is pushing for major climate legislation recommended by his Task Force on Climate Change. Tsonis was never invited to participate in that discussion, however, he does agree the state should start to move away from dependency on fossil fuels.
“We should be looking at alternate sources of energy like wind power; nuclear power also,” he offered.
Tsonis is hopeful this period of cooling is exactly what the world needed, but warns people should not get complacent. His overall conclusion is “We need to take advantage of this reprieve to get our act together.”
MacIver News Service