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Cool to the warnings of global warming's dangers

Maybe you haven't noticed it yet, but scientists are telling us global warming has arrived. They expect we'll start to feel the difference any decade now.

Many atmospheric scientists agree Earth's temperature is creeping upward, with potentially dangerous times ahead. Glaciers could melt, and sea levels rise. Rainfall might shift with temperatures, deluging deserts and parching forests.

About 2,500 researchers considered the threat serious enough to work together on a comprehensive global warming report. They expect average temperatures in the next century to rise at a rate unseen in at least 10,000 years.

The authors called this report a consensus of the world's climate scientists.

Now, along come 84 men and women in the United States and Europe who say that's not so. They signed a declaration of concerned scientists asserting there is no "scientific consensus" about the dangers of global warming.

Who are these rebels?

Some are scientists by anyone's definition, and some are scientists by their own definition.

One signatory is Tampa Bay's own Roy Leep, the weatherman at Channel 13.

Another runs Dick's Weather Service, where callers can get yesterday's temperature and rainfall in Springfield, Ohio. Another gives weather reports on Channel 5 in San Francisco.

Leep, who attended Florida State but never graduated, said he doesn't consider advanced academic training necessary to qualify as a scientist. "I've been a meteorologist for 45 years," he said. "I have a background in meteorology."

The declaration Leep signed _ formally, the Leipzig Declaration on Global Climate Change _ has been distributed to news organizations around the world as evidence that many scientists are skeptical about global warming and oppose constraints on oil and coal use.

Global warming is a complicated topic. Scientific discussions about it get terribly technical, burdened with caveats, reliant on climate models spun out by supercomputers _ and fraught with immense political and economic consequences.

Overrate the risks of global climate change, and we could find ourselves pumping high-priced gas into tiny cars because an international treaty rationed fossil fuels for no good reason.

Understate them, and the price of inaction could range from drowned condos on the Florida coast to droughts in the farm belt and tropical diseases invading the world's temperate zones.