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Critics seize on cooling; warming theorist say models may need "readjusting"

You may have noticed it's been a rather cool North American spring.  The cool trend is not an isolated incident.  Overall, over the last decade temperatures have leveled off.  The climate shift has critics of anthropogenic (manmade) global warming (AGW) theory crowing and has proponents of the computer model-based theory racing to readjust their predictions.

I. Critics: Global Warming has Gone AWOL

Former Californian meteorologist Anthony Watts, a top warming "skeptic", reports:

While the majority of “journalists” are still awakening from their intellectual slumber regarding climate science, the latest empirical global temperature measurements (RSS atmosphere temps and CO2 chart on the left) confirm... global warming has gone AWOL and a slight cooling trend has developed over the last 10 years (a minus 0.42 degrees by 2100 if the trend persists).

This warming hiatus happened despite the loud and hysterical shrieking by the climate scientists on the public dole that current CO2 emissions would cause rapid, unequivocal, irrefutable accelerated warming.

polar bear
[Image Source: Free Republic]

And Marc Morano of adds in a Fox News interview:

The idea that CO2 is the tail that wags the dog is no longer scientifically tenable.  In the peer-reviewed literature we're finding hundreds of factors influence global temperature, everything from ocean cycles to the tilt of the earth's axis to water vapor, methane, cloud feedback, volcanic dust, all of these factors are coming together. They're now realizing it wasn't the simple story we've been told of your SUV is creating a dangerously warm planet.

In the peer-reviewed literature, they've tried to explain away this lull.  In the proceedings of the National Academy of Science a year or two ago they had a study blaming Chinese coal use for the lack of global warming. So, in an ironic twist, global warming proponents are now claiming that that coal use is saving us from dangerous global warming.

Even more mainstream publications are joining in.  The Economist comments:

It may be that the climate is responding to higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in ways that had not been properly understood before. This possibility, if true, could have profound significance both for climate science and for environmental and social policy.

A March Gallup survey showed that today 58 percent of Americans remain worried about warming, up slightly from the 51 percent in 2011.  But that's down from the 62-72 percent response levels seen between 1999 and 2001, an era rife with strongly worded predictions of global catastrophe.  

Global Warming

The same study also showed an increasing number of Americans believe the media is exaggerating warming impact.

II. AGW Advocates Fight Back

Meanwhile, climate researchers who spent millions in government grant money to author studies on warming -- many of which predicted doomsday scenarios -- are back to the drawing board, refusing to admit defeat.

One key global warming "evangelist" -- James Hansen -- retired from his post as head of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City, a top National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) research center, in April 2013.  Now working as an adjunct professor at Columbia University, the climatologist earlier this year he acknowledged warming had flatlined, "The 5-year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade."

James Hansen
AGW evangelist James Hansen, shown here arrested during a protest, retired this month.
[Image Source: Tar Sands Action]

But in the same "research note" [PDF] he argued that the public shouldn't just look at the numbers, but look at more nebulous and abstract observations, which he sees as supporting his beliefs of runaway warming.  He writes, "The observant person who is willing to look at the past over several seasons and several years, should notice that the frequency of unusual warm anomalies has increased and the extreme anomalies."

Such hopeful sentiments are echoed by other AGW advocates.  Elgie Holstein, the senior director for strategic planning at the Environmental Defense Fund and a former assistant secretary at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, seeming suggests that the body of climatologists supporting AGW theory is alone enough to prove global warming in the absence of other evidence.

He comments to Fox News:

This is a highly complex calculation to make in the first place. The short period of time, only 10 years in which the increasing temperature has leveled, really doesn't tell us very much other than the fact that temperatures may still be rising but just not as fast as they were before.  What's compelling about the climate science is that we have literally thousands of the world's leading scientists around the country pretty much saying the same thing about where we're headed, and it's not reassuring.

Actice researchers are attempting to develop new models, explaining why the Earth cooled, even as greenhouse gas levels continued to rise.  A November 2012 study [abstract] published in climatology's top journal, Nature Climate Change, suggests that the ocean absorbed more heat than expected, dampening warming effects.

Ocean Warming
A recent study suggests oceanic dampening has slowed warming.
[Image Source: Deposit Photos]

Another study [abstract] in Geophysical Research Letters suggests that surface station data may have skewed warming predictions high.  While it predicts ongoing warming with rising greenhouse gas levels, it showed that other forms of compiled data predicted a slower, milder warming trend.

The big question is whether climate figures like Al Gore, who literally became billionaires on the back of policies like "carbon credits", can sustain the push for massive spending to "fight" warming.  Such approaches have yet to approve effective in halting global CO2 output; yet that hasn't stopped AGW advocates from suggesting everything from bans on meat to spending over $9T USD to combat warming in recent years.

Sources: The Economist, Watts Up With That, Fox News, James Hansen

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"Researchers Advise Panic Despite Flat Temps"
By retrospooty on 4/11/2013 8:30:49 AM , Rating: 2
Reading only the title, sums up a whole lot of the global warming thing to me... LOL. Classic.

I do think we need to do better and get off of oil for 4 reasons.
1st. Economical - We shouldn't need to be dependent on other countries for oil and oil prices rising shouldn't have such control of our economy
2nd. Political - We don't need to be poking around in the middle east making enemies and making existing enemies more combatant. Let's just get out, give them their desert. See ya! Go back to hating on yourselves and your neighbors as you have since the dawn of civilization... We are outta here.
3rd. Environment [Pullution] - The thick murky smog belt over our major cities cant possibly be good to breath.
4th. Environment [long term effects] - possible warming, and other potentially dangerous, yet unknown effects.

RE: "Researchers Advise Panic Despite Flat Temps"
By maugrimtr on 4/11/2013 10:13:17 AM , Rating: 2
Here's the problem though, a short term trend cannot alter a long term trend unless it itself becomes a sustained long term trend. That just hasn't happened yet. Worse, if we assume part of it is heat absorption, then we have a problem - eventually the absorbing material will reach a limit. The oceans are immense, not infinite.

What's worrying is how stalled warming is being called a "cooling trend" when no such trend has been evidenced. The Cooling Trend is a myth, a fabrication, a lie. Pick another random place on Earth and the locals will complain about sustained dry seasons and drought. Pick another, and they'll complain about there being too much rain. Local weather is never indicative of global climate trends.

If you're worried about your entirely local cold Spring in one particular year (it's been snowing in March across Europe too), then calm down. The climate is not cooling. There's just been some highly unusual high altitude changes to air currents which have let the polar/temperate divide (the Jet Stream) drift south far more than is usual. A possible cause is the loss of Arctic sea ice. A continent's worth of ice vanishing is bound to have climate effects...

By retrospooty on 4/11/2013 10:26:22 AM , Rating: 2
I totally agree, that is why I put it 4th of 4... There are much bigger and better reasons to get the hell off oil than the climate. Economically, politically, and air quality(ically) are plenty reason enough. ;)

By Dr of crap on 4/11/2013 12:55:38 PM , Rating: 2
Your "4th" was basically saying that you think we should get off oil to stop warming, which in your first sentence you point at being a fallacy????????

By retrospooty on 4/11/2013 5:22:13 PM , Rating: 2
Not really. The science isnt proven and what I said was " possible warming, and other potentially dangerous, yet unknown effects."

By Cypherdude1 on 4/12/2013 3:15:17 AM , Rating: 3
The big question is whether climate figures like Al Gore, who literally became billionaires on the back of policies like "carbon credits", can sustain the push for massive spending to "fight" warming.

Al Gore did not become a billionaire "on the back of policies like carbon credits." Furthermore, Al Gore is not a billionaire. Al Gore made his money by selling his Current TV network to the Arabic Al Jazeera network. Al Gore is only worth $300 million. He'll have to slum it when it goes to the Ritz or other luxury hotels:

By Mint on 4/17/2013 12:13:50 PM , Rating: 2

AGW is real, but it's small potatoes. Using the IPCC's own numbers, current costs of going to wind/solar amount to spending trillions to prevent each hundredth of a degree of warming.

From a humanitarian viewpoint, spending towards preventing AGW is a criminal waste of global goodwill compared to third world development.

My support of EVs has nothing to do with AGW and everything to do with air pollution.

RE: "Researchers Advise Panic Despite Flat Temps"
By tng on 4/11/2013 11:24:28 AM , Rating: 2
Pick another random place on Earth and the locals will complain about sustained dry seasons
Also called a micro-climate and local conditions are not a good indicator of global climate.

Let us face it, the Earth has been warming slowly for hundreds of years. The American Southwest is dotted with thousands of dry lake beds (Area 51 anybody?) that were filled less than 300 years ago. During the gold rush days in California, gold was brought from the Sierras on paddle boats across some of these lakes, 150 years later they are dry. What humans have done may or may have helped or hurt, but there is just not enough evidence either way.

By Ammohunt on 4/11/2013 12:59:30 PM , Rating: 1
You are really going to blame irrigation and water consumption changes on global warming? Man! lies and damn lies.

By ironargonaut on 4/11/2013 12:00:15 PM , Rating: 5
The slight cooling trend is derived from global data sets created by climate scientist so the strawman about local climate is irrelevant. Unless of coures you were refering to Hansen's pointing out "extremes" i.e. local climate variances as a trend of global weather. Amazing how cold spells are not a sign of AGW but hot ones are not. Of course now they say both are.

Also, note that many years ago climate scientists including Hansen were asked how many years would there have to be of no warming to refute the claim of runaway global warming. For several of those scientist that time period has passed, including for Hansen.

Out of curiosity how come when the jet stream changes and it gets cooler it is no big deal, but when the jet stream changes and it gets warmer it is a sign of global warming. I don't recall having ever read a press release for any of the AGW crowd saying the temps have increased but it is only due to the jet stream shift.
Hansen said climate warming was runaway and would override all natural variability if CO2 wasn't reduced, it hasn't and to now say natural variablity is the reason is bunk.
If the oceans can somehow suck up more heat then they release through some unknown mechanism. Might it be possible that they released heat during the period it is claimed CO2 caused global warming. That knife cuts both ways.

By Dr of crap on 4/11/2013 12:57:28 PM , Rating: 3
Bravo, sir BRAVO!

By half_duplex on 4/15/2013 9:54:24 AM , Rating: 2
The pwning and teabagage of climatics.

By Mint on 4/17/2013 12:03:09 PM , Rating: 2
LOL "slight cooling trend"? Where? This article is just more cherry-picking nonsense. Why is 10 years the magical cutoff?

Recall that in 2008, skeptics did the same thing, saying that the planet was cooling for the last 10 years. There was a dip in 2008 temperatures that was explained by the temporarily low ENSO index, and it happened to be 10 years after the temporary 1998 peak. Voila, downwards slope.

I didn't see any 10-year trend arguments on DT in 2010 or 2011, because that would have been a strong upwards trendline. Inconvenient, huh.

Most of these fluctuations have already been accounted for:
That trendline is still holding strong, and several of those datasets are from satellites. You're fooling yourself if you think warming has flattened, slowed down, whatever. Skeptics have been repeatedly wrong when they say, "okay, now it's staying flat", each time adjusting upward the new flat level.

Your other claims are BS. The IPCC has never made any concrete claims about runaway, instead using stable feedback systems in all its models and projections, so don't create a strawman about that. There has never been one-sided arguents about cold/hot spells or jets streams or ocean currents or whatever. It's always been part of variability.

You know what's funny? I don't even believe in combating AGW. The benefits are tiny compared to the cost, and it's a losing battle against developing countries who are growing and yet still use a fraction of the CO2 per capita than the west. It would be a crime to either slow them down or make them waste money on solar/wind instead of addressing hunger/disease/infrastructure.

Still, I'm not going to perpetuate a falsehood due to that belief.

By ppardee on 4/11/2013 5:25:07 PM , Rating: 3
You hit the nail on the head! If your scope is too small, your data can lead you to false conclusions.

And that's the entire problem with the whole global warming scam. The scope is too small. Interglacial periods are measured in tens of thousands of years, not hundreds of years. We are drawing conclusions based on measurements of just over 100 years.

If you look at the long term data, the planet has been getting hotter for like 12,000 years. So why are we freaking out that it's still getting hotter over the last 100 years?

By shaidorsai on 4/13/2013 9:59:46 AM , Rating: 3
This argument only holds water if we live in a static bubble...we don't. People from all over the world alive 10,000 years ago would tell you that when they were alive places around the globe were getting drier/wetter colder/hotter. The earth is dynamic and has been changing since the day the planet first coalesced around the sun.

AGW proponents shifting the argument to "something" must be absorbing our missing heat is similar to a child stomping their feet and insisting they get their way.

A reasonable person would assume something was wrong with their understanding of the environment when presented with facts that don't jive with what they expected to happen.

But then AGW proponents are not exactly reasonable.

RE: "Researchers Advise Panic Despite Flat Temps"
By BRB29 on 4/11/2013 10:24:36 AM , Rating: 2
never mind environmental problems. Smog is a serious health issue that probably affects millions of people.

By zozzlhandler on 4/11/2013 4:13:44 PM , Rating: 2
But... smog *is* an environmental issue...

By De1iriou5 on 4/11/2013 5:01:53 PM , Rating: 3
Actually, Smaug is a Dragon...

RE: "Researchers Advise Panic Despite Flat Temps"
By ppardee on 4/11/2013 5:38:43 PM , Rating: 3
This is my problem with climate-changers. They take attention away from real issues. There are some serious problems that will directly affect people (and are actually happening). Air quality is terrible. Bees are disappearing. Weeds are becoming resistant to Round-Up (which affects food production) Auto-immune disorders are becoming the norm in children. Bacteria is becoming resistant to antibiotics. This generation is living such a unhealthy lifestyle that they are likely to be the first in a couple of centuries that won't outlive their parents.

And people are trying to control the weather.... Where are the priorities?

And it makes people forget what REAL environmental issues are. It makes them tune out. They hear 'environment' and think "Oh, they're talking about bogus climate change"

RE: "Researchers Advise Panic Despite Flat Temps"
By Paj on 4/12/2013 8:26:54 AM , Rating: 2
Climate change is one of many environmental issues facing the world. You dont think droughts, floods, unusual freezing weather has a devastating effect on both the human and natural worlds?

The main point is this - the warming is still currently within the range predicted by our climate models, but the trend has slowed somewhat over a short term period. Doesn't mean its time for a tar sands party.

By shaidorsai on 4/13/2013 10:05:00 AM , Rating: 1
The point is floods, drought, freezing weather have always happened and always will. Do you never go outside ?

Essentially zero warming in 10 years does not fit into ANY warming model ever proposed by AGW proponents.

By Mint on 4/17/2013 12:21:22 PM , Rating: 2
Essentially zero warming in 10 years does not fit into ANY warming model ever proposed by AGW proponents.
Given the El Nino patterns we've had? Yes, it does.

Want to explain why just 2-3 years ago the 10 year trend was very positive, and you skeptics remained silent on this bogus metric?

RE: "Researchers Advise Panic Despite Flat Temps"
By wookie1 on 4/11/2013 5:30:39 PM , Rating: 2
Well then, since CO2 doesn't produce smog, it seems like all of the CAGW energy is working on the wrong problem! All those billions (or even trillions) of dollars are already wasted that could have done something about smog. I guess it helped keep some NGO's going, and some scientists were able to ride the gravy train, so it was all worth it.

RE: "Researchers Advise Panic Despite Flat Temps"
By superflex on 4/12/2013 2:44:37 PM , Rating: 3
Water vapor has been proven time and time again to be the number one contributor to rising planet temperatures.
The politicians couldn't get away with a water tax so CO2 was scapegoated.

By shaidorsai on 4/13/2013 10:07:27 AM , Rating: 3
I agree with your assertion around water vapor...but politicians have already figured out how to fleece more money from the public due to rain...storm runoff fee's.

I kid you not.

By wookie1 on 4/11/2013 5:28:03 PM , Rating: 3
You may not have noticed, but the US is on the verge of being (or may already be) a net exporter of oil - despite the current administrations attempts to block domestic oil production! That kills most of your arguments, and the others are basically "we don't know what may happen so we better stop using oil!" Not very strong.

Note that CO2 doesn't create smog, but does promote plant growth.

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