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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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I don't care either way as long as things change
By mike66 on 4/11/2013 8:40:26 AM , Rating: -1
It does not matter to me either way as it's brought positive changes to the way we think about our environment,ask anyone who lives in a smog filled city if they would prefer the choice of using a good electric car, lead taken out of fuel has reduced violent crime by 30% in some cities in the world, ask someone if they like the idea of recycling there waste instead of dumping it as land fill. The worst of the global warming effects whether real or not, slow or fast will happen after most of us are dead anyway and at least we will know we made changes to conserve our resources ( the planet )which are finite for future generations.

RE: I don't care either way as long as things change
By Manch on 4/11/2013 9:36:24 AM , Rating: 2
How did removing lead from gas reduce violent crime? Can you post links? I really want to know how they came to that conclusion.

By Dr of crap on 4/11/2013 12:51:13 PM , Rating: 2
Really you need links?

Of course stupid also makes you want links!
Lead makes you stupid, stupid makes you do drugs, and crime.

Not much of a leap.

Of course stupid also makes you want links! HA!

By Manch on 4/12/2013 3:11:07 AM , Rating: 2
And how much lead paint did you eat to make you an annoying troll?

By Just Tom on 4/11/2013 2:59:17 PM , Rating: 2
The link between lead exposure in children and crime is fairly well established. I understand if you haven't read about it because it really has not been talked about much by the popular press.

If you want you can do your own research to find primary sources, but this WaPo article is not bad.

By Manch on 4/12/2013 3:08:23 AM , Rating: 2
Cool thanks! Yeah, I had never heard that.

By freeagle on 4/11/2013 9:46:03 AM , Rating: 2
lead taken out of fuel has reduced violent crime by 30% in some cities in the world

You began to lose me here by not providing any links to these claims,

recycling there waste

but you really lost me there . It's their waste. Link provided to back my claim -,-Their-and-They'r...

By Dorkyman on 4/11/2013 10:25:16 AM , Rating: 2
I think I'm gonna puke if I hear another mention of the word "planet." Ohhh, we're so IN TOUCH with Mother Gaia, and I'm so darn proud of myself for being "sensitive" to her needs.

Hey, pal, suggest you rejoin the rest of us and realize that getting rid of all our coal plants in the USA will change the net temperature 20 years hence by something like 0.0001 degrees.

Oh yeah, so worth it.

By Dorkyman on 4/11/2013 10:26:30 AM , Rating: 2
Oh, and Jason, love the title. Accurate and succinct.

By freeagle on 4/11/2013 10:46:48 AM , Rating: 2
getting rid of all our coal plants in the USA will change the net temperature 20 years hence by something like 0.0001 degrees

Any source?

By Skywalker123 on 4/11/2013 1:23:45 PM , Rating: 2
I think I'm gonna puke if I hear another mention of the word "planet." Ohhh, we're so IN TOUCH with Mother Gaia, and I'm so darn proud of myself for being "sensitive" to her needs.

Why dont u try living without "Mother Gaia"? You need her more than she needs you!

By ClownPuncher on 4/11/2013 2:19:17 PM , Rating: 2
Wong. She doesn't have a job. Who do you think pays the bills?

RE: I don't care either way as long as things change
By BRB29 on 4/11/2013 10:26:13 AM , Rating: 2
What is the correlation between lead in gasoline and crime?
Please show data.

By GatoRat on 4/11/2013 2:00:50 PM , Rating: 2
Here is a pretty good synopsis of the theory:

What this has to do with AGW is beyond me.

By superflex on 4/11/2013 5:39:56 PM , Rating: 2
Mother Jones has no agenda at all. "cough, liberal rag, cough"

By Yojimbo on 4/11/2013 11:06:34 AM , Rating: 1
What does lead have to do with carbon dioxide? I find it hard to believe that the billions of dollars spent and the damage to the image of scientific professionals in the mind of the public can easily be thought as providing a commensurate amount of "good." But don't break into philosophical lament, yet. This thing is far from over. A model does not have to be abandoned completely just because of a round of mispredictions. It is very much possible the model is fundamentally correct, but needs to be refined.

By spamreader1 on 4/11/2013 11:32:16 AM , Rating: 2
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

By superflex on 4/11/2013 5:36:35 PM , Rating: 1
Do you have proof for that conjecture that lead causes violence and since the removal of lead from our gasoline, violence has reduced by 30%?
Go back to reading the back of cereal boxes.

By ppardee on 4/11/2013 5:58:12 PM , Rating: 2
Ok, look. CO2 increases, temperature increase. It's very clear. You can look at ice cores. We take lead out of gasoline and crime decreases. You can look at crime stats from 1970 to present. As cars became unable to use leaded gasoline, violent crime dropped. Well... Except for in the early 90s, but that was just a fluke like today's flat-lining temps.

Clearly, correlation = causation.

"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings

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