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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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Both sides are right
By BRB29 on 4/11/2013 10:21:49 AM , Rating: 3
Why can't people just admit that global warming is real but it's not as crazy as the loud people make it out to be. We need to treat our planet better and conserve our resources anyways. We shouldn't screw over future generations just because it's not as bad as we thought.

According to our geological history, we are supposed to cooling into another ice age. Maybe global warming is negating the cooling effects. Who knows, we don't really have any way to tell right now.

RE: Both sides are right
By Ammohunt on 4/11/2013 1:10:09 PM , Rating: 2
Because this type of chicken little science affects more than just the earth environment! it affects global economies,standards of living for everyone at every economic level. We can't go half cocked with fixes when there isn't solid proof of what the claim is. Not to mention there are ideological agendas at work here as well. The environmentalist movement is compromised mostly of anti-capitalist Marxists. AGW is their weapon against what they feel is the greatest evil that being consumerism and hence free-market capitalism. Its the same folks that are involved with the current gun law debate which are about disarming citizens and not about public safety; these people are freedoms antagonists.

RE: Both sides are right
By Ringold on 4/11/2013 3:53:38 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, the exact same people and exact same ideologies that the Marxist student groups of the 60s had. Now they just have gray hair.

In Europe, we even see some more honesty then here. In a couple countries the 'Greens' and Communist/Marxist parties have said, hey! We're almost 100% in agreement, why the hell are we splitting our vote? Lets merge! American Marxists are too savvy with PR to call themselves what they are, though. Hence the cloak-and-dagger maneuvers, the anti-intellectual assaults on GM food, nuclear power, even vaccinations. Some are targeted at weakening humanity and therefore having a smaller impact on sacred frog species, others at boosting the state. All goes together.

RE: Both sides are right
By Ammohunt on 4/11/2013 4:18:20 PM , Rating: 2
Either way if these counter culture radicals get their way we go back to a pre-French revolution configuration with an Aristocratic leadership class(them) and the dirt poor(everyone else) acting as property of the state. "May you live in interesting times" indeed!

RE: Both sides are right
By Paj on 4/12/2013 8:28:40 AM , Rating: 2
Would love to hear your explanation for how refusing a vaccination has anything to do with Marxism.

RE: Both sides are right
By superflex on 4/11/2013 3:27:02 PM , Rating: 2
The internet called. It wants its geology degree back.

The peak of the last ice age was about 10,000 years ago. Since that point, the continental and alpine glaciers have been retreating.

The typical period between ice ages is 400,000 years due the Earths procession, eccentricity of orbit and axial tilt (Google Milankovitch cycle). Ice cores collected from Lake Vostok in Antarctica support this cycle.

Logic and geologic science tells anyone with a brain we should be warming and not cooling as the next ice age wont peak for another 390,000 years.

People will say anything to support an agenda.

RE: Both sides are right
By wookie1 on 4/11/2013 5:39:17 PM , Rating: 2
I was pretty sure that the glacial perdiods were on an approximately 100K year cycle for the last 800K years or so, about 10K years of interglacial and 90K years of ice. Also, since it's not understood exactly what causes the ice ages to start and end, I don't think anyone is really well-suited to make a prediction. Look how these predictions of CAGW have worked out!

RE: Both sides are right
By superflex on 4/12/2013 2:40:38 PM , Rating: 2
You are correct. I mixed up the Milakovitch cycle length with the glacial period cycle.
Still, the Vostok ice core data is pretty solid proof of man having no influence over variations in temperature and CO2.

RE: Both sides are right
By superflex on 4/11/2013 3:31:15 PM , Rating: 2
The scary thing is, BRB29 works for the USGS (according to his post in the Jason's fracking blog) yet he fails to understand geologic history and astronomic science.

"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein

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