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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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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.

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