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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: Solar Cycle 24
By BRB29 on 4/11/2013 11:33:23 AM , Rating: 2
The reason why it's hotter in july vs june is because of how much energy the earth gives up vs absorb per day.

while you get maximum energy from the sun in june and then it starts to decline, the earth is still receiving more energy than it receives per day.

Same thing applies in the winter except the inverse.

It's a simple addition and subtraction. You were supposed to learn this in High School Earth Science man.

Sunspots are not significant enough to cause changes in temperatures. We study sunspots to predict solar wind, or radiation because it has knocked out entire grids of power before. Imagine if that happens today, it would be catastrophic. All the people that would walk into walls because their phones are dead.

RE: Solar Cycle 24
By FITCamaro on 4/11/2013 1:13:21 PM , Rating: 2
It's hotter in July vs June because we're closer to the sun in July.

You were supposed to learn this in high school earth science.

And more sun spots are the result of higher solar output and activity. More output = more heat.

RE: Solar Cycle 24
By Just Tom on 4/11/2013 2:39:19 PM , Rating: 2
It's hotter in July vs June because we're closer to the sun in July.

No, sir, you are exactly wrong. The Earth is actually closest to the Sun in January. In July it is at maximum distance. The seasons are determined by the tilt of the planet not the distance from the Sun. If it was merely distance that mattered the Northern and Southern hemispheres would not have opposing seasons.

RE: Solar Cycle 24
By superflex on 4/11/2013 3:10:41 PM , Rating: 2
Looks like somebody was sleeping during HS dirt science class.

RE: Solar Cycle 24
By Paj on 4/12/2013 8:31:31 AM , Rating: 2
ou were supposed to learn this in high school earth science.

A class you were evidently fast asleep in. Perihelion occurs in January, aphelion in July.

RE: Solar Cycle 24
By Ringold on 4/11/2013 3:48:32 PM , Rating: 2
Sunspots themselves aren't what some people think cause warming or cooling. It's their impact on allowing greater or fewer cosmic rays to reach Earth if I recall, which appears to impact cloud formation.

Tbh, I quit following the science side of the debate. All I do any more is take the worst-case scenario, make sure no legitimate economists have changed the prevailing idea that the cost of abatement far exceeds potential benefits (beyond very tiny measures), and then move on to other topics.

RE: Solar Cycle 24
By Schrag4 on 4/12/2013 1:02:19 PM , Rating: 2
Sunspots are not significant enough to cause changes in temperatures. We study sunspots to predict solar wind, or radiation because it has knocked out entire grids of power before.

Honest question: Let's say you predict massive solar activity capable of knocking out "entire grids". What action do you take to prevent grids from going down? I suspect the answer is something along the lines of "Well, there's nothing we really can do except prepare for a catastrophe" but I'm no expert so I'd like to hear what you think.

RE: Solar Cycle 24
By JediJeb on 4/12/2013 4:11:05 PM , Rating: 2
Sunspots are not significant enough to cause changes in temperatures.

There is quite a good correlation between the extended long period of low sunspot numbers(the Maunder Minimum)and what is known as the 'Little Ice Age" that occurred in the early 1800's. Also of note is that the last solar minimum in 2009 was in the midst of one of the longest periods of no recorded sunspots ever and is also near the time when the global temperatures began to level off and even cool slightly. This year and next are supposed to be the maximum of this current solar cycle and yet this year we are at about half the number of sunspots as a typical maximum should have.

In that second link you will see that the coolest periods over the last couple hundred years, namely the early 1800s and early 1900 correspond to lower solar maximums while some of the hottest years such as the 1960 and 1990s correspond to some of the highest solar maximums.

Also for years Russian scientist have been saying there is a link between solar activity and global temperatures.

Maybe the Russians have something here. It isn't the popular belief, but then when have the Russians been worried about what is popular with the rest of the world.

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