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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 ClimateDepot.com 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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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:
http://skepticalscience.com/foster-and-rahmstorf-m...
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.


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