Recent studies have shown that surface temperature of earth has been markedly slower over the last 15 years than in the 20 years before that. We saw this data and wanted to talk about it here on Leavenworth Street — but thought of bringing in a guest author. So we turned to UNL Chemistry Professor and frequent Leavenworth Street commenter — the Right Wing Professor himself — Gerard Harbison:
A very strange thing has been happening on the way to the global meltdown. The temperature has stopped going up. For the last 15 years. Yes, that’s quite a long time, but only recently have the mainstream media, and parts of the climate science community, felt compelled to recognize it. For example, in The Economist (previously a ‘warmist’ publication) yesterday, we read:
The rather heated debates we have had about the likely economic and social damage of carbon emissions have been based on that idea that there is something like a scientific consensus about the range of warming we can expect. If that consensus is now falling apart, as it seems it may be, that is, for good or ill, a very big deal.
Most notable of all, though, has been Hans von Storch, aristocratic granddaddy of German climatologists, and one of the ‘100 most influential Germans‘, in Der Spiegel, a newsmagazine that obligingly translates itself into English.
Von Storch is not a ‘climate skeptic’ (or ‘denier’ if you prefer). He’s been an author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment Reports, and an active and prolific researcher in the field.
Some notable comments:
SPIEGEL: Just since the turn of the millennium, humanity has emitted another 400 billion metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, yet temperatures haven’t risen in nearly 15 years. What can explain this?
Storch: So far, no one has been able to provide a compelling answer to why climate change seems to be taking a break. We’re facing a puzzle.
CO2 emissions have actually risen even more steeply than we feared. As a result, according to most climate models, we should have seen temperatures rise by around 0.25 degrees Celsius (0.45 degrees Fahrenheit) over the past 10 years. That hasn’t happened. In fact, the increase over the last 15 years was just 0.06 degrees Celsius (0.11 degrees Fahrenheit) — a value very close to zero. This is a serious scientific problem that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will have to confront when it presents its next Assessment Report
late next year.
SPIEGEL: Do the computer models with which physicists simulate the future climate ever show the sort of long standstill in temperature change that we’re observing right now?
Storch: Yes, but only extremely rarely. At my institute, we analyzed how often such a 15-year stagnation in global warming occurred in the simulations.
The answer was: in under 2 percent of all the times we ran the simulation. In other words, over 98 percent of forecasts show CO2 emissions as high as we have had in recent years leading to more of a temperature increase
SPIEGEL: What could be wrong with the models?
Storch: There are two conceivable explanations — and neither is very pleasant for us. The first possibility is that less global warming is occurring than expected because greenhouse gases, especially CO2, have less of an effect than we have assumed. This wouldn’t mean that there is no man-made greenhouse effect, but simply that our effect on climate events is not as great as we have believed. The other possibility is that, in our simulations, we have underestimated how much the climate fluctuates owing to natural causes.
SPIEGEL: That sounds quite embarrassing for your profession, if you have to go back and adjust your models to fit with reality.
Storch: Why? That’s how the process of scientific discovery works. There is no last word in research, and that includes climate research. It’s never the truth that we offer, but only our best possible approximation of reality. But that often gets forgotten in the way the public perceives and describes our work.
SPIEGEL: And how good are the long-term forecasts concerning temperature and precipitation?
Storch: Those are also still difficult. For example, according to the models, the Mediterranean region will grow drier all year round. At the moment, however, there is actually more rain there in the fall months than there used to be. We will need to observe further developments closely in the coming years. Temperature increases are also very much dependent on clouds, which can both amplify and mitigate the greenhouse effect. For as long as I’ve been working in this field, for over 30 years, there has unfortunately been very little progress made in the simulation of clouds.
Temperate words from a wise, experienced and thoughtful scientist, who of course believes in the physics of global warming, but is aware of the limitations of modeling an entire planet, and remembers that often in the past, science has had to revise itself to accommodate phenomena it hadn’t even been aware of a few years previously.
Meanwhile, here in Nebraska, we’re not always quite so thoughtful. Of course, one expects very little from the editorial board of the Lincoln Journal Star
Nonetheless, on a 91-degree March afternoon, it was difficult to believe that some still deny that global warming is real.
Most (almost all) scientists believe global warming is real. Whether global warming contributes to any particular category of climate extremes is controversial. Attributing one weather event or even one season to global warming is not controversial. Everyone agrees it’s stupid.
But worse is their occasional opinion columnist and self-styled ‘environmental historian’ Francis Moul…
It is past time that we face the plain truth of a rapidly changing world climate that is destructive to humans, animals and plants from violent weather patterns, deadly warming temperatures, melting polar ice and much more.
The studies are in, the science is done and the evidence is as plain as stepping into our backyards and seeing the world outside, where spring has emerged a month ahead of time.
(If spring emerged a month early, how come my tomatoes were killed by frost on May 12 this year?)
Nor does Omaha get off the hook. Omaha meteorologist John Pollack, in the World Herald.
Omaha meteorologist John Pollack said Monday that he believes the heat wave gripping Nebraska, Iowa and much of the nation is a message from planet Earth that global warming is real.
Pollack, who retired from the National Weather Service in 2009, said other recent weather disasters such as drought, western wildfires, straight line windstorms from Indiana to the mid-Atlantic states and a rash of unseasonable tropical storms also are the results of climate change.
If you’ve been following the anti-Keystone XL campaign, you’ll realize, away from all the pretendy concern about the Ogallala aquifer and the shocking discovery that crude oil contains benzene (though it doesn’t contain as much as gasoline), their real objection is that tar sands exploitation is a source of carbon, and carbon is bad. Tar sands exploitation will be ‘game over for Planet Earth’ as nutball James Hansen memorably put it. But actually, if increasing CO2 has a smaller than expected effect on global temperatures, if it contributes to plant growth and increased crop yield (which it certainly does), and of course it fuels the energy needs of the planet, then where does that leave objectors to the pipeline? Right where they started: simple Luddism and a drive to control the lives of their neighbors. That’s what leftists do.
Finally, since I’m sure the local left will have a hissy fit, call me a ‘denier’, and denigrate my credentials as a scientist (my major research area at the moment is the radiative physics of gas molecules, so what do I know?), here is my position. The greenhouse effect is real. Carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere is rising. Humans are doing that. The increase in CO2 is almost certainly increasing global temperatures, though probably by not nearly as much as the consensus estimate from 5 years ago. Warming is probably concentrated at the poles, leading to a decline in Arctic ice. But the connection to droughts, floods, tornadoes and hurricanes is unknown, and global warming might as easily decrease the likelihood of some of these phenomena as increase them. And, in return, it will make northern regions of the planet more habitable, and the whole planet more fertile. Not a bad trade-off.
Other consequences? Wind energy is uneconomic and a blight on the countryside. Nations like Germany and the UK, which have bought big into wind-farms, are looking pretty silly at the moment.
But we in Nebraska just passed an idiotic tax incentive for an out-of-state company to build wind farms here. We’re stupid too.
Street Sweeper back here.
Keep all this in mind over the next few days when you may here of some radical new climate policies coming down the track.
And then you can think: WWPRHD?
(Or, “What would President Romney have done…”)
The OWH reported on Friday two more who are considering running for the Republican nom for U.S. Senate.
One is Omaha attorney Bart McLeay of Kutak Rock. We have not heard back from McLeay after attempting to contact him but, we were wondering who may be in his corner. And, we noted that McLeay has one very high profile client: David Sokol’s MidAmerican Energy.
**UPDATE at Noon**
This from Bart McLeay today:
I am in the process of finalizing plans for what I hope will be a run for the U.S. Senate and will be able to provide more information in the near future.
Sounds like a candidate to us.
The other potential candidate is former Dean of the Creighton University School of Law, Pat Borchers.
I am the father of five children and it makes me ill to think of the crushing national debt that we are loading on them. When people in Washington can say with a straight face that it’s good news that the budget deficit this year will “only” be $700 billion or so, we have a serious problem. Of course, if it were easy to solve these problems, they presumably would have been solved. I believe that all federal spending needs to be scrutinized. We need to consider automatically level funding at least some portions of the budget until the deficit reaches a manageable level, perhaps 1% of the US GDP (which would be about $150 billion this year).
I believe that in part the federal government is running deficits like this, because it has grown far beyond what was the constitutional design. The federal government was conceived of as a government of limited powers, with the states acting as “laboratories of federalism.” Now the federal government has become nearly omnipotent, with the states acting essentially as branch managers of federal policy. As a result, the citizenry becomes more disenfranchised as what were once matters of state and local policy are decided by a federal government that is more faceless and distant from them.
Some simplification and adjustment of marginal income tax rates (as was done during Reagan’s second term) would, I believe, give the economy its best chance at sustained growth. The economy grew in a nearly uninterrupted fashion after the 1986 tax bill, with the exception of the brief but deep recession in 1992 caused by an unnecessary rate hike on the part of the Fed.
I am unapologetically pro life.
We don’t have a handle yet on who Borchers may have in his corner, but the more the merrier could make certain aspects of the Senate race more interesting.
More when we have it.
And remember to make all of your summer purchases via Leavenworth Street’s Amazon.com links!