|“A Sensitive Matter” – Flat Temperatures Flummox Climate Scientists|
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, April 04 2013
“Over the past 15 years, air temperatures at the Earth’s surface have been flat, while greenhouse-gas emissions have continued to soar. The world added roughly 100 billion tonnes of carbon to the atmosphere between 2000 and 2010. That is about a quarter of all the CO2 put there by humanity since 1750. And yet, as James Hansen, the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, observes, ‘the five-year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade. Temperatures fluctuate over short periods, but this lack of new warming is a surprise.’”
That’s the lead paragraph from The Economist last week in what amounts to a global warming mea culpa entitled “A Sensitive Matter.”
The authors hastily add, “It does not mean global warming is a delusion.” But savor this subsequent paragraph as they scramble to make sense of the emerging evidence:
“A rise in carbon concentrations from preindustrial levels of 280 parts per million (ppm) to 560 ppm would thus warm the Earth by 1° C. If that were all there was to worry about, there would, as it were, be nothing to worry about. A 1° C rise could be shrugged off. But things are not that simple, for two reasons. One is that rising CO2 levels directly influence phenomena such as the amount of water vapour (also a greenhouse gas) and clouds that amplify or diminish the temperature rise. This affects equilibrium sensitivity directly, meaning doubling carbon concentrations would produce more than a 1° C rise in temperature. The second is that other things, such as adding soot and other aerosols to the atmosphere, add to or subtract from the effect of CO2.”
Got that? So carbon could either “amplify or diminish” temperatures, and other things could either “add to or subtract from” carbon effects. Whichever.
For its part, The Australian observed, “Debate about the reality of a two-decade pause in global warming and what it means has made its way from skeptical fringe to the mainstream.” It continued, “But the fact that global surface temperatures have not followed the expected global warming pattern is now widely accepted.”
Even the Global Warming Policy Foundation acknowledges the emerging evidence. Its spokesman David Whitehouse lamented, “If we have not passed it already, we are on the threshold of global observations becoming incompatible with the consensus theory of climate change.”
So while Marxism took decades to collapse, in less than an adult lifetime we’ve gone from “An Inconvenient Truth” to “A Sensitive Matter.” Those of us who advised scientific sobriety before imposing costly and dubious social engineering have gone from being slurred as “Deniers” to being vindicated almost overnight. As acknowledged by The Economist in its story, “There is no point in buying earthquake insurance if you do not live in an earthquake zone.”
Unfortunately, liberal political leaders at the federal, state and local levels remain slow to get the memo.
During this year’s State of the Union address, Barack Obama scolded the nation that, “We can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science and act before it is too late.” And last week, just as The Economist released its analysis, his Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a tough new round of auto fuel regulations. Refiners immediately estimated that compliance costs could increase our price at the pump nearly 10 cents per gallon, but that’s of no concern to the man who flies to San Francisco political fundraisers on the taxpayers’ dime. What matters is keeping his environmental activist supporters happy.
California, meanwhile, faces the looming prospect of green-outs due to environmental regulations. Back in 2006, the year before Al Gore won the Nobel Prize for “An Inconvenient Truth,” California mandated that 20% of power provided by utilities derive from renewable sources by 2010. That mandate was ratcheted up to 33% by 2020, and sources like hydroelectric plants don’t qualify because they’re not as fashionable as solar and wind among environmentalists.
Today, Californians already pay 25% to 60% higher electricity rates than the U.S. average, which is another reason that residents and employers continue to abandon the state. And now, rolling power outages loom because green energy sources are insufficient and producers are unable to upgrade existing plants or open new ones. An outage last year at the San Onofre nuclear plant left 1.4 million households powerless, which may prove just a sample of what’s coming.
And all for naught, according to the coalescing scientific evidence. As admitted by The Economist in its analysis, “The world has pumped out half a trillion tonnes of carbon since 1750, and temperatures have risen by 0.8° C.”
Accordingly, across America and even worldwide, people are recognizing that global warming alarmism brings all pain and no gain.
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