Friday, December 21, 2007

Has global warming stopped?

A very intriguing question. One which, if the answer turns out to be a resounding yes, might make some of the alarm generated by the IPCC, and some of the planned actions following the Bali bash, appear rather ridiculous.

Now this from the New Statesman, is by the well respected, ex BBC Science Correspondent, David Whitehouse. It makes what seems at first glance an apparently valid point - the rate of temperature increase over the last decade has been flat. In fact, he states that "the global temperature of 2007 is statistically the same as 2006 as well as every year since 2001. Global warming has, temporarily or permanently, ceased. Temperatures across the world are not increasing as they should according to the fundamental theory behind global warming – the greenhouse effect. Something else is happening and it is vital that we find out what or else we may spend hundreds of billions of pounds needlessly."

He reports that the data is taken from "US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the UK’s Met Office and the IPCC" but he does not provide links to any actual data used.

Remember the brouhaha that resulted when it was discovered that the warmest year in one part of the central USA was back in the 1930's? That turned out to be the selective use of local and regional data, but it created a huge upwelling of support for the 'anti' global warming brigade. I have to confess that I'm surprised that this particular article does not appear to be massively referenced so far throughout the www.

Back to my main point: without reference to the exact data as used, just how do we know that this is an accurate interpretation? Let's face it, there is clearly something quite drastic happening in and around the area of the Arctic circle and above, as the recorded data shows record summer temperatures in places like Melville Island, Greenland and Alaska, whilst the North West passage was open for a record six weeks plus and the ice pack had its lowest extent since records began.

As the author quite rightly states - "the working hypothesis of CO2 induced global warming is a good one that stands on good physical principles but let us not pretend our understanding extends too far or that the working hypothesis is a sufficient explanation for what is going on." Clearly, human understanding of a system as complex as the climate of our planet is not going to be perfect, there are far too many unknowns and imponderables, and we have but little understanding of potential feedback loops and so called tipping points.

"The science is fascinating, the ramifications profound, but we are fools if we think we have a sufficient understanding of such a complicated system as the Earth’s atmosphere’s interaction with sunlight to decide. We know far less than many think we do or would like you to think we do. We must explain why global warming has stopped."

No argument with the first parts of that at all, but warming has certainly not stopped in the Arctic circle, so why make that statement as if it applies to the entire planet?

I'm sorry, but articles like this will only incite more confusion, misunderstanding, obfuscation and poles-apart (no pun intended) debate. We need to know the full facts, not selective morsels fed to us like tid-bits from the media news table.

Broccoli growing in Greenland, whilst Walrus starve because the remnants of the ice sheet are too far out and over water too deep for them to find food, plus extreme temperatures of 48C in Greece and Italy this summer do not seem to fit, at least to my mind, with the counter evidence that the author presents.

Would someone please just tell us the truth? It must be out there somewhere.
Should it turn out that the supposedly venerable group of scientists at the IPCC are deliberately ignoring vital temperature evidence that this particular author is using; or are perhaps discounting it as little more than a hiccup in the overall scale of things whilst they are doggedly determined to prove that man worsened climate change is happening at any cost (including the omission of important data); then I'll quite happily write an entire retraction of my comments and questions and offer the author a high five.

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