By UK Professor Emeritus of Biogeography Philip Stott of the University of London:
I must ask a very serious and urgent question of our media. Why do you continue to talk glibly about current climate ‘warming’ when it is now widely acknowledged that there has been no ‘global warming’ for the last ten years, a cooling trend that many think may continue for at least another ten years? How can you talk of the climate ‘warming’ when, on the key measures, it isn’t? And now a leading Mexican scientist is even predicting that we may enter another ‘Little Ice Age’ - a ‘pequeña era de hielo’.
Such media behaviour exhibits a classic condition known as ‘cognitive dissonance’. This is experienced when belief in a grand narrative persists blindly even when the facts in the real world begin to contradict what the narrative is saying. Sadly, our media have come to have a vested interest in ‘global warming’, as have so many politicians and activists. They are terrified that the public may begin to question everything if climate is acknowledged, on air and in the press, not to be playing ball with their pet trope.
But that is precisely what is happening. Since 1998, according to all the main world temperature records, including the UK Met Office’s ‘HadCRUT3’ data set [a globally-gridded product of near-surface temperatures consisting of annual differences from 1961-90 normals], the world average surface temperature has exhibited no warming whatsoever. Indeed, the trend has been a combination of flat-lining and cooling, with a particularly marked plunge over the last few months. Many parts of the world, including Canada, China, and the US, have just experienced their worst winter in years (as is currently Australia), while skiing in Scotland has benefited from the trend, and the summit of Snowdon carried snow even up to the end of April.
To put it simply, since 1998, there has been no ‘global warming’, despite the fact that, during this same period, atmospheric CO2 has continued to rise, from c. 368 ppm by volume in 1998 to c. 384 ppmv in November, 2007. Moreover, another ‘greenhouse gas’, methane, has also been rising, following a period of relative stability, by about 0.5% between 2006 and 2007.
Of course, little can be gleaned from a short data run of only 10-years, a fact, I might add, which ‘global warming’ fanatics have too often failed to stress. Nevertheless, recent work demonstrates that the Earth’s temperature may stay roughly the same for at least a further decade through the workings of a phenomenon known as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO). The cause of this oscillation, which is related to the currents that bring warmth from the tropics to Europe, is not well understood, but the cycle appears to have an effect every 60 to 70 years. It may well prove to be part of the explanation as to why global mean temperatures rose in the early years of the 20th Century, before then starting to cool again in the late-1940s. Thus, according to the new model, cooling remains on the cards for another ten years at least, making a potential 20 years of cooling in all.
Spotting Another Factor
But the sun isn’t playing ball either. The big question is: “What has happened to Solar Cycle 24?” Solar-cycle intensity is measured by the maximum number of sunspots. These are dark blotches on the Sun that mark areas of heightened magnetic activity. The more sunspots there are, the more likely it is that major solar storms will occur, and these are related to warming on Earth; the fewer the sunspots, the more likely there is to be cooling. The next 11-year cycle of solar storms [Solar Cycle 24] was predicted to have begun in autumn, 2006, but it appears to have been delayed. It was then expected to take off in March last year, and to peak in late-2011, or mid-2012. But the Sun remains largely spotless, except for an odd fading spot. This delayed onset has somewhat confused the official Solar Cycle 24 Prediction Panel, leaving them evenly split as to whether a weak or a strong period of solar storms now lies ahead.
However, some other scientists are deeply concerned, including Phil Chapman, the first Australian to become a NASA astronaut, who comments: “Disconcerting as it may be to true believers in global warming, the average temperature on Earth has remained steady or slowly declined during the past decade, despite the continued increase in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, and now the global temperature is falling precipitously.”
Chapman then explains why the absence of sunspots might exacerbate this cooling trend: “The reason this matters is that there is a close correlation between variations in the sunspot cycle and Earth’s climate. The previous time a cycle was delayed like this was in the Dalton Minimum, an especially cold period that lasted several decades from 1790. Northern winters became ferocious: in particular, the rout of Napoleon’s Grand Army during the retreat from Moscow in 1812 [see picture] was at least partly due to the lack of sunspots.”
Thus, all the immediate signs and portents are pointing in the direction of a cooling period, not a warming one.
So, why are newspapers, magazines, radio, and television not telling us all this? Because they have invested so much effort over the last ten years in hyping up the exact opposite. Moreover, it is especially pathetic sophistry to claim, as dedicated ‘global warmers’ are wont to do, that ‘natural forces’ are having the temerity to “suppress” ‘global warming’. The fundamental point has always been this: climate change is governed by hundreds of factors, or variables, and the very idea that we can manage climate change predictably by understanding and manipulating at the margins one politically-selected factor is as misguided as it gets.
And now a Mexican expert, Victor Manuel Velasco Herrera (National Autonomous University of Mexico), is warning that the Earth will enter a new ‘Little Ice Age’ for up to 80 years due to decreases in solar activity [see: ‘Auguran breve era del hielo en 2010’, Milenio, August 16]. He describes the predictions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as “erroneous”.
If this cooling phase really does persist, it will be illuminating to observe how long our media can maintain its befuddled state of ‘cognitive dissonance’.
Mind you, I jolly well hope that we aren’t entering a cooling period - it’s the very last thing we need! Give me warming any time. Brrrr!