Cooling the planet
Philip Stott, Emeritus professor of biogeography, University of London
SIR – Your assertion that “global warming is happening faster than expected” exhibits a disturbing degree of cognitive dissonance (“Adapt or die”
, September 13th). Since 1998 the world’s average surface temperature has exhibited no warming, according to all the main temperature records. The trend has been a combination of flatlining and cooling, with a marked plunge over the past year; many countries, including Australia, Canada, China and the United States, experienced severe winters.
Moreover, recent work demonstrates that the Earth’s temperature may stay roughly the same for at least a further decade through the impact of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. In addition, the next 11-year cycle of solar storms—Solar Cycle 24—is late by more than two years. The sun is currently spotless, conditions that obtained during the “Dalton Minimum”, an especially cold period that lasted several decades starting from 1790 and which was implicated in the rout of Napoleon’s Grand Army during the retreat from Moscow in 1812.
Finally, one expert, Victor Manuel Velasco Herrera of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, has gone so far as to give warning that the Earth may enter a new “Little Ice Age” for up to 80 years because of decreases in solar activity. The immediate portents thus point in the direction of a cooling period.
Whatever one thinks about longer-term trends in world average temperatures and their possible relationship with carbon emissions, it cannot be claimed that currently “global warming is happening faster than expected”. It troubles me when a publication with the standing of The Economist permits such a gap between observed reality and political rhetoric.
Cooling the planet