Tuesday, September 20th 2011, 6:49 PM EDT
Over the past decade, global surface temperatures have flatlined. While 2010 was a warm year in the northern hemisphere and 2011 has been warm in much of the U.S., globally temperatures have failed to surpass 1998. Despite all the histrionics about man-made global warming, the predicted temperature rise has failed to materialize even as CO2 emissions have increased. Pat Michaels, a climatologist who is currently senior fellow for research and economic development at George Mason University in Virginia, wrote in the Wall Street Journal in late July, ”there has been no statistically significant warming trend since November of 1996 in monthly surface temperature records.”
So what’s happened? Kevin Trenberth, head of the climate analysis section at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, thinks he knows. The heat is hiding out in the deep oceans just waiting to pounce at some point in the future and make the Earth every bit as hot as he and his fellow alarmists have said it would become all along.
Anything is possible, I suppose, but of all the global warming theories I’ve heard, this is among the most far-fetched.
There’s an axiom in science known as Occam’s Razor: The simplest explanation is the most likely. So what is the simplest explanation for the lack of significant warming in the past 15 years? Man-made emissions do not have as much impact on climate as the United Nations and its vaunted climate models have theorized. It hasn’t gotten appreciably warmer because CO2 from cars and factories is not as much of a “driver” of climate change as many scientists have postulated. Something else is behind climate change.
Just last month, results from the CLOUD experiment at European nuclear research institute CERN seemed to show that warming was more likely the result of a sun that has been slightly more active in the past century. Cosmic rays cause clouds to form in the Earth’s atmosphere, shading the surface and lowering global temperatures. But over the past century — and particularly the last half century — active solar winds have reduced the amount of cosmic energy reaching Earth, thereby reducing the number of clouds shading our planet, permitting more warming solar energy to reach the surface.
Now here is Lorne’s Razor: The more desperate someone is to hold onto a theory or belief, the more preposterous their explanations will become.
Dr. Trenberth, who now claims the earth has warmed as much as projected but we just can’t see it because the heat is hangin’ out in the deep oceans, was one of the Climategate scientists. When the emails and jerry-rigged computer data files were released from East Anglia University in Nov. 2009, one of the most damning messages was from Kevin Trenberth. It read “the fact is we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty we can’t.”
Why would that be a travesty? If the scientific data in front of you says the projected warming has failed to materialize, the assumption should be the original theory was wrong. But the emails showed that Trenberth and others were desperate to prove their theory was right and the data was wrong. The real world wasn’t acting the way their computer projections said it should, so the problem had to be with the real world.
It has taken nearly two years, but Dr. Trenberth et al have come up with an explanation that does two things very well: It sustains their man-made-warming-is-threatening-us-all theory, while also postulating an explanation that is very hard to disprove. (That the theory is equally hard to prove is of no concern, since neither the bulk of climate scientists nor environmental reporters will ever ask for proof. Simple affirmation of their pro-warming bias is enough.)
I suppose it’s possible that temperature rises at the Earth’s surface have failed to materialize because excess heat has been captured by the oceans and pushed down below 1,000 feet. But that is harder to prove (or disprove) than the cloud-sun theory, particularly given that this submersion of all that heat seems to have occurred without the surface of the oceans warming appreciably.
But if nothing else, this new theory by Dr. Trenberth and others shows how uncertain the climate-change theory still is, despite the assertions that the science is settled. If it were so clearly established, the science would not need some new, elaborate theory to explain away its inconsistencies.
What’s more, this latest release clearly shows that many of the world’s leading climate scientists have suspected for some time that the Earth was not warming as fast as predicted. However, almost none of them have admitted that uncertainty publicly. Why? Were they afraid we’d stop listening to their alarmist warnings if they admitted the planet wasn’t warming as much or as quickly as they worried?
There is simply too much sleight-of-hand and doubt remaining in climate science to turn over our way of life to alarmists who themselves admit — at least privately — that much uncertainty remains.
Follow Lorne on Twitter @lornegunter