Mounting evidence of lower temperature trends despite rising atmospheric CO2 levels is becoming a real problem for the greenhouse gas crowd. And reports that the cooling appears to follow a period of dormant solar activity aren't likely to ease their anxieties.
Indeed, without an immediate alarmist course correction, years of "the science is settled" campaigning could prove for naught, as prolonged temperature dips decimate the primary anthropogenic argument. After all, Lord Gore has shouted the IPCC's proclamation of a 0.3°C warming over the next decade from virtually every rooftop. Given new data projecting the contrary, he and his green hordes will need to find a way to not only explain the error, but keep the AGW dream alive.
And perhaps they have.
On April 21st, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory confirmed that an impending phase shift in a natural climate event would likely bring colder temperatures for as many as the next 20-30 years, noting that:
"The shift in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, with its widespread Pacific Ocean temperature changes, will have significant implications for global climate. It can affect Pacific and Atlantic hurricane activity, droughts and flooding around the Pacific basin, marine ecosystems and global land temperature patterns."
Well aware of the impact the news might have on the green-deity IPCC's warming predictions, the JPL was quick to add that "Sea level rise and global warming due to increases in greenhouse gases can be strongly affected by large natural climate phenomenon such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the El Nino-Southern Oscillation." JPL oceanographer and climate scientist Josh Willis explained:
"The comings and goings of El Niño, La Niña and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation are part of a longer, ongoing change in global climate. In fact, these natural climate phenomena can sometimes hide global warming caused by human activities. Or they can have the opposite effect of accentuating it."
Just 10 days later, the results of a model study on another phenomenon, this time affecting the North Atlantic, were published in the journal Nature [PDF]. Dr Noel Keenlyside et al, of the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences in Germany, reported that the "conveyor belt" of southern warm water known as the Meridional Overturning Circulation is entering a weak cycle. As weak MOC cycles -- which can last as many as 80 years -- are associated with cooler North Atlantic temperatures, particularly around Europe and North America, the team expects global surface temperatures to decrease over the next decade. Oddly, a similar pattern between the 1940s and 1970s may explain the cooling of global average temperatures during that period, so assuming only the "next decade" seems an arbitrary call.
Nonetheless, the German scientists felt compelled to explain their evident heresy against the church of the IPCC:
"Our results suggest that global surface temperature may not increase over the next decade, as natural climate variations in the North Atlantic and tropical Pacific temporarily offset the projected anthropogenic warming."
In case "temporarily offset" proved too vague to the green brigade, Keenlyside clarified when explaining to Bloomberg News:
"If we don't experience warming over the next 10 years, it doesn't mean that greenhouse-gas warming is not with us. There can be natural fluctuations that may mask climate change in the short term.''
And for the benefit of those still concerned, his associate Mojib Latif, a professor at the Leibniz Institute, spelled it out in no uncertain terms:
"Just to make things clear, we are not stating that anthropogenic climate change won't be as bad as previously thought."
It certainly appeared to be merely a typical cover your green ass move
The Very Model of a Modern Solar Minimum
According to UK's Telegraph the report stemmed from "initial findings from a new computer model of how the oceans behave over decades," and readers were reminded that:
"The IPCC currently does not include in its models actual records of such events as the strength of the Gulf Stream and the El Nino cyclical warming event in the Pacific, which are known to have been behind the warmest year ever recorded in 1998."
Of course, solar activity is also essentially ignored by IPCC models, and it too saw an apex in 1998. Isn't it interesting how, not unlike insects scampering from light exposed by a stone overturned, greenies struggle desperately to avoid directly confronting the power of the Sun?
Last year, Britain's Hadley Centre, whose decadal models actually do incorporate sea surface temperatures as well as projected changes in the Sun's output and the effects of previous volcanic eruptions, predicted that global warming would slow until 2009 and pick up after that, with half the years after 2009 being warmer than the warmest year on record, 1998." Still, they stood solidly behind the IPCC by predicting that "Over the 10-year period as a whole, climate continues to warm and 2014 is likely to be 0.3 deg C warmer than 2004." Then, this past January, the Centre predicted 2008 would be the coolest since 2000, this time based upon the "strong La Niña in the tropical Pacific Ocean" exclusively. Mysteriously, they completely ignored recent news at the time that solar activity had all but come to a stop -- a factor supposedly included in their modeling.
But last week, rather than disputing the Leibniz Institute oceans-behavior-only model that suggests not only Hadley, but the IPCC itself erred, the Centre's Richard Wood stated:
"We've always known that the climate varies naturally from year to year and decade to decade. We expect man-made global warming to be superimposed on those natural variations; and this kind of research is important to make sure we don't get distracted from the longer term changes that will happen in the climate (as a result of greenhouse gas emissions)."
Seemingly taking a bullet for the green team, Wood ‘fessed up to last year's bad prediction when he told reporters that "natural climate variations could be stronger than the global-warming trend over the next 10-year period."
Pretty slick -- by jumping aboard the new model's bandwagon, Wood managed to again ignore the Solar factor (Cycle 24 is delayed) while extending the bogus it's-part-nature-but-mostly-mankind safety-net his group's models had strung by almost 10 years. On the other hand, in addition to casting great doubt upon his own group's models, Wood's admission bolstered the doubt that Leibniz's would already cast upon those of the IPCC. And Wood notwithstanding, as Dr. Roger Pelke Jr. pointed out in his April 30th Prometheus post after reviewing the Nature piece:
"If global cooling over the next few decades is consistent with model predictions, then so too is pretty much anything and everything under the sun. This means that from a practical standpoint climate models are of no practical use beyond providing some intellectual authority in the promotional battle over global climate policy."
Obviously, capitulating now meant accepting the risk of jeopardizing whatever credibility all previous and future climate models may hold. Bad move -- or chess move?
Does Anybody Really Know What Climate Is?
Prior to its official release, Keenlyside expressed concerns that his report might be taken the "wrong way." The good doctor even attempted to trivialize dissenters by invoking the name of a favorite eco-boogieman when he lamely lamented "I hope it doesn't become a message of Exxon Mobil and other skeptics." And just in case his and his colleagues' tepid reaffirmations of their AGW pledges fell short of the green mark, reinforcements were immediately dispatched.
Not surprisingly, the alarmist shills at the BBC wrote that the up and down projections "did not come as a surprise to climate scientists." No, according to these insufferables, only the ill-informed public ever believed that "the rapid temperature rises seen through the 1990s are a permanent phenomenon." The New York Times rolled out Kevin Trenberth, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, in Boulder, CO. Tremberth told them that "the global climate will continue to be influenced in any particular decade by a mix of natural variability and the building greenhouse effect" and that "a cool phase does not mean the overall theory of dangerous human-driven warming is flawed."
And then added what appears to be the latest greenie talking point:
"Too many think global warming means monotonic relentless warming everywhere year after year. It does not happen that way."
Is anyone else noticing a trend developing here, beyond the "we never said that warming patterns would be steady" shuffle? Each explanation, whether by Willis, Keenlyside and Latif, Wood, or Trenberth implies that some climate forces natural are more formidable than those anthropogenic. This is yet another precarious admission, indeed - one unlikely to be made were the alternative not somehow more damaging to their cause.
Now consider this -- it remains an alarmist imperative to disassociate falling global temperatures and speculation of a possible impending "little ice age" with the yellow dwarf star we orbit in general and the late start of Solar Cycle 24 specifically. For indeed, if we are moving into another solar minimum cycle and global temperatures continue to plummet while atmospheric CO2 levels continue to rise, attendance at Al Gore's Scare-Story-Slide-Shows would quickly drop to close friends and family only. And with boat loads of very bad wealth-redistribution "climate change" legislation to pass in coming the years, a sympathetically alarmed press and populace remain essential during that time.
So what better way to buy time than to cloud the obvious solar connection by sacrificing their argument against a less threatening naturally occurring force? And then attributing that force to occasional periods of cooling by collectively admitting to its mitigating impact upon AGW forces? Especially when this little gambit allows them to continue reaping the benefits - for years to come - of the lie that an unchecked anthropogenic greenhouse gas effect threatens to literally destroy us all.
Just not quite as fast as they originally thought.
So then, are the greenies simply playing defense, as they have led many to believe - or is it we who are being played?
Marc Sheppard is a frequent contributor to American Thinker and welcomes your feedback.