Climate scientists scrambling for explantions on lack of warming

Matt Ridley, a member of the House of Lords admits he is a "lukewarm" climate change advocate. Ridley has penned an outstanding op-ed in the Wall Street Journal asking "Whatever Happened to Global Warming"?

On Sept. 23 the United Nations will host a party for world leaders in New York to pledge urgent action against climate change. Yet leaders from China, India and Germany have already announced that they won't attend the summit and others are likely to follow, leaving President Obama looking a bit lonely. Could it be that they no longer regard it as an urgent threat that some time later in this century the air may get a bit warmer?

In effect, this is all that's left of the global-warming emergency the U.N. declared in its first report on the subject in 1990. The U.N. no longer claims that there will be dangerous or rapid climate change in the next two decades. Last September, between the second and final draft of its fifth assessment report, the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change quietly downgraded the warming it expected in the 30 years following 1995, to about 0.5 degrees Celsius from 0.7 (or, in Fahrenheit, to about 0.9 degrees, from 1.3).

Even that is likely to be too high. The climate-research establishment has finally admitted openly what skeptic scientists have been saying for nearly a decade: Global warming has stopped since shortly before this century began.

First the climate-research establishment denied that a pause existed, noting that if there was a pause, it would invalidate their theories. Now they say there is a pause (or "hiatus"), but that it doesn't after all invalidate their theories.

Alas, their explanations have made their predicament worse by implying that man-made climate change is so slow and tentative that it can be easily overwhelmed by natural variation in temperature—a possibility that they had previously all but ruled out.


Most science journalists, who are strongly biased in favor of reporting alarming predictions, rather than neutral facts, chose to ignore the pause until very recently, when there were explanations available for it. Nearly 40 different excuses for the pause have been advanced, including Chinese economic growth that supposedly pushed cooling sulfate particles into the air, the removal of ozone-eating chemicals, an excess of volcanic emissions, and a slowdown in magnetic activity in the sun.

The favorite explanation earlier this year was that strong trade winds in the Pacific Ocean had been taking warmth from the air and sequestering it in the ocean. This was based on a few sketchy observations, suggesting a very tiny change in water temperature—a few hundredths of a degree—at depths of up to 200 meters.

The IPCC buried the lede in their report last year, but since then, the pause has become discussion topic #1 among climate scientists - especially those who are desperately casting about for a scientific explanation in order to save their careers. You will note that President Obama has also been ignoring the pause, preferring to base his speeches and his administration's policies on old data - pre 2010. The president has made so many false claims about global warming that fly in the face of conclusions reached by recent IPCC reports that I guess the only way he figures he can sell his anti-carbon policies is by selectively choosing fact flakes from past UN pronouncements.

It is likely that a Republican takeover of the Senate will doom the president's climate change policies. Hopefully whoever is elected in 2016 will have a more rational view of climate change and develop policies accordingly.