We Really Don't Understand Our Climate


By Dr. Benny Peiser —— Bio and Archives July 24, 2013

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Something is happening to our sun. If history is anything to go by, the sun’s change of mood could affect us all by cooling the earth and throwing our climate change calculations into disarray. It might even be the case that the earth’s response to low solar activity will overturn many of our assumptions about man’s influence on climate change. Cold not warmth might be our future. We do not know. We must keep watching the sun. –David Whitehouse, Public Service Europe, 24 July 2013

Global warming has been on “pause” for 15 years but will speed up again and is still a real threat, Met Office scientists have warned. In a set of three new reports, the Met Office claims that global warming has been disguised in recent years by the oceans, which have absorbed greater amounts of heat and prevented us from noticing the difference at surface level. Other factors including a number of volcanic eruptions since 2000 and changes in the Sun’s activity, could also have masked the effect of greenhouse gases by providing a slight cooling effect, they said.—Nick Collins, The Daily Telegraph, 22 July 2013

In its conclusions the Met Office states that the pause has not falsified the climate models. If the pause is, as they define it and limit it, from 2001 onwards, then this is true. But if the pause is 16-years, as the temperature data actually show, then the models, already looking unimpressive, are in jeopardy. We are at the waiting stage. Better and more reliable OHC data are desperately needed. Even if global temperatures were to rise again the climate models have shown themselves inadequate. If the pause continues, however, then the crisis of climate science will become more serious. –David Whitehouse, The Global Warming Policy Foundation, 24 July 2013

The scientists say, pauses in warming were always to be expected. This is new - at least to me. I’ve never heard leading researchers mention the possibility before. I asked why this had not come up in earlier presentations. No one really had an answer, except to say that this “message” about pauses had not been communicated widely. But what about another possibility - that the calculations are wrong? What if the climate models - which are the very basis for all discussions of what to do about global warming - exaggerate the sensitivity of the climate to rising carbon dioxide?—David Shukman, BBC News, 22 July 2013

Scientists are still struggling to explain the slower-than-predicted global warming over the past decade. There are innumerable variables in the climate system that could be responsible for the warming slowdown. These scientists have identified some of the likeliest culprits, but one professor admitted that they “don’t fully understand the relative importance of these different factors.” The recent warming plateau is exposing our limited understanding of climate, and it’s effectively killing the rationale for green policies that limit growth and, at the most basic level, try to force people to do things they would rather not do.—Walter Russell Mead, Via Meadia, 23 July 2013

The Science Media Centre has released a statement on the failure of global temperatures to rise in line with the models. It’s spin of course, although perhaps not quite as blatant as we are used to from them. Lots of “our understanding is getting better” and not a lot of “nobody has a clue what’s going on”. There’s a complete misrepresentation of science’s level of understanding of the reasons why this is happening. As I said in Parliament, the inability of climate scientists to admit their ignorance is one of the reasons nobody trusts them. The Science Media Centre are just helping that process along in the wrong direction.—Andrew Montford, Bishop Hill, 22 July 2013

First, I asked Stephen Belcher, the head of the Met Office Hadley Centre, whether the recent extended winter was related to global warming. Shaking his famous “ghost stick”, and fingering his trademark necklace of sharks’ teeth and mammoth bones, the loin-clothed Belcher blew smoke into a conch, and replied, “Here come de heap big warmy. Bigtime warmy warmy. Is big big hot. Plenty big warm burny hot. Hot! Hot hot! But now not hot. Not hot now. De hot come go, come go. Now Is Coldy Coldy. Is ice. Hot den cold. Frreeeezy ice til hot again. Den de rain. It faaaalllll. Make pasty.” –Sean Thomas, The Daily Telegraph, 19 June 2013

The Sunday Politics interview with Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey on July 14 provoked widespread reaction in the twittersphere and elsewhere, which was only to be expected given the interview was about the latest developments in global warming and the implications for government policy. Many of the criticisms of the Davey interview seem to misunderstand the purpose of a Sunday Politics interview.—Andrew Neil, BBC News, 22 July 2013


Guest Column Dr. Benny Peiser -- Bio and Archives |

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