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Global Warming or Not, Something Has to Change

Just three months ago, I was a firm supporter of the idea of global warming caused by human activity. After all, it made perfect sense. Burning fossil fuels produced carbon dioxide, creating the greenhouse effect that heated up planet Earth. Most of the world’s leading climate scientists said this was so, and I believed they could not all be wrong. 

Then, the Canadian winter happened. Temperatures plummeted to -27 C in the month of November, something I had never seen before. All of North America was caught in this deep freeze. It happened in India too, where low December temperatures in many parts of the country broke a 17-year record.

Statistically, a single weather event means very little. So, I looked at historical global temperature records for the last two decades on the NASA website. To my surprise, I found that the average global temperature for the last 17 years showed no significant warming trend. In fact, the global temperature in 2012 was lower than in 2002. This trend stretching over 17 years could not be dismissed as a single weather event.

Climate scientists at the UN-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are aware of this trend, which they often call a “pause” or “hiatus” in global temperature rise. 

Some have tried to explain it by saying that the excess heat is being absorbed by the oceans and that the temperatures will rise again. Some point toward rising ocean levels as an indicator of global warming; however, sea levels have been rising gradually for at least 100 years, long before human activity produced significant amounts of greenhouse gases.

Some scientists have advanced the theory that natural weather cycles may have obscured the effects of man-made global warming. They point toward a 30-year cycle in ocean currents as the cause. All it really means is that, perhaps, natural weather cycles play a bigger role in global warming or cooling than was anticipated by the scientists.

How do the scientists know that global warming is happening? They base their predictions on computer models that simulate the effects of greenhouse gas “forcing” on global temperatures. These models were first developed about 20 years back, when Earth was in a warming phase. At that time, the results from the computer models matched historical data fairly well. This is no longer the case. 

A recent study by some Canadian scientists offers a few clues on what is happening today. It was published in the Nature Climate Change journal in September 2013, titled “Overestimated global warming over the past 20 years.” 

The study examined 117 different computer simulations from 37 climate change models in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project. It found that, for the last 20 years, the computer models overestimated global warming by 50 percent. 

For the last 15 years, the study noted that the global temperature trend was 0.05 C plus or minus 0.08 C per decade, not significantly different from zero, pointing toward a hiatus in global warming. At best, the actual temperature rise, if any, was four times smaller than what the computer models had predicted.

Scientist often use the term “climate change” rather than “global warming,” but the change of terminology simply confuses the issues. Climate change is harder to quantify than global warming, making it harder to link cause and effect. If there is a hurricane in the Philippines, how can we prove or disprove that it is linked to greenhouse gas emissions? If Hurricane Sandy strikes, is there a link to greenhouse gases? 

On the other hand, it is easier to quantify global warming or cooling. All we need to observe is the average surface temperature over land or sea over a period of time. It is relatively easy to compare this with observed levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to see if there is any correlation.

Regardless of whether the planet is warming up or cooling down, we need to reduce air and surface pollution. Air pollution is causing severe health problems in many parts of the world, including countries like India and China. Surface pollution is even worse, as the pollutants can stay on the ground for decades, seeping into the water systems.

Above all, we need to develop more clean, renewable sources of energy, as they cause the least amount of damage to the Earth we live on. 

Niraj Chandra is a professional engineer and the author of a book on renewable energy.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Epoch Times.

  • Denni A

    I prefer the term Climate Change over Global Warming. Climate Change accounts for changes in weather patterns due to the warming of the climate because of fossil fuel burning and methane gases that travel the globe and can trigger freak weather events not normally experienced in both winter and summer. the ocean currents absorb the heat and gases and carry them around the globe, when you combine that with sun-spot activity on the Sun, the jet stream and ocean currents it is unlikely any computer model will able to provide definitive answers as to how much of the change is due to man’s activities and natural events that occur over the course of Earth’s astronomical time.

    • Kriilin Namek

      Well, I prefer the term Anthroprogenic Global Warming. Why? This is the crux of what’s driving global policy decisions. Scientists need to prove two things, and they haven’t done either. They are:
      1) Is humanity’s release of CO2 causing global temperatures to rise?
      2) If yes in (1), does this pose any real threat to life on earth?
      Correlation of temperature and CO2 level is not causation, and the last fifteen years don’t even have correlation. However, the last thing anyone with their snouts in the AGW trough want is to find a mechanism they can’t regulate, social engineer, or tax.
      Long term, so we need renewable energy? Of course we do, but we have time. Where we need to spend money is on research to come up with a truly disruptive technology that won’t require government subsidies to work. We never abandoned sail because we ran out of wind, the steamship was able to run in any wind condition. If anyone can find historical references to steamship subsidies, I’d like to know. Likewise, if someone invents a “super battery” that makes gasoline obsolete, people will naturally adopt that instead.

  • johnny781243

    Climate change is an idiotic idea. Anyone who thinks we are experiencing Climate Change needs to look at http://www.disastercenter.com/disaster/TOP100K.html

    We have such short lives and such short individual and collective histories and memories. Our scientific recording of weather is basically a couple dozen years. The IPCC itself admits that the factors influencing the climate are numerous and most of them are simply not understood yet then they claim they know all kinds of things they can’t possibly know. The models are composed of presumed operations of these factors that are unproven. The models depend on multiplying trillions of times innacurate and unknown formulas with data that is only partially known with significant uncertainty. Why does anybody believe these models? It’s crazy. It would be shocking in the extreme if the models have any of the formula for the climate correct let alone predicted anything. I took a global warming class at stanford and the director of the LNL global warming model said outright the models are wrong. Not just a little wrong. Totally wrong. They don’t predict anything. It would be shocking if they did. It’s perfectly reasonably plausible that the sign being used by the models for each factor may be opposite of reality. This is not a science. It is a field trying to be a science but isn’t one yet. There is not enough data, not enough proof of anything to call it a science. It’s been politicized which is going to damage it tremendously as time goes forward people will remember how they said things they said they were 95% sure of that they have to withdraw now. In this latest report they withdrew things they said in the previous report. They were sure of things they now aren’t as sure about. They were extremely sure 95% sure that the vast majority of the temperature change from 1978-2000 was based on CO2. Now they say it is likely the majority is. They said it was less than 5% chance that transient response was less than 2C for a doubling of CO2. Now it’s probably 50% or greater chance it’s less than 50%. This is not poker. This is not supposed to be a horse race. This was supposed to be science. They based their estimate of 95% on models that they had no right to be so sure about. An idiot could see this who looked at it. They depended that the vast vast majority of people were too stupid to study it, that they would depend on them. They still are doing that in the latest report they are obfuscating and using key phrases to try and preserve their position, to obscure the errors they made. The more you learn about this the more disgusted you will be.