Global Warming Stopped in 1998—Not!

“A gentle warming of up to about 0.5 deg. C occurred between 1979 and 1998; but since 1998 global temperature has now been static or cooling gently for ten years, despite continuing increases in CO2 emissions.”
—Bob Carter, geologist specializing in palaeontology, stratigraphy, marine geology, and environmental science

I’m not sure how often you hear this sort of claim, but I get comments like this a lot. Many people who respond to this blog who aren’t convinced about global warming and climate change will refer to this “fact.”

But is it a fact? Many people point to the longer trends rather than just the span of less than fifteen years to refute claims that global warming has stopped. A popular reference being used is the escalator to the right which shows that depending on where you start and stop, you can refer to many periods where the trend in temperature seemed to remain static or even drop over shorter time spans. This simply underscores the importance of looking to a longer trend to know what’s really happening to surface temperatures. Continue reading

Is Frankenstorm the New Normal?

“The climate has shifted to a new state capable of delivering rare and unprecedented weather events.”
—meteorologist Jeff Masters

The eastern half of North America is preparing for one whopper of a storm. Hurricane Sandy is expected to be a major storm that will cost Jamaica, the Bahamas, the US and Canada billions of dollars in recovery. The community of meteorologists who are following it are describing it in ways that are unheard of, all the more surprising since we dealt with Hurricane Katrina only seven years ago.

Terms like “freak,” “unprecedented and bizarre,” “the perfect storm” and “frankenstorm” have all been bandied about. So what the heck is so unusual about Hurricane Sandy to earn all of these extreme epithets? Continue reading

The PBS Documentary "Climate of Doubt" – Worth a Look

“I think that there is a group of people out there whose goal it is to make the policy debate over climate change toxic, just like Social Security, just like Medicare reform; this thing that if you talk about it, you’re just going to get creamed.”
—Andrew Dressler, professor of atmospheric studies at Texas A&M

This past week, the PBS show Frontline broadcast a documentary entitled “Climate of Doubt” which explored the massive shift in public opinion on climate change in the US over the last few years. I emphasize “the shift within the US” because throughout most of the rest of the world, there has been no such comparable shift.

If you’ve missed the broadcast, you can see it in its entirety here:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/climate-of-doubt/

I watched it myself and was impressed at how much time was given to those who argue against global warming and climate change. Impressed mostly at how many were willing to talk on camera when the whole point of the program was how these individuals were helping to sway opinion away from what had previously been considered a standard and rational perspective. It’s interesting to see video clips form years past of people like Mitt Romney and Nute Gingrich stating unequivocally only a few years ago that climate change was real, that we are the biggest culprit behind it, and that we need to do something about it.

The broadcast does a good job of explaining how the shift of opinion has taken place over these last few years. It obviously can’t explore things to the same detail as the book “Merchants of Doubt” does (written by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway). But if people have only one hour to devote to learning more on this subject, the documentary does a good job of explaining what has happened.

Even the Heartland Institute gave the show some credit—I expected them to give none—but still criticizes the show, arguing that they only interviewed climate scientists who are not representative of the mainstream scientific community on the matter. However, some of their own group who were interviewed such as Christopher Monckton are seen on camera stating “Green is the new red,” implying that the only possible reason anyone would want to tackle climate change is to introduce a leftist agenda. In other words, “An attack on global warming is an attack on your freedom.”

I have my own opinions on the show, but I’d encourage you to watch it and formulate your own. Given the purpose of the documentary—to explore the shift in opinion rather than to address the debate itself—I think the producers did a great job.