This was originally posted at Sound Politics today. It’s worth adding the following edited comment that I made in a discussion with a reader of that post.
“I’ve long said that man probably has had some impact on global warming. But as the scientists in the study I discuss below discovered and many others have been saying, natural variability plays a big role. The question is how much global warming is man driving and how much is natural variability? These scientists concluded that at least regionally, man has caused none of the warming here. The obvious next question to ask is, if the warming here has been entirely natural, how much in other regions is driven by nature vs. how much has been driven by man. If the answer is mostly natural, that has major policy implications. We should focus our investments in adapting to global warming rather than crippling our economies with harmful policies designed to address things that play only a minor role in the science of climate change.”
Here’s the original post:
An inconvenient study?
In 2010, President Barack Obama talked about the importance of science in announcing some of his top advisers:
“It’s about listening to what our scientists have to say, even when it’s inconvenient – especially when it’s inconvenient.”
I couldn’t agree more with this sentiment, so it will be interesting to see what he makes of a new study published on Monday by two former University of Washington scientists in the major research journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences”. As the Seattle Times reported today, they found:
“An average coastal temperature increase of 1 degree Celsius since 1900 along the West Coast appears more likely to be the result of changes in winds and air circulation over the eastern Pacific Ocean.”
The scientists confessed that the results were somewhat surprising, but they followed the science and concluded:
“[N]atural variation in weather accounts for the vast majority of regional temperature increases for the last 113 years.”
In addition, “the researchers said they could find no evidence that those weather patterns were being influenced by human greenhouse-gas emissions.”
Lead author Jim Johnstone, formerly with the University of Washington’s Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Oceans, commented on whether we should rely on the forecasts of many current climate models:
“There are projections, based on carbon-dioxide emissions, that predict substantial warming here for the next few decades. Having looked at the way the temperatures actually behave, I’d be hesitant to say if that’s the case. I don’t know whether it will warm or cool or stay flat.”
All of this is consistent with what I’ve written about global warming in the past, most recently and extensively here.
“My own point of view is that perhaps man has had some impact, but I tend to believe, as the IPCC’s 1990 report suggested, that the observed temperature increase “could be largely due to” natural variability.”
This new study also runs counter to the claim that global warming science is settled. As Forbes contributor James Taylor wrote earlier this year when he asked “When did the science become settled?”
Was it seven years ago when alarmists claimed global warming would reduce the frequency and severity of Arctic cold fronts reaching the United States, or this winter when they blame an increase in such repeated Arctic cold fronts on global warming? Was it three weeks ago when Time claimed global warming is bringing an end to snowfall, or two weeks ago when every state but Florida had snow on the ground and alarmists blamed it on global warming? Was it in 2007 when alarmists claimed global warming was melting Antarctic ice sheets, or in 2013 when they said global warming is causing record Antarctic ice extent? Was it in 1998 when alarmist computer models predicted dramatic warming during the following 16 years, or today after no such warming has occurred?
If Obama sticks to his words, he won’t find this local study inconvenient. Al Gore shouldn’t either.
See also ‘An inconvenient study part two‘.