New information for critics

Rousing the Rabble – May 13 opinion by Roy Ronaghan.

For over a decade the temperature at Earth’s surface hasn’t risen as fast as it did in the 1990s and the information has given rise to a new campaign by the critics who challenge the data provided by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The information about the slower heating is being used to back up a claim that we are entering a new ice age rather than increased heating.

At the centre of the controversy is Michael Mann, a distinguished professor of meteorology, director of Earth System Science Center and one of three scientists who produced the “hockey stick” graph that shows a rapid increase in Earth’s temperature after 1998. Mann does not dispute the claim that the warming trend has slowed considerably and he is working with other scientists to determine why.

An article posted recently on by Tom Luongo cites the work of John Casey, a scientist who is president of the Space and Science Research Corporation (SSRC), an independent research organization in Orlando, Florida and author of Dark Winter. Casey debunks most of what the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been telling us for the past two decades about Earth’s warming and claims that global warming is a $23 billion government scam.

To support his position, Casey argues that the data showing the Earth hasn’t warmed more than a fraction of a degree in the past couple decades is indicative of changes in the sun’s activity and the beginning of the next ice age.

For an explanation of the slower pace of warming, Mann states that oscillations in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans have created a “false pause” and when they cease global warming will accelerate. However, there is no sure way of telling when the cessation will occur.

Which leaves us to ponder the future. Will it be warmer and wetter or colder and drier? Has the sun’s activity or some other unknown factor caused the change?

Climate scientists are fully aware that their models are not prefect and they are engaged in an ongoing process of refining and improving them.

Given Casey’s explanation, can we tell the Inuit hunters who are dependent on the ice forming early in winter and staying for a significant period that they will soon be able to hunt seals as they once did? Can we tell the people who live on tiny islands in the Pacific Ocean that they no longer need to worry about being inundated by rising ocean levels? Can we tell the farmers in California who have had to abandon their farms and their way of life that they will be back on the land in a few years? Should we stop our worry about polar bear survival?

Mann and his colleagues are now trying to determine whether the Atlantic Ocean has become a “sink” for the storage of atmospheric heat and if it can be located, they will be able to determine how long the slowdown in warming will last.

An earlier study argued that the heat had been stored in the Pacific Ocean by higher than usual trade winds combined with the El Nino-La Nifia cycle.

If the heat is being stored in the Atlantic, the prediction is that we may have to wait 10-15 years for the warming trend to return to its previous intensity.

Changes in ocean temperatures are tied to changes in currents and wind patterns and it could take years for them to reverse themselves.

Mann predicts, “In the next decade we will likely begin to see the flip side-instead of slowing global warming, this internal oscillation will likely add to global warming. If so, we are in for a rude awakening.”

Regardless what side we take in the debate, let us not be lulled into a false complacency.