The latest claim is that global warming ‘ended’ in 1997
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — The latest climate-change rumor floating around the web is that global warming has ended, to which we could all say Hallelujah and Amen, were it only true.
Not only that, but the perpetrators of the myth have actually identified a specific date for the end of that pernicious warming trend that is already causing so many problems around the world. Hanging their hat on a data set recently released by the UK Met Office, they claim that global temperatures have been cooling since 1997.
Of course, basic psychology tells us that pathological liars tend to make their falsehoods as specific as possible because they think that makes them more believable.
You’d think that, if the Met Office really had some stunning new data to show a reversal of the warming trend, they’d be trumpeting it on their homepage. It would, after all, be a major breakthrough, worthy of headlines in every major newspaper.
So I visited the Met Office online, hoping to find the announcement, but instead, I read this:
“While there are noticeable highs and lows in year to year data, over longer periods of time there is a discernible warming trend across the globe. Natural causes can explain only a small part of this warming. The overwhelming majority of scientists agree that this is due to rising concentrations of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere caused by human activities.”
Sounds like what climate researchers have consistently been saying for several years, but just to double-check, I sent a quick email to Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric research in Boulder.
Trenberth sent me the graph posted as the lead photo for this op-ed column and brief explanation: “Global warming has NOT ended but weather variability (and
El Niño, etc.) mask it over a few years.”
Simple enough, right?
Not only did the newspaper misinterpret and misrepresent the data, it went as far as to suggest — within the first three paragraphs — that the Earth could be headed toward a mini-ice age, without citing so much as a single scientific study to substantiate that viewpoint.
The story goes on to cite “leading climate scientists” as saying that a coming lull in sunspot activity could bring cold summers, bitter winters and a shorter growing season that could threaten food supplies.
For global warming skeptics, the best defense is apparently a good offense. If you can’t disprove that human emissions of greenhouse gases are warming the planet, you might as well go all the way and claim that we’re headed for a new ice age. The paper also engaged in some cherry picking by interviewing a handful of scientists known to be among a very small minority who believe that the sun’s activity is a key driver of climate change on Earth.
This is another effective tactic because most people without scientific training instinctively see the sun as the primary influence on the sensible day to day weather. If the sun is shining, it’s warm; if it’s not, it’s cold. So intuitively, people are likely to believe the fable that sunspots drive the climate.
The reality once again is that every credible climate model shows that the solar activity is only a minor input into the Earth’s energy cycle, far outweighed by the undeniable greenhouse effect of gases like carbon dioxide and methane.
The Daily Mail article then veers into an arcane discussion of sunspot cycles that illustrates another favorite tactic of global warming skeptics — deflect attention from the real issues by pointing at an external source.
And finally, for good measure, it cites another couple of scientists who claim that warming and cooling of the world’s oceans are the key drivers of global temperatures — an argument that seems to completely ignore the fact the temperatures of the ocean don’t just change on their own — they’re influenced by the same processes that drive the rest of the Earth’s climate system.
No, global warming did not end it 1997. It continues unabated and poses clear and significant threats to natural ecosystems, as well as health and human welfare everywhere on Earth.