Global warming. It’s a hot topic among scientists as well as perennials favorite of politicians of every party, with each side of the issue having their own way of defining the what the term means, as well as using data that is favorable to their stand on the topic. But is global warming really as bad as experts would have the public believe? The Met Office in the United Kingdom is now saying that global warming stopped 16 years ago. This news is stirring up scientists, politicians and the general public around the globe.
According to England’s Daily Mail, a recent report was put on the Internet, minus the usual fanfare which accompanies news about climate change, in which some scientists are saying that since 1997, there has been no upward increase in the worlds’ temperature. This new data shows that the temperature has remained stable for the same length of time in which it was rising. The article says that this pause “has now lasted for about the same time as the previous period when temperatures rose, 1980 to 1996. Before that, temperatures had been stable or declining for about 40 years.” This is quite a contrast from earlier reports that only include data through 2010 which was an unusually warm year. However, 2011 and the beginning of 2012 were cooler, thus causing the warming trend to be erased. On the other hand, there are reports out with preliminary data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) saying that, thus far, 2012 has been the warmest year on record for the contiguous United States,
Climate scientists were able to gather this information from over 3,000 measuring points on both land and sea. Two of scientists who have stated their thoughts on the news are Professor Phil Jones, the director of Climatic Research at the University of East Anglia and Professor Judith Curry, head of Georgia Tech University’s climate science department. Both have dismissed the significance of the news with different comments.
Professor Jones says that a period of just 16 years is too short of a time span in which to draw any conclusions. However skeptics of global warming note that the time frame in which the proponents use is also a mere 16 years–from 1980 to 1996. He has also admitted that climate scientists do not understand how natural variability–the long-term ocean temperatures and changes in the sun’s output–impact the temperature changes. But he is still certain that global warming is alive and well, and expects this decade to end with temperatures that are significantly higher than they are at present.
Professor Curry, on the other hand, says that the computer models that were used to measure the temperatures and predict future warming trends were deeply flawed. The data is collected on a unit called Hadcrut 4. It’s issued by both Professor Jones’ Climatic Research Unit and the Hadley Centre at the Met Office. Curry notes that, ‘climate models are very complex, but they are imperfect and incomplete…it is becoming increasingly apparent that our attribution of warming since 1980 and future projections of climate change needs to consider natural internal variability as a factor of fundamental importance.’ Nature is just too much more complex than humans, and technology, can track and measure.
Since 1880, when scientists began tracking climate changes–and the world started to become more industrialized–the world has warmed just 0.75 degrees Celsius, or 1.35 degrees Fahrenheit. Curry is reported as saying, ‘The new data confirms the existence of a pause in global warming.’ In this she is implying that global warming has reached a plateau, and could–possibly even, will–resume at some future point in time.
Both scientists remain unconvinced that this newly released information is merely a pause and that governments and the United Nations must continue on towards their goals of reducing carbon emissions in order to prevent more serious increases in the temperature. They say that without such measures, the temperature is expected to go up by another 5 degrees Celsius–or 9 degrees Fahrenheit–by the end of the century.