We tried.

“I need to hear an explanation of why carbon emissions have been going up over the last decade and temperatures haven’t been going up,” said Senator Steve Fielding.

Crikey heeded the call. We asked climate science researcher Ian McHugh to spell it out. He explained:

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Over any time scale you choose, there are multiple influences on climate, and these influences in turn vary on different time scales. For example, the sunspot cycle (which affects the sun’s solar output) varies across about 11 years. The southern oscillation (ie. El Nino/La Nina cycles)  - the dynamics of which are not particularly well understood or predicted  - has a quasi-decadal cycle (three to seven years).

And this is just one of a number of such regional oscillations internal to the climate system that have global consequences for climate. Other events such as volcanic eruptions also have transient effects.

Given that the climate state over a given period is the result of the combination of these effects, you are bound to see a fair bit of noise in the time series. Steve Fielding’s HadCRU data shows this noise, and it should be clear that over shorter periods – say, of much less than a decade - it would be dangerous to draw conclusions about trends in climate.

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But Fielding is not buying man made global warming.

As The Age reports,

Senator Fielding yesterday released a response to chief scientist Professor Penny Sackett and Climate Change Minister Penny Wong, saying they had failed to explain why air temperatures had not risen at the same rate as carbon emissions, and had in fact cooled since 1998.

“Global temperature isn’t rising,” said his response, which was written by four scientists noted for being climate sceptics, including researcher at the Marine Geophysical Laboratory at James Cook University, Professor Bob Carter.

Said Fielding:

“Over the last 15 years, global temperatures haven’t been going up and, therefore, there hasn’t been in the last 15 years a period of global warming.

“I think that global warming is real, and climate change is real, but on average global temperatures have stayed steady while carbon emissions have increased over the last 15 years. Man-made carbon emissions don’t appear to be causing it.”

Meanwhile, as Senator Fielding did his bit to “blow apart the great global warming scare” , Kevin Rudd and Barack Obama discussed the issue of global warming with US President Barack Obama during a phone call yesterday.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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