What’s news these days when it comes to climate change? Could it be the news that rising temperatures could severely affect the world’s wheat crops maybe? Or how about how human emissions of carbon dioxide have “raised ocean acidity far beyond the range of natural variations“?
Nah. Well, at least not if you’re The Australian, which just loves to send reality spinning down rabbit holes when it comes to climate change. What’s news for The Australian is that 16 “scientists” with outlying views on the risks of human-caused climate change have dusted off their previously debunked talking points for an editorial in The Wall Street Journal.
So confident was The Australian about the “facts” contained in the editorial, they didn’t bother to get a single response from an actual working Australian climate scientist. So let’s do a quick fact check for ourselves.
In the original WSJ article, the scientists — most of which are well-known contrarians — suggest “a large and growing number of distinguished scientists and engineers do not agree that drastic actions on global warming are needed”. To back up this claim of a “growing number” they give no evidence, aside from telling the story of how a distinguished physicist resigned from the American Physical Society last year.
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.
Dr Ivar Giaever, 82, was unhappy about the organisation’s position on climate change. At the time, Giaever said he was didn’t like how the APS was using the term “incontrovertible” to describe evidence of global warming.
Giaever did win a Nobel Prize in 1973, but a search for any scientific research he’s published on climate change comes up blank. Back in 2008, Giaever was describing himself as a sceptic on this issue.
So not only is Giaever a non-expert when it comes to climate change science, he’s not even part of an unproven “growing number” that the contrarians say are out there (but can’t provide evidence for).
The publication of the opinion article has caused a bit of a stir in the US. The Union of Concerned Scientists was, as their name suggests, concerned, saying the article was “deeply misleading”. When it comes down to the science, the co-signatories’ core argument was “the lack of global warming for well over 10 years”.
But you don’t need to rely on a statement from the concerned UCS, or anyone else for that matter, to see the contrarians’ claims are misleading. Even the reporter at The Australian would have been able to check the claim to see if it was correct.
So has global warming stopped? Have we really started to see a reversal of a rising trend in global temperatures that has seen each decade since the 1940s warmer than the previous one?
According to the US government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, since 1880 the 10 warmest years on the planet (warmest first) have been 2010, 2005, 1998, 2003, 2002, 2009, 2007, 2004 and 2001. NOAA places last year, 2011, as the 11th warmest year on record and the 35th year in a row where global temperatures have been above average.
But that’s just once source, albeit an authoritative one. Let’s try NASA, which puts 2011 as the ninth warmest year on the meteorological record. This, says NASA, “continues a trend in which nine of the 10 warmest years in the modern meteorological record have occurred since the year 2000”.
If we check with a third source, this time the UK’s Met Office, we find its analysis of global temperatures also puts 2011 as the 11th warmest year on record. The Met Office also pulled together the other main long-term temperature records to see how they compare. Check out the graph here.
Already, the claim that global warming has stopped is looking flakier than the commentators’ publishing record on climate science. But then they say this “lack of warming” is smaller than IPCC predictions, suggesting “computer models have greatly exaggerated how much warming additional CO2 can cause”.
Isn’t this a little contradictory? They claim there isn’t any warming, but then say the warming is smaller than the IPCC predicted. So which is it?
On the academic-driven news and comment website The Conversation, Dr Andrew Glickson points out the contrarians don’t say which IPCC report they were referring to, which makes it hard to check whether they’re right or not.
But Glickson does point out current rises in global temperatures are at least twice as fast as the rate of temperature rise that occurred after the past two Ice Ages.