Climate of Confusion: Global Warming "Science" a Blizzard of Contradictions
by Dana Joel Gattuso
It's too bad we can't read climate scientist Kevin Trenberth's emails anymore. If he was worried last October about two days of record-breaking cold in Boulder, what is he thinking now? (He's the one – a lead author of the IPCC Report – who commented to his colleagues last fall in the "Climategate" email exchanges that "we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't.")
He hadn't seen anything then. In less than a week, two back-to-back blizzards have pummeled and paralyzed much of the East coast, bringing snow accumulations of 50-plus inches to the D.C. area and breaking records for snow accumulation in D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Atlantic City.1 This follows last month's big chill that swept through from Florida to New England, setting new records in both cold temperatures and snowfall.
So what's going on here? Global warming, of course. At least, that's what "experts" are telling us.
Reports meteorologist Jeff Masters in his Wunderblog: "It's not hard at all to get temperatures cold enough for snow in a world experiencing global warming.”2
And China's Beijing Meteorological Bureau: "In the context of global warming, extreme atmospheric flows are causing extreme climate incidents to appear more frequently.”3
And Time Magazine: "There is some evidence that climate change could in fact make such massive snowstorms more common, even as the world continues to warm.”4
Not so fast, said Deke Arndt, head of the climate monitoring branch at the National Climatic Data Center. "This is essentially a series of weather events happening simultaneously ...an entirely different event in terms of the time scales we talk about for global warming.”5
Amid the swirl of contradictory expert opinion, however, is a growing body of work among (yes, peer-reviewed) climate scientists that attributes the recent extreme winter weather to natural and cyclical changes in ocean temperatures, called ocean oscillations. According to Mojib Latif of Germany's Leibniz Institute, a distinguished climatologist and a lead author of the IPCC Report – and not one that wears the "skeptic" label – we are entering a cold period that "may well last two decades or longer."
Along with other climate scientists who have been studying the impact of natural ocean cycles on global climate, Latif believes that warming over the last 30 years can be attributed to natural ocean variations rather than manmade greenhouse gases. "A significant share of the warming we saw from 1980 to 2000 and at earlier periods in the 20th century was due to these cycles – as much as 50 percent," he told the UK's Daily Mail.6
While these scientists do not deny some warming has occurred from carbon dioxide emissions, they do not accept the idea we are headed for a crisis. Anastasios Tsonis, who leads the Atmospheric Sciences Group at the University of Wisconsin, says "I do not believe in catastrophe theories. Manmade warming is balanced by the natural cycles, and I do not trust the computer models which state that if CO2 reaches a particular level then temperatures and sea levels will rise by a given amount. These models cannot be trusted to predict the weather for a week, yet they are running them to give readings for 100 years.”7
These climatologists are among the experts that have been calling into question the models and data used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) long before "Climategate" and "Glaciergate" – IPCC's admission that its claim Himalayan glaciers will melt by 2035 was unfounded – broke.
It now appears the IPCC's unsubstantiated claims that the Himalayan glaciers will melt in 20 years is only the tip of the iceberg. New information is surfacing that the IPCC's assertion linking global warming to extreme weather events such as hurricane activity and flooding was also unsubstantiated, and that challenges to the findings raised by IPCC science advisors were largely ignored.8 There also are new and alarming reports that a leading scientist may knowingly have hid data observed from weather stations in remote areas of rural China when temperature readings contradicted their predictions of warming. The data was used to support claims in the IPCC report of global warming.9
We can only hope some of the blizzard of confusion will start to dissipate in the months ahead as new information on the IPCC's questionable scientific methods becomes available.
Dana Joel Gattuso is a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research.
1 Husna Haq, "Snowfall in the East Busting Records, and More Is on the Way," Christian Science Monitor, February 11, 2010, at http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2010/0211/Snowfall-in-the-East-busting-records-and-more-is-on-the-way.
2 "Jeff Masters' Wunderblog," Wunderground.com, February 8, 2010, at http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=1427.
3 John Garnaut, "China Blames Freak Storm on Global Warming," Sydney Morning Herald, January 5, 2010, at http://www.smh.com.au/environment/china-blames-freak-storm-on-global-warming-20100104-lq6t.html.
4 Bryan Walsh, "Another Blizzard: What Happened to Global Warming?” Time, February 10, 2010, at http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1962294,00.html.
5 Jeremy A. Kaplan, "Extreme Nature: Why Has Mother Nature Gone Bonkers?” FoxNews.com, January 6, 2010, at http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/01/06/extreme-weather-mother-nature-gone-bonkers/?test=latestnews.
6 David Rose, "The Mini Ice Age Starts Here," Mail Online, Daily Mail, January 10, 2010, at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1242011/DAVID-ROSE-The-mini-ice-age-starts-here.html.
8 See Jonathan Leake, "UN Wrongly Linked Global Warming to Natural Disasters," (London) Times Online, January 24, 2010, at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article7000063.ece.
9 See Fred Pearce, "Leaked Climate Change Emails Scientist 'Hid' Data Flaws," (UK) The Guardian, February 1, 2010, at http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/feb/01/leaked-emails-climate-jones-chinese.