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Global warming hots up but not the weather

By John McLean - posted Friday, 4 March 2005


By now you would think that the idea of global warming was a fait d'accompli but even with predictions of soaring temperatures and the incessant cries of "global warming" it seems that things are not so hot on the climate change front.

Global temperatures are yet to exceed the levels of 1998 despite the carbon dioxide emissions for the last six years being about 10 per cent of the total increase since 1750, according the UK's Climate Research Unit and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The average temperature in 2004 was 0.45C above the 1961-90 average but 1998's temperature was 0.13C higher again.

It must anguish the proponents of global warming to see that all this extra gas appears to have no discernible effect.

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There is little doubt that certain parts of the world are warming but it doesn't take an expert climatologist to understand that with global average temperatures still below 1998 levels it would seem that many regions are showing only very minor warming, little change or even perhaps some cooling.

Australian average temperatures show a similar pattern to global temperatures with 1998 still the highest in the approximately 85 years of reliable records. Last year's average temperature was 0.45C above the 1960-91 average, a long way short of the 0.84C above that average in 1998. According to the Bureau of Meteorology 2004 was merely the tenth highest on record, behind even the distant years of 1973, 1980, 1988. What's more, two of the six years since 1998 had average temperatures below that 1960-91 average.

It would be premature to say that we are now entering a cooling phase but it could be a distinct possibility.

The late Dr Theodor Landscheidt, a specialist in studies of solar activity predicted that solar activity will now decline until about 2030 and this will cause a mini-ice age just as it did several times in the last 2,000 years. Whether that prediction will be correct remains to be seen but just now the earth is not warming as quickly as the pundits say that it should.

But it is more than just temperatures which have raised questions about global warming matters. Just last month the journal Geophysical Research Letters published an article by two Canadian researchers, McIntyre and McKitrick, which disputed the "hockey stick" graph of temperature, the famous graph which attempts to show that temperatures in the last 20 years have been the highest in the last 1,000 years. With complex mathematics and statistics they showed that the method used to create that graph would produce a similar graph from even random data. (Pre-print copy available here (PDF, 122KB).)

This finding has caused quite a stir in several countries with contrary articles appearing in The Wall Street Journal, Canada's National Post and several Dutch newspapers.

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The theories underlying climate change were also disputed at a conference at Gummersbach, Germany, on February 18 to 20. Called Kyoto - Climatic Predictions: Meaningfulness of the models and strategies for action, this conference was unusual because global warming sceptics were invited to present their arguments.

Feeling was running high in Germany following recent strong publicity for Michael Crichton's new book State of Fear in the widely-read Stern magazine with 17 pages devoted to the discussion of climate issues criticising some of the unjustified exaggeration of climate change issues, under the main title "Climate Catastrophe: a panic scare?". This was after Der Spiegel, another weekly, published an interview with Professor Hans von Storch in which he described the "hockey stick" graph as rubbish and criticised the unfounded hype of potential risks by climate alarmists.

One sensation of the Gummersbach conference was the announcement that out of 500 European climate researchers surveyed, 25 per cent still doubt whether most of the warming during the last 150 years can be attributed to human activities and CO2 emissions. So much for the supposed consensus on global warming among climate scientists. So much also for claims that only a tiny minority are sceptical.

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About the Author

John McLean is climate data analyst based in Melbourne, Australia.

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