Features Australia

Climate excuses

21 October 2017

9:00 AM

21 October 2017

9:00 AM

Tony Abbott may have annoyed the climate change mob with his speech in London (see Diary), but a far more serious problem for that industry is an admission that global temperatures have not been following climate models.

Besides the two papers making that admission, including one in Nature Geoscience, that massive industry also faces the problem of a possible La Niña this year, which will pull global temperatures down. Selling disaster stories about rising temperatures, the main way the industry justifies itself, is harder if temperatures are falling rather than rising.

The June 19 paper, Causes of differences in model and satellite tropospheric warming rates, states in part: ‘We conclude that model overestimation of tropospheric warming in the early 21st century is partly due to systematic deficiencies in the post-2000 external forcings used in model simulations.’

Scientists have made this observation before and been bitterly attacked for their troubles, but this paper is notable for including, as authors, the global warming leading light Professor Michael Mann, of Pennsylvania State University and one of Australia’s most distinguished scientists in this area, Professor Matthew England of the University of NSW. In other words, the climate establishment has finally conceded some ground by agreeing that climate models may not be right all the time.

The concession is still comparatively limited as the paper refers to the troposphere (the upper atmosphere) and, as the authors have subsequently made clear, they blame the difference on a combination of ‘internal variations’ and short-term natural cooling such as volcanic eruptions injecting material into the atmosphere. They are not abandoning global warming as a theory, merely explaining why the models are falling short. The implication is that the models will still accurately forecast warming over the long term.


The second paper Natural climate variability, part 2: Interpretation of the post 2000 temperature standstill published on October 2 in the less prestigious International Journal of Heat and Technology, adjusts recorded temperatures by removing the massive El Niño that rolled through the climate system in 2015-2016. Scientists have claimed that the obvious spike in temperatures in 2015 and 2016 were the end of the so called ‘pause’ in global temperatures. The paper, by three Italian academics led by a Nicola Scafetta of the University of Naples Frederico II, states ‘by removing the ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) signature, the authors show that the temperature trend from 2000 to 2016 clearly diverges from the general circulation model (GCM) simulations. Thus, the GCMs models used to support the AGWT (anthropogenic global warming theory) are very likely flawed.’

This is the sort of inconvenient paper that the climate establishment is adept at ignoring and discrediting, and Professor Scafetta, an astronomer and statistician rather than a climate scientist, has theories on the sun and the planets influencing climate that make his straight statistical work easy to unfairly deride. However, as the climate establishment is making similar noises, albeit while insisting that global warming theory still rules, Scafetta’s paper has caused comparatively little fuss.

Any laymen/women with expertise in the Excel spreadsheets can also download the earth’s global temperature records from the Hadley Climate Unit site in the UK and examine the resulting graph for themselves, without the mixed benefit of highly trained scientists interpreting the results. That graph clearly shows the spike in temperatures in 2015-16 is due to the previously mentioned El Niño, but it is equally clear that temperatures have fallen back to about where they were before El Niño, at least to judge by just looking at a 13-month rolling average.

Then there is the real possibility of La Niña, the opposite of El Niño, pulling temperatures down. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology takes a typically conservative line on the warning signs of cooler waters (as measured by satellite) in the Pacific by saying on its site, ‘The El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) remains neutral. The surface of the tropical Pacific has warmed over the past fortnight as a result of weaker trade winds.

‘International climate models surveyed by the Bureau suggest this recent surface warming may only be temporary, with further cooling of the tropical Pacific Ocean likely. Five of the eight models suggest sea surface temperatures will reach La Niña thresholds by Dec. 2017, but only three maintain values for long enough to be classified as a La Niña event.”

The private US meteorological service Vencore Weather, however, said on its site in early October ‘there is now substantial agreement amongst numerous computer forecast models that La Niña conditions are likely to become established over the next couple of months and current observations back this notion’.

As the Vencore site also points out ‘if history is any guide, once La Niña becomes well-established in the tropical Pacific Ocean, global temperatures should drop noticeably relative-to-normal’. This will make life difficult for the many global warming proponents trying to push a bleak view of the world’s future. These efforts are not helped by the many wild-eyed forecasts of the dreadful effects of higher temperatures, including sharp increases in the number of deaths that will result from problems such as heat stroke affecting the elderly.

In his speech to the Global Warming Policy Foundation, Abbott pointed out that in developed countries more deaths result from winter cold than summer warmth, so that overall a slight increase in temperatures should result in fewer deaths due to changes in the weather. This difficult to refute point drew howls of outrage from the climate establishment, but Abbott did not take the next step.

As is now well established, death rates among those vulnerable to extreme weather, usually the elderly, depend on many factors including access to air conditioning or heating, or on whether they have been warned to drink more fluids (hot days) or wrap up warmly (cold days). By concentrating on possible additional risk for this group in coming decades, climate policies are creating more risk now by pricing air conditioning and heating beyond the means of the elderly.

In the mean time we are being handed reasons, which critical people might call excuses, as to why climate theory does not seem to be working.

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