Someone I respect and admire sent me a Wall Street Journal article that was published on January 27, 2012. It is an opinion piece written by 16 scientists and is entitled “No Need to Panic About Global Warming.”1 While most of the scientists who authored the opinion piece are not climatologists, there are three notable exceptions: William Robert Kininmonth was in charge of Australia’s National Climate Centre at the Bureau of Meteorology from 1986 to 1998. Dr. Richard Lindzen is professor of atmospheric sciences at MIT and has more than 200 peer-reviewed publications in the field of climatology. Henk Tennekes is the former director of research at the Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute.
These and the other 13 authors offered some advice to any candidate for public office in any contemporary democracy. He or she should understand:
…that the oft-repeated claim that nearly all scientists demand that something dramatic be done to stop global warming is not true. In fact, a large and growing number of distinguished scientists and engineers do not agree that drastic actions on global warming are needed.
The article makes many good points. It brings up the fact that Nobel Prize-winning physicist Ivar Giaever left the American Physical Society because of its anti-science stance on global warming. It informs the reader that there has not been any detectable warming of the earth over the past ten years and that climate alarmists can’t explain why. It also tells us:
Although the number of publicly dissenting scientists is growing, many young scientists furtively say that while they also have serious doubts about the global-warming message, they are afraid to speak up for fear of not being promoted—or worse.
More importantly, it brings up the fact that all models which have been used to promote the idea that global warming is human-made and catastrophic in nature have consistently overpredicted the rise in earth’s surface temperatures for the past 22 years. The importance of this fact cannot be overstated. Those who want to convince us that drastic action must be taken to curb global warming typically use computer models to tell us how horrible the results of increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will be in future decades. However, those computer models have consistently been wrong, and most climate scientists know this.
Back in 2002, Dr. Patrick J. Michaels and his colleagues wrote a paper entitled “Revised 21st century temperature projections.” It was published in the peer-reviewed journal Climate Research, and it discussed how the typical climate models used by organizations like the United Nations were prone to severely overpredict any warming trends that might occur as the result of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide. It stated:2
Temperature projections for the 21st century made in the Third Assessment Report (TAR) of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) indicate a rise of 1.4 to 5.8°C for 1990–2100. However, several independent lines of evidence suggest that the projections at the upper end of this range are not well supported.
The authors then used what they considered significantly more realistic assumptions to come up with a reasonable scenario for the global warming that might occur in the next century. Their conclusion was:
Our adjustments of the projected temperature trends for the 21st century all produce warming trends that cluster in the lower portion of the IPCC TAR range. Together, they result in a range of warming from 1990 to 2100 of 1.0 to 3.0°C, with a central value that averages 1.8°C across our analyses.
In other words, far from the doomsday scenarios predicted by the United Nations, reasonable estimates indicate that even if global warming does occur as the result of increased carbon dioxide levels, it will most likely be very modest in nature, even throughout the 21st century.
Of course, with more data come more accurate predictions. A new study published in the peer-reviewed journal Geophysical Research Letters has narrowed the range of possible global warming even further. The new study says that if you use the actual global temperatures that have been measured over the past 160 years to guide the climate models, you find:3
…a relatively low and tightly-constrained estimate of Transient Climate Response of 1.3–1.8°C, and relatively low projections of 21st-century warming…
What is the Transient Climate Response? It is the global temperature increase that is supposed to occur when the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has doubled. This is estimated to occur near the end of the 21st century, so this paper essentially says that 1.8 degrees Celsius is probably the most that global temperatures will rise this century.
Of course, these two peer-reviewed studies agree quite nicely with the letter that was published in the Wall Street Journal. Even if rising carbon dioxide levels do lead to global warming, the warming will probably be modest and should not cause anyone to panic.
Of course, the question that remains is whether or not candidates for public office will heed the informed advice of these 16 scientists. Unfortunately, I have my doubts.
2. Patrick J. Michaels, Paul C. Knappenberger, Oliver W. Frauenfeld, and Robert E. Davis, “Revised 21st century temperature projections,” Climate Research 23, 1-9, 2002.
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3. N. P. Gillett, et. al., “Improved constraints on 21st-century warming derived using 160 years of temperature observations” Geophysical Research Letters 39, L01704, 5 PP.,
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