What is happening to the Earth’s temperature?

Whole Earth Temperature: Past and future projections

Whole Earth Temperature: Past and future projections

The Register reports today with poorly hidden glee that scientists are now revising predictions for the future temperature of the Earth. The Register’s agenda is that the whole Climate Change Issue is a job creation scheme for scientists and a tool for bureaucrats to use to extend their control over our lives. Both these perspectives are interesting and not without an element of truth. But the Register’s attacks are juvenile in the extreme because they fail to really address the questions to which we all want the answers. And what are those questions?

Are we (human beings) affecting the climate?

The answer is simple. Almost certainly. It is not certainly. The answer is almost certainly.

What will happen to the temperature of the Earth in the future?

The answer is simple: we don’t know. We really don’t know. And just to make clear I will repeat that again. We really really really don’t know. And if the IPCC acknowledged that more clearly they would be in less trouble than they are now going to be in. The fact that the actual temperature of the Earth appears not to have changed in the last decade is, to say least, uncomfortable for climate ‘zealots’ and those who sense the nearness of the ‘end of days’. But for scientists – and indeed for people in general – who acknowledge the long times scales involved in climate change and the general complexity of the Earth’s climate, the fact that we have been unable to predict the correct temperature rise for the Earth is irrelevant. Presciently, I wrote about this issue last March and so I am going to allow myself to momentarily feel smug. …. OK.

The climate models used by the IPCC cannot include physics that we do not know about. And deep ocean circulation which shifts vast amount of warmed water into the deep oceans where they have relatively little climate impact in the short term is a completely plausible explanation for the data. The ‘problem’ here is political rather than scientific. Some scientists have seen the sharp rise in temperature of the last 30 years and extrapolated to ‘thermageddon’ and politicians have based their pitch to the public upon this. Motivating people to reduce their carbon emissions by 90% will not be easy if the Earth cools instead of warming. I predict ‘interesting times’ ahead.

One Response to “What is happening to the Earth’s temperature?”

  1. dave Says:

    There seems to be a consensus that there is an increase in atmospheric CO2, we are the ones putting it there, and the earth is warming. The question is how much warming is down to us and what will happen in the future if we do/do not change our behaviour. This is where models and ipcc predictions come in. If one of these models correctly predicts a period of cooling we might want to add weight to its longer term predictions.

    I’d be worried if a state of the art GCM predicted cooling and then it didn’t happen

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