There’s a new post on Watts Up With That (WUWT) that claims to be a a science-based rebuttal to global warming alarmism (in fact, it is essentially a cut and paste from an article in the Washington Times). It’s by Steve Goreham, who apparently is a Executive Director of the Climate Science Coalition of America and author of the book The Mad, Mad, Mad World of Climatism: Mankind and Climate Change Mania. Well qualified then. There are two immediate issues I have with the title. I know I’ve used it myself, but the term rebuttal is not a term one would necessarily associate with a scientific discussion. One might, more commonly, use a term like comment. The other issue is, what does he mean by global warming alarmism? Is he referring to the science of global warming itself, or only to those who appear to be being overly alarmed by climate change/global warming.
Anyway, that’s beside the point. Whatever he means, it would be great if one could provide convincing scientific evidence that global warming is something that we should not be alarmed about. Much of what is predicted to happen is quite alarming and so if this could be shown to be unfounded, that would be wonderful. So, does Steve manage to do this? He’s primarily discussing a document published in 2009 called Climate Change Reconsider I (CCR-I). Apparently among the key findings are
Doubling of CO2 from its pre-industrial level would likely cause a warming of only about 1oC, hardly cause for alarm.
Hmmm, okay this one’s wrong. By itself, a doubling of CO2 produces a warming of 1oC. Additional forcings and feedbacks, however, are expected to increase the warming to at least 2oC per doubling if not higher. You can find out more here (I recommend watching the video by Andrew Dessler) and here. So, what else does Steve suggest?
The global surface temperature increase since about 1860 corresponds to a recovery from the Little Ice Age, modulated by natural ocean and atmosphere cycles, without need for additional forcing by greenhouse gases.
Oh no, he’s wrong about this too. Systems don’t simply recover magically, they need some kind of forcing. In the case of our own climate, the most likely forcing that has increased surface temperatures by 0.8oC since about 1860 is the increase in atmospheric CO2 concentrations. There is a modulation through natural ocean cycles, but the underlying warming trend is mostly anthropogenic. If you would like to know more you can read this, this, and/or this. What next?
There is nothing unusual about either the magnitude or rate of the late 20th century warming, when compared with previous natural temperature variations.
Hmmm, again I think this is wrong. I don’t believe that there is much evidence for a previous period when the magnitude and rate of the warming was the same as we’ve seen in the last century. Additionally, we need to bear in mind that we (the human species) have only been present on the planet for 100000 years or so, so simply finding some period in the past when the rate and magnitude is the same as today does not indicate that we shouldn’t be worried. Anything else?
The global climate models projected an atmospheric warming of more than 0.3oC over the last 15 years, but instead, flat or cooling temperatures have occurred.
Well, Steve has even answered this one himself. Yes, the warming over the last 15 years is slower than expected but is most likely a consequence of ocean cycles. Overall global warming continues (we’re accruing energy at the rate of 1022J per year) but are currently in a cooling phase in which most of the energy is going into the oceans and much less than normal is heating the land and atmosphere. To find out more you could read this.
So, I am disappointed. I thought that maybe Steve Goreham had indeed provided a scientific explanation showing that we had no need to be alarmed about global warming. Instead he’s just regurgitated the standard arguments that have been debunked over and over again. I guess I really should learn, but I just can’t stop myself from living in hope.