The NYT wonders: So, what’s up with this warming plateau?

posted at 8:31 pm on June 11, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

That the planet has not warmed significantly in going on fifteen years is a fact that has become pretty much impossible to deny across all fronts; back in March, longtime climate fearmonger The Economist had out with it, and on Monday the New York Times opened up about some of the inconvenient truths facing the many ‘climate scientists’ whose decades of catastrophic climate models are all spectacularly failing to bear out. Granted, it was couched in the usual high-handed dismissals of those who they categorize as dismissive of their climate-change concerns, but it did include several important admissions:

The rise in the surface temperature of earth has been markedly slower over the last 15 years than in the 20 years before that. And that lull in warming has occurred even as greenhouse gases have accumulated in the atmosphere at a record pace.

The slowdown is a bit of a mystery to climate scientists. True, the basic theory that predicts a warming of the planet in response to human emissions does not suggest that warming should be smooth and continuous. To the contrary, in a climate system still dominated by natural variability, there is every reason to think the warming will proceed in fits and starts.

But given how much is riding on the scientific forecast, the practitioners of climate science would like to understand exactly what is going on. They admit that they do not, even though some potential mechanisms of the slowdown have been suggested. The situation highlights important gaps in our knowledge of the climate system, some of which cannot be closed until we get better measurements from high in space and from deep in the ocean.

Read on for much more parsing of the facts and excusing of poor policies, but here’s the really important gist: We don’t conclusively know all of the causes and effects of climate change, and we might not even know what we don’t know. This isn’t to say at all that greenhouse gases are not a thing, nor that carbon dioxide emissions are definitively unimportant, nor that we don’t have serious environmental issues that we need to consider going forward. But how is it, exactly, that the community of diehard eco-radicals and the self-proclaimed party of “science” has been proclaiming for decades that we are a heartbeat away from global catastrophe, and treating dissenting scientists as heretics, and insisting that we need to forcibly curtail our economic growth to deal with it and that people who aren’t one hundred percent on board are knuckle-draggers and/or greedy extremists, is surprised and angry that anyone is “dismissive” of them when it turns out they actually can’t be sure about it all? Because, science. I’ve often wondered why it is environmentalists interpret gloom-and-dooming as the most effective strategy for endearing people to their cause, when it actually seems to be pretty counterproductive.

In other climate-related news, self-anointed environmental messenger Al Gore, after lamenting on Tuesday that that scientists “won’t let us yet” link tornadoes to climate change, once more pushed on President Obama to hop to it on getting more forceful about a global-warming agenda, reports Politico:

The former vice president used a Google+ plus video chat Tuesday to tell supporters that Obama needs to go beyond his “great words” on the topic, and to lament that the president has yet to assemble a team to spearhead his second-term climate agenda.

“I hope that he’ll get moving on to follow up on the wonderful pledges he made in his inaugural speech earlier this year and then soon after in his State of the Union,” Gore said. “Great words. We need great actions now.” …

“He does not yet have a team in the White House to help him implement solutions to the climate crisis. He hasn’t staffed up for it,” Gore said, adding, “He’s got one person who hasn’t been given that much authority.”

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