The first five months of 2014 have been the coldest since the National Weather Service began keeping records in 1888. If “climate change” alarmists got out more, they might have noticed.
Between 1979 — when weather satellites started measuring temperatures in the lower troposphere — and 1997, they rose about 1.1 degrees Celsius (1.98 degrees Fahrenheit).
Temperatures stopped rising then, have fallen since 2012. The “pause” in warming (212 months) is now longer than the warming trend was (211 months).
The earth has warmed about 16 degrees F since the last ice age. The net increase since 1979 — 0.19 degrees C (0.34 F) — is well within the range of natural fluctuation.
So why, as President Barack Obama says so often, do 97 percent of scientists agree climate change is “real, man-made, and dangerous?”
They don’t. This bogus stat is derived from two questions University of Illinois researchers asked in a survey of earth scientists in 2008:
1. “When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?”
2. “Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?”
The researchers culled from 3,146 responses those of 79 climate scientists who’d been published in peer reviewed journals. Seventy-six answered “risen” to the first question; 75 “yes” to the second.
Temperatures have risen since the Little Ice Age ended around 1870, skeptics agree. Most think the activities of humans have some effect on them.
The key question is whether that effect is big enough to do harm, but that’s not what the scientists were asked.
John Cook, climate communication fellow (a publicist, not a climate scientist) at the University of Queensland in Australia and eight colleagues examined abstracts of 11,944 articles on climate published between 1991 and 2011.
“Among abstracts expressing a position . . . 97.1 percent endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming,” they concluded in a paper last May.
Which is as meaningless as the “consensus” in the two-question survey, for the same reason.
Skeptics agree humans cause some warming. Mr. Cook et. al. included papers by prominent skeptics Willie Soon, Craig Idso, Nocola Scafetta, Nir Shaviv, Nils-Axel Morner and Alan Carlin in their 97.1 percent “consensus.”
Only 41 papers (0.3 percent) explicitly state support for Mr. Cook’s assertion that humans have caused most of the warming since 1950, former Delaware state climatologist David Legates and three colleagues found in a peer reviewed study last September.
“It is astonishing that any journal could have published a paper claiming a 9 percent climate consensus when on the authors’ own analysis the true consensus was well below 1 percent,” Mr. Legates said.
Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased from about 285 parts per million 250 years ago to about 380 ppm today. CO2 is a “greenhouse” gas -- it holds heat in the atmosphere -- so if humans are generating more, it should have a warming effect.
But probably not much of one. Greenhouse gases comprise less than 1 percent of the earth’s atmosphere; carbon dioxide is less than 4 percent of greenhouse gases; 96 percent of CO2 in the atmosphere was put there by Mother Nature.
Compared to variations in solar radiation and other natural forces, the effect of greenhouse gases on climate is trivial.
“There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate,” says a petition signed by more than 31,000 American scientists in climate-related disciplines.
That’s rather more than 79 or 41. There is no scientific consensus on human-caused global warming, and there shouldn’t be.
“If it’s science, it isn’t consensus,” said Mr. Soon, a solar expert at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. “If it’s consensus, it isn’t science.”
Scientists search for truth by observation and experimentation, not by taking polls. Consensus is a political concept.
The skeptics are true to the scientific method. The abusers of science are those who politicize it.
Jack Kelly writes for The Blade of Toledo and The Pittsburgh Press. He can be reached at email@example.com.