In an interview with the German news publication Der Spiegel, meteorologist Hans von Storch said that scientists are so puzzled by the 15-year standstill in global warming that if the trend continues their models could be “fundamentally wrong.”This is good news, of course. Scientists had predicted that an increase of only two degrees Celsius, which we were expected to encounter within twenty to thirty years, would result in widespread food shortages, unprecedented heat waves, and more intense cyclones. This bleak forecast precipitated urgent calls by environmentalists for President Obama to do something before the trend became irreversible. As an aside, why is it up to the United States to "do something"? We're not the biggest polluter, after all.
“If things continue as they have been, in five years, at the latest, we will need to acknowledge that something is fundamentally wrong with our climate models,” Storch told Der Spiegel. “A 20-year pause in global warming does not occur in a single modeled scenario. But even today, we are finding it very difficult to reconcile actual temperature trends with our expectations.”
Anyway, despite the fact that greenhouse gas emissions have not substantially diminished in the last fifteen years, the expected temperature surges have failed to materialize. Why?
“There are two conceivable explanations — and neither is very pleasant for us,” said Storch. “The first possibility is that less global warming is occurring than expected because greenhouse gases, especially CO2, have less of an effect than we have assumed. This wouldn’t mean that there is no man-made greenhouse effect, but simply that our effect on climate events is not as great as we have believed.”When Storch says that neither possibility is "pleasant for us" he means by "us" his fellow climatologists. No matter which of the two options is correct a lot of people have a lot of egg on their faces right now. Storch then puts his finger on exactly why it is that his fellow scientists are looking so chagrined:
“The other possibility is that, in our simulations, we have underestimated how much the climate fluctuates owing to natural causes,” Storch added.
“Certainly the greatest mistake of climate researchers has been giving the impression that they are declaring the definitive truth,” said Storch. “The end result is foolishness along the lines of the climate protection brochures recently published by Germany’s Federal Environmental Agency under the title ‘Sie erwärmt sich doch’ (‘The Earth is getting warmer’). Pamphlets like that aren’t going to convince any skeptics.”Exactly so. I hope Al Gore reads Storch's comments.
“It’s not a bad thing to make mistakes and have to correct them,” Storch said. “The only thing that was bad was acting beforehand as if we were infallible. By doing so, we have gambled away the most important asset we have as scientists: the public’s trust.”
Of course, the stasis we're experiencing may be a temporary phenomenon. It may turn out that after a year or two temps will skyrocket. Who knows? But that's the point, no one knows. For people like Gore and others on the left to demand that nations cripple their economies by stifling energy production on a hunch that they know is irresponsible at best.
It may be that modest temperature rises over the next few decades will indeed make life more difficult in the third world, but the life of third worlders will be infinitely more difficult if the people of the first world, upon whom the world's poor are so heavily dependent, deliberately and recklessly impoverish themselves.