March 31, 2005

Ups and Downs: Redux

About a year ago, the newswires were ablaze about a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that the year-over-year change in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels had reached an all-time high. This was reported to be an indication that the atmospheric CO2 concentration was accelerating and that the worst climate change scenarios were being borne out.

At the time, however, we urged everyone not to get too exercised about a year or two’s worth of data because there is a large degree of variation in the annual CO2 levels as measured at the observatory atop Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano. Now, comes this year’s NOAA report on CO2 concentration levels , which begins:

A spike in the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere between 2001 and 2003 appears to be a temporary phenomenon and apparently does not indicate a quickening build-up of the gas in the atmosphere, according to an analysis by NOAA climate experts.

We hate to say ‘we told you so,” but we did. To see what had to say a year ago, click here.

With each passing year, the trend in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels better establishes itself at about 1.5 ppm/yr. If this trend continues, by the year 2050, the atmospheric CO2 level will be about 446ppm—below nearly all of the projections made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in the 2001 Third Assessment Report. Consequently, the temperature rise, over the same period, will also likely be at or below the lowest IPCC forecast.

The specter of catastrophic climate change is rapidly fading.

October 12, 2004

Much Ado About Nothing

Despite a slew of British press reports to the contrary, the data reveal no unnatural “jump” in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.

The British press lit up this week with a story about an unprecedented, and surprising “jump” in the levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide. But a check of the data reveals nothing of the kind. Instead, recent fluctuations appear to be just part of natural variability.

August 17, 2004

The Predictable Distortion of Climate Change

A recent news story—itself a disturbing distortion of climate change science—should prompt any critical citizen to ask this: Why do scientists inevitably emphasize scare stories that aren’t warranted by even the most cursory respect for the facts?

Consider coverage of a recent Science article by Princeton’s Steve Pacala. Along with colleague R. Socolow, they argued, plausibly, that emissions of carbon dioxide—the main human greenhouse gas—can be reduced by increased adoption of existing technologies. They fail to mention that people have to want them, and they have to actually work.

June 23, 2004

Promises, Promises

“Scientific research based on fact—not ideology.” That’s what Democratic hopeful John Kerry is promising. But there are some pertinent facts about global warming that Kerry will probably ignore.

Kerry has recently attacked President Bush’s record on science, including his actions on the issue of climate change. He accuses Bush of underplaying the threats climate change poses and the role humans play in it, and ignoring the scientific consensus on the issue.

Yet if Kerry his true to his word, it will only be a matter of time before Kerry stands alongside the President on the issue of anthropogenic climate change—for scientific facts stand in stark contrast to the climate-change-is-catastrophic ideology.

March 22, 2004

Ups and Downs

Media hypes a jump in carbon dioxide, ignoring recent years’ CO2 growth rate fluctuations. In fact, there has been no significant trend for 27 years.

The Associated Press newswire lit up over the weekend with reports that atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration grew last year at a record pace. But AP neglected to mention the year-to-year fluctuations that characterize the CO2 growth rate and that in fact no significant trend has existed for 27 years.

Measurements made atop Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano showed that this winter’s CO2 level was greater than last year’s readings by about 3 parts per million (ppm). Missing from AP’s report was that growth the year before was only about 2 ppm, and the year before that was 1.5 ppm, and the year before that was 1.2 ppm, and two years prior to that, the growth rate was 2.9 ppm. In other words, there is a fair degree of fluctuation in the year-to-year to year values of the growth rate of atmospheric CO2 concentration. So a year with a large growth rate is no more or less newsworthy than a year (such as 2000) that had a low growth rate.

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