Senate Republicans are questioning the Obama administration about reports that U.S. officials tried to suppress the 15-year global warming hiatus in the United Nations’ climate report.
The Associated Press reported in September that the Obama administration, along with several European nations, lobbied the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to omit or downplay data showing that global warming stopped in 1998.
In response, Republican senators have sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, questioning her knowledge of these international lobbying efforts.
The most recent IPCC report claimed that scientists were 95 percent certain that global warming was manmade and downplayed the 15-year hiatus in rising global temperatures. Critics charge that this shows the IPCC succumbed to the lobbying campaign.
The AP reported that “Germany called for the reference to the slowdown to be deleted, saying a time span of 10-15 years was misleading in the context of climate change, which is measured over decades and centuries.”
“The U.S. also urged the authors to include the ‘leading hypothesis’ that the reduction in warming is linked to more heat being transferred to the deep ocean,” the AP noted. “Belgium objected to using 1998 as a starting year for any statistics. … Using 1999 or 2000 as a starting year would yield a more upward-pointing curve. Hungary worried the report would provide ammunition for skeptics.”
Republicans say the facts about global warming undermine a key point in favor of President Obama’s global warming plan.
“When governments actually weigh in and request alterations to a scientific analysis, like in the IPCC report, the message is clear that the IPCC process produces a political document, not a purely scientific one,” wrote the Republicans. “Such actions exacerbate the declining reputation of the IPCC and highlight the need for the EPA to do its own analysis with a particular focus on transparency and a commitment to the Data Quality Act.”
Despite the criticism, the administration is still determined to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and play a leading role in an international climate agreement. The next round of international climate negotiations are set for 2015.
“Those who deny the science or choose excuses over action are playing with fire,” said Secretary of State John Kerry. “Once again, the science grows clearer, the case grows more compelling, and the costs of inaction grow beyond anything that anyone with conscience or common sense should be willing to even contemplate.”
However, scientists are increasingly arguing that the downward trend in sunspot activity indicates that the world could be headed into a cooling period.
“Attention in the public debate seems to be moving away from the 15-17 year ‘pause’ to the cooling since 2002,” writes Dr. Judith Curry, the chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Institute of Technology.
Recently, the BBC reported that Northern Europe could plunge into another “Little Ice Age” — a period of colder temperatures across Europe during the 1600s.
“The last 400 years we’ve been thawing out of the Little Ice Age, if you like,” said Don Easterbrook, professor emeritus of geology at Western Washington University.
“So the warming we saw, which lasted only from 1978 to 1998, is something that is predictable and expectable,” he added. “When the ocean changed temperatures, global cooling is almost a slam dunk. You can expect to find about 25 to 30 years yet ahead of us before it starts to warm up again. It might even be more than that.”
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