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Excuse #9: NASA scientist says pause in global warming just a ‘coincidence’

Climate scientists have put forward the ninth major explanation for the 17-year pause in global warming: it’s just a coincidence.

According to a paper co-authored by NASA scientist Gavin Schmidt, the lack of warming since the late 1990s is mere coincidence and does not disprove the theory that humanity’s burning of fossil fuels for energy is warming the planet.

“Here we argue that a combination of factors, by coincidence, conspired to dampen warming trends in the real world after about 1992,” wrote Schmidt and his colleagues.

“Nevertheless, attributing climate trends over relatively short periods, such as 10 to 15 years, will always be problematic, and it is inherently unsatisfying to find model–data agreement only with the benefit of hindsight,” Schmidt’s paper continued.

The “coincidence” argument is the ninth major explanation pushed by climate scientists to explain why the Earth stopped warming — and has even cooled slightly — in the last 17 years or so.

The Daily Caller News Foundation previously identified eight other explanations for the pause in global warming: declining solar activity, growing Chinese coal use, the effectiveness of the Montreal Protocol, volcanic activity, declining water vapor in the atmosphere, Pacific trade wind and the argument that the global warming pause isn’t real.

But climate scientists have not come to a consensus on what exactly caused global temperatures to stop rising. Climate scientists, however, don’t consider the recent lack of warming — or the fierce U.S. winter for that matter — as proof that human activity is not affecting the climate.

“Our expectation as scientist always was to see very complex changes in the average temperature of the planet, and that’s exactly what we see,” said Benjamin Santer, a scientist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. “The key point is that the stasis, slowdown as people have termed it over the last 15 years, does not fundamentally invalidate our understanding of the human effects on climate.”

Environmentalists and the Obama administration have been citing “extreme weather” as evidence that global warming is still happening. Activists and the White House have pointed to events like Hurricane Sandy and the California drought as evidence that global warming is making the climate more extreme.

“We have to be clear:  A changing climate means that weather-related disasters like droughts, wildfires, storms, floods are potentially going to be costlier and they’re going to be harsher,” Obama said on his visit to California.

“Droughts have obviously been a part of life out here in the West since before any of us were around and water politics in California have always been complicated, but scientific evidence shows that a changing climate is going to make them more intense,” he added.

But the evidence seems to contradict Obama’s extreme weather claims. Research by University of Colorado climate scientist Dr. Roger Pielke shows that global warming has not increased “extreme weather.”

“It is misleading and just plain incorrect to claim that disasters associated with hurricanes, tornadoes, floods or droughts have increased on climate timescales either in the United States or globally,” Pielke said in his testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee last year. “It is further incorrect to associate the increasing costs of disasters with the emission of greenhouse gases.”

Pielke said that droughts have been shorter, less frequent, and have covered a smaller portion of the U.S in the last 100 years. On a global scale, there has been very little change in the last 60 years, he said.

(H/T Climate Depot and Bishop Hill)

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