Dr. Richard Lindzen is anything but convinced by headlines claiming 2015 is the warmest year on record. He says what’s most important is that climate models have been over-predicting warming for more than 40 years.
“Frankly, I feel it is proof of dishonesty to argue about things like small fluctuations in temperature or the sign of a trend,” Lindzen, a climatologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, tells the science blog Climate Depot. “Why lend credibility to this dishonesty?”
“All that matters is that for almost 40 years, model projections have almost all exceeded observations,” Lindzen says. “Even if all the observed warming were due to greenhouse emissions, it would still point to low sensitivity.”
Scientists with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared 2015 the hottest on record Wednesday, with the average global temperature reaching 0.87 degrees Celsius above the 20th century average.
Democrats and environmentalists used the news to push for more government action on global warming, but what they neglected to mention is temperatures were driven up last year by an incredibly strong El Niño — a naturally occurring warming event.
The strong El Niño briefly brought global temperatures to levels predicted by most climate models, but it’s likely that once the warming event goes away temperatures will move back down to levels well below what climate scientists say will happen if more carbon dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere.
“But, given the ‘pause.’ we know that natural internal variability has to be of the same order as any other process,” Lindzen says.
Lindzen and other experts skeptical of hyped-up claims about man-made global warming argue those who claim 2015 is the hottest on record ignore the fact the changes in global temperature being observed are very small.
He also cautions that surface-based temperature readings — taken by weather stations, buoys, ships and other means — are subject to biases and errors that can make them highly unreliable. Lindzen has pointed out in the past that “70% of the earth is oceans, we can’t measure those temperatures very well.”
“They can be off a half a degree, a quarter of a degree,” he said in November. “Even two-10ths of a degree of change would be tiny but two-100ths is ludicrous. Anyone who starts crowing about those numbers shows that they’re putting spin on nothing.”
Satellite temperature readings found 2015 to be the third or fourth warmest on record.
Satellite data from the University of Alabama, Huntsville found 2015 to be third warmest on record, and Remote Sensing Systems satellite data ranked 2015 as the fourth warmest in the nearly four-decade-old satellite record.
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