Paul MacRae, March 9, 2008

If the temperature data since 2001 is correct, climate change is clearly not due primarily to carbon dioxide levels.

Has global warming stopped? That’s the title of an article published in December in The New Statesman by respected British science journalist David Whitehouse.

“Surely not,” writes Whitehouse. “What heresy is this? Haven’t we been told that the science of global warming is settled beyond doubt and that all that’s left to the so-called skeptics is the odd errant glacier that refuses to melt?”

Yet an end to the warming, at least temporarily, is what the climate data since about 2001 shows. The average temperature of the Northern Hemisphere has been warming only slightly or flat-lined. Average temperatures in the Southern Hemisphere are falling. And the average of the two temperatures is flat–no warming for the past seven years.

Readers can check the data for themselves at the British Meteorological Office website or Anthony Watts’ site. The data not only shows flatlined warming, but a temperature plunge in the past year (see Figure 1).

The planet isn\'t warming
Figure 1

The planet isn’t warming

The various official climate bodies, such as the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, aren’t saying much, if anything, about this non-warming trend, and no wonder. It’s a very inconvenient truth for those who believe that carbon dioxide, and especially human-caused carbon dioxide, is the main cause of global warming.

No warming is very inconvenient because carbon dioxide levels are still rising steadily; as seen in Figure 2 below in green, they make a 45-degree line. And if carbon dioxide is the principal cause of global warming, as environmental crusaders like Al Gore tell us, then the planet should be warming, period.

But if the planet isn’t warming, even temporarily (and seven to ten years of not warming is a bit more than a statistical blip), then something else besides CO2 must be the main driver of both the warming and cooling of our planet.

CO2 and temperature compared
Figure 2. Carbon dioxide and temperature levels compared

Figure 2 shows carbon dioxide levels (green) and temperatures (blue) since 1979 shown together. Does it look like carbon dioxide is the main driver of temperature change?

That CO2 isn’t the culprit is almost certain since carbon dioxide represents barely .04 per cent of atmospheric gases, or about 400 parts per million. That’s the equivalent of 40 people in a 100,000-seat sports stadium. Meanwhile, the human-generated portion of total carbon emissions each year is only about three per cent of that (Environment Canada’s website puts human-caused carbon dioxide at a mere two per cent). The rest — 97 per cent — comes from natural sources like decaying vegetation, volcanoes, and the oceans.

That means the human contribution to carbon dioxide per year is about 12 parts per million. In a stadium holding 100,000 cheering people, that would be one person. It’s unlikely you’d be able to pick out the “signal”-that’s the climatologists’ term for the anthropogenic CO2 contribution to warming -from one voice in such a throng.

How an increase in carbon dioxide that tiny could be causing the warming we saw from the 1970s to the start of the 21st century is hard to imagine. In fact, it’s absurd. Yet, that’s what we’re told is gospel truth by the global-warming believers.

Flatline warming an inconvenient truth

This flat-lined warming is also an inconvenient truth for those who’ve demonized global-warming skeptics. Normally in scientific debate there is a belief that other theories are in error, but a mutual respect for differing points of view. This has not been the case on the global warming issue. Those skeptical of the human-caused global warming “consensus” have been attacked as “immoral,” “irresponsible,” “scientifically illiterate” and even “dangerous.” Worse, they have labeled as “deniers,” and therefore on a par with Holocaust deniers.

In other words, the issue of global warming has gone beyond science into the realm of ideology and even religion. For many warming supporters, the idea that humans are causing climate change has taken the place of Original Sin, and human-caused warming has become a dogma impervious to facts.

It’s very possible that over the next century the climate will warm up again, and cool again, and warm again. That’s what climate does–it changes, sometimes rapidly. In the last 200 years the climate has gone from cold in the 1800s to very warm up to the 1940s, to cold up to the 1980s, to warm from the 1980s on. The earlier fluctuations can’t have been caused by humans; nor, it seems, is the most recent shift to warming and now, apparently, cooling.

That we may be entering another spell of cold for the next decade or two isn’t good news, though: History shows that cold times are tough times for human beings, while warm times are better.

Even worse: our planet has been in an ice age for the past two and a half million years. The cold, glacial times go on for 80,000 years or so, while the warm, interglacial periods, like the one we’re in, last a mere 10,000-20,000 years. We’re past the mid-point of our interglacial.

In other words, carbon dioxide emissions aren’t humanity’s enemy; if the temperature data since 2001 is correct, warming is clearly not due primarily to carbon dioxide levels. Nor is technological civilization our enemy, nor is global warming itself, however caused. The latest climate figures hint that our most ancient and deadly enemy — two-kilometre-high mountains of ice — may be returning. A new Ice Age — that’s the doomsday to worry about, not warming.

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