Global Warming – A Chink in the Armor?

From that bastion of conservative reporting, the New York Times comes the following story:

Hurricane Expert Reassesses Link to Warming

The research is important because the lead author is Kerry Emanuel, the M.I.T. climate scientist who in the 1980’s foresaw a rise in hurricane intensity in a human-warmed world and in 2005, just a few weeks before Hurricane Katrina swamped New Orleans, asserted in a Nature paper that he had found statistical evidence linking rising hurricane energy and warming.

The new study, in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, is hardly definitive in its own right, essentially raising more questions than it resolves. But it definitely rolls back Dr. Emanuel’s sense of confidence about a recent role for global warming. (The abstract is here. A pdf is downloadable on Dr. Emanuel’s ftp page.)

It seems we don’t know what we don’t know. More basic research needs to be done, before we plow billions into remedies that may be unneeded and may not even produce the result we seek.

As Dr. Emanuel told Eric in the Chronicle:

“The take-home message is that we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Emanuel said. “There’s still a lot of uncertainty in this problem. The bulk of the evidence is that hurricane power will go up, but in some places it will go down.”

This is on the heels of a BBC article from a couple of weeks back.

Global temperatures for 2008 will be slightly cooler than last year as a result of the cold La Nina current in the Pacific, UN meteorologists have said.

But this year’s temperatures would still be way above the average – and we would soon exceed the record year of 1998 because of global warming induced by greenhouse gases.

What they don’t say, is that if 1998 was the record year, the subsequent years (1999 until 2007) would have to have had had lower temperatures than the record year.

To be fair, the article continues…

The WMO points out that the decade from 1998 to 2007 was the warmest on record. Since the beginning of the 20th Century, the global average surface temperature has risen by 0.74C.

and finally the conclusion from the BBC article:

This would mean that temperatures have not risen globally since 1998 when El Nino warmed the world.

Watching trends

A minority of scientists question whether this means global warming has peaked and argue the Earth has proved more resilient to greenhouse gases than predicted.

Creative Commons License photo credit: joiseyshowaa

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Two quotes for this one:

We learn something every day, and lots of times it’s that what we learned the day before was wrong.
Bill Vaughan
It is no good to try to stop knowledge from going forward. Ignorance is never better than knowledge.
Enrico Fermi
US (Italian-born) physicist (1901 – 1954)
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