Quick Fact: IBD falsely claimed that "the earth hasn't been warming at all, at least not in the last decade"

››› ››› DIANNA PARKER & ERIC SCHROECK

An Investor's Business Daily editorial falsely claimed that "the earth hasn't been warming at all, at least not in the last decade." But numerous climate scientists have reported that 2000-2009 was the warmest decade on record.

IBD: "[T]he earth hasn't been warming at all, at least not in the last decade"

From a January 20 IBD editorial:

The [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] claimed: "Glaciers in the Himalayas are receding faster than in any other part of the world and, if the present rate continues, the likelihood of their disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the earth keeps warming at the current rate."

As it turns out, the earth hasn't been warming at all, at least not in the last decade, and reputable scientists have said it may continue to cool for decades to come. Even if it was warming, glaciologists insist, the sheer mass of Himalayan glaciers made such a prediction laughable.

Fact: 2000-2009 was warmest decade on record

WMO: "2000-2009, The Warmest Decade." In a December 8, 2009, press release, the World Meterological Organization reported that "[t]he decade of the 2000s (2000-2009) was warmer than the decade spanning the 1990s (1990-1999), which in turn was warmer than the 1980s (1980-1989)."

NOAA: "The 2000-2009 decade will be the warmest on record." On December 8, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) stated that according to a preliminary analysis by NOAA's National Climatic Data Center, "[t]he 2000 - 2009 decade will be the warmest on record, with its average global surface temperature about 0.96 degree F above the 20th century average. This will easily surpass the 1990s value of 0.65 degree F."

Met Office data also shows 2000-2009 was warmest decade on record. Bloomberg reported on December 8 that "[o]f the 10 hottest years on record, nine occurred in the 2000s, according to the Met Office, which said it expected temperatures to keep rising as a result of greenhouse-gas emissions." The article further noted that, "Global temperatures are expressed by the Met Office as an 'anomaly' from the long-term average. The 2000s were about 0.4 of a degree warmer than the 1961 to 1990 average, eclipsing the record 0.23-degree temperature anomaly of the 1990s, it said."

Scientists have identified a long-term warming trend that spans several decades. In a February 11, 2009, Guardian op-ed, Vicky Pope, the head of climate change advice at the U.K. Met Office Hadley Centre, explained that claims about the pace of global warming require more than 10 years of data, "since natural variations always occur on this timescale." She continued: "1998 was a record-breaking warm year as long-term man-made warming combined with a naturally occurring strong El Niño. In contrast, 2008 was slightly cooler than previous years partly because of a La Niña. Despite this, it was still the 10th warmest on record." According to the Met Office website, the UN World Meteorological Organization "requires the calculation of averages for consecutive periods of 30 years," which was chosen "as a period long enough to eliminate year-to-year variations."

FACT: Scientists say glaciers are melting rapidly, despite IPCC error

IPCC: Report's conclusion of accelerated glacier loss is "is robust, appropriate, and entirely consistent with the underlying science and the broader IPCC assessment." Following reports of the error, the IPCC issued a statement that said it "regret[s] the poor application of well-established IPCC procedures in this instance," but that the broad conclusion about glacier loss in the report "is robust, appropriate, and entirely consistent with the underlying science and the broader IPCC assessment." From the statement:

The Synthesis Report, the concluding document of the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (page 49) stated: "Climate change is expected to exacerbate current stresses on water resources from population growth and economic and land-use change, including urbanisation. On a regional scale, mountain snow pack, glaciers and small ice caps play a crucial role in freshwater availability. Widespread mass losses from glaciers and reductions in snow cover over recent decades are projected to accelerate throughout the 21st century, reducing water availability, hydropower potential, and changing seasonality of flows in regions supplied by meltwater from major mountain ranges (e.g. Hindu-Kush, Himalaya, Andes), where more than one-sixth of the world population currently lives."

This conclusion is robust, appropriate, and entirely consistent with the underlying science and the broader IPCC assessment.

It has, however, recently come to our attention that a paragraph in the 938-page Working Group II contribution to the underlying assessment refers to poorly substantiated estimates of rate of recession and date for the disappearance of Himalayan glaciers. In drafting the paragraph in question, the clear and well-established standards of evidence, required by the IPCC procedures, were not applied properly.

The Chair, Vice-Chairs, and Co-chairs of the IPCC regret the poor application of well-established IPCC procedures in this instance. This episode demonstrates that the quality of the assessment depends on absolute adherence to the IPCC standards, including thorough review of "the quality and validity of each source before incorporating results from the source into an IPCC Report" 3. We reaffirm our strong commitment to ensuring this level of performance.

U.N.'s Yvo de Boer: Error "does not alter the inevitable consequences, unless rigorous action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is taken." In a January 20 Associated Press article, Yvo de Boer, the head of the U.N. Convention on Climate Change, said of the error: "What is happening now is comparable with the Titanic sinking more slowly than expected," adding, "But that does not alter the inevitable consequences, unless rigorous action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is taken." The AP further reported: "The climate panel and even the scientist who publicized the errors said they are not significant in comparison to the entire report, nor were they intentional. And they do not negate the fact that worldwide, glaciers are melting faster than ever."

IPCC's Pachauri: "I don't think it takes anything away from the overwhelming scientific evidence of what's happening with the climate of this earth." From a January 20 CNN.com article:

Speaking at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi Wednesday, the IPCC chairman, Rajendra Pachauri admitted errors had been made but said it was not an excuse to question the legitimacy of all global warming science.

"Theoretically, let's say we slipped up on one number, I don't think it takes anything away from the overwhelming scientific evidence of what's happening with the climate of this earth," he said, according to Agence France-Presse.

"Glacier expert" Michael Zemp: "Glaciers are the best proof that climate change is happening." From the same CNN.com article:

A glacier expert interviewed by CNN explained that the data published was flawed.

Michael Zemp from the World Glacier Monitoring Service said: "There are simply no observations available to make these sorts of statements."

Zemp says that the figures quoted in the report are not possible because 500,000 square kilometers is estimated to be the total surface area of all mountain glaciers worldwide.

"The other thing is that the report says the glaciers are receding faster than anywhere else in the world. We simply do not have the glacier change measurements. The Himalayas are among those regions with the fewest available data," Zemp said.

In defense of the IPCC, Zemp says "you can take any report and find a mistake in it but it's up to the next IPCC report to correct it."

Zemp also believes that the errors shouldn't shake people's belief in climate science.

"Glaciers are the best proof that climate change is happening. This is happening on a global scale. They can translate very small changes in the climate into a visible signal," he said.

Ohio State glaciologist Lonnie Thompson: "The issues under discussion are very specific ones, but do not detract from the overall conclusions of the IPCC, which are backed by many lines of evidence." A USA Today blog post quoted Ohio State glaciologist Lonnie Thompson defending the 2007 IPCC report: "[W]e're good at what we do, but we're human beings. The issues under discussion are very specific ones, but do not detract from the overall conclusions of the IPCC, which are backed by many lines of evidence."

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Environment & Science, Climate Change
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Investor's Business Daily
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