The “pause” in global warming the world has been experiencing over the past decade or so could continue through to 2025, according to a new study. Researchers have struggled to explain why surface temperatures have failed to rise as predicted, despite the emission of ever-increasing amounts of greenhouse gases. Scientists have posited that much of this heat is being stored in our planet’s oceans. The BBC reports:
Last year a study suggested that a periodic upwelling of cooler waters in the Pacific was limiting the rise. […] However this latest work, published in the journal Science, shifts the focus from the Pacific to the Atlantic and Southern oceans.The team, lead by Prof Ka-Kit Tung from the University of Washington, US, says there is now evidence that a 30-year current alternately warms and cools the world by sinking large amounts of heat beneath these deep waters. […]Other scientists say that the Atlantic hypothesis is interesting but a much longer range of observations is needed. “We really don’t have a lot of data,” said Dr Jonathan Robson from the University of Reading, UK. “So if there is this 60-year oscillation in the ocean, we haven’t observed it all, basically we’ve observed the impact of it. We may have to wait 15-20 years to know what’s going on.”
There are a few things we do know about global warming—certain gases trap solar radiation within our atmosphere, warming our planet, and humanity has been emitting these gases in huge quantities since the industrial revolution. But there are plenty of other variables and feedback loops in our planet’s climate that we don’t understand, as this recent plateau in warming shows.Our planet’s climate may be the most intricate and complicated system we have available to study; it’s no wonder, then, that our models fail time and time again to accurately predict what comes next. This doesn’t mean that climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies belong in the dustbin, but it does highlight the folly of linking climate policies to specific temperature targets.A final note for the environmental movement: claiming climate science as “settled” does more harm to your cause than good. By overstating their case, greens have not only alienated skeptical opponents, they’ve also undermined their own credibility. The dangers of climate change are undeniably real, but our understanding of the details—the “fiddly bits”—of this system are quite limited. Pretending otherwise isn’t just dishonest, it’s a strategic blunder.