The Economist is finally ditching climate change hysteria. As a new piece in the British newsweekly notes, the world just hasn’t gotten much warmer over the past 15 years. We’ve been pumping greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere at ever-increasing rates, yet temperatures haven’t risen anywhere near as much as scientists predicted. Climate modeling, the editors note, is still an immensely complicated and highly speculative science:
The mismatch between rising greenhouse-gas emissions and not-rising temperatures is among the biggest puzzles in climate science just now. It does not mean global warming is a delusion. Flat though they are, temperatures in the first decade of the 21st century remain almost 1°C above their level in the first decade of the 20th. But the puzzle does need explaining.
The mismatch might mean that—for some unexplained reason—there has been a temporary lag between more carbon dioxide and higher temperatures in 2000-10. Or it might be that the 1990s, when temperatures were rising fast, was the anomalous period. Or, as an increasing body of research is suggesting, it may be that the climate is responding to higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in ways that had not been properly understood before. This possibility, if true, could have profound significance both for climate science and for environmental and social policy.
The Economist has a history of riding this doom horse pretty hard, writing in the run-up to the disastrous 2009 Copenhagen climate summit that “[n]o deal means that mankind gives up on trying to save the planet.” The magazine was also a big backer of some of the more dubious ideas to come from the global green brain trust, writing in 2001 that “the best approach to tackling this most global of problems must be through a binding global treaty,” and later that ”[i]n the end, the best chance for action on climate change comes from a flexible, global treaty and a wealthier world better able to afford such a treaty.”
But in January, they gave up on the global climate treaty approach, and are now acknowledging the many nuances inherent to climate modeling. This is a sign that the global intellectual and political establishment is gradually distancing itself from the climate radicals and taking a more thoughtful and balanced approach. We also hope it’s a sign that they’re beginning to realize a more fundamental truth about the politics of climate change: that green hysteria and doom-mongering are leading causes of climate skepticism.
[Earth image courtesy of Wikimedia.]