Argo’s cool reception

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Three-thousand oceanic probes — the “Argo” program — are a problem for global-warming alarmists. More to the point, explaining the probes’ findings should be a priority for the alarmists if science is what drives them, and credibility. Argo shows no global warming over the last five years. In fact, the numbers show a slight cooling. These are merely one small data set, but they cut against the rhetoric, and require attention. Interestingly, though, as one measure of the widespread disinterest, the New York Times has not reported on Argo since its launch in 2000.

The 3,000 probes are scattered around the world’s oceans surveying temperature and salinity. They surface approximately every 10 days, beam data to researchers and submerge again. They are not the climate scientist’s monitoring panacea: That would be a $3 billion oceanic system the Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans touted to warn of everything from tsunamis to climate change to undersea volcanic activity in the Daily Telegraph recently. But they were certainly viewed as a great advance when first deployed. “What we’ve done in the past is piecemeal,” the New York Times quoted one oceanographer not involved with the project in the newspaper’s sole story more than seven years ago. The project, in his view, “will help figure out what it is we have to be doing in terms of greenhouse gas control.” Now, watch for the probes’ findings to be questioned, or just ignored as usual.

Why the disinterest in these probes? To be sure, five years of data from a few thousand monitors do not tell us much about the future of the global climate. The numbers are “not really anything significant,” NASA’s Josh Willis told National Public Radio recently, also noting that they do show “a very slight cooling.” Believers in catastrophic man-made global warming can argue that a short pause in warming now could still be consistent with some doomsday scenario decades hence. As it could be, if we knew for certain. That would be a defensible position in today’s debates given climate science’s uncertainty.

But we do not know with much certainty, and that points up Argo’s real significance for the lay observer. Climate is extremely complex, and climate science is not nearly as advanced as the politics of global warming routinely suggest it to be. Accordingly, it should not be shoved into Gore-sized soundbites. This “inconvenient truth,” so difficult for the alarmists to accept, detracts from the credibility of those who warn of catastrophic man-made warming each time it is ignored.

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