EDITORIAL: Chilling climate-change news

New leak shows predictions of planetary warming have been overstated

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When politicians want evidence to back up their belief that mankind is heating up the planet, they turn to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The Nobel Prize-winning organization was responsible for the famous hockey-stick graph used to demonstrate the purported warming effect of man-made carbon dioxide. IPCC’s notoriety has turned out to be a two-edged sword, as leaks continue to undermine the group’s core message.

In a statement Friday, IPCC officials confirmed the authenticity of a leaked draft of the forthcoming Fifth Assessment Report on climate. Skeptics seized upon a chart within the document that compares past IPCC predictions with actual temperature readings. The scientific models of 1990’s First Assessment Report forecast temperatures would rise fast, reaching alarming levels by 2010. The mercury refused to cooperate with the warming hypothesis that year. In 2012, temperatures also were frostier than the generous assumptions in each of the group’s four previous reports.

A sensible explanation is that Mother Nature has been playing a more powerful role in determining the weather than some would care to admit. “Natural events created the biggest peaks and dips in the observations portion of the IPCC chart, and the observations run cooler than the models,” meteorologist Anthony Watts told The Washington Times. The biggest recent drop in global temperatures in 1992 was due to the lingering effects of the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines. The highest temperature in 1998 coincided with El Nino.

Even though the official charts show no significant warming trend in the past 15 years, the planet may be even cooler than the IPCC figures suggest. Mr. Watts, who runs the Watts Up With That website, points out that IPCC is using adjusted data. In a forthcoming scientific paper, he demonstrates that improper placement of weather stations has resulted in the temperature increase being overstated by 92 percent. The last thing government officials want to hear is that the planet isn’t actually warming.

Reality puts IPCC in a bind. Despite the draft chart’s implicit admission that climate models have exaggerated warming, IPCC has not backed down from the tale that carbon dioxide, a natural byproduct of industrial society, is heating the planet. At the same time, the organization realizes it can no longer hide from the widely known temperature data. Billions of dollars are at stake, and politicians expect IPCC to continue drumming up the fears of imminent cataclysm necessary for advancing their classic tax-and-spend liberal agenda. The spending comes in the form of subsidies to trendy “green” companies (usually run by powerful Democratic donors), and cap-and-trade schemes supply the tax revenue.

Figure 1.4 from the draft version of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report

Enlarge Photo

Figure 1.4 from the draft version of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate ... more >

Because governments control scientific research funding, it’s likely the final version of the IPCC report will find a more creative way to disguise the conflict between theory and reality. It may already be too late. Since the 2009 release of the leaked Climategate emails, the public has been less willing to fall for the claim that mankind can control the weather through public policy. In an ideal world, IPCC scientists would realize the next report is their best chance to come clean.

The Washington Times

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