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Wednesday 13 March 2013

Excuses Ready For Bad Climate News

The latest “interpretation of someone else’s interpretation”, together with obligatory barrage of abuse, from James “saviour of Western civilisation” Delingpole talks of the “anonymous leaker who publicised the emails known as Climategate and Climategate II. He is lauded as “the man who saved the world”. And this post, together with more from the denial lobby, is not an accident.

As ever when bad news about the climate emerges from mainstream scientific circles, there has to be rebuttal and distraction. Del Boy is on “look over there” duty, while his hero Anthony Watts has roped in Don Easterbrook, a professor emeritus (but not in climatology) who believes climate change not to be man made to do the rebuttal. This is because there has been a double helping of that bad news.

First came the revelation in the deeply subversive Guardian that the latest annual rise in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere had been the second largest on record, at 2.67 parts per million (ppm). The highest ppm annual increase had been 2.93 in 1998, and preliminary data suggests a rise of 3.26 ppm between February 2012 and February 2013.

And the measurements are not taken round the back of the nearest large airport, but at the Mauna Loa Observatory on Hawaii. This is part of the series of observations contributing to what is known as the Keeling Curve, after Charles Keeling, who first made the observations and the link to the amount of fossil fuel being burned. He was, not that the denial lobby will tell you this, a registered Republican.

Along with the carbon dioxide figures has come the report of a peer reviewed study in Science magazine, “A Reconstruction of Regional and Global Temperature for the Past 11,300 Years”, which has concluded that “Surface temperature reconstructions of the past 1500 years suggest that recent warming is unprecedented in that time”. Easterbrook, who is peer reviewed only by Anthony Watts’ cheering, disagrees.

Why such a rapid and emphatic rebuttal has been made becomes obvious when you look at the match of reconstructed and projected temperatures from the study: on the 11,000 year timescale, the present and estimated rise in temperatures looks truly frightening, the line on the graph heading almost directly upward. Small wonder the climate change denial lobby has been so vociferous this week.

But what is clear from both news items is that concentrations of carbon dioxide, the rise in which has been linked to fossil fuel burning, are at record levels, while another climate reconstruction has effectively validated the “hockey stick” and thus showed Michael Mann to be right and Anthony Watts and his pals to be, once again, plain flat wrong. Climate change is real, it’s here, and should concern everyone.

It will not just pack up and go away when James Delingpole sneers at it.

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