Rich Lowry: New climate deniers miss simple truth

2013-04-04T00:30:00Z Rich Lowry: New climate deniers miss simple truthBy Rich Lowry | Syndicated columnist La Crosse Tribune
April 04, 2013 12:30 am  • 

There are few things sadder than the “climate denier.” He ignores the data and neglects the latest science. His rhetoric and policy proposals are dangerously disconnected from reality. He can’t recalibrate to take account of the latest evidence because, well, he’s a denier.

The new climate deniers are the liberals who, despite their obsession with climate change, have managed to miss the biggest story in climate science, which is that there hasn’t been any global warming for about a decade and a half.

“Over the past 15 years, air temperatures at the Earth’s surface have been flat while greenhouse-gas emissions have continued to soar,” The Economist magazine writes. “The world added roughly 100 billion tons of carbon to the atmosphere between 2000 and 2010. That is about a quarter of all the CO2 put there by humanity since 1750.” Yet, no more warming.

The Economist has been decidedly alarmist on global warming through the years, so it deserves credit for pausing to consider why the warming trend it expected to continue has mysteriously stalled out.

The deniers feel no such compunction. They speak as if it is still the late 1990s, when measurements of global temperature had been rising for two decades. In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama said that “we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science and act before it’s too late.” In a passage devoted to global warming, though, he didn’t mention the latest trend in global warming.

A denier feels the same righteous sense of certitude now, when warming has stopped, as he did a decade ago. Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson recently opined that “sensible people accept the fact of warming” — but apparently not the fact of no-warming. He scorned those “who manipulate the data in transparently bogus ways to claim that warming has halted or even reversed course.” Does he include James Hansen, the famous NASA scientist, among these dastardly manipulators? No one this side of Al Gore has warned as persistently about global warming as Hansen. He nonetheless admits that “the five-year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade.”

None of this means that the Earth didn’t get hotter in the 20th century, or that carbon emissions don’t tend to create a warmer planet, or that warming won’t necessarily begin again. It does mean that we know less about the fantastically complex global climate system than global-warming alarmists have been willing to admit. The Economist notes the work of Ed Hawkins of the University of Reading in Britain. He has found that if global temperatures stay the same for a few more years, they will fall below the range of 20 climate models. In other words, the scientific “consensus” will have been proven wrong.

Why the stall in warming? According to The Economist, maybe we’ve overestimated the warming impact of clouds. Or maybe some clouds cool instead of warm the planet. Or maybe the oceans are absorbing heat from the atmosphere. Although the surface temperature of the oceans hasn’t been rising, perhaps the warming is happening deep down.

James Hansen thinks new coal-fired plants in China and India, releasing so-called aerosols into the atmosphere that act to suppress warming, may be partly responsible for the stasis in temperatures.

Hansen writes that knowing more about the effect of aerosols on the climate “requires accurate knowledge of changes in aerosol amount, size distribution, absorption and vertical distribution on a global basis — as well as simultaneous data on changes in cloud properties to allow inference of the indirect aerosol forcing via induced cloud changes.” Is that all? He ruefully notes that the launch of a satellite with a sensor to measure all of this failed, with no follow-up mission planned.

Hey, but don’t worry. The science is all “settled.”

What is beginning to seem more likely is that the “sensitivity” of the global climate to carbon emissions has been overestimated. If so, the deniers will be the last to admit it.

Rich Lowry can be reached at

Copyright 2015 La Crosse Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(21) Comments

  1. Buggs Raplin
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    Buggs Raplin - April 09, 2013 7:50 am
    You nailed it with solar radiation. That's the likely reason for the change in global temperatures through the ages-the sun. And there aint nothin' man can do about that. The earth heats up; the earth cools down; the earth heats up again...and so on and so on. By the way, a check of the local forecast might dissuade some from the global warming theory.
  2. ryeguy
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    ryeguy - April 08, 2013 10:26 pm
    The Medieval Warm Period has known causes :higher than average solar radiation and less volcanic activity (both resulting in warming). New evidence is also suggesting that changes in ocean circulation patterns played a very important role in bringing warmer sea water into the North Atlantic. This explains much of the extraordinary warmth in that region and cooling on other regions. Today's warming, which we know cannot be caused by the same mechanisms.Overall, scientific conclusions are globally temperatures are warmer than they have been anytime during the last 2000 years and well into the past beond that. Global warming today is real and is caused by carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
  3. ryeguy
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    ryeguy - April 08, 2013 10:22 pm
    evidence suggests that the Medieval Warm Period was in fact warmer than today in many parts of the globe such as in the North Atlantic. This warming allowed Vikings to travel further north than had been previously possible because of reductions in sea ice and land ice in the Arctic. However, evidence also suggests that some places were very much cooler than today including the tropical pacific. When the warm places are averaged out with the cool places, it becomes clear that the overall warmth was likely similar to early to mid 20th century warming. Since that early century warming, temperatures have risen well-beyond those achieved during the Medieval Warm Period across most of the Globe. This has been confirmed by the National Academy of Sciences Report on Climate Reconstructions. Further evidence suggests that even in the Northern Hemisphere where the Medieval Warm Period was the most visible, temperatures are now beyond those.
  4. Buggs Raplin
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    Buggs Raplin - April 08, 2013 7:35 am
    The earth was warmer from the 9th-13th centuries than it is today. That's a fact. Lowry should have included it in his column to strengthen an already strong case. The earth heats up; the earth cools down; the earth heats up again...and so on and so on...
  5. ryeguy
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    ryeguy - April 08, 2013 7:06 am
    Research at UW has shown that the average low temp in Wisconsin is up by almost 5 degrees in the last 30 years, though average high temps are more or less unchanged. Mountain ice in the form of glaciers is going fast, taking the drinking and agricultural water for about 3 billion people with it.

    That said, I am glad we no longer have to worry about global those climate change issues. Mr. Lowry has done us all a great service. Thank you for your research in these matters. Fundamental climate research is the only way to know really what is going on globally. Most of it is biased and driven by political dogma. Thankfully, yours is totally unbiased. objective, and based on sound science. At long last!
  6. ryeguy
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    ryeguy - April 08, 2013 7:00 am
  7. ryeguy
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    ryeguy - April 07, 2013 9:38 pm
    Let's say for the sake of argument that Mr. Lowry's assertion that global warming has tapered off compared to climate models. Instead of having a big party and taking away all efforts to reduce carbon footprints, maybe we should thank our lucky stars that we have been given a brief reprieve so the human race can get its act together before all hell breaks loose.

    But while we are at it, get to Glacier Bay National Park soon because the glaciers have retreated 60 miles in the last 50 years. Snows of Kilimanjaro? Gone. Greenland really is turning green remarkably fast these days. And "The glaciers in the Himalaya are not just sliding downhill, they also appear to be melting faster than they can be replenished. The ice is critical for Nepal because it feeds many of the rivers which are Nepal’s primary source of drinking and irrigation water. If these ice fields and glaciers disappear, Nepal and India will have to depend on the unreliable monsoon rains for water." Border security? Ha.
  8. Buggs Raplin
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    Buggs Raplin - April 07, 2013 3:50 pm
    Truth discerned by the evidence...
  9. Balancr
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    Balancr - April 07, 2013 12:57 pm
    Bugs. The great owner of the truth - respected by all - as polls show
  10. Buggs Raplin
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    Buggs Raplin - April 07, 2013 8:02 am
    I see the gullibles have arrived, sort of like the swallows at Capistrano.
  11. Balancr
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    Balancr - April 06, 2013 10:21 pm
    Scientific consensus confirms global warming. The right's strategy is to turn fact into fiction - like Mr. "Will never be a scientist in his life" Bugs.
  12. Balancr
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    Balancr - April 06, 2013 10:19 pm
    The world is flat. Blood Letting is a good medical procedure. The moon is made of green cheese.

    At this point - anyone denying not only global warming - but that we humans are directly responsible - should star in the film "Ice Age" along with the dodo bird.
  13. Dagda
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    Dagda - April 06, 2013 5:12 pm
    The statements in this opinion are not true. Last year was the hottest on record.
  14. Jefferson Paine
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    Jefferson Paine - April 06, 2013 7:51 am
    Written flatulence.....
  15. ryeguy
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    ryeguy - April 05, 2013 7:50 am
    Oh, I just noticed. While I was writing this, all the ice in my glass of water melted and now my water is warming up really fast. Dang.
  16. ryeguy
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    ryeguy - April 05, 2013 7:49 am
    I am so relieved that the planet has stopped warming! I will happily throw out the best climate models based upon this article and a few others that note a bit of a flattening out of the climate data. No need to worry about declining water tables, changes in ocean currents, record melting last year of the Greenland ice sheet (5 times faster last year than any year up to 1990, and a piece the size of Manhattan broke off recently too), No need to worry about mass migrations when climate shifts drive people to move. No need to worry any more about coastal flooding in NY, Boston, Miami, New Orleans, Mobile. Whew. Parteeeee!
  17. Buggs Raplin
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    Buggs Raplin - April 04, 2013 11:35 am
    When the data came out contradicting the global warming/climate change hypothesis-namely that the earth has been cooling a bit since 1998-the 'scientists' at East Anglia in the UK decided they'd have to resort to deception to make their case. But, alas, for the 'scientists' at East Anglia, their e-mails were discovered to their ever lastin' embarrassment. Climategate. Deception is the name of the game for the global warming/climate change crowd. Their hero, Al Gore, used graphics from a Hollywood movie, and passed them off as real in his documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. Tsk, Tsk
  18. FUBAR
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    FUBAR - April 04, 2013 11:16 am
    I could use a little of that "Gobal Warming" for the last month.
  19. Napoleon
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    Napoleon - April 04, 2013 11:11 am
    Little Richie is very young and is not from Wisconsin: old-timers here remember winters with long stretches of sub-zero weather and huge snowfalls. Forty-below temps here were not unheard of in the old days.

    Face facts: Wisconsin climate has changed. The seasons have melded into each other too: remember when fall was fall and spring was spring? I'm tellin' ya, things have changed, things have gotten weird. The sky is much dustier, hazier, less blue, clouds less billowy... 'Global weirding' is more apt than global warming:

    "Global Dimming"

    "We are all seeing rather less of the Sun. Scientists looking at five decades of sunlight measurements have reached the disturbing conclusion that the amount of solar energy reaching the Earth's surface has been gradually falling. Paradoxically, the decline in sunlight may mean that global warming is a far greater threat to society than previously thought."
  20. Cassandra
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    Cassandra - April 04, 2013 10:09 am
    Yet another right-wing fact-denying hack who cherry picks a single report from a right-wing magazine and proclaims it as everlasting truth. Talk about living in denial!
  21. Buggs Raplin
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    Buggs Raplin - April 04, 2013 8:59 am
    Lowry is by far the best columnist the Tribune publishes on a regular basis. In this masterpiece, I just love the way he turns the tables on the global warming/climate change fanatics labeling them as they have derisively labeled us, as deniers.
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