At a time when we need to clarify public confusion about the science and economics of climate change, the 16 scientists have muddied the waters. Their first claim is that the planet is not warming.
More precisely, “Perhaps the most inconvenient fact is the lack of global warming for well over 10 years now." It’s easy to get lost in the tiniest details here.
In part one of this Yale Global series, Nordhaus responds to the essay, pointing out faults in the skeptics’ review of climate modeling, temperature trends and basic cost-benefit analysis.
The skeptics contend that uncertainties do not warrant alarm or huge investments to launch a transition away from fossil fuels.
One of the reasons that drawing conclusions on temperature trends is tricky is that the historical temperature series is highly volatile.
The presence of short-term volatility requires looking at long-term trends. Suppose an analyst says that because real stock prices have declined over the last decade, which is true, it follows that there’s no upward trend.
The divergent trend is especially pronounced after 1980.
By 2005, calculations using natural sources alone under-predict the actual temperature increases by about 0.7 degrees Centigrade, while calculations including human sources track the actual temperature trend closely.
Global warming can do more than just melt polar ice and change weather patterns throughout the world.
It can change our maps, displace people from tropical islands and cities, and cause famine.