New study : Earth’s climate is not as sensitive to carbon dioxide as IPCC claims

ECM sent me this article from the Economist concerning some recent research that was published in the prestigious peer-reviewed journal Science.


Climate science is famously complicated, but one useful number to keep in mind is “climate sensitivity”. This measures the amount of warming that can eventually be expected to follow a doubling in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in its most recent summary of the science behind its predictions, published in 2007, estimated that, in present conditions, a doubling of CO2 would cause warming of about 3°C, with uncertainty of about a degree and a half in either direction.

[…]But a paper published in this week’s Science, by Andreas Schmittner of Oregon State University, suggests it is not. In Dr Schmittner’s analysis, the climate is less sensitive to carbon dioxide than was feared.

Existing studies of climate sensitivity mostly rely on data gathered from weather stations, which go back to roughly 1850. Dr Schmittner takes a different approach. His data come from the peak of the most recent ice age, between 19,000 and 23,000 years ago. His group is not the first to use such data (ice cores, fossils, marine sediments and the like) to probe the climate’s sensitivity to carbon dioxide. But their paper is the most thorough. Previous attempts had considered only small regions of the globe. He has compiled enough information to make a credible stab at recreating the climate of the entire planet.

[…]The group’s most likely figure for climate sensitivity is 2.3°C, which is more than half a degree lower than the consensus figure, with a 66% probability that it lies between 1.7° and 2.6°C. More importantly, these results suggest an upper limit for climate sensitivity of around 3.2°C.

I think that it is a good thing for the reputation of scientists that articles like this can be published at all. I have lost a lot of confidence in government-funded science lately, especially when the conclusion of the government-funded research supports the need for more government and high taxes.

In case you missed my recent post on the newly-release Climategate e-mails, then you should read that to see how biased climate scientists can be.

Here are the latest surface temperature measurements.

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