Rodney Hide: Winds give pause for thought

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Global warming has been blown into the Pacific Ocean. Photo / Natalie Slade
Global warming has been blown into the Pacific Ocean. Photo / Natalie Slade

The news broke this week: "Pacific winds 'pause' global warming". The story is that big winds have blown the warming that was predicted into the ocean. That's why global warming hasn't happened. It's only a pause, though. Scientists predict that when the Pacific trade winds slow global warming will take off with a bang.

Armageddon remains on. Climate scientists say the best policy is still one that bombs us back to feudal times.

And which continues to fund their research.

The study's lead researcher, Professor Matthew England, says temperatures have flatlined since 2000.

They didn't shoot up with increasing CO2 emissions as the climate models predicted.

That's why England's research has been such big news. The idea that tradewinds drove the warming 300m into the Pacific Ocean provides the very fix the models need.

England explains that it's not that the models are wrong.

It's just that they are better at predicting climate a hundred years out than 10 years out or, for that matter, the weather tomorrow.

One hundred years is a long time to have to wait to see if the models are correct.

The poor results so far don't prove anything. And none of us will be alive to see if the models are actually correct.

Meanwhile, by adding more variables, scientists explain the anomalies.

It's not hard to do. The great mathematician John von Neumann said: "With four parameters I can fit an elephant, and with five I can make him wiggle his trunk." It's easy after the event to add another variable to get a model to match what actually happened.

England is based at the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales. The centre is already famous for having Professor Chris Turney.

It was the Turney-led expedition which became stuck in ice over summer while highlighting global warming's effect on Antarctica.

There is progress though. England accepts that the Earth's temperatures have flatlined. He didn't always. Just over a year ago England said that "the projections of that [IPCC] report have actually come true", and that anyone saying otherwise was lying.

England now says the projections haven't come true - temperatures have stayed flat - but that temperatures have stayed flat because the wind has blown the warming into the ocean.

It's also noteworthy that England doesn't know what is driving the wind upswing. It could be natural variation. Or some other climate factor.

It's also not clear, he says, when air temperatures will start rising again. It seems the science isn't as settled as we were led to believe. Meanwhile, we continue to pay and pay because of predictions from the computer models that scientists were once so sure about.

- Herald on Sunday

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