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Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Nordhaus: Why the Global Warming Skeptics Are Wrong

William Nordhaus takes on the climate skeptics:

...I have identified six key issues..., and I provide commentary about their substance and accuracy. They are:

  • Is the planet in fact warming?
  • Are human influences an important contributor to warming?
  • Is carbon dioxide a pollutant?
  • Are we seeing a regime of fear for skeptical climate scientists?
  • Are the views of mainstream climate scientists driven primarily by the desire for financial gain?
  • Is it true that more carbon dioxide and additional warming will be beneficial?

As I will indicate below, on each of these questions, the sixteen scientists provide incorrect or misleading answers. ,,,. I will describe their mistakes and explain the findings of current climate science and economics.

1. The 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 is easy to get lost in the tiniest details here. Most people will benefit from stepping back and looking at the record of actual temperature measurements. The figure below shows data from 1880 to 2011 on global mean temperature averaged from three different sources.2 We do not need any complicated statistical analysis to see that temperatures are rising, and furthermore that they are higher in the last decade than they were in earlier decades.3


One of the reasons that drawing conclusions on temperature trends is tricky is that the historical temperature series is highly volatile, as can be seen in the figure. The presence of short-term volatility requires looking at long-term trends. ...

The finding that global temperatures are rising over the last century-plus is one of the most robust findings of climate science and statistics. ...[continue reading]...

    Posted by on Wednesday, March 7, 2012 at 09:40 AM in Economics, Environment, Regulation | Permalink  Comments (75)


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