I’ve lost count of the number of recent papers in peer-reviewed science journals that conclude that climate sensitivity to greenhouse gas emissions is overstated. (Here’s the summary and abstract of the most recent one I have seen.) There are three new studies bearing on the issue that even Science magazine, which reported them this week, can’t help but note cast doubt on the high-end alarmist predictions.
Some background: Up to this point, climate scientists—and more importantly their models—assumed, without any empirical evidence, that there were fewer clouds in the pre-industrial era before the slight warming trend of the last 200 years began. Climate models assume that human emissions, especially sulfur dioxide particles, have increased cloud cover over the last two centuries, which has masked some of the expected temperature rise from increased CO2. (This is one of the contributing explanations for the recent temperature pause.)
New research from the CERN scientists in Europe suggest that this assumption was wrong. Here’s the lede of Science magazine’s report:
By Tim Wogan
Clouds need to condense around small particles called aerosols to form, and human aerosol pollution—primarily in the form of sulfuric acid—has made for cloudier skies. That’s why scientists have generally assumed Earth’s ancient skies were much sunnier than they are now. But today, three new studies show how naturally emitted gases from trees can also form the seed particles for clouds. The results not only point to a cloudier past, but they also indicate a potentially cooler future: If Earth’s climate is less sensitive to rising carbon dioxide (CO2) levels, as the study suggests, future temperatures may not rise as quickly as predicted. (Emphasis added.)
Here’s how the Associated Press is reporting it:
A new discovery about how clouds form may scale back some of the more dire predictions about temperature increases caused by man-made global warming. That’s because it implies that a key assumption for making such predictions is a bit off.
It’s a small but important step on our way to the Emily Litella moment of climate change when we will say, as we did with the population bomb, “never mind.” The only question is how many hundreds of billions we’re going to waste lining the pockets of doom-mongering rent seekers like Al Gore before we get there.