Hold your horses, Al Gore. To paraphrase Bob Dylan: The winds of change might be a blowin’.
A new study from the journal Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences found human beings are not the primary contributors to global warming. As it turns out, natural variability in the Earth’s atmosphere plays a crucial role in climate change.
The study, conducted by Jim Johnstone, who worked on it while a climatologist at the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean at the University of Washington, does not refute climate change. Rather, he and others find that warming temperatures attributed to climate change in the Pacific Ocean off of the West Coast are tied to natural shifting winds.
He is not alone.
“It’s a simple story, but the results are very surprising: We do not see a human hand in the warming of the West Coast,” the study’s co-author, Nate Mantua, now with NOAA Fisheries’ Southwest Fisheries Science Center, told the Seattle Times.
And Anthony Lupo, an associate professor of atmospheric science at the University of Missouri – Columbia, and member of the National Weather Association, told The College Fix in an email that “climate change can be caused by a number of factors, including human.”
The majority of media pundits and global warming alarmists, Lupo told The Fix, are adherents of the idea that anthropogenic warming, or warming caused by humans, is the primary cause of climate change. Other scientists in the meteorological field are more skeptical, he said.
“They believe the ratio of natural (causes) to human (causes) is roughly 50-50, and there are those, like myself, who assess a smaller contribution for humans. But anyone who discounts a natural contribution is out to lunch.”
“We’ve gotten to the point where it’s taken on faith, humans drive everything. It’s simply not true,” Lupo told The Fix.
There have been other top-notch climatologists that have come out in support of the view that nature plays a principle role in climate change. For example, Dr. Horst-Joachim Lüdecke, a climate scientist at Germany’s Saarland University, published a paper in the climate-science journal Energy and Environment showing that the sun, not humans, largely drives climate change.
His analysis showed that changes in the Sun’s output of energy, sunspots, are what really drive temperature changes on Earth.
“It is the unprecedentedly rapid recovery of the Sun’s activity over the past 300 years – far stronger than anyone had previously suspected – that has been the chief driver of global warming in recent decades. We have very little to do with it.”
Statistician Caleb Rossiter, a professor at American University, stood his ground that global warming is “unproved science” even after being fired as an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies for his stance. Rossiter does believe there has been a slight uptick in temperatures, but nothing akin to the gloom and doom some scholars have suggested.
“So there is really two big statistical questions: what caused the little warming, and what effect did the warming have on these other climate variables?” he told The College Fix in June. “You couldn’t have this many terrible effects from a half a degree rise in global temperature. It’s probable that there are some, but it gets a little boring because it’s always weak data, because that is the nature of a tremendously complex system.”
As for the recent wind study, it compared ocean surface temperatures from 1900 to 2012 to surface area temperature during that same period and found a close match between the two.
The research found wind circulation accounts for more than 80 percent of surface temperature warming over the U.S. Pacific coast states and more than 90 percent of warming over Washington, Oregon, and northern California. What’s more, according to Johnstone’s research, the warming trends from the past 100 years are reduced significantly if wind circulation is not factored into meteorological data.
If anthropogenic warming had the strongest influence on land and sea temperatures, then those temperatures would have been very different, Johnstone told the Los Angeles Times.
The temperature increases on the Coasts, however, occurred before 1940, when greenhouse gas concentrations were lower and winds were weaker, the study found. In fact, according to the study, since 1980 greenhouse gasses have increased even as wind speeds strengthened and ocean temperatures cooled.
“What we found was the somewhat surprising degree to which the winds can explain all the wiggles in the temperature curve,” Johnstone told the Associated Press.
Indeed, when coastal winds shift and ebb, they result in less evaporation from the sea’s surface, which then results in low-pressure systems and higher overall air temperatures.
Johnstone and Mantua’s research is receiving push back from a number of climate scientists who question how the researchers could possibly argue that wind changes are a matter of nature and not global warming.
The research is new and fresh, so there needs to be a certain amount of time for scientists to ruminate on the importance of the discovery. But, as Mantua claimed, the study is “taking people by surprise, and may generate some blowback.”
College Fix contributor Christopher White is a University of Missouri graduate student and an editorial assistant for The College Fix.
IMAGE: Brett Tatman/Flickr