Has Michael Mann Become A Climate Change ‘Denier’ Now?

  • Date: 24/02/16
  • Ronald Bailey, Reason Online

Lots of climate researchers and climate change activists have been discombobulated by the fact that global average temperature increases have been considerably slower during the first years of this century than most climate models projected. There have been scores of studies that have tried to explain away this inconvenient fact. One of the more heralded studies was published by researchers associated with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in June, 2015. That study eliminated the hiatus by controversially adjusting ocean temperature data derived from robot buoys to match earlier data temperature data taken by ocean-going ships.

Now a group of climate researchers in Nature Climate Change have published an article, “Making sense of the early-2000s warming,” that argues the hiatus is real and not well understood. Interestingly, it includes as co-authors some of the more prominent climate researchers who have challenged the notion of the “pause.” For example, last June, Pennsylvania State University climatologist Michael Mann crowed:

Just out in Science is a new article by Tom Karl of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center and colleagues driving another stake through the heart of the supposed “hiatus” or “pause,” i.e. what I like to call the “Faux Pause.”

I expect this article will be attacked by climate change deniers who are unhappy to see the demise of a narrative they helped frame, a narrative that arguably took hold due in part to the “seepage” of contrarian framing into mainstream climate science discourse.

Mann is now a co-author on the new study that pulls that stake out:

It has been claimed that the early-2000s global warming slowdown or hiatus, characterized by a reduced rate of global surface warming, has been overstated, lacks sound scientific basis, or is unsupported by observations. The evidence presented here contradicts these claims.

Has Mann become climate change “denier” now?  Hardly.

About the new study, Nature News reports:

The latest salvo in an ongoing row over global-warming trends claims that warming has indeed slowed down this century.

An apparent slowing in the rise of global temperatures at the beginning of the twenty-first century, which is not explained by climate models, was referred to as a “hiatus” or a “pause” when first observed several years ago. Climate-change sceptics have used this as evidence that global warming has stopped. But in June last year, a study in Science claimed that the hiatus was just an artefact which vanishes when biases in temperature data are corrected.

Now a prominent group of researchers is countering that claim, arguing in Nature Climate Change that even after correcting these biases the slowdown was real.

“There is this mismatch between what the climate models are producing and what the observations are showing,” says lead author John Fyfe, a climate modeller at the Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis in Victoria, British Columbia. “We can’t ignore it.”

Fyfe uses the term “slowdown” rather than “hiatus” and stresses that it does not in any way undermine global-warming theory.

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