Climate Change: The Planet and Public Support are Cooling
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – The planet may be cooling after all. This is not the opinion of some flat earth advocate group. It's from BBC News. The report is has caused some stirring among climatologists.
In his article “What Happened to Global Warming?” (October 9, 2009) BBC Climate correspondent, Paul Hudson says that it may “come as a bit of a surprise, so too might that fact that the warmest year recorded globally was not in 2008 or 2007, but in 1998. But it is true. For the last 11 years we have not observed any increase in global temperatures.”
At the same time, a recent Gallup polls (May 29, 2009) shows public support for the view is also cooling. “The number of Americans who say the media have exaggerated global warming jumped to a record 41 percent in 2009, up from 35 percent a year ago.”
Further, global warming placed last among eight environmental concerns Gallup asked respondents to rank, with water pollution landing the top spot.
Back to the controversy. According to research conducted by Professor Don Easterbrook from Western Washington University last November, the oceans and global temperatures are correlated. The oceans, he says, have a cycle in which they warm and cool cyclically. The most important one is the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO).
For much of the 1980s and 1990s, it was in a positive cycle, that means warmer than average. And observations have revealed that global temperatures were warm too. But in the last few years it has been losing its warmth and has recently started to cool down. These cycles in the past have lasted for nearly 30 years.
So are we headed for global warming or cooling. We should recall the Time magazine 1974 feature that predicted the former (“Another Ice Age?”, June 24, 1974). “The earth's current climate is something of an anomaly; in the past 700,000 years, there have been at least seven major episodes of glaciers spreading over much of the planet. Temperatures have been as high as they are now only about 5% of the time.”
While we can’t be so sure about the direction of the planet’s climate, the view of American people is definitely cooling.
That Gallup poll showed global warming placed last among eight environmental concerns Gallup asked respondents to rank, with water pollution landing the top spot.
For the first time in 25 years of polling, more Americans care about economic growth than the environment. Just 42 percent of people surveyed said the environment takes precedence over growth, while 51 percent asserted expansion carries more weight. That reverses results from 2008, when 49 percent of respondents said the environment was paramount and 42 percent said economic growth came first.
Other polls confirm the change in public opinion. In a July Rasmussen poll, 56 percent said they didn't want to pay higher taxes or utility bills to generate clean energy and fight global warming. A January Pew poll placed global warming last among the top 20 priorities Americans have for 2009. Nos. 1 and 2? The economy and jobs.
All this is not good news cap-and-trade proposals, which are currently are on hold. Congressional proposals are predicted to knock off 1% from the country’s GDP, with loss of jobs, higher taxes and utility bills. A significant price to pay during a worldwide economic downturn and sluggish recovery --- which may be why the proposal is cooling off in Congressional limbo.