New evidence this week has been released that represents two seemingly contradictory points of view on climate change. The first is that it has been reaffirmed that humans have made significant contributions to changes to global temperatures. This we know and have known for some time. The second piece of evidence is that there does not seem tobe significant evidence to suggest that any warming has occurred in the last 15 years. This is of course good news, however it has been used by some climate skeptics to contradict the first piece of information.
So how can it be that humans have contributed to warming but not in recent times? One theory is that the polluting gases that industrial processes produce are acting like a mirror, rather than a blanket, and deflecting incoming solar radiation to maintain a steady surface temperature. Another theory is that the oceans are essentially absorbing the heat and distributing it at a very slow rate thus reducing the overall impact. A third theory is that we are experiencing a sun spot, a period of time when the energy emitted by the sun reduces. The final theory is that environmental policies introduced in the early 1990s, such as an ending to the use of CFCs in refrigerators and aerosols, have worked.
My opinion is that it is a combination of all of the above but in truth we really don’t know. This should not be ammunition for climate skeptics, who prefer to believe contrary evidence to suit their glutenous lifestyles, but rather food for thought that our climate operates in a dynamic manner where finding equilibrium is a very delicate process.
Click here to find out about the causes and consequences of climate change as described by the Met Office. This is one of my favourite animations to describe climate change- it called Wake Up, Freak Out- then Get a Grip.