Global Warming and Cooling, Climate Change Versus Weather
Much ado has been made [ark | moreark] regarding a study last week in Nature which found that global warming may slow or even temporarily cool over the coming decade. This was seized upon by all sorts of climate skeptics [search] and charlatans to suggest climate change is not so important after all. I have three brief responses.
Firstly, the rise in average global temperature is only one way to characterize change in atmospheric patterns and processes. It is becoming apparent that broader extremes around temperature averages — as demonstrated by unusual weather events, including quite possibly the cyclone in Myanmar [ark] — may be the greater harm. This is why “climate change” has long been recognized as a better term than “global warming” to communicate these dynamics.
Secondly, as RealClimate points out in their post “Global Cooling – Wanna Bet?” — this study and other recent coverage of a lack of warming in recent years are flawed because they compare long term climate change to short term weather variability [search]. There have been lulls, peaks and troughs in the plainly evident past human-caused global warming and there will be as we go forward. As various oscillations break down and the climate becomes more chaotic, it is probable various feedbacks will temporarily lead to cooling.
And lastly, let us keep in mind that climate change is but one symptom of a larger systematic break down in the biosphere. Water scarcity, soil depletion, lifeless oceans, biodiversity extinction, bioaccumulating toxics and many other ecological crises illustrate humanity's numbers and consumption patterns overwhelming global ecosystems which make life possible. The science is clear and settled, climate is inexorably warming and becoming more unpredictable, exacerbating these other ecological crises and threatening to dramatically change what it means to live on the planet Earth.