Skip to content

Joseph Perkins: The Deus Ex Machina Of Climate Science

Joseph Perkins, Orange County Register

Climate “deniers” have been vindicated by the lack of planetary warming over the past 15 years. And if they were right about that, then maybe they are also right that the threat posed by global warming has been greatly exaggerated.

Euripides was one of the great tragedians in the ancient Greek theater. He was perhaps best known for his employment of a plot device known as deus ex machina, which is translated from the Latin as “god from the machine.”

Merriam-Webster defines it as “a person or thing (as in fiction or drama) that appears or is introduced suddenly and unexpectedly and provides a contrived solution to an apparently insoluble difficulty.”

That brings me to the article published last week in the journal Science that purports to explain why there has been a sudden and unexpected “global warming pause” since 1999.

The decade and a half “slowdown” in warming, posits co-authors Ka-Kit Tung, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Washington, and Xianyao Chen, an oceanographer at the Ocean University in China, “is mainly caused by heat transported to deeper layers in the Atlantic and the Southern oceans, initiated by a recurrent salinity anomaly in the subpolar North Atlantic.”

There’s the deus ex machina Euripides would use if he was a modern-day climate change scientist.

Indeed, for many years now, global warming alarmists have scarily warned that the Earth is overheating and that human beings are the culprit. The only way to save the planet, they agreed, was for the world’s industrial powers – beginning with the United States, of course – to declare war on fossil fuels.

But the scary warnings, the call to arms against King Coal and Big Oil, have been undermined by the inconvenient truth that there has been no global warming to speak of since 1999.

That has proven an insoluble difficulty for the scientific community, much of which believes, as an article of faith, that anthropogenic global warming is a threat to life as we know it on Earth. They had to contrive some explanation or another for the unforeseen pause in warming.

So climate change scientists have proposed more than a dozen theories, according to Emily Gosden, energy editor for the Telegraph newspaper in Great Britain, as to why the planet hasn’t heated up over the past 15 years as much as computer models have predicted.

Enter Tung and Chen with their theory that the missing heat has somehow sank to deeper layers of the Atlantic and Southern oceans; and that this putative “anomaly” – the deux ex machina – is attributable to especially salty ocean water.

But here’s the problem with the science on which the theory by Tung and Chen is predicated – it is at odds with the prevailing view of their fellow climate change researchers that the missing heat of the past 15 years is being stored at deeper layers of the Pacific, rather than the Atlantic and Southern oceans.

Indeed, a paper released last year by Yu Kosaka and Shang-Ping Xie, climate modelers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, concluded that the global warming pause could be entirely explained by variations over the past decade and half in the El Nino-La Nina cycle in the tropical Pacific.

The upshot is that neither Tung and Chen, nor Kosaka and Xie, nor global warming alarmists, can truly explain why the planet has not heated up as much as so wrongly predicted.

Five years ago this month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a “State of the Climate” report in which contributors – including the world’s foremost climate modelers – agreed that 15 or more years without global warming would mean that the doomsday predictions were wrong.

Well, we’ve had 15 years of stable, rather than increasing, global temperatures, yet climate change scientists refuse to concede that global warming is not the imminent threat to life as know it on planet Earth that they led us to believe.

Instead, they have resorted to the scientific equivalent of the long con: They tell us we can expect yet another 15 years of stable temperatures before global warming returns.

Full post