The New York Times ran an op-ed today by Adam Sobel, an “atmospheric scientist at Columbia.” The gist of Sobel’s article: Since 2005, the United States has been experiencing a hurricane “drought” (i.e., no category 3 or higher hurricane has made landfall in 11 years.) But don’t worry, Sobel says, there will be more hurricanes soon, and the fact that they will be coming is proof of man-made climate change.
Yes, that’s what he’s saying.
The question is whether Sobel is writing the op-ed to buck himself up, or hoping to cheerlead the rest of the alarmist crowd. After all, the computer models that have predicted global warming have also predicted more hurricanes. But real-life observations continue to divergefrom what computer models have actually predicted.
It’s somewhat baffling that the New York Timeswould publish such an essentially meaningless opinion. But the mainstream media have long since thrown in its lot with the alarmist crowd.
Regardless, there are problems with Sobel’s op-ed…
Sobel says that “significant global warming, over a degree and a half Fahrenheit, has already occurred since preindustrial days.” That’s essentially accurate. The Earth has warmed by roughly 0.8 degrees Celsius since the late 1800s. But whether one views it as “significant” depends on context. Given the accumulatingevidence of global climate changes over the past few thousand years, such a net increase over a span of roughly 130 years seems relatively mild—and typical of the climate variations seen during the latter part of the current interglacial epoch.
There’s also the greater issue of cause. Sobel naturally assumes that this increase in temperatures is driven entirely by increased emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2). But many climate skeptics would argue that this mild uptick is the result of a large-scale increase in solar output over the past 130 years. And while solar irradiance has increased in that time, it is the associated variations in solar winds and the solar magnetic field that contribute significantly to changes in global climate, thanks to their influence on atmospheric ionization and cloud formation.