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Do Global Warming Models Have A Key Assumption Wrong?
June 29, 2009

A new peer-reviewed paper to be published in the Journal of Climate by two meteorologists from the University of Alabama at Huntsville argues that the relationship assumed by virtually all climate models that temperature changes cause clouds to change, and not the other way around, could generate forecasts predicting greater global warming than actually will be experienced. The paper doesn't attempt to disprove the theory of global warming being manmade. Rather it offers an alternative theory that our climate system has the potential for greatly reducing the estimated manmade impact on the Earth's climate.

Quoting from an interview Dr. Roy Spencer, the principal investigator, gave to ScienceDaily.com, he said, "Our paper is an important step toward validating a gut instinct that many meteorologists like myself have had over the years that the climate system is dominated by stabilizing processes, rather than destabilizing processes -- that is, negative feedback rather than positive feedback."

He went on to say, "Since the cloud changes could conceivably be caused by known long-term modes of climate variability -- such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, or El Nino and La Nina -- some, or even most, of the global warming seen in the last century could simply be due to natural fluctuations in the climate system."

Dr. Spencer commented, "Unfortunately, so far we have been unable to figure out a way to separate cause and effect when observing natural climate variability. That's why most climate experts don't like to think in terms of causality, and instead just examine how clouds and temperature vary together." This simple assumption could be causing most global warming models to over-estimate the impact of manmade forces on the climate.

"Our work has convinced me that cause and effect really do matter. If we get the causation wrong, it can greatly impact our interpretation of what nature has been trying to tell us. Unfortunately, in the process it also makes the whole global warming problem much more difficult to figure out." So here we have a scientific review of a critical assumption built into the global warming models that could alter their results - not necessarily change the conclusion that manmade forces are having, and will continue to have, an impact on the future climate of the Earth.

So while many global warming alarmists focus on the accelerating view of the temperature rise and the maximum damage it might cause to our climate, quite possibly they are over-estimating that impact. Research such Dr. Spencer's raises serious and legitimate questions about the global warming models underlying the proposed economic changes being debated. As Dr. Spencer suggests, "if we get the causation wrong" maybe we are misinterpreting the data we are getting. Maybe we should do more research and analysis before radically altering our economy. The climate debate, in our view, isn't over - it's really still in the early stages.

(Allen Brooks is Managing Director with Houston-based Parks Paton Hoepfl & Brown Energy Investment Banking, L.P. This article originally appeared in the June 23, 2009, issue of PPHB's "Musings from the Oil Patch" newsletter.)

Source: Allen Brooks, Parks Paton Hoepfl & Brown Energy Investment Banking, L.P.

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