Year 2, Month 11, Day 30: I Feel A Tingle…

Look, everybody! Actual, unambiguous good news:

A new study in the journal Science suggests that the global climate may be less sensitive to carbon dioxide fluctuations than predicted by the most extreme projections, and maybe slightly less than the best estimates of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Andreas Schmittner, a climate scientist at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Ore., and lead author on the new study, notes that, while man-made global warming is happening and tiny changes in global average temperatures can have huge and deleterious effects, the atmosphere may not be as sensitive to carbon dioxide change as has been reported.

“We used paleoclimate data to look at climate sensitivity to CO2 doubling in the atmosphere, and we are coming up with a somewhat lower value,” says Schmittner.

How long before James Inhofe suddenly discovers that science is cool and groovy? Sent November 26:

The authors of the newly released study on climate sensitivity very carefully note that while their conclusions suggest lower values than the IPCC’s more extreme projections, this does not diminish either the reality of global climate change or the importance of a robust policy on greenhouse emissions. But since the precise, reality-based language of scientists is incomprehensible to politicians desperately seeking excuses to avoid confronting inconvenient choices in an election season, we can anticipate a chorus of conservative legislators eagerly ignoring their cautionary words.

Andreas Schmittner’s historically grounded examination of paleoclimate data should not be used to bolster the usual denialist shibboleths. Employing these hopeful findings as an argument for inaction on the gravest existential threat our species has yet faced is the twisted logic of a cancer patient who, when told that the progress of the disease is slower than doctors’ worst-case projections, resumes smoking five packs a day.

Warren Senders