Monday, 16 September 2013

Professor Hans von Storch: Climate scientist "jump with enthusiasm to the first best explanation that doen't shake up our worldview"

The distinguished German climate researcher, professor Hans von Storch, who admits that global temperatures have stopped rising for the past 15 years, says that "climate scientists too easily jump to conclusions:

But what is clear is that we have indeed had very little warming over the past 15 years. And this development is different from what we had projected. If this was to continue and global temperatures basically did not rise at all, we'll have a problem.
So would it be better to do away with such projections and estimates?
No. But it's sound scientific practice that with every theory, you have to be ready to say: "If I observe this or that in the future, then I'll have to draw the conclusion that my findings are incomplete, or not correct."
And this wasn't the case with global warming?
No. Also the story we're dealing with now, about the cooler eastern Pacific, is only being explained in retrospect - trying to explain why we haven't have any warming over the past 15 years. But these sorts of explanations always have a somewhat stale taste to them. A better one would be to say: "Okay, it could be like this - we can't rule this out - but there also could be other reasons."
On the contrary; they jump with enthusiasm to the first best explanation that doesn't shake up our worldview. But instead, we should be asking why our models don't take certain factors into consideration. Our explanation could be correct, but it might also be that our instruments at this moment are just not as good as we want them to be.
One possibility is that the natural variations in the system are being reflected too weakly. For instance, it could mean that the El Ninos and El Ninas aren't factored in enough. This explanation that we're reading in "Nature" right now is in the same category. It might also be that the models put the concentration of CO2 too high, or that there are other factors not being included - like the sun, for instance, which we haven't considered at all so far.

Read the entire interview here

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