Elizabeth writes, “Randall Carlson, can you look at his data and still maintain our recent temperature increases are just an anomaly?” Linking to the controversial New York Times article, “The Conversion of a Climate Change Skeptic”
I am responding to the question you raised regarding my opinion of the New York Times article on the recent work of physicist Richard Muller on climate change. You asked: “Can you look at his data and still maintain our recent temperature increases are just an anomaly?” My first impression is that you have not understood my position on this issue. To clarify that position, I would state that I do not consider the present warming of the climate to be an anomaly, rather I believe that the present scale and rate of climate change is well within the range of natural variability, and is, therefore, not anomalous at all. This opinion is based upon nearly three decades of in-depth study into the matter of climate change over multiple time scales. What has become apparent, from an ever growing body of evidence, from many diverse sources, is that the climate of the past has constantly changed, with a range of variability far exceeding anything experienced within recent history, say for example, since the inception of the Industrial Revolution.
Certainly you must be aware that our planet has undergone a series of glacial-interglacial ages, with the most recent great Ice Age ending only 10,000 years ago. The termination of that ice age was truly a global warming event. From a variety of proxies, most especially isotopic studies of ice cores extracted from glacial ice in Antarctica, Greenland and numerous mountain glaciers, it has become apparent that the warming that accompanied the shift out of the most recent ice age was extreme in its severity and catastrophically fast, perhaps as much as 15 to 20 degrees C in less than a decade. This is many times more intense than the .8 C degree warming of the last two centuries. In fact there were two catastrophic warming episodes at the close of the ice age separated by a 1400 year, equally fast, return to full glacial cold. As of this writing there is no agreed upon explanation for this climate change event. I will not at this point digress into the subject of what that warming did to the 6 million cubic miles of glacial ice piled up over the North American and European continents, nor the consequences of a very rapid, 400 foot sea level rise (!!) resulting from the melting of that glacial ice, except to say that the ensuing floods could only be described as biblical in scale, causing environmental havoc on a scale almost impossible to visualize. I will add that very few scientists are yet to be truly aware of the extraordinarily catastrophic nature of the events accompanying the planetary shift out of the last Ice Age. Coming to grips with natural climate changes of a scale and intensity of that most recent glacial termination, constitutes, in my opinion, the paramount unresolved scientific question of our time. It may, in fact, have led to the near extermination of the human race.
Additionally, ongoing studies of the palaeoclimate record are revealing numerous other extreme climate changes occurring over multiple time scales, none of which can be blamed on anthropogenic consumption of fossil fuels. Throughout the 10,000 years of the Holocene (the current geological epoch in which we find ourselves) the natural variability of the global temperature appears to have ranged from about 2 to 4 degrees C over time scales ranging from decades to centuries. From the ice core records it is apparent that at no time has there been any significant period of stable climate, rather it has been in a constant state of flux; and, human societies have frequently been the victims of the planets’ natural climate variability.
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