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Is the Pace of Global Warming Increasing? Specialists Cannot Reach a Consensus.
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Is the Pace of Global Warming Increasing? Specialists Cannot Reach a Consensus.

A leading figure in modern climate science has issued a warning that the Earth is not only experiencing a gradual increase in temperature, but that the rate of this increase is alarmingly accelerating. This study has been met with some criticism from other scientists who believe it may be exaggerated.

The recent actions of James Hansen, a former top scientist at NASA who now advocates against the use of fossil fuels due to their contribution to climate change, highlight a growing divide among scientists regarding the severity of global warming and its potential escalation.

Hansen, known for his impactful congressional testimony in 1988 that raised awareness about the dangers of climate change, stated on Thursday that the rate of warming has increased by 50% since 2010. He believes this is due to a rise in solar energy in the atmosphere and a decrease in reflective particles, resulting from pollution reduction efforts. The reduction of these particles has led to a decrease in their cooling effect.

Hansen stated that a crucial computation used to determine the extent of global warming caused by carbon emissions indicates significantly faster warming than what the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts. He declared that the global objective of capping warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius since pre-industrial times is “completely dead” and that the less strict goal of 2 degrees Celsius is also in grave danger. This is significant because higher average global temperatures result in more frequent and severe extreme weather incidents.

In a press conference, Hansen stated that the coming years will demonstrate an increase in the rate of global warming, which is supported by basic principles of physics.

According to Hansen, who has earned the nickname “Godfather of Global Warming,” the planet is currently experiencing an unprecedented level of imbalance in its energy levels.

Many climate experts consulted by The Associated Press showed doubt regarding Hansen’s research, mixed with admiration for his extensive research over time.

James Hansen

James Hansen

According to climate scientist Robin Lamboll from Imperial College London, Hansen’s recent research published in Thursday’s edition of Oxford Open Climate Change lacks analytical depth and consistency checks. The study makes claims that are considered outside of the norm and appears to be more focused on persuading policymakers rather than fellow scientists.

Michael Mann, a climate researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, recently responded to claims made by Hansen about the acceleration of global warming. Mann argued that while warming is indeed increasing, it is not accelerating as quickly as Hansen suggests. He also stated that the current state of climate change is already severe and there is no need to exaggerate its impact. Mann acknowledged the importance of heeding Hansen’s warnings and advice, but noted that when ideas are as unconventional as Hansen’s, they must be supported by strong evidence. In Mann’s opinion, Hansen has not met this standard.

However, upon examining data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, it appears that Hansen’s models are supported.

According to Hansen’s research, the global temperature increased by 0.18 degrees Celsius per decade between 1970 and 2010. However, it is projected that this rate will rise to at least 0.27 degrees Celsius per decade after 2010. Data from NOAA confirms that this has been the rate since September 2010.

The beginning date is significant because it marks the point at which scientists were able to observe the impact of regulations on reducing aerosol pollution and sulfur levels in fuel used by ships, according to Hansen. This kind of conventional pollution, which consists of soot, has a cooling effect that hides a portion of the warming caused by the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas, as stated by Hansen and numerous other scientists.

Scientists are attempting to determine the potential future and past changes in temperature, and a key factor in this investigation is climate sensitivity. This refers to the amount of warming that occurs when the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere doubles. While there is still debate among scientists, the most recent U.N. climate panel estimates this range to be between 2 degrees Celsius and 5 degrees Celsius, with the most probable range being between 2.5 and 4 degrees Celsius, and 3 degrees Celsius serving as a suitable midpoint.

According to Hansen’s research, the temperature is estimated to be 4.8 degrees Celsius. This falls within the largest range, but only just.

A structure is engulfed in flames as a wildfire called the Highland Fire burns in Aguanga, Calif., Oct. 30, 2023.

A building is on fire due to a wildfire known as the Highland Fire in Aguanga, California on October 30, 2023.

According to Hansen, the reason for the high temperature is due to previous studies relying on incorrect calculations of the rate at which the world heated up between glacial periods.

Previous estimations relied on the analysis of fossils from plants and animals, assuming that microorganisms would not be able to adjust to higher temperatures but would instead relocate to reach their preferred temperature range. However, according to Hansen, recent studies indicate that these organisms are capable of adapting and remaining in their original location. When Hansen’s team used chemical markers instead of biological ones to calculate past temperature changes, it revealed a significantly faster rate of warming when carbon dioxide levels doubled in the Earth’s ancient past.

According to climate scientist Zeke Hausfather from Berkeley Earth and the tech company Stripe, research on climate sensitivity has yielded conflicting results. One recent study found a sensitivity of 2.8 degrees, rather than the previously reported 4.8 degrees. Hausfather stated that while Hansen’s calculations are not impossible, they are not strongly supported by existing literature.

Rob Jackson, a climate scientist at Stanford University, expressed his trust in Hansen despite his support for a particular cause. Jackson believes that Hansen’s belief that the IPCC has underestimated the impact of climate change will ultimately be proven correct.

According to Hansen, a newer climate model that has been criticized by the U.N. for predicting higher temperatures is actually more precise than the ones favored by most mainstream climate scientists due to its focus on cloud patterns in the southern ocean.

In the past month, scientists have been divided on the state of the globe due to a powerful El Nino phenomenon, which typically causes a temporary rise in global temperatures and has resulted in record-breaking heat in both the atmosphere and deep sea.

According to Mann, the global warming currently occurring is in line with previous predictions and does not indicate anything out of the ordinary or a sudden acceleration. He also stated that the reported increases are not statistically significant.

According to Hausfather, the pace of global warming is accelerating, although his calculations show a rate of 0.24 degrees Celsius per decade compared to Hansen’s 0.27 degrees.