Is global warming just a giant natural fluctuation?
An analysis of temperature data since 1500 all but rules out the possibility that global warming in the industrial era is a natural fluctuation in the climate, according to a new study. The study represents a new approach to the question of whether global warming has been caused largely by man-made emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.
Rather than using complex computer models to estimate the effects of greenhouse-gas emissions, Lovejoy examines historical data to assess the competing hypothesis: that warming over the past century is due to natural long-term variations in temperature.
“This study will be a blow to any remaining climate-change deniers,” Lovejoy says. “Their two most convincing arguments, that the warming is natural in origin, and that the computer models are wrong, are either directly contradicted by this analysis, or simply do not apply to it.”
Lovejoy’s study applies statistical methodology to determine the probability that global warming since 1880 is due to natural variability. His conclusion: the natural-warming hypothesis may be ruled out “with confidence levels great than 99%, and most likely greater than 99.9%.”