Climate change from CO2 may not be as bad as predicted


December 20, 2011

A recent study suggests that global climate may be far less sensitive to carbon dioxide fluctuations than previously predicted (Image Credit: Jon Sullivan via Flickr)

A recent study suggests that global climate may be far less sensitive to carbon dioxide fluctuations than previously predicted (Image Credit: Jon Sullivan via Flickr)

According to a recent study funded by the National Science Foundation's Paleoclimate Program, climate change may be far less sensitive to carbon dioxide fluctuations than previously predicted.

The most notable predictions of CO2-based climate change came from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report in 2007. The report suggested that should the CO2 in the Earth's atmosphere double from pre-Industrial standards (pre-1850), it could result in a global 2 to 4.5 degree Celsius (3.6 - 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit) temperature increase worldwide. The mean level in this finding was 3 degrees Celsius (5 degrees Fahrenheit). This, of course, would be catastrophic, leading to the melting of polar ice, as well as significant sea temperature increases and global flooding due to rising ocean levels.

It appears that that these dire numbers might not be accurate according to a the lead author of the new report, Oregon State University researcher Andreas Schmittner.

"Many previous climate sensitivity studies have looked at the past only from 1850 through today, and not fully integrated paleoclimate date, especially on a global scale," said Schmittner. "When you reconstruct sea and land surface temperatures from the peak of the last Ice Age 21,000 years ago - which is referred to as the Last Glacial Maximum - and compare it with climate model simulations of that period, you get a much different picture.

"If these paleoclimatic constraints apply to the future, as predicted by our model, the results imply less probability of extreme climatic change than previously thought," Schmittner added.

"In fact, a climate sensitivity of more than 6 [degrees] would completely freeze over the planet," Schmittner pointed out. This didn't happen. The ice sheets and glaciation only reached so far toward the equator and then stopped.

Some independent studies have suggested that the CO2 sensitivity might be 10 degrees Celsius or higher, although these studies are deemed "of low probability" by those within the climate change community.

"The best-fitting models had a climate sensitivity of about 2.3 - 2.4 degrees. So that is slightly less than the IPCC best estimate of 3."

Schmittner is also quick to note, however, that his model is far from perfect. For instance, it was unable to take into account changes in clouds once they absorbed sunlight. He expects the study would be much more accurate if cloud changes could somehow be figured in.

The study was published online in the journal Science.

Source: Oregon State University


Well at least it\'s nice to see a formal admission. Anticipate at least 20 hippie suicides in the next 24 hours because Rapture has passed them by.

We skeptics never doubted that a phenomenon was ocurring; just the wild exagerration for political and financial gain - with provable, observable evidence to that effect. A lot of money was made by duping you that the end of the world was coming. You should demand it back.

This was really a debate between generations. Those of us in our forties have seen this kind of thing over and over again. You believe what your own experience in life tells you to believe, and global warming believers can\'t be blamed for being taken hook, line and sinker. It was well played.

Still, expect no slowing in trendy, feelgood alternative power projects. It was never about science anyway. It was about marketing eco-this and green-that to those who would buy.

Todd Dunning

There are so many variables that predicting the weather becomes more difficult the farther into the future one is trying to predict.


\"Schmittner is also quick to note, however, that his model is far from perfect\"

So equally, it may be worse than predicted.

The predictions made in the \'60s have in large part already come to fruition, so I\'ll stick with the \"doomsayers\" thanks. At least that way I\'ll continue getting my electricity, water, housing and transport free, while others whinge about the high cost of living.

Joe Blake

THAT\'S what gizmag (a science and technology website!) takes from that study?

(from the news release announcing the study: )

Schmittner (lead author): \" "It shows that even very small changes in the ocean's surface temperature can have an enormous impact elsewhere, particularly over land areas at mid- to high-latitudes," he added.

Schmittner said continued unabated fossil fuel use could lead to similar warming of the sea surface as reconstruction shows happened between the Last Glacial Maximum and today.

"Hence, drastic changes over land can be expected," he said. "However, our study implies that we still have time to prevent that from happening, if we make a concerted effort to change course soon." \"

kevin d1

Hansen has shown that paleoclimatic data is showing 20 meters (3feet 3 inches/meter) per degree centigrade (slightly less than 2 deg fahrenheit) sea level rise.

Jeffery Green

Glaciation will stop at the... Equator ?!

That means the entire planet is frozen solid....

Bart Viaene

Title is misleading. Even the author admits that his model is terribly flawed because it doesn\'t even account for cloud cover which is absolutely vital in calculations. There are other variables as well that this model doesn\'t cover such as threshhold events like the sudden acceleration in the release of trapped methane.

Kumi Alexander

Ask a geologist.. thats their job. Read proffessor Ian Plimer.


Some comment that that\'s not SCIENCE, otheres comment that the Report PROVES Warmists Religion, let\'s face it, it\'s all about Big Climate\'s Megabucks!

\"Save the trees, save the bees, save the whales... save those snails!\"

Edgar Castelo

Model predictions undoubtedly are indicative. However, the changes that have taken place in the recent past cannot be untrue. Let us weigh the rising temperatures (immaterial of numbers) in its true merit of the events over the recent past so that we do not pass on the most feared challenge to the younger generation.


Todd dunning

I agree that \"global warming\" was overly exaggerated propaganda, and policies that followed after the rise of Eco friendly trend were not truly Eco. The carbon tax is one example. But I\'m part of the \"new\" generation and I cannot agree that alternative power projects should be abandoned. Countries with almost no fuel sources like south Korea spend billions of dollars on importing fuels(oil,gas,coal). If south Korea became energy independent, Koreans would be able to allocate the funds for energy to other sectors in society. Second reason people should search for alternative fuels is to reduce pollution. CO2 is not the only air pollution from burning fossil fuels. Everyone who reads gizmag knows this.

People have been using oil for more than a century now, and I believe it\'s time for a change to a more sustainable and cleaner fuel.

bio-power jeff

Todd Dunning: I am also in my forties. My observation is that the predictions made by a friend\'s father, an actual polar scientist who worked up on the ice for decades have come true. The polar ice cap is shrinking, The glaciers of Greenland are melting, the shipping routes are opening up through areas that used to be locked in ice all year around. At the time (1988)he told me that he suspected that it was pollution and carbon residue that were causing the melt.

Of course, I am watching all of this happen from Oslo and am pleased to say that I have not shoveled one cm2 of snow this year, so I am not crying a river about it but from where my 40+ year old bones stand it looks like climate change sceptics have their heads in the sand.

Alan Belardinelli

Global warming is a fact! Man\'s contirbution towards global warming is a fact! The only question that remains, if man never stepped foot on this planet, the global warming we are experiencing would be exactly the same. Many life forms have come and gone over the last millions of years as a result of global warming and multiple ice ages. Man is only 20,000 years old at best, the earth is millions, do the math.


First I have a problem with the title \"Climate change\" it was called \"global warming\". Second ofter fallowing Durban conference it was clear the global warming movement is not about saving planet , but about \"climate justice\" 100BL $ US annually for poor nation paid by western countries and global shipping tax menage all by UN. I\'m sure the money will acutely get to the pople.

Daniel Boguszewski

That an American government sponsored bunch of scientists should produce this report is about what one would expect. It wreaks of a desperate attempt to justify their nation\'s actions. Pity that a whole heap of other scientists say that they are wrong.

I care enough about my family, present and future, to prefer the precautionary approach. Let us just imagine that this report is correct. If it is and we have spent money on changing to a less polluting enviroment, well all to the good. However, if it is wrong and the IPCC is correct, which, considering the overwhelming amount of science that keeps pouring in to support their position, is highly likely, then future generations are in for a torrid time of it.

It is fitting that the one nation, more than any other, that has done most to hinder action to combat climate change, namely the U.S.A., will be the one most picked on when those that suffer are looking where to apportion blame. Personally, I don\'t think that we are far off a move by the peoples of the world to boycott the U.S.A. and its products.

Just to highlight the danger, Russian scientists have discovered a dramatic increase in Methane release from the Artic region. If that proves to be the long predicted melting of the cathcates in the sea-bed that are trapping methane (20 times better than CO2 as a greenhouse gas), then it is likely game over and all we can do is turn our backs on the U.S.A., plan to adapt to a hostile world and decide where to bury those that will die as a result. Just don\'t try and tell me that America is a Christian country.

Mel Tisdale

Global warming is true, but so is global cooling, indicating many other factors. Alternative energy and it\'s technological drive should be pushed to the max, which it is not. But, global warming, based on Carbon Dioxide model is complete non sense. This is the one gas which is actively absorbed by plants and as it\'s concentration increases, so does the absorption. To improve the environment deforestation must be stopped along with replanting campaigns. To think they\'ve built up a complete global tax on a farce.

Dawar Saify

Andreas Schmittner appears to be a fraud. Not only do we have the real evidence of the open Northwest Passage for the first time in thousands of years, but no one ever suggested the danger was from CO2. Everyone has always said it was CO2 achieving the tipping point when frozen methane hydrates would be released, that was the real danger. And that only happens in a short period at the beginning of a warming period. So his attempt to average over longer time periods is totally inaccurate. No one can question what has already been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt.


I am old enough to remember the dire predictions of \"The Coming Ice Age\" in the major media in the \'70\'s. Hell, I\'m old enough (70) to remember all of the stories told by firsthand witness\'s to \"TheGreat Dustbowl\" of the 1930\'s. I suggest reading \"Unstoppable GlobalWarming - Every 1,500 Years\".

Myron J. Poltroonian

Rigby5 - \"No one can question what has already been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt\" shows the combination of hubris, hope and rejection of scientific method that the Left exercised to force their hoax on the public. You\'ve been outed and the other side called it from day one.

Now the Left faces the consequences of irreparable damage to the environmental movement worldwide, and many tens of billions taken from legitimate medical and environmental research programs. Programs that might have cured cancer or saved species or who knows what else.

For conservatives the exposure of the AGW hoax is the biggest \'we told you so\' moment in a generation. We all care about the environment, not just you. But lying and extortion on an unprecedented worldwide scale doesn\'t help the cause.

Todd Dunning

What a bold statement! It\'s like saying \"Arsnic may not kill you as badly as previously predicted\". Unfortunately, this is just a bad article about a bad article. Gizmag\'s article title is more misleading than the original. There is no science to back up these claims; they are just going on flawed computuer models that they even admit don\'t take into account all aspects of climate change. The most accurate models being used today actually use historical data taken from ice shelves where they can drill into 10000+ years worth of ice and read carbon levels for different periods in time. Then there is the actual proof in the monumental changes in our environment just within the last 100 years; where the greatest population growth, mass deforestation, fastest polar melt and highest carbon levels the world has ever seen in the same period of time. Statements like those in this article just fuel the fire of the greedy power mongers that want to take take take, until there is no more. I find it interesting that people who claim to have the most faith in God seem to heed least the words of the Bible that discuss how humans are tenants and stewards of the Earth. I\'m not very religeous but this just makes good sense. People who think there is no reaction to our actions are ignorant fools. But worse, all humans will suffer the consequences. If we continue to abuse the Earth, it is sure to make life misserable for us all.


Ten years ago the Global Warmists were predicting that in ten years the sea level rise would be enough to submerge half of Florida it did not happen. AGW is just another attempt to install a totalitarian world government where the leaders and well connected have every conveyance and the rest of use will have object poverty. Think North Korea with intentional genocide thrown in.


I question everything. I don\'t believe for one minute that Man has had any impact at all on \"climate change,\" the current name for the proved-false \"global warming.\" There is equal evidence on both sides, so they completely cancel out. Done.

Clay Jones

What do you need to know about this? \"climategate\" A second batch of e-mails and documents from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia has been released. The contents are even more damning of the climate \"scientists\" than the first batch. In the first batch is a file named harry_read_me.txt a 15,000 line journal by the person who wrote the CRU\'s version 3 of their temperature plotting program which produced the infamous \"hockey stick\" chart. It details everything wrong with their data and the hacks and workarounds this programmer had to do to get a \"proper result\" but only by including a bunch of garbage and applying very artificial \"corrections\" to eliminate inconvenient facts like the Medieval Warm Period. There are also discussions of grant fraud (how they could keep money they got for stuff they didn\'t do) and tax evasion and meetings with oil companies.

All the proof that the \"theory\" of human caused climate change is nothing but a hoax ginned up to get these guys money, prestige and power is in those e-mails, documents and software. Their own words should be used to exile them from the world of real science.

Gregg Eshelman

To Canuc: Couple corrections in your post.

1) You say that \"Many life forms have come and gone over the last millions of years as a result of global warming and multiple ice ages\", however almost never have they disappeared at the rate they are disappearing today. One study \"calculated that the current rate of extinction is one thousand to ten thousand times the background rate of extinction in the fossil record.\" (

2) You also said, \"Man is only 20,000 years old at best, the earth is millions, do the math.\" What?! Are you talking biblically or something because those numbers are not even close.


It is ironic that this report came out right after the Russian methane observations.

Whatever the cause, if these methane eruptions continue due to warming, we either better figure out a way to utilize it or we may very well lose everything.

Everything I have read says that methane is far worse for our atmosphere, I just don\'t know what we can do about it.

Any ideas?


I agree with Shyamm above. We cannot and should not disregard the data collected since WWII. Similarly, I cannot disregard evidence of climate swings from the past for whatever reasons they occurred. What brought the problem home to me was an article with pictures of how climate heating has increased in my lifetime. It showed a picture of Glacier National Park in 1955 with a very active glacier in place. Just next to it was a pic taken from the same vantage point in 2005. Not only was the glacier not there but the area was as dry dust. That CO2 emissions might not be as bad as predicted is good but maybe we should regard it as a short-term break; that we continue reducing CO2 emissions as we have to counteract it\'s slower damage. This may help modern man finally break the habit of responding only to imminent emergencies.


@Lobo72 - guess what - there\'s less ice in Summer than winter. Anyone can scam you with a few photos to make you beleive whatever BS they\'re shovelling.


On Oct. 10, 2007 the High Court at London, England, identified 9 errors of fact in Al Gore's global warming film An Inconvenient Truth. The court ruled the film constituted "political indoctrination" under Section 406 of the U.K. Education Act.

Similarly Climategate's Russell Review exposed climate researchers' "failures, evasions, misleading actions, unjustifiable delays, and pervasive unhelpfulness - all of which amounts to sub-optimal academic practice." The Review included thoughtful comment on the nature of "peer review" by the Edtior of the prestigious medical journal "Lancet."

Science, of all fields of study, should value empirical observation. Anyone in the northern U.S. states can see that they are not under the Ice Age's mile thick sheet of ice, which global warming melted 12,000 years before humans used petroleum.

The fossils of a tropical turtle and ferns lie where they fell in Canada's arctic. Nearby is the arctic ocean where the St. Roch police boat traversed the North West Passage in both directions in open seas in the 1940s. The ship remains on display at the Maritime Museum, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Other observable evidence also refutes AGW. Mars too shows global warming. Greenlanders farmed during the Medieval Warm Period a thousand years ago, but were frozen out by the subsequent Little Ice Age. The ruins of their church can be seen at Hvalsey, Greenland.

The role of cosmic and solar radiation in regulating global temperatues has been reported (as mentioned above, at URL

The corruption of climate science can be watched for free in the documentary video (also mentioned above) "The Great Global Warming Swindle" at URL

The earth's climate has changed repeatedly over the past 95 million years. That is fact, not propaganda. Climate alarmism is politics, not science.


\"Climate change from CO2 may not be as bad as predicted\"

..well, duh......I guess the Watermelon Coalition figured trying to outlaw water vapor (a much stronger component of the atmospheric gases involved in \'global warming\') might be a bit much. Too bad the theory and the model are both rubbish....

NOT surprised the Watermelons here are screaming about such a minor (and obvious to those of us that actually know about the scam and hate the implications) CHANGE in the viewpoint and tenor of the \'discussion\' (largely watermelons screaming that people like me - skeptics - were idiots and that the science is over and proven) about \"Global Warming\".

Now, you must excuse me - I have some tires to burn in the backyard. We just got some rain and I don\'t have to worry about starting a prairie fire.

James Dugan

Duh. It\'s a shame we\'ve wasted so much money and energy researching the obvious.

Dan D'Orazio

Science is about observing facts and then devising a theory to explain those facts. It deals in probabilities. A theory can never be proved. It can only be disproved. To say that the science is \"over and proven\" is to display a deep misunderstanding of scientific method, and to equate denial with disproof is absurd.

A theory may stand for a century but still remain only a theory. Einstein\'s theory of relativity is unproven, but not unchallenged. The very basis of science is change. Nothing remains immutable, unlike the religion of climate change skepticism.

\"Proof\" is a concept found in logic, mathematics, law and armouring.

Science is a set of observed facts constantly seeking a temporarily tenable theory to explain them; religion is a permanently untenable theory occasionally seeking a fact which might support it.

Joe Blake

Finally! I\'ve been saying this since that global warming stuff boiled up. So long as we stop putting out the really harmful gases like the CFCs, the planet will be fine. The number one polluters are actually volcanoes, I heard somewhere that humans account for less than ten percent of the worlds pollution. There is no doubt that the volcanoes have been WAY more active in centuries past. The planet is fine. I\'m all for being green and less wasteful, that\'s all well and good, but all of this global warming stuff that started it up is crap.

Ethan Brush

I lean toward Todd Dunning\'s position, maybe a bit more left but certainly not the emotionally dripping rhetoric expresed by those like epochdesign. The globe is likely warming. Solar variation and its expected residuals including increased methane from polar melting it caused has been nonsensically dismissed by climate change researchers, virtually ALL of whom pursued their path of life\'s work to prove to the world as epochdesign does, that surely mankind is bad for the planet and must be miserable for it to survive. Of course they did, who pursues a career in proving your career is complete bull? Yet that is what a climate change researcher would be doing by dissenting with consensus and is no different than walking into a catholic church and expecting objective answers to the question of God\'s existence by the clergy within. Yet for all my harsh criticism you can find some noble intent in their wanting to preserve the environment but unfortunately their \"think with their hearts\" logic also seems to mesh with those who loath themselves for being a \"have\" and have global socialist agendas. What does this all mean? They embrace destructive policies like Kyoto which only serve to accelerate the industrialization of billions of third world peoples. \"Climate Justice\" to them means shooting us in the foot here and giving nations with hopelessly corrupt governements a free pass to allow corporate transfer of wealth and traditional pollution to go unchecked. In short those who said it was prudent to do SOMETHING, anything, even if the science was wrong, well it was not an all positive proposition. In a few decades the alarmists will have completed their self fulfilling prophecy, the globe a giant stinking cesspool, standards of living equalized, overpopulated, repressed, with them being able to say \"we told you so!\" and all of us living in the self loathing misery they happily indulge themselves in. Still don\'t believe? What has happened to global greenhouse gas emissions in the time since Kyoto\'s inception? They not only rose dramatically but the rate they rose also increased. They will blame the US for not ratifying yet our output levelled. Yet not a bit of concern about that do you hear, just \"Kyoto wasn\'t enough!\". Tells you stopping global warming is NOT the agenda.

John Lucier

Recent research at CERN show that water vapour in clouds has significant impact on climate while CO2 in the atmosphere has little or no impact.

Of course the \'CO2/global warming believers\' discredit this and any other real scientific study - they call such researchers \'deniers\'.

Well that\'s exactly how religious fanatics act - like CO2/global warming believers act.

If you don\'t fully submit and fully believe their un-proven theories, they place zero value on you and your research.


@ robo

If the \"research\" you mention is that referred to in the CERN press release on their website dated 25 August 2011, I\'d suggest you read it again. It says nothing at all about CO2 levels, and the only mention of \"significant\" is in this sentence:

\"The CLOUD results show that trace vapours assumed until now to account for aerosol formation in the lower atmosphere can explain only a tiny fraction of the observed atmospheric aerosol production. The results also show that ionisation from cosmic rays significantly enhances aerosol formation.\"

If this is NOT the research you are referring to, then please direct our attention to it so we can look at the facts, not your interpretation of them.

Joe Blake

Gizmag was irresponsible to publish this as anything but an unverified speculation. I am impressed by the vehemence and number of Climate Change deniers who leapt on the opportunity to blow their smoke in everyone\'s face. Computer modeling is an inexact process, and depends entirely on guesswork for part of its predictions, no matter what the conclusion. The best models are consistently showing that the human caused climate change is progressing at an increasing rate. This is supported by all major present-time evidence, such as constantly diminishing arctic sea ice, the disappearance of the Chilean Glaciers at a rate far more rapid than predicted, and the eruption of very large and increasing amounts of methane from both arctic oceans and tundra/permafrost regions. There is an Alaskan village that has been partially destroyed by clear effects from global warming. Species of plants, insects, and animals are migrating to higher altitudes and latitudes at increasing rates. Seasons are shifting, with shorter winters and earlier springs. The list goes on, and denying the problem of Climate Change is flying in the face of observable and obvious fact.

Some comments get the obvious facts straight. Lobo72, \"What brought the problem home to me was an article with pictures of how climate heating has increased in my lifetime. It showed a picture of Glacier National Park in 1955 with a very active glacier in place. Just next to it was a pic taken from the same vantage point in 2005. Not only was the glacier not there but the area was as dry dust\" - after which Christopher pops up with the ridiculous comment that, \" guess what - there\'s less ice in Summer than winter\" which just shows that he has no idea what a Glacier really is. If he reads this, would he please go take a picture of the area this winter and show us the \"glacier\" having magically reappeared? That sort of uneducated and uninformed nonsense is what is behind all of the Global Warming Denier propaganda. They are unable or unwilling to do actual research, but are speaking with great certainty in spite of their near total ignorance. That is substituting emotion and prejudice for knowledge, and has nothing to do with science.

Other commentators above who get it right include \"epochdesign\", \"kevin d1\", and a few others, some of whom mention the methane eruptions. If all would read the excellent book, \"Storms of My Grandchildren\" by Dr James E Hansen, eminent climate scientist with NASA, the amount of confusion would be greatly reduced. That is a splendid book that presents the science and the development of climate awareness in a very fascinating and clear way.


Well said jjgg38 The"Coles Notes" version (a 14 min read) of "Storms of My Grandchildren" called

Global Warming Time Bomb - James Hanson (2009) - can be found at:

It's not technical and very easy to read and understand. For those of you who would say "this is all BS" - then search for the "Science" (not unsubstantiated opinions) that refute what this article tells us. I'm sorry but statements like that made by Ethan Brush that begin with "I heard somewhere that ..." just won't cut it.


There are really two questions, which the global warming crowd like to merge into one:

Is climate changing? YES - climate is always changing.

Is Man responsible? Probably not.

Every indication of (short-term) change is used by global warming propagandists as proof of their thesis, when in fact it only proves that climate changes. Unbelievers like myself are constantly browbeaten with evidence of this and that. Leaving out the fact that much of the evidence of change is fabricated (the famous picture of a polar bear supposedly marooned on an iceberg comes to mind), there really isn\'t any controversy about whether climate is changing; if it were NOT changing, this would be the only period in the Earth\'s history when that was true. The question that matters is: is Man responsible? Well, probably not. Certainly CO2 cannot be responsible. If it were, there would be positive feedback, with rising temperatures leading to the release of CO2 from solution in the ocean (solubility is very sensitive to temperature) leading to more heating. That hasn\'t happened; instead, the ice core record shows heating alternating with cooling, and the CO2 content of the atmosphere LAGGING the temperature curve. Methane? Nope. The atmosphere stubbornly refuses to conform to ANY greenhouse heating model; both temperature and temperature profiles are always wrong. I see this sensitivity study as a way for the global warming establishment to gradually back away from their earlier claims without loss of face. Expect more of this \"maybe it\'s not so bad\" news in future.


The question is NOT (and never has been) \"Is Man responsible?\" That is NOT what science is saying. That is merely the view of those who have no understanding.

What science is saying is that Man is probably responsible IN PART for changes to the global climate, and as such there is a very strong onus to minimise, if not rectify the problems caused thereby.

There may also be \"maybe it\'s worse than we first feared\" news in the future. Given that many of the predictions made back in the \'50 and \'60s indicated that changes in climate would probably be occurring towards the end of the 21st Century, the observations of today show that those predictions were pretty optimistic.

Joe Blake

Who needs the comedy channel.

Jim Bowman
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