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‘State of the Planet’ Is Good, No Climate Crisis in Sight



By H. Sterling Burnett, The Heartland Institute

For nearly two years now, Climate at a Glance and Climate Change Weekly have detailed the copious amounts of data and evidence that clearly demonstrate the Earth is not facing a climate crisis. (A new, print version of Climate at a Glance was published for Earth Day.)

Over the course of hundreds of reports and articles, many responding to alarming and false climate stories hyped in the corporate media, these sites have presented real-world data showing fewer people are losing their lives to extreme weather events and nonoptimal temperatures than ever before; hunger, malnutrition, and deaths from starvation have fallen more and faster than at any previous time in history, thanks primarily to record-setting crop growth assisted by increased carbon dioxide; and the lack of evidence that most types of extreme weather—hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, drought, etc.—have become more frequent or more intense because of human fossil fuel use.

The Heartland Institute and its associated researchers are hardly the only organization and group of scholars hammering this point home on a regular basis. Across the pond, in the United Kingdom, the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) has for years been doing yeoman’s work to bring the unalarming truth about present climate conditions to light.

Most recently, GWPF published its annual State of the Climate report, by Ole Humlum, Ph.D., emeritus professor at the University of Oslo. In this report, Humlum examined temperature records and trends for the atmosphere and oceans and for weather events. Humlum finds, among other things, there is no evidence of a dramatic change in snow cover, rates of sea level rise, or storm activity.

Some facts from Humlum’s report:

  • Global tide gauge measurements suggest sea levels are rising on average between 1 and 2 mm per year, consistent with the historic rise of the past few hundred years, with no recent acceleration or deceleration in the rate of rise.
  • Average snow cover for the Northern Hemisphere has been stable since the onset of satellite observations in 1979. Autumn snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere has been slightly increasing, the midwinter cover has remained virtually unchanged in extent, and spring snow cover displays a slight decreasing trend.
  • The most recent data on global tropical storms and hurricanes show accumulated cyclone energy is well within the range observed since 1970 and the number of hurricanes making landfall in the continental United States remains within the normal range for the entire observation period since 1851.

Humlum’s report provides much detail about how temperatures are measured on land and oceans, the problems with each of the measuring systems, why there is a discrepancy between the ground-based temperature measurements and satellite measurements, and the hows and whys of temperature trends and how they differ by latitude, altitude, ocean depth, and region and zone. Humlum writes, “All temperature records are affected by at least three sources of error, each of which differs among the individual station records used.” After discussing each source of error, he explains, “The margin of error … is probably at least ±0.1°C for surface air temperature records, … [making] it statistically impossible to classify any year as ‘record-breaking,’ as several other years may be within the margin of error.”

So much for the breathless claims made almost every year by politicians, government-funded researchers, environmental lobbyists, and the corporate media that new global average high temperature records have been set yet again, almost always citing land-based measuring systems compromised by a growing urban heat island bias. When each “new record high” temperature measured is within the margin of error, it’s hard to establish definitely any new record has been set.

“A year ago, I warned that there was great risk in using computer modelling and immature science to make extraordinary claims,” said Humlum in discussing the takeaway message of his report. “The empirical observations I have reviewed show very gentle warming and no evidence of a climate crisis.”

In the end, most of the alarming claims made about a looming human-caused climate apocalypse are based on flawed computer model projections, not physical measurements of changes in the climate. The general circulation models widely used by the climate alarm community grossly overestimate warming. As a result, they have been unable to portray past or present temperatures or temperature trends accurately. Commenting on this and Humlum’s study, GWPF director Benny Peiser, Ph.D., said,

“It’s extraordinary that anyone should think there is a climate crisis. Year after year our annual assessment of climate trends documents just how little has been changing in the last 30 years. The habitual climate alarmism is mainly driven by scientists’ computer modelling rather than observational evidence.”


H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. is the director of The Heartland Institute’s Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.