As Carbon Dioxide Levels Continue To Rise, Global Temperatures Are Not Following Suit

As Carbon Dioxide Levels Continue To Rise, Global Temperatures Are Not Following Suit
March 10, 2013

James M. Taylor

James M. Taylor is senior fellow for environment and energy policy at The Heartland Institute, and... (read full bio)

New data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are continuing to rise but global temperatures are not following suit. The new data undercut assertions that atmospheric carbon dioxide is causing a global warming crisis.

NOAA data show atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rose 2.67 parts per million in 2012, to 395 ppm. The jump was the second highest since 1959, when scientists began measuring atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.

Global temperatures are essentially the same today as they were in 1995, when atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were merely 360 ppm. Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rose 10 percent between 1995 and 2012, yet global temperatures did not rise at all. Global warming activists are having a difficult time explaining the ongoing disconnect between atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and global temperatures.

This isn’t the first time in recent years that global temperatures have disobeyed the models presented by global warming activists. From the mid-1940s through the mid-1970s, global temperatures endured a 30-year decline even as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rose nearly 10 percent. From 1900 through 1945, by contrast, global temperatures rose rapidly despite a lack of coal power plants, SUV’s, and substantial carbon dioxide emissions.

Remarkably, global warming activists are spinning the ongoing rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, along with the ongoing lack of global temperature rise, as evidence that we are facing an even worse global warming crisis than they have been predicting.

“The amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the air jumped dramatically in 2012, making it very unlikely that global warming can be limited to another 2 degrees as many global leaders have hoped,” the Associated Press reported yesterday.

Actually, the fact that temperatures remain flat even as carbon dioxide levels continue to rise is a devastating rebuke to assertions that rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are causing a global warming crisis.

On a related front, the NOAA data amplify the futility of imposing costly carbon dioxide restrictions on the U.S. economy in the name of fighting global warming. U.S. carbon dioxide emissions declined 10 percent during the past decade, yet global emissions rose by more than 30 percent.

Regardless of the future pace of ongoing reductions in U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, global carbon dioxide emissions will continue to rise. Even if the United States committed economic suicide by imposing all or most of the carbon dioxide restrictions advocated by global warming activists, the ensuing U.S. carbon dioxide reductions would amount to merely a drop in the bucket compared to the flood of emissions increases by the world as a whole and by developing nations such as China and India in particular.

Fortunately, as the new NOAA data show, and as global warming ‘skeptics’ have observed all along, rising carbon dioxide emissions are having only a modest impact on global temperatures and are not creating a global warming crisis.

[First posted at Forbes.]

James M. Taylor

James M. Taylor is senior fellow for environment and energy policy at The Heartland Institute, and... (read full bio)