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20-Year-Old Report Successfully Predicted Warming: Scientists

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- 1986 days ago -
Time has proven that even 22 years ago climate scientists understood the dynamics behind global warming well enough to accurately predict warming, says an analysis that compares predictions in 1990 with 20 years of temperature records.

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Kit B (276)
Tuesday December 11, 2012, 10:48 am
(Photo Credit: Ian Joughin)

Time has proven that even 22 years ago climate scientists understood the dynamics behind global warming well enough to accurately predict warming, says an analysis that compares predictions in 1990 with 20 years of temperature records.

After an adjustment to account for natural fluctuations, the predictions and the observed increases matched up, the current research found.

The predictions in question come from the first climate assessment report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1990. The IPCC is an internationally accepted scientific authority on climate change, drawing on the expertise of thousands of scientists, so its reports carry special weight. The most recent assessment report came out in 2007.

The accuracy of the 1990 predictions is notable because scientists, 22 years ago, relied on much more simplistic computer models than those now used to simulate the future, said one of the researchers behind the current analysis, Dáithí Stone, now a research scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He worked on the analysis while at the University of Cape Town and University of Oxford.

What's more, two decades ago, scientists could not have anticipated a number of potentially climate-altering events. These included the volcanic eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991, which spewed sunlight-blocking particles into the atmosphere, as well as the collapse of industry in the Soviet Union or the economic growth of China, Stone and David Frame, of Victoria University Wellington in New Zealand, write in work published online today (Dec. 9) in the journal Nature Climate Change.

But 22 years ago, scientists understood one crucial factor:

"The prediction basically depended on how much carbon dioxide was already in the atmosphere, and that has been what's important," Stone said. [The Reality of Climate Change: 10 Myths Busted]

What matters is the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution; short-term changes in emissions have relatively little effect on overall warming, Frame and Stone write.

Other climate scientists have come to the same conclusion; one recent paper warned significant emissions cuts must happen soon to limit warming to a manageable level.

The 1990 report offered a best estimate of an increase of 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) by 2030, which at the halfway point in 2010, translates to warming of 1 degree F (0.55 degrees C).

Stone and Frame compared this expected increase to two sets of temperature records for 1990 through 2010, which showed increases of 0.63 degrees F (0.35 degrees C) and 0.7 degrees F (0.39 degrees C), respectively.

The 1990 prediction did require an adjustment, since it did not take into account natural variability — which includes the chaotic nature of weather as well as longer-term natural patterns, such as the El Niño/La Niña cycle.

When Frame and Stone took natural variability into account, they found that the observed warming was consistent with the IPCC's best estimate for warming.
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By: Wynne Parry, Live Science Contributor | Live Science|

David C (131)
Tuesday December 11, 2012, 11:47 am
not surprising, we had scientists predicting it would occur even before this, they just needed more time to collect the data and process it.....its a reality and we are unfortunately living the proof fulfilling experiment.....which also means we can still act to change it......

Rose Becke (141)
Tuesday December 11, 2012, 1:21 pm

Kit B (276)
Tuesday December 11, 2012, 1:25 pm

Many of us believed this 40 years ago, it was a large determining factor in my choice of the majors that fit me in college. That people would ever allow this to continue on is what is unbelievable.

Lois Jordan (63)
Tuesday December 11, 2012, 1:55 pm
Noted. Maybe they're allowing it to continue because the wealthiest are raking in more fortunes destroying the Earth with fracking, oil pipelines, mining....much in the form of TransNational corporations who are pushing for a reduction in international trade barriers and less regulations. They're just going to trash Mother Earth and its inhabitants, while they move off to their personal islands. There is one island in the Atlantic that's 600 sq. miles, and many other areas of still inhabitable land to build a "fortress." Then, they will continue to make billions by cleaning up the mess they made. Since they "know where the bodies are buried".....all the chemicals they already used poisoning the land....they obviously have intimate knowledge of how to clean it up. Much like Obama putting Geithner (the fox) in charge of the henhouse. Since he knew how all the financial instruments worked, he was supposedly put in the position of reining them in. We can see how well that's working so far.......

Sue Matheson (79)
Tuesday December 11, 2012, 1:59 pm
thanks no surprise.

Past Member (0)
Tuesday December 11, 2012, 4:06 pm
Thanks for the update.

Talya H (10)
Tuesday December 11, 2012, 5:18 pm
Thanks for the share!

Jason S (50)
Tuesday December 11, 2012, 7:17 pm
Good posting, thanks

Kit B (276)
Tuesday December 11, 2012, 7:34 pm

They may indeed be making money from our misfortune but where do THEY plan to live in the coming years?

Judy C (97)
Tuesday December 11, 2012, 8:55 pm
This is interesting, Kit. At just a commonsense level, I always thought that if we try to dig up or suck out all the fossil remains of everything that has ever lived on the earth, and burn it up as fast as we can, what do we think will happen?

Paul Merrifield (0)
Tuesday December 11, 2012, 9:51 pm
care2 stop acting like fear mongering neocons and stop condemning billions to the greenhouse gas hell?
The Reefer Madness of Climate Change:

So the only question you remaining believers want answered
is why would millions upon millions of good people in the global scientific
community all lie and perpetrate a giant hoax, correct? The answer is the fact
that there are only dozens of climate change protesters and millions in the
global scientific community just sitting on their hands telling us OUR children
and all of the children of the planet could be doomed. Do the math: exaggerated
science negates any and all consensus science. And besides, they never said it
will happen, only might happen….

REAL planet lovers are former climate change believers. We can't love a planet with fear.

Paul Merrifield (0)
Tuesday December 11, 2012, 9:53 pm
Climate change was real alright, really not a crisis.

. (1)
Tuesday December 11, 2012, 10:59 pm
I am completely confused by comments labeled "Reefer Madness of Climate Change" ...
What is the message the writer wishes to convey? What exactly is phrase like "exaggerated science negates any and all consensus science" supposed to connote to the reader? And from where, precisely, are numbers like "only dozens of climate change protesters" and "millions in the global scientific community" being quoted?
Considering number of nations now acting to address climate change situation, like shown in this link (, perhaps you mean "only dozens of nations" with "climate change protesters"? As I first stated, *completely* confused as to what IS intended message here.

Tanya W (65)
Wednesday December 12, 2012, 4:07 am
Climate Change is real and we need to ask ourselves are we beyond the point of no return and are we going to get on board to do all we can to save our planet.

Ela V (85)
Wednesday December 12, 2012, 5:43 am
interesting article, thanks

David C (131)
Wednesday December 12, 2012, 9:25 am
I finally found the reference I couldn't remember yesterday.....

"Only One Earth: The Care and Maintenance of a Small Planet" by Barbara Ward and Rene Dubos from 1972 which mentioned concerns about globall warming.....

Sheryl G (363)
Wednesday December 12, 2012, 5:34 pm
Science is real enough but some who are in the pockets of the Oil Barons will tell you otherwise. Unfortunately we all suffer due to a small majority of the earths people who make money off of this destruction and have the power to do so. Until the worlds people rise up in unison, and throw their arses behind bars for being murderers of the world this will continue onward.
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