Monday, July 20, 2009

Climate Change Mystery

New research on a temperature spike that occurred in earth's climate around 55 million years ago supports the idea that past climate change has been caused primarily by factors other than carbon dioxide levels. In this case, the increase in CO2 that accompanied the temperature spike could only account for a little over a third of the warming. Most of the warming was caused by something else. In most of the research I came across while I was writing a paper on climate change, CO2 was a secondary forcing, often following the temperature change, not causing it. This does not mean that CO2 cannot cause warming (it does), but that Al Gore's simplistic presentation of "in the past CO2 varied with climate, therefore CO2 is causing the current warming" is incorrect. Today's warming is rather unique in this sense, as CO2 might actually be the primary cause in this case.

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