An extremely controversial Norwegian climate change study released over the weekend posited that global temperatures have remained steady over the past several years, suggesting the climate may not be as susceptible to carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere as previously thought.
Norwegian researchers concluded that if carbon emissions double from pre-industrial levels, the earth might warn up by 1.9 degrees Celsius, a temperature change in the low range of estimates by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
It is important to keep in mind that just as all climate change studies are based on estimates, and to a certain degree speculation, so too is this one calculated based on estimates. There are shortcomings to this and any climate change studies. At the end of the day, it is very difficult for climate change scientists to predict how carbon emission will affect the planet since the Earth’s ecosystems and climate are so complex. Scientists still don’t know how clouds respond to emissions or how black soot triggers climate change.
The Norwegian study gives a range of possibilities for global warming – and the 1.9 degrees Celsius is just one of the predictions. There is great uncertainty within this study. For instance, scientists have no idea what an increase to 2 degrees Celsius might do to the climate or how difficult it will be to wean the world off fossil fuels.
It’s difficult for Norway, or any country for that matter, to put real, lasting climate change policies in place when the conclusions from climate change studies are always shifting and sometimes contradicting themselves.