|U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, with a snow ball, which was taking|
its chances in hell, also known as the U.S. Senate Chamber.
I'll dispense with the frivolous first. On the Senate floor in the U.S. Capitol Thursday, U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma tossed a snowball.
That was all to prove his contention that global warming is a hoax, apparently.
It snowed in Washington Thursday. I know. Imagine! Snow in Washington DC. In February! Washington is obviously the center of Inhofe's universe. If it's the center of his universe, and it's cold there on a particular day, then global warming doesn't exist.
By Inhofe's logic, if his home state of Oklahoma has a day that gets up to 100 degrees this July, then global warming must be raging out of control. Of course I doubt Inhofe will say that on some torrid summer afternoon.
Of course one chilly day in Washington and one steamy day in Oklahoma say absolutely nothing about global warming, but that's totally besides the fact. Washington DC, as we all well know, doesn't run on logic.
I'm sure that Inhofe really doesn't believe he was disproving global climate change with his snowball. He was just having a bit of fun, and trolling people who are worried about climate change.
This past week, some scientists said we have new reasons to worry about climate change. The pace of it might be getting ready to increase.
Climate change deniers have said repeatedly that the world stopped warming at around 1998, so the whole thing is a hoax, according to them. Global warming, say the contrarians, has paused.
Actually, the world has kept warming since 1998. Most climate watchers say the hottest year in modern record was just last year - 2014. Some climate scientists I read regard the so-called global warming pause as the "faux pause."
However, there's absolutely no mistaking that the pace at which global temperatures have risen definitely slowed in the past 15 years or so.
Scienfic American and other publications, citing the journal Science, reported in the past week on research indicating the slow down in the rate of temperature change has to do with natural cycles in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.
The ocean cycles are called the Pacifc mulidecadel oscillation and the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation.
These are a mouthful, but basically in the past decade or so, the Pacific Ocean has been cooling somewhat, due to these natural cycles. The Atlantic Ocean, in its cycle, has been warming, but the Pacific cooling outweighs the Atlantic's efforts, if you will.
The Pacific cooling acts as a drag on the rate at which the world overall warms. Perhaps had there been no man-made global climate change, the Earth would have been cooling somewhat over the past 15 years or so.
Cycles, by definition, eventually end. At some point, the Pacific multidecadel oscillation will shift into its warming phase. With or without human-caused climate change, when the Pacific goes into its warm phase, the Earth overall warms up slightly.
The concern among the scientists is, when the Pacific goes into its warm phase, it will team up with what us humans are doing and introduce a period of rapid warming across the globe
That kind of happened in the period from the 1970s to the late 1990s when the Pacific was in its warm phase. Previously, in the 1950s and 1960s, when the Pacific was in its cool phase, global temperatures barely warmed.
So when will the current cool Pacific phase end? The answer is pretty soon, we think.
Scientific American says Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State Univeristy, believes we're close to shifting into the warm phase in the Pacific, meaning the pace of global warming could accelerate in the next few years.
Researchers have not said precisely when the warm phase will begin, but since the phases last very roughly 20 years or so, the consensus seems to be the shift will come sometime between now and five years from now.
The reason for the lack of clarity over when things will shift is scientists still don't really fully understand what drives the phases, why they shift, and what triggers shifts.
Bob Henson at Weather Underground said signs in 2014 seemed to indicate the Pacific was shifting toward its warm phase, but that still could be a blip in the overall cool phase. Time will tell.