Whither global warming?

I recently read an academic article with the word “whither” in the title and thought it sounded a bit hifalutin (but wait, the word hifalutin sounds hifalutin…) so let me know if you do to. Anyway…

There’s an interesting Wall Street Journal article about how global warming doesn’t really seem to be a thing anymore.

On Sept. 23 the United Nations will host a party for world leaders in New York to pledge urgent action against climate change. Yet leaders from China, India and Germany have already announced that they won’t attend the summit and others are likely to follow, leaving President Obama looking a bit lonely. Could it be that they no longer regard it as an urgent threat that some time later in this century the air may get a bit warmer?

In effect, this is all that’s left of the global-warming emergency the U.N. declared in its first report on the subject in 1990. The U.N. no longer claims that there will be dangerous or rapid climate change in the next two decades. Last September, between the second and final draft of its fifth assessment report, the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change quietly downgraded the warming it expected in the 30 years following 1995, to about 0.5 degrees Celsius from 0.7 (or, in Fahrenheit, to about 0.9 degrees, from 1.3).

Climate change has been a major area of research in agricultural and environmental research lately, so it will be interesting to see – if climate science continues to downgrade the threat of global warming – how quickly economic research will change.

Of course, this isn’t to say the matter is settled. The article mentions that it’s mainly the effects over the next two decades which have been adjusted, not necessarily beyond that. So stay tuned to this blog for climate change updates for the next 20 years.


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Matthew Interis

Matthew Interis

Matt Interis specializes in non-market valuation of environmental and natural resource services, working primarily with stated preference surveys and focusing on the improvement of stated preference valuation techniques. His applied work has involved the valuation of coastal wetland and barrier island restoration in Louisiana and the valuation of ecosystem services from specific habitats including salt marsh, oyster reefs, and mangrove forests. Recently he has begun work on direct-from-grower food purchases. He has taught Introduction to Food and Resource Economics, Introduction to Environmental Economics and Policy, Advanced Environmental Economics, and Experimental Economics and Survey Design. In 2010-2011 he was voted Outstanding Undergraduate Faculty by students in the department and in 2011 he received the Excellence in Teaching, Lower Division Award for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

One thought on “Whither global warming?

  1. The “thing” began its retreat when it was relabeled climate change. That is a nonsense word. Climate always changes. It is a weasel word for those who can’t explore why there has been a near-twenty years hiatus in global warming and they are afraid to face public scrutiny into the matter, like: where are all those millions gone that predicted another scenario “back then”? But precisely this relabeling has made the public totally suspicious if there is actually such a thing as global warming – or is cooling? Because both are changes from the status quo. I know scientists are not soldiers, but cowards never can expect to held in great esteem in either field of endeavor.

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