No, we’re not about to enter another ice age
The Daily Mail in Britain tends to be terrific for news of the weird — who can forget its exposé on the girl who ate nothing but chicken McNuggets for 15 years? — and terrible for science reporting. Case in point: Their latest story on how the world is about to enter a mini-ice age.
The piece cites recent research from the UK Met Office on how solar activity is set to decrease in the coming years — which, in turn, will cool the planet. That’s technically true, but the decrease in solar activity won’t be enough to counteract the warming effects of all the greenhouse-gas pollution we’re putting into the air. How do we know? Just ask the UK Met Office. In a post refuting the Daily Mail, the climate research center notes that greenhouse gases are on pace to warm the planet 2.5°C over the next 90 years. At most, the decrease in solar activity is expected to cool the planet by about 0.13°C. The math here is simple: 2.5°C minus 0.13°C equals 2.37°C. That’s not an ice age. That’s the Earth getting hotter.
As a bonus, the Daily Mail also repeats the canard that global warming has somehow “stopped” since 1998. The trick here is to cherry-pick numbers and start from the exceptionally hot El Niño year. Taking a longer view, the world is clearly warming. Here’s a nice animated chart from Skeptical Science demonstrating that it’s possible to pick plenty of periods in the past 100 years to imply that the world is cooling — even though the overall trend is clearly upward:
Meanwhile, as the Met Office notes, the 2000s were clearly the hottest decade in the instrumental record, beating the previous record set in the 1990s, which in turn beat the previous record set in the 1980s. Despite what the Daily Mail says, the world is warming and the Thames isn’t about to freeze over. The paper does, however, raise excellent questions about the wisdom of eating nothing but Chicken McNuggets.