The below report in The Economist highlights the controversies overtaking the consensus position on human-induced global warming in climate science.
IMO, it is balanced; indeed, in many ways, it might even be construed as being slightly biased toward the consensus pro-warming position. This report does not, for example, disucss the cosmic ray hypothesis of the Danish physicist, Hans Svensmark (explained here with a link to Svensmark’s very important paper), even though that hypothesis is gaining some experimental support; nor does this report address the well-known problems of instrumental temperature measurements (resulting in adjustments that have the analytically convenient effect of increasing the degree of warming over time) or the poorly understood reliabilities of proxies (e.g., tree rings, ice cores, etc) for measuring long term baselines.
What makes this report and its accompanying editorial (here) interesting is not only its balance but the fact that, to date, The Economist has leaned toward the “pro-warming” side of the climate science debate; so, this report indicates a shift to a more ambivalent position.
All in all, I think The Economist has introduced a sound dose of sanity to what has become a totured unscientific emotional debate, reminiscent of those I saw repeatedly in the Pentagon’s politically motivated uses of science to support weapons advocacy.
The climate may be heating up less in response to greenhouse-gas emissions than was once thought. But that does not mean the problem is going away
OVER the past 15 years air temperatures at the Earth’s surface have been flat while greenhouse-gas emissions have continued to soar. The world added roughly 100 billion tonnes of carbon to the atmosphere between 2000 and 2010. That is about a quarter of all the CO₂ put there by humanity since 1750. And yet, as James Hansen, the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, observes, “the five-year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade.”