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Published on Dec 14, 2010
Last week a paper by researchers at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies led to sensational headlines that the Earth will only warm by as much as 1.64 degrees centigrade -- in a couple of centuries. Sound too good to be true? Of course it does.
I've put this video together faster than I normally would because the myth has already gone viral. But it's so easy to spot the flaws you have to wonder why people who call themselves "skeptics" aren't skeptical enough to check even the most basic facts.
CORRECTION: Cbrhawk1 points out an error at around 3:15. He writes: "[Potholer] applies a subtractive 0.26C to the 4.5C estimate of the IPCC rather than properly applying the feedback to the formula." My response: The paper doesn't show how to apply the formula to other models, which is why I subtracted the 0.26 degC figure directly. However, I agree with Cbrhawk1 that it is not that simple, because higher temperatures would presumably lead to higher evapotranspiration rates. If we apply the figure pro-rata, then warming of 4.5 degrees would be reduced to 3.9 degrees. I have no argument with that at all; evapotranspiration is a negative feedback, and the paper shows that it is greater than previously estimated. The point of this video is to debunk the absurd conclusion that global temperatures are only set to rise by 1.64 degrees because of evapotranspiration. The focus of the study was not to determine global temps but to quantify the negative feedback effects of evapotranspiration. Since the model started with a low warming figure, it resulted in a low warming figure when evapotranspiration was plugged in. Had the model started with a higher warming figure, it would have resulted in a higher warming figure when evapotranspiration was plugged in.