The climate change debate continues with new research pointed to a steady global warming trend over thousands of years to the present, contrary to a major work issued in 2013 that tracked cooling before humans stepped in.
Determining which side is the most accurate is ultimately important for the property/casualty insurance industry. Companies in this sector rely, in part, on catastrophe modeling to help shape their underwriting practices, and climate change calculations are increasingly factors used in building these predictive tools. While evidence of 20th century human impact on global climate change generally stands, updated interpretations of the broader data could enable better understanding of climate models and climate change, the researchers said. As well, the end result could also affect the benchmarks used to create climate models in the first place.
This time, a team from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Rutgers University, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, the University of Hawaii, the University of Reading, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the University of Albany compiled data that they said shows a steady global warming trend going back thousands of years.
Their work, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, counters another major study from 2013, published in the journal Science, that asserted global cooling hit the earth before human intervention began to change things. For this new study, the research team said they determined a steady global warming trend based on the creation of three models over two years, with simulation of various climate influences that pointed to global warming over the previous 10,000 years.
UW-Madison’s Zhengyu Liu, a professor at the university’s Center for Climatic Research and a study author, said in a statement said that they believe there weren’t physical elements strong enough in the previous 10,000 years that could have overwhelmed warming influences such as global greenhouse gas or the melting ice sheet. That said, this new study and models used doesn’t take into account volcanic activity and how it could influence cooling.
Climate scientists will meet in the fall to try to hash out their differences, Liu said.
Meanwhile, financial analysts are already taking into account global warming and climate change with their calculations.
Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services, for example, released a report earlier this summer that determined global warming will harm sovereign creditworthiness around the world over the next century, hitting poorer nations the worst. But other studies are just as inconclusive about what is causing climate change. As Bloomberg reported, another group of scientists in January suggested that stronger Pacific Ocean winds may have slowed the rate of global warming through the last 20 years, an effect that could continue through at least this decade. But, the study authors concluded, more rapid global warming could begin again once those winds subside.
Source: University of Wisconsin-Madison