If evidence of a global cooling trend in 2013 is legitimate, that poor polar bear in Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth might finally get off that floating chunk of ice. But is it that simple?
Forbes, the Telegraph, The Guardian and others are reporting that 2013 saw a trend of cooling which restored the polar caps, effectively destroying the widely-held scientific claim that the world has been irreversibly warming along with the rise in CO2 emissions (caused primarily by us).
If this is to be taken at face value, it's a huge loss for science and a huge win for so-called "climate change deniers."
But it might not be a cut-and-dried case. The global cooling in 2013 claim comes from a "leaked" report to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) obtained by the Mail on Sunday. This report has led some scientists to think that the world will actually cool until the middle of this century.
Additionally, these publications report that the scientific community has accepted that global warming has been on "pause" for about 15 years... and that CO2 (i.e. the "human" cause) might have nothing to do with it.
Of course, observers are split on the new data and what it could mean. Global warming proponents still maintain that scientific consensus supports their view, while skeptics seem to have a bit of justification for their reluctance to embrace the popular view.
As a reader who only follows global warming in the most cursory sense, it might be hard to sort everything out to find what's "true." Leading climate scientist James Hansen said that's exactly the point.
"This is a diversionary tactic. Our understanding of global warming and human-made climate change has not been affected at all," he said.
"It's because the deniers [of the science] want the public to be confused. They raise these minor issues and then we forget about what the main story is. The main story is carbon dioxide is going up and it is going to produce a climate which is going to have dramatic changes if we don't begin to reduce our emissions."
Global cooling in 2013 proponents don't make any long-term guesses as to what the new data could mean for the climate.
[Image: Wikimedia Commons]