What's the Latest Development?

Just before the opening of the U.N. climate conference this week in South Africa, new climate data emerged suggesting the Earth may be more resistant to carbon dioxide than previously thought. Oregon State researchers estimate that "the most likely figure for climate sensitivity is 2.3°C, which is more than half a degree lower than the consensus figure, with a 66% probability that it lies between 1.7° and 2.6°C." The data was taken from ice cores, fossils and marine sediments that data back to the last ice age, about 20,000 years ago.

What's the Big Idea?

In one sense, the data is more comprehensive than data provided by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the U.N.'s authoritative body, which relies on weather station readings dating back to 1850. However, critics of the hockey-stick model, which shows an exponential rise in carbon emissions since the Industrial Revolution, have found fault with the very ice-age data Oregon State researchers used. It will be telling to see if they take this most recent news with a similar grain of salt.

Photo credit: shutterstock.com