New Climate Assessment Suggests No Dangerous Warming


by Vijay Jayaraj

At a time when nearly every nation on earth has signed onto a treaty to fight allegedly dangerous manmade global warming, it is not common for governments to challenge the dominant narrative. But the Indian government—although a signatory to the Paris Agreement—has done just that.

That is significant because India is one of the largest consumers of fossil fuels and among the largest emitters of greenhouse gases blamed for warming.

With 1.3 billion people—a sixth of the world’s population—India plays an important role in determining the future of the Paris Agreement. Climate alarmists trusted the country to be on board in efforts to tackle “dangerous global warming.”

But in its first-ever climate assessment report, the government of India has raised quite a few eyebrows by including data that don’t fit the doomsday narrative.

The much-awaited report, titled “Assessment of Climate Change over the Indian Region,” prepared by the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), includes data and graphs that point to a lack of warming in the Indian subcontinent.

Among them are two interesting climate patterns: (1) India’s annual average land surface air temperature anomalies, and (2) temperature reconstructions in the Himalayan foothills, an area widely believed to be especially endangered by climate change.

Surface Air Temperature: India is currently cooler than the 1950s!

Indian annual average land surface air temperature (near-surface temperature) anomalies reveal that the climate during the last two decades has been no warmer than in the period between 1950 and 1970.

The analysis included data from some of the most important data sources for temperatures, including the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia (where I earned my graduate degree in environmental sciences).

The data from the Indian Meteorological Department, India’s oldest and official met department, reveal that India was actually less warm between 2010 and 2015 than it was during the 1950s.

Further, it reveals that the 1950s were as warm as the present. This is despite much lower atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration levels—increase in which is alleged to be the main cause behind global warming—in the 1950s compared to now. 

Fig. 1: Indian annual average land surface air temperature anomalies between 1950 and 2015 (based on 1981–2010 average)

The mean temperature anomalies show no significant rise in annual mean temperature from 1951 to 2015 (Fig. 1). Instead, a significant cooling trend occurred between 1950 and the early 1970s, followed by warming until the late 2000s. Warming did not continue after 2009.

Somewhat inconsistently, the report further finds (Fig. 2) that there was only a minor increase (0.15° C) in annual mean temperatures from 1986 to 2015.

Fig. 2: Time-series of all India averaged annual mean (TAVE), maximum (TMAX), and minimum (TMIN) surface air temperatures between 1951 and 2015. Recent changes are computed based on linear trends (dashed red line) over the 30-year period 1986–2015.

The “Make It Obvious” Graph: Sikkim’s Lack of Warming

Sikkim is an Indian state that sits on the Himalayan mountain ranges. Climate alarmists have often argued that the Himalayan region is highly susceptible to dangerous warming. Data the report offers from Sikkim challenge that.

While climate reconstructions for late summer temperatures in Sikkim (Fig. 3) show slightly over 1° C of warming from 1850 to 2008, they also show a “slight cooling trend [about 0.2° C] since 1705,” pronounced cooling (nearly 2°C) after the late 1960s, and the highest temperatures around 1825.

Fig. 3: Reconstructed late-summer temperature of Sikkim, India, between 1705 and 2008.

Sikkim, of course, is a small area on the outer fringes of India, so we cannot infer from its trends to the rest of the country, let alone the rest of the world. But the report’s inclusion of that information may signal that the Indian government is ready and willing to challenge the dominant narrative.

Most of the hype surrounding a warming India becomes meaningless unless one limits the analysis to the last 3 decades. In addition, in light of India’s rapid economic development since the 1980s and the associated impact of Urban Heat Island effect on thermometers, it is likely that there has been no dangerous increase in overall, as distinct from urban, temperatures.

India’s assessment report has made one thing clear: India as a whole has not experienced dangerous warming—not even during the period, since the 1950s, when anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions are supposed to have driven dangerous warming for the planet.

Though the report does not explicitly admit the lack of warming, it includes temperature trends that clearly depart from the mainstream narrative that views present temperatures as unprecedented.

Might the nation be preparing to follow America’s example and exit the Paris Agreement? Doing so would free it from obligations to curtail fossil fuel use the fulfillment of which would stunt its economic growth and delay its conquest of poverty.

Vijay Jayaraj (M.Sc., Environmental Science, University of East Anglia, England), is a Research Contributor for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.

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