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Room for Maneuvering
Reference
Broecker, W.  1999.  Climate change prediction.  Science 283: 179.

What was done
The author reviews a prediction he made nearly a quarter of a century ago relative to future global warming.

What was learned
His prediction of a prominent warming for the 1980s and 1990s has subsequently been proven to be largely correct.  However, he now believes that the basis for his prediction was incorrect, and that the 80- and 180-year climate cycles he utilized likely do not influence global climate.  He notes, however, that similar cycles in the solar wind appear to have occurred over the period of concern, but states that "the solar energy output fluctuations associated with sun spot activity are generally thought to be too small to cause temperature changes of the required amplitude."

What it means
"If nothing else," the author concludes, "a very important issue in the global warming debate remains unresolved."  In a bold assessment of where things currently stand, he states that "until a satisfactory explanation has been established for the pronounced demise of the Little Ice Age during the period 1870 to 1940, adequate room for maneuvering will exist for those who doubt that the buildup of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases constitutes a substantial threat."


Reviewed 1 February 1999