Go Ahead, Take All the Time You Need

Photo by Dana Peštová. Some rights reserved.

Photo by Dana Peštová. Some rights reserved.

With the exception of 2012, aka the hottest year ever on record, the last fifteen years have been more or less stable when it comes to climate. Of course, average temperatures have settled into a groove well above what they were fifty years ago, but the point remains: we’re in the midst of what scientists are apparently calling a “global warming hiatus”, which is exactly what it sounds like. While climate change naysayers have used this fact repeatedly as evidence that global warming is a scam (or at the very least overemphasized as a concern), some scientists (specifically climatologist Francisco Estrada of the National Autonomous University of Mexico and Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, who have authored a new report for Nature Geoscience) are now pointing back to 1987 in providing some cause-and-effect explanations for the temperature slump.

Why 1987, you ask? Well, aside from being the year that Prince released his seminal (and best) album Sign the Times (which I’m not denying may also have had something to do with the lull in destructive planetary forces), 1987 was also the year that the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was agreed upon. The Montreal Protocol was an international treaty signed by more than 40 countries that laid out plans to phase out any products or procedures that would harm the ozone layer – it was drawn up in 1987 and went into effect in 1989. The largest of its efforts was to ban CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons), often present in repellants and solvents. Since the CFCs have been phased out (and replaced by safer alternatives), the ozone layer has been on the mend and global temperatures have stabilized. However, researchers are quick to note that this change is not enough on its own to account of the 15 years of stabilized temperatures, and that the real explanation is likely much more complex and a result of multiple factors (such as economics – turns out there is a precedent set in other trying times like WWII and The Great Depression where temperatures stabilize because of a steep drop in U.S. production – less operational factories means less greenhouse gases).

Mother Jones has the full scoop.

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