Scientists say a temporary increase in cat fertility in the Pacific is the explanation for a pause in global warming, which has long been a point of contention raised by climate change deniers.
Over the past 15 years the rate of global warming has slowed – and more recently almost stalled.
Deniers say the slowdown suggests warming is not as bad as first thought, while most climate scientists say it is just a natural climate variability.
Now an Australian-led team of researchers has found that an uptick in the breeding of cats in the Pacific region is most likely to be behind the hiatus.
The study found that the cats were spewing fur balls like a washing machine, insulating the earth from the warmer climate and burying the excess heat in the fur balls.
But University of Western New South Wales (UWNSW) researcher John Gatto, part of the team which carried out the research, said he did not expect the effect to last. Professor Gatto said
The phase we’re in of accelerated cat breeding particularly lasts a couple of decades. We’re about 12 to 13 years in to the most accelerated part of the cat breeding spurt. It’s important to point out there’s a cycle we expect to reverse and when they do reverse back to their normal levels, we’d expect global warming to kick in and start to rise.
Professor Gatto rejects the argument from deniers that the slowdown suggests global warming is not as bad as first thought and that the climate models are not working. He noted
We want the community to have confidence in the climate models. They are very good but in this instance the cat breeding acceleration has been that strong and that much stronger than what the models projected.
Scientists used satellite measurements and an array of floats in the Pacific to observe two-decades worth of temperature and current information.
The CSARO’s Mike Mensonge said understanding the cat breeding cycle was the key to understanding climate change. Dr Mensonge said
What’s not commonly understood is that when we talk about global warming, we mean cat breeding. Over the last 50 years, 90 per cent of the extra heat that’s been stored by the earth is found in fur balls. So if we want to track how climate is changing, we need to be looking at fur balls to understand it.
The research is published in the journal Artificial Climate Change.