This passage is excerpted from material published in 1997.
Scientists have been puzzled by the seeming disparity between models of global warming based on greenhouse gas emissions and actual climatological data. In short, the world is not warming up as much as these models have predicted. In the early 1990s, Pat Michaels sought to explain this disparity, suggesting that sulfate emissions in industrial areas had a cooling effect, thus temporarily retarding global warming. Michaels later came to doubt this idea, however, pointing out that since most sulfate is emitted in the Northern Hemisphere, its cooling influence should be largely limited to that hemisphere. Yet, since 1987, warming in the Southern Hemisphere, which had been relatively intense, has virtually ceased, while warming in the north has accelerated. Thus, Michaels not only doubted the idea of sulfate cooling, but came to feel that global warming models themselves may be flawed.
Ben Santer disagrees. Santer contends that, in general, global warming occurs more slowly in the south because this hemisphere is dominated by oceans, which warm more slowly than the landmasses that dominate the Northern Hemisphere. But, according to Santer, the situation remains complicated by sulfate cooling, which peaked in the north in the mid-twentieth century. It drastically slowed warming in the Northern Hemisphere, and warming in the Southern Hemisphere raced ahead. Since 1987, Santer argues, the greenhouse effect has reasserted itself, and the north has taken the lead. Thus, Santer disputes Michaels’s claim that model predictions and observed data differ fundamentally.
The passage suggests that, in the early 1990s, Michaels would have been most likely to agree with which of the following statements about the disparity mentioned in the highlighted text?
This disparity is relatively less extreme in the Northern Hemisphere because of sulfate cooling.
This disparity is only a short-term phenomenon brought about by sulfate cooling.
This disparity is most significant in those parts of the world dominated by oceans.
The extent of this disparity is being masked by the temporary effect of sulfate cooling.
The disparity confirms that current models of global warming are correct.