Summary: Climate change is one of our greatest challenges, but also it shows our inability to to see and understand the world against the efforts of those who seek to manipulate us. Highlighting that weakness is one of the major threads of of the FM website, linking posts about COIN, Saddam’s WMDs, Iran’s nukes and others. We must tighten our game if we hope to prosper or even survive, because the 21st century might present threats larger than anything in our past.
- Desperate measures to protect the narrative of extreme climate change
- No “Real” Climate Scientists are skeptics about future warming
- You will not hear about the pause!
- Scientists discuss the pause in global warming
- Journalists report the pause in global warming
- Significance of the pause
- For More Information
Additional links will be added as more reports are published about the pause.
(1) Desperate measure to protect the narrative of extreme climate change
As both the climate (the pause in warming) and pubic appear to have turned against them, those advocating an immediate and drastic public policy response to fight climate change have become desperate. Some have abandoned science for propaganda. That might have effects beyond the setting of public policy for climate change. Science and logic are our greatest tools; they might be difficult to recover.
Here are four techniques being used to manipulate public opinion. Perhaps unsuccessfully, leaving us unprepared for the inevitable changes in our climate.
- Ruling their opponents to be beyond the pale — illegitimate “deniers of global warming”. This is use of the big lie, since only a tiny fraction of skeptics deny the two-centuries-long global warming. The debate among climate scientists concerns the magnitudes, relative weight of many causes, and forecasts.
- Declaring dissenters to be irrational or crazy, a standard tactic on the Left (the Right’s equivalent is declaring dissenters to be un-American or even traitors). See how Snowden is condemned by Left and Right, using both methods.
They have used two other tactics which require an alliance with the deep anti-science aspects of American culture. Although educated and intelligent people, well-meaning in their politics, they have unleashed long-contained but dark forces. Their opposition on the Right has responded in kind. The consequences might outlast the political battle over climate change.
- Deny that scientists skeptical about the odds of future catastrophic global warming — and who are thus obstacles to rapid adoption of large-scale public policy changes — are not true climate scientists. The next section gives two examples.
- To deny what climate scientists say when politically inconvenient. In section 3 we’ll examine a blatant use of this, attempting to maintain the upper hand in public policy debates.
(2) No “Real” Climate Scientists are skeptics about future warming
The FM website is littered with comments like this.
“your choice of Judith Curry, not a climate scientist … does nothing but damage to your own argument.
— notjnathan replies to Prof Curry’a article “Observation-based (?) attribution“.
“I just can’t listen to Curry anymore.”
— DSL350 replies to an article by Professor Judith Curry (Chair, School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology).
For more information about Prof Curry see her CV.
This displays one of the most characteristics and revealing aspects of lay believers in AGW: scientists are authorities, unless they disagree with AGW orthodoxy — then they’re cranks (#8 on the list here). This puts blinders on their minds. Quite sad; pity is the only suitable response.
(3) You will not hear about the pause!
In 2009 scientists began to discuss the change in trend of global warming, seeing it as either a slowing or pause (aka hiatus or plateau). See the articles in BBC and Der Spiegel in section 4.
The response, which continues to this day, by lay climate activists has been to deny there is a pause, and denounce anyone mentioning the pause. Even eminent climate scientists such as Prof Judith Curry (GA Institute Tech) get this treatment. Here’s an example:
“The ‘pause in warming since roughly 2000’ phrase is just another lie by Global Warming Deniers.”
— comment by Bill Butler
Although a common assertion, the quotes below show that it is absurdly inaccurate. The pause has been discussed by many prominent climate scientists — on both sides of the debate since 2009. It is an active subject of research published in peer-reviewed literature, and appears in many article in the mainstream new media. Two dozen examples follow, as a sample.
This obviously false statement about a critical issue remains viral in our society four years after scientists began to write about it. This shows the extent of our gullibility. We can and must do better.
Section 6 briefly outlines the debate among scientists about the pause. Eventually either they’ll come to robust conclusions, or the pause will end in cooling or warming (probably warming, but that’s a probability — not a certainty).
(4) Scientists discuss the pause in global warming
These are quotes of climate scientists discussing the pause, in chronological order starting in 2008. See this post for full abstracts and longer excerpts, plus background information to provide context.
(a) Richard Lindzen (Prof Meteorology, MIT), 11 March 2008 (source):
“There has been no warming since 1997 and no statistically significant warming since 1995.”
(b) “Do global temperature trends over the last decade falsify climate predictions?”, J Knight et al. Part of “State of the Climate in 2008“, Editors T C Peterson and M O Baringer, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, August 2009:
ENSO-adjusted warming in the three surface temperature datasets over the last 2–25 yr continually lies within the 90% range of all similar-length ENSO-adjusted temperature changes in these simulations. Near-zero and even negative trends are common for intervals of a decade or less in the simulations, due to the model’s internal climate variability. The simulations rule out (at the 95% level) zero trends for intervals of 15 yr or more, suggesting that an observed absence of warming of this duration is needed to create a discrepancy with the expected present-day warming rate.
(c) “How will Earth’s surface temperature change in future decades?“, Judith L. Lean and David H. Rind, Geophysical Research Letters, 15 August 2009:
Yet as Figure 1 shows, global surface temperatures warmed little, if at all, from 2002 to 2008, even as greenhouse gas concentrations have increased …
(d) “An imperative for climate change planning : tracking Earth’s global energy“, Kevin E. Trenberth, Current Opinion In Environmental Sustainability, October 2009 — Commendable clear statement of the question. Opening:
The global mean temperature in 2008 was the lowest since about 2000. Given that there is continual heating of the planet, referred to as radiative forcing, by accelerating increases of carbon dioxide and other greenhouses due to human activities, why isn’t the temperature continuing to go up?
(e) “What happened to global warming? Scientists say just wait a bit“, Richard A. Kerr, Science, 2 October 2009:
Negotiators are working toward an international global warming agreement to be signed in Copenhagen in December, yet there hasn’t been any warming for a decade. … The pause in warming is real enough, but it’s just temporary, they argue from their analyses.
(f) “Q&A: Professor Phil Jones“, BBC, 13 February 2010 –BBC’s environment analyst Roger Harrabin interviews Phil Jones, then director of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA).
Question: Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming?
Dr. Jones: Yes, but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level. The positive trend is quite close to the significance level.
(g) “Does the Global Warming Pause in the Last Decade: 1999-2008?“, Shaowu Wang et al, Advances in Climate Change Research, issue #1 2010:
Issues related to the pause of global warming in the last decade are reviewed. …
(3) The pause of global warming in the recent 10 years can be attributed to natural forcing, such as solar radiation and ENSO, which somewhat stall the warming effect associated with anthropogenic activities.
(4) One of the mainstream perspectives tends to believe the pause of global warming can be restart in a few years, which, however, is still controversial.
“Over the past decade, the mean global temperature did not rise much, if at all. This pause in global warming cannot be attributed to cutbacks in greenhouse-gas emissions by the planet’s human population, so it must be nature taking a turn towards colder temperatures.”
(i) “Reconciling anthropogenic climate change with observed temperature 1998–2008“, Robert K. Kaufmann et at, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 19 July 2011:
“Given the widely noted increase in the warming effects of rising greenhouse gas concentrations, it has been unclear why global surface temperatures did not rise between 1998 and 2008.”
(j) “Model-based evidence of deep-ocean heat uptake during surface-temperature hiatus periods“, Gerald A. Meehl et al, Nature Climate Change, 18 September 2011:
“There have been decades, such as 2000–2009, when the observed globally averaged surface-temperature time series shows little positive or even slightly negative trend (a hiatus period).”
(k) Professor Phil Jones, director of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia (Globe & Mail, 13 October 2012):
“The data does suggest a plateau, he admitted, and without a major El Nino event – the sudden, dramatic warming of the southern Pacific which takes place unpredictably and always has a huge effect on global weather – ‘it could go on for a while’.”
(l) Professor Judith Curry (Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology), posted at her website, Climate Etc, 14 October 2012:
“The data confirms the existence of a ‘pause’ in the warming.”
(m) Statement by the UK Met Office on their website, 14 October 2012:
“We agree with Mr Rose that there has been only a very small amount of warming in the 21st Century. As stated in our response, this is 0.05 degrees Celsius since 1997 equivalent to 0.03 degrees Celsius per decade.”
(n) “Did the global temperature trend change at the end of 1990s?“, Tom Quirk, Asia-Pacific Journal of Atmospheric Sciences, November 2012 — Abstract:
The apparent leveling of the global temperature time series at the end of the 1990s may represent a break in the upward trend. A study of the time series measurements for temperature, carbon dioxide, humidity and methane shows changes coincident with phase changes of the Atlantic and Pacific Decadal Oscillations. …
(o) “Retrospective prediction of the global warming slowdown in the past decade“, Virginie Guemas et al, Nature Climate Change, 7 April 2013:
“Despite a sustained production of anthropogenic greenhouse gases, the Earth’s mean near-surface temperature paused its rise during the 2000–2010 period.”
(p) “Strengthening of ocean heat uptake efficiency associated with the recent climate hiatus“, Masahiro Watanabe et al, Geophysical Research Letters, 28 June 2013:
“The rate of increase of global-mean surface air temperature (SATg) has apparently slowed during the last decade. We investigated the extent to which state-of-the-art general circulation models (GCMs) can capture this hiatus period by using multimodel ensembles of historical climate simulations.”
(q) Hans von Storch, in Der Spiegel, 20 June 2013. He is a Professor at the Meteorological Institute of the University of Hamburg, and Director of the Institute for Coastal Research at the Helmholtz Research Centre.
“So far, no one has been able to provide a compelling answer to why climate change seems to be taking a break. We’re facing a puzzle. … In fact, the increase over the last 15 years was just 0.06 degrees Celsius (0.11 degrees Fahrenheit) — a value very close to zero.”
(r) From the Second Order Draft (SOD) of the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): Chapter 2: Observations: Atmosphere and Surface
Much interest has focussed on differences in the period since 1998 and an apparent flattening in HadCRUT3 trends. … all products now show a warming trend since 1998
- HadCRUT: 0.055 °C per decade;
- MLOST: 0.042 °C per decade;
- GISS: 0.093 °C per decade.
None of these are statistically significant.
(s) “Climate change: The forecast for 2018 is cloudy with record heat“, Jeff Tollefson, Nature, 10 July 2013 — “Efforts to predict the near-term climate are taking off, but their record so far has been patchy.” Excerpt:
Lost heat: why has the warming slowed?
It is one of the biggest mysteries in climate science: humans are pumping more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere today than ever before, yet global temperatures have not risen much in more than a decade. That trend does not undermine the idea that greenhouse gases will eventually push global temperatures into uncharted territory, but it does have scientists puzzled.
… with the stalled warming now approaching its 15th year, researchers are seeking some deeper explanation. “The heat must be going somewhere,” says Ed Hawkins, a climate scientist at the University of Reading, UK. “The question is where.” … scientists cannot yet fully explain the recent trends, and the larger question is whether the lack of warming today portends less warming in the future.
(t) The UK Met Office discusses the pause (these are large pdf’s): July 2013
- Part One: The recent pause in global warming: What do observations of the climate system tell us?
- Part Two: The recent pause in global warming: What are the potential causes?
(u) “Recent global warming hiatus tied to equatorial Pacific surface cooling“, Yu Kosaka and Shang-Ping Xie, Nature, 29 August 2013 — Gated. See this analysis by Judith Curry (Prof climate science, GA Inst Tech). Abstract:
Despite the continued increase in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, the annual-mean global temperature has not risen in the twenty-first century, challenging the prevailing view that anthropogenic forcing causes climate warming.
(v) “Climate science: The cause of the pause“, Isaac M. Held, Nature, 19 September 2013 –:
After a rise of 0.5C in the 25 years starting in the mid-1970s, the change in Earth’s global mean surface temperture has been close to zero since the turn of the century. This hiatus in global warming has occurred despite retreating Artic sea ice and raising sea levels.
(5) Journalists report the pause in global warming
Are journalists at the world’s major news organizations also “deniers”? They have reported these developments in climate science during the past four years.
- “World will ‘cool for the next decade’“, New Scientist, 9 September 2009 — Summary of forecasts about decadal cooling (e.g., “Advancing decadal-scale climate prediction in the North Atlantic sector“, Mojib Latif et al, Nature, 1 May 2008
- “What happened to global warming?“, BBC, 9 October 2009
- “Climatologists Baffled by Global Warming Time-Out“, Der Spiegel, 19 November 2009
- “World may not be warming, say scientists“, The Times, 14 February 2010
- “While global temperatures are the highest they’ve been since formal records began in the 19th century, warming has largely stalled since 1998.”, Andrew Revkin, journalist covering climate science for the New York Times, at the NYT’s Dot Earth, 9 January 2013
- “Twenty-year hiatus in rising temperatures has climate scientists puzzled“, The Australian, 30 March 2013 — “Debate about the reality of a two-decade pause in global warming and what it means has made its way from the sceptical fringe to the mainstream.”
- “A sensitive matter“, The Economist, 30 March 2013 — “Over the past 15 years air temperatures at the Earth’s surface have been flat while greenhouse-gas emissions have continued to soar. … The mismatch between rising greenhouse-gas emissions and not-rising temperatures is among the biggest puzzles in climate science just now.”
- “Whither global warming? Has global warming slowed down?“, David Appell (science writer), Yale Climate Media Forum, 17 May 2013 — “The so-called warming ‘hiatus’ over the past decade and a half is no reason for complacency on future warming. Mathematics teaches us that 15 years is simply too short a period from which to draw statistically valid conclusions.”
- “Climate slowdown means extreme rates of warming ‘not as likely’“, BBC, 19 May 2013 — “Since 1998, there has been an unexplained “standstill” in the heating of the Earth’s atmosphere. Writing in Nature Geoscience, the researchers say this will reduce predicted warming in the coming decades. But long-term, the expected temperature rises will not alter significantly”
- “What to Make of a Warming Plateau“, New York Times, 10 June 2013
- “Global Warming Hiatus: Where Did the Heat Go?”, The New Republic, 18 June 2013 — Prof Curry’s review is here.
- “Why Is Global Warming Stagnating? An interview with Han von Storch“, Der Spiegel, 20 June 2013 — “Climate experts have long predicted that temperatures would rise in parallel with greenhouse gas emissions. But for 15 years they haven’t. Meteorologist Hans von Storch discusses how this ‘puzzle’ might force scientists to alter what could be ‘fundamentally wrong’ models.” See his Wikipedia bio.
- “Study opens new cracks in scientific front on climate change“, Gerard Wynn (columnist), Reuters, 21 June 2013
- “Why has global warming stalled?“, BBC, 22 July 2013 — “there could be no better moment to talk about why global warming has slowed to a standstill.”
(6) Significance of the pause
The pause is a new element in the rapidly advancing climate sciences. It should not obscure the vital conclusions of climate scientists: we have had two centuries of warming, coming in pulses (waves), with anthropogenic factors becoming the largest (not the only) drivers since roughly 1950.
About the pause:
- Its a pause (or hiatus) in warming of the Earth’s surface, not a stop.
- Its duration and magnitude differ in the various temperature data sets.
- Although it was not predicted beforehand, it’s not inconsistent with the major climate models.
- It’s not yet statistically significant, though if it continues it will become so during the next few years.
- Work continues to explain its causes and implications, and forecast its likely duration.
- It’s a gift of the most valuable kind: time. Let’s use it well.
(7) For More Information
All these posts rely on, and extensively cite, the IPCC and peer-reviewed literature.
Posts about the pause (I’ve posted excerpts from these in the comments):
- Good news! Global temperatures have stabilized, at least for now., 3 February 2012
- Still good news: global temperatures remain stable, at least for now., 14 October 2012
- When did we start global warming? See the surprising answer (it’s not what you’ve been told)., 18 October 2012
- The IPCC sees the pause in global warming!, 18 December 2012
- Update about global temperatures. Watch our world warm!, 5 January 2013
- Secrets about global warming that you must not know, least they ruin the narrative, 22 January 2013
Posts about climate forecasts:
- More forecasts of a global cooling cycle
- More about the forecast for flooded cities in the late 21st century
- Looking into the past for guidance about warnings of future climate apocalypses
- What can climate scientists tell about the drivers of future warming?
- What can climate scientists tell us about the drivers of future warming? – part two of two
- Checking up on past forecasts about climate change, a guide to the future
- An optimistic & successful (so far) forecast by an eminent climate scientist