“Global Warming has STOPPED!”
“There has been no global warming since 1998”
“What ever happened to global warming?”
Quotes like those above have been fairly common over the past several years, as the global warming denier industry has been trying to convince us that global warming has stopped. Unfortunately for them (and really unfortunately for all of us) it just isn’t true. Global warming is real, is continuing, and poses a real danger to our lives.
First of all, even the most optimistic analyses didn’t say that global warming had stopped, merely that it had “slowed down” But even that claim depends on starting your analysis in 1998, which was an unusually hot year. Start the analysis in 1996, and the answer is very different. That’s called “cherry picking the data” Peter Gleick over at Forbes uses three charts to show how skeptics cherry pick and use the natural variability of the weather to mislead.
If you start the analysis in 2002, it looks like a very modest warming trend, if anything
But go back just a few years to 1997. Wow, this looks pretty significant. Also, notice 1998. 1998 was an unusually warm year, so guess what? All the deniers start their analysis in 1998, and ignore 1997
Of course, if you look at the whole record – it looks pretty different. Yes, there is variation from year to year, even decade to decade – but if you look at the entire record, it is pretty clear the the global climate is getting warmer.
What about the last 15 years? This claim, too, is false, in two important ways: First, it actually has warmed over the past 15 years, and second, the past 15 years are themselves among the warmest in the past 130 years.
Since 1880, Earth’s average surface temperature has warmed by about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degrees Celsius), a trend that is largely driven by the increase in carbon dioxide and other human emissions into the planet’s atmosphere. The majority of that warming has occurred in the past three decades.
“This is the latest in a series of warm years, in a series of warm decades. While the ranking of individual years can be affected by chaotic weather patterns, the long-term trends are attributable to drivers of climate change that right now are dominated by human emissions of greenhouse gases,” said GISS Director Gavin Schmidt.
Of course, any analysis that relies so heavily on cherry picked data is bound to be false, but no amount of data or information will convince the deniers. In a future post, I will talk about a new study published in Science that is even more explicit is debunking the “hiatus myth“