The world stopped getting warmer almost 16 years ago, according to new data released last month.
The figures, which have triggered debate among climate scientists, reveal that from the beginning of 1997 until August 2012, there was no discernible rise in aggregate global temperatures.
This means that the ‘plateau’ or ‘pause’ in global warming has now lasted for about the same time as the previous period when temperatures rose, 1980 to 1996. Before that, temperatures had been stable or declining for about 40 years.The new data, compiled from more than 3,000 measuring points on land and sea, was issued quietly on the internet, without any media fanfare. Not much surprise there!
This stands in sharp contrast to the release of the previous figures six months ago, which went only to the end of 2010 – a very warm year.Ending the data then means it is possible to show a slight warming trend since 1997, but 2011 and the first eight months of 2012 were much cooler, and thus this trend is erased.
Some climate scientists, such as Professor Phil Jones, director of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, last week dismissed the significance of the plateau, saying that 15 or 16 years is too short a period from which to draw conclusions.
Others disagreed. Professor Judith Curry, who is the head of the climate science department at America’s prestigious Georgia Tech university, told The Mail on Sunday that it was clear that the computer models used to predict future warming were ‘deeply flawed’.
Since 1880, when worldwide industrialization began to gather pace and reliable statistics were first collected on a global scale, the world has warmed by 0.75 degrees Celsius. From the start of 1997 until August 2012, however, figures released last week show the answer is zero: the trend, derived from the aggregate data collected from more than 3,000 worldwide measuring points, has been flat.
Not that there has been any coverage in the media, which usually reports climate issues assiduously, since the figures were quietly release online with no accompanying press release – unlike six months ago when they showed a slight warming trend.
The news that the world has got no warmer for the past 16 years comes as something of a shock.
It poses a fundamental challenge to the assumptions underlying every aspect of energy and climate change policy.
This ‘plateau’ in rising temperatures does not mean that global warming won’t at some point resume.
But according to increasing numbers of serious climate scientists, it does suggest that the computer models that have for years been predicting imminent doom, such as those used by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, are flawed, and that the climate is far more complex than the models assert.
Why all this matters should be obvious. Every quarter, statistics on the economy’s output and models of future performance have a huge impact on our lives.
Yet it has steadily become apparent since the 2008 crash that both the statistics and the modeling are extremely unreliable. To plan the future around them makes about as much sense as choosing a wedding date three months’ hence on the basis of a long-term weather forecast.
The most depressing feature of this debate is that anyone who questions the alarmist, doomsday scenario will automatically be labeled a climate change ‘denier’, and accused of jeopardizing the future of humanity.