by David Rose
13 October 2012
reveal that from the beginning of 1997 until
there was no
discernible rise in aggregate global
This means that the 'pause' in global warming
has now lasted
for about the same
time as the previous period
rose, 1980 to 1996.
The world stopped getting warmer almost 16 years ago, according to
new data released last week.
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 figures mean
that the 'pause' in global warming
has now lasted for
about the same time as the previous period
rose, 1980 to 1996.
This picture shows an
iceberg melting in Eastern Greenland
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, and, until today, it has not been reported.
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
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
Even Prof Jones admitted that he and his colleagues did not
understand the impact of 'natural variability' - factors such as
long-term ocean temperature cycles and changes in the output of the
However, he said he was still convinced
that the current decade would end up significantly warmer than the
Professor Phil Jones,
left, from the University of East Anglia,
significance of the plateau.
Curry, right, from Georgia Tech university in America,
disagreed, saying the
computer models used to predict future warming were 'deeply flawed'
Since 1880 the world
has warmed by 0.75 degrees Celsius.
This image shows
floating icebergs in Greenland
The regular data collected on global temperature is called
Hadcrut 4, as it is jointly issued
Met Office's Hadley Centre and Prof
Jones's Climatic Research Unit.
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.
Some scientists have claimed that this rate of warming is set to
increase hugely without drastic cuts to carbon-dioxide emissions,
predicting a catastrophic increase of up to a further five degrees
Celsius by the end of the century.
The new figures were released as the Government made clear that it
would 'bend' its own carbon-dioxide rules and build new power
stations to try to combat the threat of blackouts.
At last week's Conservative Party Conference, the new Energy
Minister, John Hayes, promised that,
'the high-flown theories of
bourgeois Left-wing academics will not override the interests of
ordinary people who need fuel for heat, light and transport -
energy policies, you might say, for the many, not the few',
...a pledge that has triggered fury from
green activists, who fear reductions in the huge subsidies given to
Flawed science costs
Here are three not-so trivial questions you probably won't find in
your next pub quiz.
First, how much warmer has the world
become since a) 1880 and b) the beginning of 1997? And what has
this got to do with your ever-increasing energy bill?
You may find the answers to the first
Since 1880, when reliable temperature
records began to be kept across most of the globe, the world has
warmed by about 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.
News that the world
has got no warmer for the past 16 years
will come as
something of a shock.
This picture shows
drifting ice in Canada
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 answer to the third question is perhaps the most familiar. Your
bills are going up, at least in part, because of the array of
'green' subsidies being provided to the renewable energy industry,
They will cost the average household about £100 this year.
This is set to rise steadily higher -
yet it is being imposed for only one reason:
the widespread conviction, which is
shared by politicians of all stripes and drilled into children
at primary schools, that, without drastic action to reduce
carbon-dioxide emissions, global warming is certain soon to
accelerate, with truly catastrophic consequences by the end of
the century - when temperatures could be up to five degrees
Hence the significance of those first
two answers. Global industrialization over the past 130 years has
made relatively little difference.
And with the country committed by Act of Parliament to reducing CO2
by 80 per cent by 2050, a project that will cost hundreds of
billions, 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 Met Office
the United Nations
'Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,' are flawed, and
that the climate is far more complex than the models assert.
'The new data confirms the existence
of a pause in global warming,' Professor Judith Curry, chair of
the School of Earth and Atmospheric Science at America's Georgia
Tech university, told me yesterday.
'Climate models are very complex, but they are imperfect and
incomplete. Natural variability [the impact of factors such as
long-term temperature cycles in the oceans and the output of the
sun] has been shown over the past two decades to have a
magnitude that dominates the greenhouse warming effect.
'It is becoming increasingly apparent that our attribution of
warming since 1980 and future projections of climate change
needs to consider natural internal variability as a factor of
Professor Phil Jones, director of
the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, who
found himself at the centre of
the 'Climategate' scandal over
leaked emails three years ago, would not normally be expected to
agree with her.
Yet on two important points, he did.
The data does suggest a plateau, he admitted, and without a major
El Niño 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'.
Like Prof Curry, Prof Jones also admitted that the climate models
'We don't fully understand how to
input things like changes in the oceans, and because we don't
fully understand it you could say that natural variability is
now working to suppress the warming. We don't know what natural
variability is doing.'
The evidence is
beginning to suggest that global warming
may be happening much
slower than the catastrophists
have claimed - a
conclusion with enormous policy implications
for politicians at
Yet he insisted that 15 or 16 years is not a significant period:
pauses of such length had always been expected, he said.
Yet in 2009, when the plateau was already becoming apparent and
being discussed by scientists, he told a colleague in one of the
'Bottom line: the "no upward trend"
has to continue for a total of 15 years before we get worried.'
But although that point has now been
passed, he said that he hadn't changed his mind about the models'
'I still think that the current
decade which began in 2010 will be warmer by about 0.17 degrees
than the previous one, which was warmer than the Nineties.'
Only if that did not happen would he
seriously begin to wonder whether something more profound might be
happening. In other words, though five years ago he seemed to be
saying that 15 years without warming would make him 'worried', that
period has now become 20 years.
Met Office colleagues were sticking
to their guns.
A spokesman said:
'Choosing a starting or end point on
short-term scales can be very misleading. Climate change can
only be detected from multi-decadal timescales due to the
inherent variability in the climate system.'
He said that for the plateau to last any
more than 15 years was 'unlikely'.
Asked about a prediction that the Met
Office made in 2009 - that three of the ensuing five years would set
a new world temperature record - he made no comment. With no sign of
a strong El Niño next year, the prospects of this happening are
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. They trigger a range of policy responses from the Bank
of England and the Treasury, and myriad decisions by private
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
Few people would be so foolish.
But decisions of far deeper and more
costly significance than those derived from output figures have been
and are still being made on the basis of climate predictions, not of
the next three months but of the coming century - and this despite
the fact that Phil Jones and his colleagues now admit they do not
understand the role of 'natural variability'.
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.'
So let's be clear.
Yes: global warming is real, and
some of it at least (apparently 2% about) has been caused
by the CO2 emitted by fossil fuels.
But the evidence is beginning to suggest
that it may be happening much slower than the catastrophists have
claimed - a conclusion with enormous policy implications.