‘Despite all the other indicators of global warming showing business as usual, a fixation on the average temperature of the globe stuck firm.’ Photograph: Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images
Graham Readfearn Wednesday 3 May 2017 20.45 EDT
New study finds there never was an unexpected lull in climate change but says the science community needs to communicate better
People don’t talk about how global warming has stopped, paused or slowed down all that much any more – three consecutive hottest years on record will tend to do that to a flaky meme.
But there was a time a few years ago when you couldn’t open your news feed without being told global warming had stopped by some conservative columnist, climate science denier or one of those people who spend their waking hours writing comments on stories like this.
The issue at hand was one of the multiple measurements used by scientists to monitor the state of the planet – the globally averaged temperature.
Depending on which particular set of data you looked at, and how you calculated trends, there was an argument that temperature rises had slowed over a period of about 15 years.
When deniers and contrarians talked about this “slowdown” the implication was that somehow, the laws of physics had suddenly changed and loading the atmosphere with CO2 might not be a problem any more.
As I argued three years ago, this global warming pause was never really a thing.
Despite all the other indicators of global warming showing business as usual – sea-level rise, temperature extremes, glacier melt, species movements, ocean heating, permafrost melt – the unhealthy fixation on one aspect, the average temperature of the globe, stuck firm.