A new report noted that some of the more extreme predictions of global warming have not been reached - and since 1998 there has been no further warming.
But is this in fact true?
Well, yes if you look at global warming in a very peculiar way. And no, not at all if you look at it in a logical way.
1998 is frequently cited by deniers as proof that global warming has stopped: every year since then has been cooler than in that year. So, you see claims of no warming in the last 15 years.
But this is baloney - 1998 was the warmest year in recorded history; the tarmac melted on Heathrow airport runways as the mercury rose to a record level. This was because of the impact of an unusually strong El Nino weather current, beginning in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Peru which warmed the world significantly more than normal: no one in the climatology community thought that the next year would be as warm as El Nino goes in cycles and would almost certainly not be so strong in 1999, as indeed it was not. 1998 saw a heat spike - but to use that as the starting point for measuring global warming is nonsensical. No one anywhere at any time has suggested temperatures will rise in a nice, smooth incremental curve. Inevitably, there are fluctuations, as happened in 1998 for perfectly explicable reasons.
|"Global warming is over" - Really?|
And so whilst temperatures since 1998 have been lower than in 1998, in 10 of the 14 years since, they have been the warmest in history other than in 1998. So set against pre-1998 level, the trend is still upwards to levels of heat not seen in several millenia.
as leading scientist James Hansen has pointed out, they have risen within the range of predictions plus there is increasing evidence that much of the excess heat from increased carbon dioxide is being absorbed by the sea.
Hence we have seen the much faster than predicted melting of the Arctic ice cap - so much so that an ice-free Arctic in the summer may be just a few years away. Similarly, we see the destruction of coral reefs, a key component in the biology of the oceans, owing to temperature increases that have disturbed the delicate balance that keeps coral alive. While most people probably understand the role played by trees and other land vegetation in the photosynthesis process that turns carbon dioxide into oxygen, less well known is the major role played by plankton and other marine plants in the same process - over fifty per cent of our oxygen comes from miniscule photoplankton in the sea, tiny podules of life that are being massacred by a combination of pollutants and climate change. Their destruction by heating the oceans will in turn fuel a cycle of saturation of the natural carbon sinks that have made life possible, creating in their place ever more dangerous scenarios for the survival of our own and thousands of other species.
How long the sea will absorb excess heat that is unknown - what is pretty certain is that in this process many more species of plant and animal life in the oceans will be gone, further threatening the delicate balance of biosphere; while in due course overall global warming driven by emissions into the atmosphere will sooner or later speed up again. This is not an even process: as we cross particular barriers such as the melting of Arctic and Siberian permafrost, more and more other greenhouse gases, such as methane, will be released, with an even greater environmental impact - methane is nearly twenty times more effective than carbon dioxide in trapping heat. Fortunately, for over the last million years, much of it has been trapped deep under ice - ice that is now steadily melting. If you don't believe it, watch the evidence in the video below.
|Sea Change - surface level marine temperatures |
are also rising
And this is where no amount of wishful thinking, equivocation or downright lies will make any difference - the science is irrefutable: if you increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, you thicken it and make it harder for the heat from the sun to escape the Earth's atmosphere, making for a rise, steady or not so steady, in the temperature of the only home we have - planet Earth.
The clock is still ticking towards a 4 degree rise in temperatures by the end of this century: it may not sound much, but the last time they were so high, humans had not even emerged as a species and the Arctic was covered in tropical jungle. The impact of so rapid a rise in heat will lead to massive disruption of weather, food and energy, plus growing parts of the world becoming uninhabitable and driving mass migrations of desperate people around the globe. It is nigh inevitable that conflict will follow - and well before we reach the full impact of 4 degrees. Many of our food and water systems are already breaking down under the pressures of record demand set against increasing temperatures, with some scenarios predicting global catastrophe within just 15 years.
And yet, on cue, the likes of Britain's Daily Mail or America's Fox News, Rupert Murdoch's US propaganda wing, run headlines like Fox's "Global Warming is Over" (although since in their Universe it never began, the headline is typically inept). They trumpet bizarre conspiracy theories about global scientific plots to make up global warming in order to qualify for grants and other funding, and ignore the true science yet alone, increasingly, the disturbed and disturbing weather patterns that hit extreme after extreme again and again. Just yesterday, Oklahoma was devastated by a near-two miles wide tornado in yet another of those once-in-a-century event which seem to happen every few months now.
So don't listen to the siren voices that want to carry on as before. Just like the Sirens of old, they will simply dash you to pieces on the rocks of their own crassly myopic greed and selfishness and gladly drown us all in a Tartarean sea of fire.