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Climate Change Presses Forward Despite Warming Hiatus

If you look at weather records stretching back over the last century, the trend is clear. As humans pump more and more greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, temperatures rise, but if you narrow your view to the last 15 years, you'll see something weird: Carbon dioxide emissions keep going up, but temperatures stay more or less flat.

Aired 8/29/13 on KPBS News.

In recent years, global temperatures have not spiked as much as expected, but that doesn't mean climate change isn't happening. In order to account for this warming hiatus, San Diego researchers trained their sights on cooling in the Pacific Ocean.

The highlighted end of this chart shows the relative stability in global mean temperatures over the last 15 years.

Climate change deniers have pounced on that fact, saying it exposes global warming as a hoax. However, a new study led by Shang-Ping Xie at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography says that's not the case at all.

The researchers focused on the ocean surface in the tropical Pacific. Their new climate model shows that this important storm-generating region has been going through the cooling phase of an ongoing cycle, which in turn has halted warming around the Earth.

Temperatures may be stable now but Xie warned, "The natural cycle of the Pacific Ocean is eventually going to swing up. And when that happens, we are going to see very strong, fast warming ... return."

In fact, this isn't the first time climate scientists have observed a warming hiatus. Global mean temperatures stayed relatively constant from the 1940s through the '70s, as well. Xie notes that the previous tropical Pacific cooling epoch occurred at the same timeframe.

Xie says however you approach climate change, looking at just the last 15 years will never give you a clear picture of what's happening to the planet.

"You hear two stories," he explained. "One the one hand, people show you a 130-year record concluding carbon dioxide is causing the temperature rise, and then somebody else shows you a 15-year record saying carbon dioxide has nothing to do with it. So which one do you want to believe? "

Comments

Avatar for user 'Coach'

Coach | August 28, 2013 at 2:40 p.m. ― 1 year, 3 months ago

... go back several hundred years and you will see that we have lower temperatures than in the industrial era - so this Chinese scientist is talking nonsense. They tried very hard to hide the data for the medieval warm period - fooling Koyoto - but they were found out a few years later.

In addition - the earth used to have 7% CO2 when cellular life began and there was no "tipping" point that forced it to remain there. We are now at 0.03% and if that gets halved again plants will even not be able to survive.

Are all scientists really this dumb that they have to refer to intelligent people as "deniers" just because they do ask appropriate questions?

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Avatar for user 'Coach'

Coach | August 28, 2013 at 2:42 p.m. ― 1 year, 3 months ago

Can't edit! Meant to read "higher temperatures" than in the industrial era...

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Avatar for user 'lesliegraham'

lesliegraham | August 28, 2013 at 10:26 p.m. ― 1 year, 3 months ago

Coach. You've been lied to. Current temperatures are way warmer than during the MWP which was a regional event restricted mainly to the North Atlantic region. Central Asia was much colder at the same time for example.
It WAS warmer during the MWP than previously in this region but it is already warmer than that now. On average it's 0.4C warmer but in some areas - like northern Scandinavia - it's a full 2C warmer now.
The con that the denial industry used - and which you seem to have fallen victim to - was that they used the temperature record for Central England and claimed that it represented global temperature. A complere nonsense of course.
They also cut off the end of the graph at 1950 which, of course, hid most of the recent warming. When this obvious deception was discovered and the true global temperature record produced it obviously didn't show the MWP because it wasn't global and the temperature graph continued to 2004 and showed the rapid recent warming.
The denial industry PR machine then claimed that the evel scientists had tried to hide the MWP. Of course the exact opposite is true. It was the denial industry who had tried to make it look as though the MWP was global and hid the recent warming.
That's just typical of the stunts they pull over and over again.
This is a very well known deception - one of the most notorious in fact - and I'm surprised you havn't heard about it yet.
And the scientific community don't refer to you as deniers because you ask questions - they call you deniers because you tell lies. And deny the overwhelming scientific evidence from every single Acadamy of Science on the planet of course.
There is NO 'debate' about the basics of global warming. It's not rocket science. Every time greenhouse gas levels go up the Earth warms. Always has - always will.

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Avatar for user 'GeraldWilhite'

GeraldWilhite | August 29, 2013 at 8:05 a.m. ― 1 year, 3 months ago

Hey, Lesliegraham, wait just a minute! I know it is hard for anybody to keep up with all of this, but I respectfully suggest that Coach deserves an apology.

Check out Fig 7 in the NASA-GISS paper referenced in this link: See: http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/docs/2009/2009_Jones_etal_2.pdf.
Unless you are determined to cling to Michael Mann's Hockey Stick (the blue line), it looks like the MWP wasn't simply a North Atlantic event after all.

If you are still a loyal tried-and-true 'Mann Fan True Believer', I suggest that you check out the well referenced report in the link below to see what the recently released AR-5 draft is saying about the credibility of the now infamous Hockey Stick: See:http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/08/21/ipcc-throws-manns-hockey-stick-under-the-bus/.

http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/far/wg_I/ipcc_far_wg_I_chapter_07.pdf
Maybe someone (e.g., Michael Mann) lied to to us all you instead of Coach. That seems to be what the IPCC thinks, according to the first link below. You do know, don'y you,that Greenland was actually and being farmed during the MWP?

If we're so much warmer than the MWP now, why isn't someone farming in Greenland?

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Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | August 29, 2013 at 8:48 a.m. ― 1 year, 3 months ago

We get a few warm summers and the scientists used them to obtain massive amounts of new grant money. Al Gore made millions on his fake numbers while flying all over the world in private planes. Just another money grab here folks, move along. Nothing to really see. Just opportunists with their hands in the tax coffers again. But I did hear a rumor that the sky is falling. Huh? What is a marine layer?

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | August 29, 2013 at 9:25 a.m. ― 1 year, 3 months ago

I love the way deniers work so hard to discredit climate scientists but they never say anything about the enormous multi-billion dollar lobbying effort by those who profit from pollution to con the public into thinking all the pollutants we pump into our water, air, and soil has no effect on our planet's climate and ecosystems.

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Avatar for user 'GeraldWilhite'

GeraldWilhite | August 29, 2013 at 9:26 a.m. ― 1 year, 3 months ago

(KPBS VIEWERS, PLEASE NOTE: Ignore my previous comment. Mrs. McKeever, my HS English teacher would be very dissapointed in my earlier embarassing submission of the wrong draft of my comment. I humbly beg your forgiveness.)
Hey, Lesliegraham, wait a minute! In case you hadn’t heard, it appears that the the IPCC’s AR-5 draft throws Michael Mann and his infamous Hockey Stick under the bus, along with his misrepresentations of the MVP.
I know it is hard for interested citizens like you and me to keep up with all of this, but I respectfully suggest that Coach deserves an apology.
Please check out Fig 7 in the NASA-GISS paper referenced in this link: See: http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/docs/2009/2009_Jones_....

Unless you are determined to cling to Michael Mann's Hockey Stick (the blue line in Figure 7), it looks like the MWP wasn't simply a North Atlantic event after all.
On the other hand, if you are still a tried-and-true 'Mann Fan True Believer', I suggest that you also check out the well referenced report in the link below to see what the recently released AR-5 draft is saying about the credibility of Mann and his infamous Hockey Stick: See: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/08/21/ipcc-throws-manns-hockey-stick-under-the-bus/.
It appears to me that the AR-5 group has ended up agreeing with the arguments presented in the paper presented in the link below. Pay special attention to Fig 7.1 near the end of this lengthy paper: See: http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/far/wg_I/ipcc_fa...

The bottom line? Mann either (1) lied to us all, or (2) made a terrible mistake, or (3) simply did not know what he was doing. My opinion of his reason is biased toward alternative #1 by the fact that he said he destroyed the data, which is an unforgivable sin in science. Well, actually I should say that at first he claimed to have destroyed the data, and later revised his remarks to say he may have lost it somewhere.
Mann led us astray (for whatever reason), telling us forget about those regionally isolated reports of Greenland farming we learned about in high school.

IMHO, Michael Mann is the source of much of the public’s confusion and lack of faith in climate science.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | August 29, 2013 at 1 p.m. ― 1 year, 3 months ago

The Flat Earth crowd is so predictable with their "tactics".

That's right, this has unfortunately become less about hard science and more about using smear tactics.

Anthropogenic climate change deniers are ever so quick to site one flawed scientist as "proof" that ALL scientists studying climate must be corrupt.

When one of their big, fat cigar-smoking trillionaire corporate pollution-profiting tycoons gets their pudgy fingers caught in the cookie jar doing something corrupt, they never use that as proof that all corporate interests are in cahoots to spread lies regarding the validity of the scientific community's conclusion that anthropogenic climate change is real.

Why the double-standard?

I guess the head-in-the-sand nit-wits who really think the tons of pollutants we pump into our water, soil, and air have no impact on our environment hold people who have dedicated their lives and education to studying earth's climate to one standard and their untouchable, bloated, zillionaire shills who make billions off of as little environmental regulation to another.

By the way, I am not making any judgment against any scientist mentioned here, I am referring to "Climategate" back in 2009 when some emails were hacked that showed questionable comments from a couple of scientists. That was overblown by deniers as "proof" ALL scientists are corrupt and in a conspiracy with each other.

Again, when a big corporate polluter gets caught doing far worse to ruin the planet, none of these denier freaks come out and site this as proof global corporate interests are all corrupt and in a conspiracy to downplay the scientific role of man in climate change.

This is one of those issues I just don't get - the arguments from the deniers are so hole-ridden and ridiculous, from fake petitions to phony extrapolations to laser-focusing on some minute detail while excluding billions of other data points and considering that "proof" it's all a hoax.

Anyone who still thinks humans can't and aren't influencing our environment is an idiot, plain and simple.

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Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | August 29, 2013 at 3:13 p.m. ― 1 year, 3 months ago

And the people who believe the sellers of fear always stoop to name calling. Idiots, Duck?
You can do better than that. Have another glass of the liberal Kool Aid and read a good book on climatology and historical geology. The earth has been here before. Clue:cycles.

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Avatar for user 'RLA'

RLA | August 29, 2013 at 7:26 p.m. ― 1 year, 3 months ago

Just believe in Al Gore and pay the utility companies more to save us with solar power. Long live Solyndra!

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Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | August 30, 2013 at 9:19 a.m. ― 1 year, 3 months ago

How do we know special-interests control the debate? There is never EVER any talk of a middle-ground. The world's economies depend on fossil fuel. Extracting then converting those fossil fuels to energy has a negative effect on the environment. On one hand, we have lobbies which don't see the obvious problem and believe they can pollute indiscriminately. On the other, we have lobbies which believe that 200+ years of industrial development can change from one day to another.

Isn't there room between the two extremes for discussion and innovation?

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