Shady statistics at the Daily Mail

05Dec10

In an article just published at the British Daily Mail site, David Rose claims that new statistics show “global warming has halted.” Rose asserts that “with the exception of 1998 – a ‘blip’ year when temperatures spiked because of a strong ‘El Nino’ effect […] global temperatures have been flat, not for ten, but for the past 15 years.”

Since much of the rest of the article discusses the fact that 2010 is very close to being the warmest year on record, this cannot possibly be true. And, indeed, it isn’t. According to GISS at NASA, Two seasons have been warmer than any season in history since 1998, including the spring of 2010. If you exclude 1998, the average global temperature has climbed about .3 C (.5 F) from the mid-1990s to today. And even the CRU, Rose’s data source — which has a much higher measurement for 1998 than GISS measured, and still maintains that 1998 was the warming year on record — states that “The period 2001-2009 […] is 0.19°C warmer than the 1991-2000 decade.”

Contrary to what Rose claims, he isn’t merely including 1998; he seems to be using the date as a starting point to make comparisons to the present day — despite the fact, noted in his own article, that 1998 was an anomalous year with the strongest El Nino in recent memory. 2005 and 2010, which lacked comparatively strong El Ninos, may have only been incrementally warmer than 1998, but that doesn’t mean global warming has flattened out. The fact that (per GISS) every single year of the 2000s has been warmer than every single year of the 1990s except 1998 is a more important stat.

(By the way, even if global air temperature warming had stopped — miraculously, given that this would vitiate the lagging correlation between CO2 forcing and temperature known for hundreds of thousands of years — we would still be in plenty of trouble. Melting glaciers have decreased Earth’s albedo, causing more heat absorption and accelerating glacier loss and concomitant sea temperature rise.)

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