Global warming is NOT slowing down, scientists say

December 8, 2009 by Ken Ward Jr.


Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization, holds up a temperature chart during a press conference at the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen, Tuesday Dec. 8, 2009. This decade has very likely been the warmest in the historical record, and 2009 will probably end up as one of the warmest years, the U.N. weather agency announced Tuesday at the second day of the 192-nation climate conference in Copenhagen. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

One of the big topics at last night’s cap-and-trade debate at the University of Charleston here in West Virginia was whether or not global warming has slowed down in recent years.

And just in time to answer that question, the World Meteorological Association issued a statement explaining that the decade from 2000 to 2009 appears to be the warmest 10-year period in the modern record.

The New York Times had a story on this here, and it’s also covered in Joe Romm’s Climate Progress blog here.  And here’s a the full chart that is being shown in the photo above:


Among the latest news from Copenhagen that caught my attention:

—  Developing nations demanded deeper emissions cuts from rich nations, according to this report from Reuters.

— A draft proposal has already leaked out, according to the L.A. Times, and from The Guardian.

— The chairman of the IPCC on “ClimateGate.”

— A great comparison by James Fallows of NY Times and Washington Post stories on the stolen e-mails.

— It turns out the e-mail scandal isn’t such a big deal outside of the U.S.

Meanwhile, the Union of Concerned Scientists issued another briefing paper on those hacked e-mails, and it’s well worth reading. Among other things, the group says:

While the emails do raise some valid concerns about scientific integrity, they do not indicate that climate data and research have been compromised. Media stories that report they do are inaccurate. And opponents of climate change action are either lying about the emails or are ignorant of the climate science involved.

I’d be interested in what the skeptics among Coal Tattoo readers have to say about this commentary … and I remain interested in suggested news sites or commentary sites to keep tract of what’s going on in Copenhagen.

One that I’ve been using is the CopenBlog set up by an organization I belong to, the Society of Environmental Journalists. Check it out.

19 Responses to “Global warming is NOT slowing down, scientists say”

  1. Thomas Rodd says:

    The UC forum was great. I think a lot of people got a surprisingly good impression about cap and trade. Maybe more importantly, the opposition to cap and trade came across as weak and erratic. It was
    remarkable to hear the NRDC spokesperson talk about how he had come to see the role of coal under cap and trade as significant. I felt optimistic about West Virginia leaders supporting cap and trade with support for coal. We shall see how it plays out.

  2. Ken Ward Jr. says:


    Tell me more about why you think the opposition came across as weak and erratic… I found Patrick Michaels underwhelming, frankly, given his reputation as a leading skeptic. When I heard Fred Singer in Charleston a couple years ago, he was much more forceful and convincing (if you didn’t know better).

    I’m wondering if anyone who attended the earlier Rotary meeting could comment on how the two sides came across there, and especially on how business leaders in the meeting received the messages from the two sides.


  3. MX2 says:

    Creative use of charts. That chart begins where many of the charts held up by the IPCC do…right after the “Little Ice Age” ended around 1850. If that chart would go back another few hundred years, the “Medieval Warm Period” indicated on the chart would show that the modern temperatures are about the same as they were then. Even Keith Briffa of the M. Mann Hockey Stick tree-ring fame recognized the warming of the Medieval Warm Period, and it was “recorded” by numerous sources. That has to be overlooked though, as it goes against the “it’s likely the warmest decade in recorded history” lie. They’ve also been pretty flat for this last decade it appears.

  4. Clem Guttata says:

    MX2 — Taking volcanoes, el nino and other natural cycles into account, the trends on temperature are quite worrisome. Also, temperatures are just one of many indicators pointing in the same troubling direction.

    If you are truly interested in getting a well-rounded summary of the current state of peer-reviewed science, here’s a report that was put together for policy-makers heading to COP15.

    The cost of delaying action mounts higher and higher. Here’s some recent information from the International Energy Agency:


    To achieve this energy revolution, incremental investment of USD 10 trillion will be necessary between 2010 and 2030 in the energy sector – equivalent to 0.5% of global GDP in 2020, rising to 1.1% of GDP in 2030. Yet fuel savings across industry, transport and buildings total USD 8.6 trillion between today and 2030, similar to the additional investment in these sectors.

    — and —

    Concluding, Mr. Tanaka stressed that “The IEA 450 scenario is the energy pathway to Green Growth. Yet we need to act urgently and now. Every year of delay adds an extra USD 500 billion to the investment needed between 2010 and 2030 in the energy sector”.

  5. rick says:

    Only a few thousand people on the planet are qualified to have an opinion on this issue. For the rest of us, we have to:
    A-Trust the experts (those who are active in researching the issue, and publish in peer-reviewed journals)
    B-Hide our heads inthe sand
    C-Decide what we want to beleive and beleive it. There are plenty of people out there (such as Fred Singer) who masquerade as experts and will take your money for telling you want you want to hear. Anybody can invent arguments that sound convincing to someone who wants to believe a certain conclusion.

    It is rare for active scientists to make public statements, but in this case various groups have had to because of the nonsense spread by industry funded spokespersons. To see what real experts say, see:

  6. bo webb says:

    Rick’s summary of the issue is spot on. Blankenship and other non experts can blow wind (no pun intended) all day, but it really means nothing, nor changes anything. It seems to me that Governments all around the world understand the situation we find ourselves in. If industry leaders would pause and consider the economic chaos their corporations will face as sea levels rise they would be doing their investors and our planet a great service by joining to slow down and minimize the effects of global warming.

  7. Wow, that’s a pretty rich critique coming from MX2. I wonder why he starts his temperature accounting right around the “Medieval Warm Period”? I’m sure it couldn’t be that average temperatures in the thousand years prior to that period were cooler and, more or less, reflected stable variation around a lower average temperature. And why, too, does MX2 fail to recognize that even if you look at a 2000-year climate graph, the last 150 years have been anomalous with regards to the rate and scale of global temperature increase?

  8. Thomas Rodd says:

    I’ll try to respond to Ken’s inquiry about the University of Charleston forum on cap-and-trade. I had to leave a little early, so my impressions are just based on what I heard.

    The anti-cap-and–trade advocate from the Cato Institute is a climate scientist, not a lawyer or economist, and seemed to be out of his depth on the nature and merits of cap-and-trade legislation. But even in his area of expertise, he did not deny that carbon emissions are warming the earth — he just questioned how well we could predict the amount.

    The Cato advocate did not deny that the warming under business-as-usual could be catastrophic for humanity. But he thought that without any governmental incentives for change, efficiency and new technology might well prevent the most severe effects. That possibility was not very reassuring.

    On current proposed cap-and-trade legislation, the Cato advocate said some remarkable things. He said that if he were in the coal business, he’d be for present cap-and-trade legislation (with support for carbon sequestration) because it would continue coal’s viability. He also acknowledged that the current bills would provide $150 billion in support for transition to “clean coal.”

    His main argument against cap-and-trade was that we can’t get to strong emissions reductions by 2050 – so the process is doomed to fail. I almost got the feeling that he was saying, “if the future of the world is indeed as bad as many people think it is – just get used to it.”

    The pro-cap-and-trade guy from the Natural Resource Defense Council did a good job of refuting the Cato fellow’s “hugely increased energy costs” arguments, by showing how creating a market for reducing atmospheric carbon emissions will “unleash entrepreneurs,” and the costs will be spread out throughout the economy. He came across as a reasonable person who understood business and finance — just right for that Rotary-and-friends audience.

    To give credit to the Cato advocate – he has apparently been playing an important role in testing and challenging every single new piece of the accumulating evidence – evidence that now has led every scientific body in the world to accept the grave dangers that humanity faces, unless we rapidly curb our atmospheric carbon emissions. (Not long ago, people in the world of geology who grew up learning the immutability of continents fought a similar battle against the theories of continental drift. But ultimately, the text books changed, and the explanation that is consistent with the evidence was accepted.)

    But now that the scientific consensus has overwhelmed the climate scientist skeptics, if they want to continue that role, they have to foray into areas outside their expertise – like law or economics or technology. What I saw at the UC forum, in terms of evaluating the Cato advocate’s presentation vis-à-vis the NRDC cap-and-trade advocate, is how those forays can go astray.

  9. MX2 says:

    First, I’m interested as to why a single copy of one of the CRU emails I included, written by Phil Jones, which dealt with altering past temperature data (such as being shown in the photo above), avoiding a FOI request, and an “order” to delete files, was blocked from my first attempt to post the above comment here today. It was not allowed into this “peer reviewed” blog, which sounds familiar to the mutated peer review process led by the head scientists pushing the man-made global warming “peer reviewed science”. I.e., don’t allow in what you don’t like or agree with, as you might lose the argument.

    Anyone with a scientific clue will know that temperatures have been rising since the last true Ice Age dramatically began retreating (due to suddenly rising temperature) about 15,000 years ago. Every century or so since then, temperature has risen slowly, interrupted by shorter term hotter and cold periods, while still slowly increasing overall.

    Sounds pretty much like current events to me, except now we also have questionable past temperature as recent as the last 100 years, due to such things as poor temperature data collection and storage techniques (CRU lost its data, oops), as well as flawed modern computer based interpretation of the data. Why a spike in the late 20th century? Find out why the Hockey Stick is false and that will explain one reason, and look how the temperature gauge data of the 20th century has been manipulated (or misinterpreted), or again, lost.

    C02 can cause a rise in temperature, at least in a lab as it was shown over 100 years ago, but in the real world, the actual amount it has caused is a mystery, as is how much is human vs. naturally caused. To further hurt the “CO2 is driving the temp” arguement, remember that CO2 has been rising steadily since the 1950s, but temperature has not risen steadily since then, as it should if CO2 is the driver (remember in the 1970s, the scientists were worried about a new ice age). Same now, we have stopped arming for the last decade, but Co2 is still rising. That seems to point to the possibility CO2 is not the cause of rising temperature, doesn’t it?

  10. Thomas Rodd says:

    MX2 — can you say something about your scientific credentials so we can better assess the things you are saying?

  11. Casey says:

    Is 83% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050 realistic? What would it mean?

  12. Dana says:

    If you don’t mind a few minutes of grade school humor, Peter Sinclair does a great job of explaining “ClimateGate” in his fabulous YouTube series on global warming myths.

  13. Thomas Rodd says:

    Good catch, Casey.

    Can we hit 83%? This WSJ author says “perhaps,” which I find encouraging, considering what we are facing if we don’t hit that target.

    Thinking out to 2050, this carbon-capture stuff gets my grade-school passion for science fiction re-energized. I know it’s uncertain and no basis for planning, but it’s still exciting to think of genetically-engineered algae that eat CO2 — and pump out hydrogen –or solar cells with quadruple the efficiency of what we now think we can do.

    And as for today, I am optimistic and excited about helping create an economic architecture that will allow some carbon-capturing geniuses to get rich over the coming decades!

  14. Jason Robinson says:

    MX the hockey stick pattern has been observed in temperature reconstructions from 20 other sources of data. 2008 Mann et al PNAS. When people say things like “Anyone with a scientific clue…” you know they are talking out of their hat.

  15. Ken Ward Jr. says:


    Sorry … I missed your earlier comment in which you alleged I would not allow one of your posts … I assure you I have not removed any of your posts on the email controversy.

    If you would kindly email me the error message you received when you tried to post it, I will look into the matter with our IT department and try to get it resolved.

    Best, Ken.

  16. MX2 says:

    Aheemm. Now, if I were Phil Jones of the Hadley Center CRU, I would never share any data I have! He refused to share his data for years, as those e-mails tell.

    Here, I’ll try again what I tried to send last night before I got blocked (which may have been no big deal Ken, but it took my subsequent post fine, with the following taken out)…

    Here’s a nice CLIMATEGATE E-MAIL from Phil Jones, that deals with issues like skeptics, not sharing temperature data, making hockey sticks (sounds fun), and not getting caught by FOIA requests. Of course, at the end it asks for a “delete”…enjoy the following (which to the alarmists, the UN, the CO2 haters, means nothing crooked was afoot)….

    From: Phil Jones
    Date: Mon Feb 21 16:28:32 2005
    Cc: “raymond s. bradley” , “Malcolm Hughes”

    Mike, Ray and Malcolm,
    The skeptics seem to be building up a head of steam here ! Maybe we can use this to our advantage to get the series updated !
    Odd idea to update the proxies with satellite estimates of the lower troposphere rather than surface data !. Odder still that they don’t realise that Moberg et al used the Jones and Moberg updated series !
    Francis Zwiers is till onside. He said that PC1s produce hockey sticks. He stressed that the late 20th century is the warmest of the millennium, but Regaldo didn’t botherwith that. Also ignored Francis’ comment about all the other series looking similar to MBH.
    The IPCC comes in for a lot of stick.
    Leave it to you to delete as appropriate !
    PS I’m getting hassled by a couple of people to release the CRU station temperature data.
    Don’t any of you three tell anybody that the UK has a Freedom of Information Act !

    So, move along, just one of many e-mails…oh, there is odd computer code with these too?

  17. Jason Robinson says:

    That’s great. None of that addresses the contents of Mann et al 2008.

  18. […] Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization, holds up a temperature chart during a press conference at the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen, Tuesday Dec. 8, 2009. This decade has very likely been the …Read Original Story: Global warming is NOT slowing down, scientists say – Charleston Gazette […]

  19. MX2 says:

    Jason #14 & 17:

    You are saying that 20 scientific reports confirm the Hockey Stick? Here’s where things get complicated and it seems many people just “glaze over” when it gets here, but it is perhaps the most important aspect in this overall debate to grasp. So here’s a try from my viewpoint.

    I have not seen reference to all those being stand-alone pieces of science supporting the new second-life Hockey Stick that do not, one way or another, end up basing their primary source, or secondary source, or supporting reference of some sort, back to the ever-present foundational information originating with Briffa, Mann, Phil Jones, and the CRU data set, all of whose information (in some cases referenced by others for over a decade) is now being called on by other scientists as certainly questionable, even non-usable, and if nothing else in need of being released fully for full accountability. So what studies do not refer back to this small core group, that are now in question (by other IPCC scientists) due to Climategate?

    What I have seen reference to, even from the early Wegman Report on the H-stick, to the NAS report, up to a recent post by Steve McIntyre at just back on September 29 (before Climategate broke), is that there is a bit of a “faulty shared core data” problem among the UN IPCC scientists and other scientists agreeing with H-stick findings. One has to delve into reading about the bristlecone pine dendrochronology problems and the “Yamal proxy” data, combined with an apparently inherently biased programing technique to see why the Mann Hockey Stick, and any other report using the same collection of basic data sets, are considered faulty. When faulty, but still used, the result of this are consistently no Medieval Warm Period (which even Briffa, in a leaked e-mail, considered to have been, in reality, as warm as today, as other scientists do) and a spike up in the 1990s (the stick’s up-swinging tip). Here is McIntyre summing up the situation with “peer reviewed publications” supporting newer Hockey Stick repeats on Sept. 29 (see above link), after finally getting an essential piece of data information (suddenly listed online) with which to investigate the often-used CRU data set:

    “…until recently, CRU staunchly refused to provide the measurement data used in Briffa’s Yamal reconstruction. Science(mag) acquiesced in this refusal in connection with Osborn and Briffa 2006. While the Yamal chronology was used in a Science article, it originated with Briffa 2000 and Science(mag) took the position that the previous journal (which had a different data policy) had jurisdiction. Briffa used the chronology Briffa et al (Phil Trans B, 2008) and the Phil Trans editors finally seized the nettle, requiring Briffa to archive the data. As noted before, Briffa asked for an extension and, when I checked earlier this year, the Yamal measurement data remained unarchived. A few days ago, I noticed that the Yamal data was finally placed online. With the information finally available, this analysis has only taken a few days.

    “If the non-robustness observed here prove out (and I’ve provided a generating script), this will have an important impact on many multiproxy studies that have relied on this study. Studies illustrated in the IPCC AR4 spaghetti graph, Wikipedia spaghetti graph or NAS Panel spaghetti graph (consult them for bibliographic refs) that use the Yamal proxy include: Briffa 2000; Mann and Jones 2003; Jones and Mann 2004; Moberg et al 2005; D’Arrigo et al 2006; Osborn and Briffa 2006; Hegerl et al 2007, plus more recently Briffa et al 2008, Kaufman et al 2009. (Note that spaghetti graph studies not included in the above list all employ strip bark bristlecone pines – some use both.)”

    Now, of course McIntyre could be wrong too, but he seems on track to me. But, I’m a skeptic and I like to look at both sides, so give me other sources which come to a Hockey Stick without using the bristlecone pines, the Yamal data, etc., as mentioned above, and I’ll check them out like I do others. Hey, I’m sure not a climatologist, but to me and what I do know (which is enough to make you read this, isn’t it?) the faulty Hockey Stick via poor proxy data, CRU data, and coding as McIntyre shows, certainly indicates that even before Climategate there were known basic problems now finally being looked at with a more serious eye.

    By the way, I think that McIntyre is one of the fellows mentioned in the leaked e-mail (above), which Jones did not want to share data with.

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