As the mainstream press gets ready to unleash an untold number of the "warmest year ever" propaganda stories for year-end 2014, it begs the question...in the context of long-term climate change, does the "warmest" or "coldest" for any given year matter in any meaningful way?...actually, it does not, per the empirical evidence.....
The global warming slowdown (or "hiatus," "stall," "plateau," "pause" and etc.) has been widely discussed across a broad spectrum of web and print publications, including prominent science journals and peer-reviewed research, which indicates a 100% acceptance of the extended slowdown.
The realization and analysis of this lack of significant warming has produced a cornucopia of studies and expert opinions as to why the global climate went into a completely unexpected stall mode - so far, there are some 50+ scientific rationales that have been put forward to explain the phenomenon.
Since climate science remains unsettled, the current consensus is that there is a non-consensus regarding the globe's dramatic deviation form the CO2-centric "expert" climate models. Indeed, there is no shortage of empirical evidence documenting the ever-enlarging discrepancy.
Unfortunately, despite the indisputable and consensus scientific recognition that a temperature plateau exists, and the lively debate within science circles as to why, there are elite green alarmists who claim the 'standstill' is a hoax or does not exist - essentially, that is sheer climate-change denialism by deniers performing in anti-science, denialist roles.
On top of such denial travesties, the mainstream press is trying to change the focus away from the significance of the global warming slowdown and climate model failure to the incredibly small increase in warming that allows them to shout report that 2014 is the "warmest" year ever.
The term "warmest" (as in day, week, month, spring, summer, autumn, winter, year, decade and so on) has become the last propaganda refuge of those who either deny the global pause or just want everyone to forget its importance. Utilizing the terminology of "warmest" reveals the ultimate cherry-picking agenda.
However, since the Little Ice Age (LIA) end during the 1800's, the world has been constantly producing new "warmest-ever" records - it's entirely normal within the climate record, and will happen even when a temperature change hiatus exists.
To that point, both warm and cold years can coexist during longer periods of temperature stability, as multiple global and regional records demonstrate. In addition, it's unquestionable that severe/extreme weather events can take place, regardless if it is the "coldest" or "warmest" year.
As the adjacent chart depicts, rapid cooling and warming climate changes can occur very quickly. The chart plots both the acceleration and deceleration of temperatures (ie, per century trends) over moving 12-month periods (light red curve) since 1850.
Over short-term horizons, global temperatures have been known to accelerate/decelerate at a ±70°C rate.
Since 1999, there have been periods when temps increased at a +35°C/century rate, which would obviously produce some very warm years; while during the same 15-year span, there have been periods when temps decelerated ay -39°C/century rate, which would have obviously produced interim cold periods. This is what the empirical evidence shows.
Now think about that last paragraph. Over the last 15 years there has been incredible shifts in temp trends, yet the mainstream press doesn't report on that. Instead the press reports excessively about a given period being all of 1 to 2 hundredths of a degree warmer than a previous year. The robust alarmist hysteria of "journalism" is sadly evident 24/7.
Okay, back to climate reality and the basic facts: Temperature changes. Trends increase, then decrease. It just happens. It's natural. It will continue to do so. And it has occurred since instrumental climate records have been kept and proxy temperature reconstructions have been created.
Speaking of instrumental records, back to the included chart for more evidence of extreme climate change. The HadCRUT4 instrumental record since 1850 shows some big extremes, which have been identified on the chart as those periods exhibiting temperature trends greater than ±50°C.
Those specific warming and cooling extreme incidents have been identified with the years they took place, and there are some common traits recognizable.
- All the huge extreme changes took place over 40 years ago, with the vast majority being prior to 1950.
- The huge CO2 emissions have not produced a single global warming acceleration extreme since 1951, over 60 years ago.
- Since the 1970's, the climate extremes' range appears to be narrowing, with each accelerated warming and cooling trend rate getting smaller.
- And when major (minor too) extremes occur, the climate system does not hit a "tipping point" of positive feedbacks. Instead, the natural climate responds with negative feedbacks to bring the climate back to some level of short equilibrium.
The chart also plots the moving 180-month (15 year) acceleration/deceleration of temperature trends (the dark blue curve).
Clearly, despite all the modern CO2 emissions, all the gyrations of the 12-month per century trends, and all the recent "warmest" years ever, the 15-year global warming trend has not deviated much from the past. Statistically, as of October 2014, that trend is below the median of all 180-month trends that took place in the past ( 1,801 1,799 trend datapoints to be exact).
- Sidebar factoid: During 1922, the 15-year per century warming trend reached a level that was 3 times greater than today's 15-year trend - that is a trend sans the gigantic cumulative human CO2 emissions resident in today's atmosphere. Is 1922 the only pre-1950 period when the 15-year trend exceeds today's? Nope (remember, October 2014 is below the historical median).
What does all of the above mean?
Today's global warming is neither civilization-ending, dangerous, rapid, nor quickly accelerating. It continues at a long-term pace that humans have not markedly influenced, per the empirical evidence. Thus, the proper response to a claim of a new "warmest" year is appropriately: 'so what?'
As shown, those stubborn facts of empirical evidence are relentless. The continuing long-term, natural warming climate trend since the LIA has been a constant, yet combined with amazing short-term periods of abrupt change that produce exceptionally warm years and cold years.
These are the scientific climate facts. They are unequivocal, immutable, indisputable, irrefutable, undeniable and non-debatable. It's called natural climate. It happens.
- Now, all of the above should not go without the following caveats: today's temperature trends are not forever. Trends are not predictions nor projections. As the plotted evidence indicates, the climate can change rapidly, going from cooling to warming back to cooling over short time spans. Any cool/warm trend has the potential to become a much longer, climate significant trend. And it's reasonable caveat to assume CO2 emissions have an impact, but likely a very trivial one (and easily overwhelmed) versus the natural climate change impact.
- There is no expert (of course, that doesn't keep most experts from speculating) who can predict how much longer the pause will continue and whether it will morph into global cooling or a return to greater warming. And by the way, if the latter, many people are already debating that potential and what it will mean - more confirmation that climate science is never "settled."
- When one connects the dots, so to speak, at the end of the day there have been absolutely zero climate models and/or experts that predicted the recent empirical climate outcomes that the above chart delineates - that's correct, none.
- And finally, the infamous "97%" scientist consensus that CAGW proponents often fall back on when empirical evidence, such as above, eviscerates their CO2-warming alarmism, has been seriously and embarrassingly debunked, multiple times. Read here and here.
Note: Source for monthly HadCRUT4 anomalies used for chart. Utilized Excel to calculate 12-month and 180-month (moving) slopes (ie. trends), then multiplied by 1200 to produce per century trends. Then used Excel to plot per century trends.