A “pause” in global warming that supposedly took place between 1995 and 2013 has been “comprehensively disproved” by experts.
Many scientists claimed that the Earth stopped cooking due to climate change for 15 years, but the theory has now been branded a myth.
For years, deniers of global warming have been pointing to a “climate change hiatus.”
This period — believed to have lasted a decade and a half — was held up as evidence that humans might not be causing significant climate change.
But a series of papers published in Environmental Research Letters lays the theory to rest once and for all.
“Many studies over the past decade have claimed to find a pause or slowdown in global warming and have typically posited this as evidence that is inconsistent with our understanding of global warming,” Dr. James Risbey, of CSIRO Australia, lead author on one of the studies, said in a statement.
The study examined how scientists around the world defined the supposed “pause” in global warming.
And it tracked these claims against the best and latest data for the Earth’s global mean surface temperature, or GMST, as detailed in one of the two studies.
The main finding was that there was no “pause” in GMST rise — no matter how you defined the hiatus.
“Our findings show there is little or no statistical evidence for a ‘pause’ in GMST rise,” Risbey explained.
“Neither the current data nor the historical data support it. Moreover, updates to the GMST data through the period of ‘pause’ research have made this conclusion stronger.”
“But, there was never enough evidence to reasonably draw any other conclusion.”
Risbey warns that the “full costs” of the scientific gaffe are “unknowable.”
“The climate-research community’s acceptance of a ‘pause’ in global warming caused confusion for the public and policy system about the pace and urgency of climate change,” he said.
“That confusion, in turn, might have contributed to the reduced impetus for action to prevent greenhouse climate change.”
So how did scientists get it so wrong? According to the study, there are several big reasons.
One of the main reasons is that climate change models didn’t appear to reflect how global temperatures actually changed.
This alleged “mismatch” between models and reality led some scientists to mistakenly believe global warming has paused.
One possible explanation is the particularly warm El Niño in 1998, which meant that global warming wasn’t as obvious in the following years.
Scientists also chose to review very specific periods, which — without context of other years — led to a kind of “selection bias.”
It’s also possible that people gathering the climate data “struggled to communicate the limitations” of the info, which was then misused by climate scientists, according to Professor Kevin Cowtan of the University of York.
“Additionally, there can be delays of several years in updating surface temperature datasets,” he went on.
“It takes time to find a bias, find a solution and then for a paper to be published before most providers update their datasets.”
“This process is good for transparency, but it may leave users in the position where they download data with knowable biases and unwittingly draw incorrect conclusions from those data.”
And one study co-author says that scientists faced significant pressure to explain the apparent pause — despite the lack of evidence for it.
“A final point to consider is why scientists put such emphasis on the ‘pause’ when the evidence for it was so scant,” said Professor Naomi Oreskes of Harvard University.
“An explanation lies in the constant public and political pressure from climate contrarians.”
“This may have caused scientists to feel the need to explain what was occurring, which led them inadvertently to accept and reinforce the contrarian framework.”
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