Have you heard the one about how global warming stopped in 1998? It’s been called a “pause,” a “hiatus,” a “slowdown” and a “siesta.” Above all, it’s a red herring, and it isn’t difficult to find where some of the ‘missing’ heat has gone.
First, in case you haven’t been paying attention: 97 percent of climate scientists agree about global warming and its man-made causes, now with 95 percent certainty, according to a report this month by the IPCC, the world’s most authoritative body of climate scientists. Greenhouse gases trap heat, which melts ice, raises seas and floods cities; this fundamental equation is not in doubt.
What has raised a few eyebrows recently is that temperatures on the surface of Earth have increased at a slower rate since 1998 than in previous decades. Scientists have largely chalked this up to the short-term variability of climate. However, climate skeptics have taken the surface-temp slowdown acknowledged by the IPCC to mean that global warming itself has stopped — that somehow the physics has changed.
“The planet is warming,” said Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and a reviewer for the IPCC report. “The warmth just isn’t being manifested at the surface.”