Video And Charts Make Clear The Planet Is Still Warming — And There’s Only One Way To Stop It

The planet just keeps warming, as NASA data makes clear (via Tamino).

Perhaps you thought that the whole “planet isn’t warming” meme was killed by record-smashing Arctic ice loss and off-the-charts heat waves and extreme weather. Maybe you thought the deniers would move on to another strategy after last summer’s bombshell Koch-funded study. After all, it found ”global warming is real,” “on the high end” and “essentially all” due to carbon pollution.

Sadly, the disinformers have a strategic single-mindedness that would make a hedgehog jealous. What has set them rolling up into a spiny ball this time is the UK Met Office, which recently revised its near-term temperature prediction (through 2017) down slightly. If that new projection comes true (which I doubt), then the planet’s apparent warming compared to the super El-Nino year of 1998 will be modest.

I say apparent warming because the overwhelming majority of manmade warming goes into the oceans, which just keep warming (see charts below) — and because even the land-based temperature clearly show the warming trend continued unabated. Skeptical Science has an excellent new video on this last point:

[O]nce the short-term warming and cooling influences of volcanic eruptions, solar activity, and El Niño and La Niña events are statistically removed from the temperature record, there is no evidence of a change in the rate of greenhouse warming. This replicates the result of a study by Foster and Rahmstorf (2011) under slightly different assumptions.

The human contribution to global warming over the last 16 years is essentially the same as during the prior 16 years. Human-caused greenhouse warming, while partially hidden by natural variations, has continued in line with model projections. Unless greenhouse gas emissions are brought under control, we will see faster warming in the future.

I’ll repeat the analogy (from my previous debunking of this myth) to the notion it hasn’t warmed from the El-Nino-fueled summer of 1997 through the La-Nina-cooled summer of 2012. Imagine your kid got 11 B’s and 1 A+ in 9th grade science class. Then, in 10th grade science, she gets 9 A’s and 2 A+’s — but her last grade was “just” an A. Would you say she is doing better in science class or worse in science class? (Dan Braganca did a nice charticle on that analogy.)

You can’t slow global warming with either cherry-picking or hand-waving (see “The Radiative Forcing of the CO2 Humans Have Put in the Air Equals 1 Million Hiroshima Bombs a Day“). You need to rapidly deploy carbon-free energy to do that  (see Study: We’re Headed To 11°F Warming And Even 7°F Requires “Nearly Quadrupling The Current Rate Of Decarbonisation“).

What follows is an extended and updated excerpt from my October debunking “Ten Charts That Make Clear The Planet Just Keeps Warming.”

skeptics v realists v3

NOAA has a great chart that notes “Every year of 2000s [was] warmer than 1990s average”:

The recent La Nina, far from providing evidence that the planet isn’t warming, demonstrates the exact reverse, since it was the hottest La Nina on record — as seen in this chart from NOAA:

See also this discussion of the World Meteorological Organization from December 2011: 2011 Is Warmest La Niña Year on Record and Science “Proves Unequivocally” It’s “Due to Human Activities.”

If you want to refute the disinformers with perhaps the biggest dataset, analyzed independently, and backed by Koch money, well, you have to go to the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) Study — and really, what else is it good for? Their key paper from 2011 found it’s warming fast:

… our analysis suggests a degree of global land-surface warming during the anthropogenic era that is consistent with prior work (e.g. NOAA) but on the high end of the existing range of reconstructions.

They compare their findings with all the other datasets, and it looks like this:

ten year data analysis comparison graph

The decadal land-surface average temperature using a 10-year moving average of surface temperatures over land. Anomalies are relative to the Jan 1950 – December 1979 mean. The grey band indicates 95% statistical and spatial uncertainty interval.” A Koch-funded reanalysis of 1.6 billion temperature reports finds that “essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases.” Via BEST.

Still warming, though that’s just a chart of land-surface temperatures.

In fact, the land has received only a tiny fraction of the manmade warming in recent years as the scientific literature — captured in this great Skeptical Science infographic — makes clear:

Components of global warming for the period 1993 to 2003 calculated from IPCC AR4

Now, if you actually read the scientific literature, you find the oceans have been rapidly warming in recent decades (see “Hottest Decade on Record Would Have Been Even Hotter But for Deep Oceans“):

“Total Earth Heat Content [anomaly] from 1950 (Murphy et al. 2009). Ocean data taken from Domingues et al 2008.”

And no, the ocean didn’t stop warming in the middle the last decade, as a chart from yet another scientific study makes clear (see “Search for ‘Missing Heat’ Ends Myth Global Warming Has Ended“):

Revised estimate of global ocean heat content (10-1500 mtrs deep) for 2005-2010 derived from Argo measurements. The 6-yr trend accounts for 0.55±0.10Wm−2. Error bars and trend uncertainties exclude errors induced by remaining systematic errors in the global observing system. See Von Schuckmann & Le Traon (2011).  Via Skeptical Science.

Still warming.

You may have noticed in the infographic that Arctic sea ice has seen 0.8% of global warming — nearly two-fifths of the warming the continents have received. I wonder what has been happening in the Arctic:

Arctic sea ice is melting much, much faster than even the best climate models had projected (actual observations in red). The reason is most likely unmodeled amplifying feedbacks. The image (from Climate Crocks via Arctic Sea Ice Blog) comes from a 2007 GRL research paper by Stroeve et al.

Oh, right, it’s in a death spiral — and that’s just the two-dimensional sea ice extent. Let’s remember that “Experts Warn Of ‘Near Ice-Free Arctic In Summer’ In A Decade If Volume Trends Continue.”

Finally we have the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, which each have been getting a mere 0.2% of the warming. Let’s check in on those:

Warming and melting faster than ever.

That’s nine charts and one video, enough for now, but there are many other physical indicators of continued warming (see “How Can It Be Warming When It’s (Almost) Always Cooling?“)

30 Responses to Video And Charts Make Clear The Planet Is Still Warming — And There’s Only One Way To Stop It

  1. wili says:

    Great to see you’ve picked up these awesome dynamic graphs! These both deserve to be copied and spread around the net, the media, the state houses, the Congress, the Whitehouse…until no one will dare utter the phrase “no new warming since…” for fear of being laughed out of the space for being an utterly incompetent fool.

    On the general topic of where we are, what we are doing, and the appropriate images to get these dire realities across, try this analogy:

    It’s September, 1940 in London. The Blitz has started in earnest. Bombs are falling around our heads taking out our buildings, pulverizing vital infrastructure, and incinerating our families.

    But instead of sending our children off to the country, reducing domestic petrol consumption by 95%, cutting way back on meat and dairy, re-using everything to the utmost, putting every effort into shoring up what is salvageable, and working hard every minute to support the war effort, as the actual Brits did…

    Instead of enacting these sensible responses to the beyond-extreme threats that are now exploding right in our faces, we ‘Londoners,’ individually and as a society, spend almost all of our time and much of our money making and sending bombs, bullets, money and other useful things off to the Gerries.

    Everyone does it, not just the half of the politicians and third of the population that aren’t sure there are any Germans or bombs, or not sure that, if they do exist, they might not just be quite good for us.

    If we can’t stop this insane participation in our own demise even as it is starting to overtake us in deadly earnest, what is the hope that will ever stop dutifully sending our support to the physical, corporate and political forces that are in the process of wiping out ourselves, our children, our homes, our countries, and nearly every living thing in them?

    What will it take to make us fully realize that every plane trip we take is dropping a bomb on a city, that every car trip is incinerating a family, that every piece of industrial meat is washing away houses?

    Is it in the final analysis a failure of the imagination?

    An inability to imagine our way into really and truly living in the actual limited fragile world that we actually inhabit?

    To see that we aid and abet an enemy that is in the active process of annihilating us, our loved ones, our progeny, and very creation when ever we participate in activities that burn death fuels or involve the loosening on the world of climate chaos gasses?

    To shift the metaphor, can we never start to see ourselves as the bulls we are, even as the whole china shop is starting to crash and crumble around us?

  2. M Tucker says:

    Deniers will not change. They will always twist reports to emphasize their point of view.

    Of course the planet is still warming. Nothing has magically changed except that the administration has decided that this is an issue we can delay taking action on. I wish we could just get some honesty out of the President. Just an honest candid explanation of why it is OK to delay while the US pulls ever more oil and gas out of shale formations. It would be refreshing to hear from anyone in the Administration about this. It is now obvious that it is not because it is a controversial issue. They are going toe-to-toe with the gun lobby and the wackos who insist that assault rifles and 30 round magazines are their god given right. So why not take on climate change? Be honest with us Obama.

  3. Paul Klinkman says:

    Actually we need to deploy a methane-free strategy too. It’s important not to short-sell the egregious damage that the natural gas industry does to the planet by leaking perhaps 9% of all methane mined.

    Also we could use lots of localized geoengineering, the white roofs approach. Any port in a storm. And we need to pack up the earth’s species in liquid nitrogen or in zoos, the Wall-E approach to world collapse. This is dreadful to think about but if we actually do it, people will get alarmed and try to solve the problem. So save one species in liquid nitrogen, then two species, and make a big show of it each time.

  4. Henry says:

    Your answer would be “The Economy”, there’s no support for expensive ‘projects’ right now.

  5. Jacob says:

    Anyone know who Roy Spencer is? Is this guy credible at all?

  6. Paul Magnus says:

    Easter is. Syndrome….

  7. Paul Magnus says:

    So is it possible that weather pressure waves/ jet streams modified by gw can alter the wobble of the earth spinning on its axis? Especially if we take into account the redistribution of ice and sea level water weight….

  8. Dennis Tomlinson says:

    Paul, on the island of Spitsbergen in the Norwegian Arctic Archipelago there’s a large cavern known as the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Just flora for now, perhaps the DNA of fauna will be preserved there some day.

  9. Paul Magnus says:

    There has got to be a connection between La Niña events and the polar currents….

  10. Brooks Bridges says:

    Try googling his name and looking for the wikipedia entry. Just to give you some idea: he thinks Intelligent Design trumps the Theory of evolution.

  11. Ben Lieberman says:

    Great post–after learning from Andy Revkin that “warming has largely stalled since 1998” I briefly though that everything might still turn out alright even if we kept extricating every gram of fossil fuel ever produced with the aim of pumping carbon into the atmosphere as fast as possible. Thanks for taking the time to produce this very detailed post– hedgehogs apparently need to be see the facts over and over and over again.

  12. jyyh says:

    This is my opinion also, but what’s the delay and how messed up the signal is? In Southern hemisphere it may be more noticeable f.e. off coast of Southern Africa. Maybe it’s time to revisit the books on ENSO.

  13. Spacenut says:

    Roy Spencer and climate science is comparable to Michael Behe and evolutionary biology. He’s been wrong too many times in the past to be considered credible currently. They both have credentials in their respective fields, but their fields wish they’d keep their mouths shut because they bring embarrassing press coverage that takes away from credible scientists valuable time explaining to mainstream reporters basic junior high science they never absorbed why they are wrong.

  14. BBHY says:

    I think it is interesting that the coolest year of the 2000’s, 2008, was still warmer than 9 out of 10 of the years of the 90’s and 99 out of 100 of all the years of the 20th century.

    That was the coolest year post 2000.

    The temperature, like the stock market, has peaks and dips, but when the new dips are higher than previous peaks we are in a bull market.

  15. Superman1 says:


    While the WWII/Manhatten Project analogies to what is needed in climate change might be correct, they appear to not be taking hold with the public. The threat is not sufficiently close to have adequate impact and elicit the level of sacrifice required. Perhaps our paradigm is wrong. Perhaps what we need is to sell climate remediation as an Apollo-type project. Apollo specifically, and Manned Space flight generally, are perhaps the biggest wastes of money this country ever made. Yet, it was wildly successful, because of how it attracted the public’s interest, and also how it created jobs throughout the country. Is there a way to generate an Apollo project for climate change that would not only rapidly convert us to renewables, but somehow force some of the large fossil fuel reductions that are required here and now? This is not my first choice, which would emphasize large fossil fuel use reductions above all else, but I don’t think my first choice can be implemented voluntarily.

  16. Jacob says:

    Thank you Brooks…

    I did search his name and found his own site. He claims not to be connected to the Oil companies, but I don’t know if I buy that. I also looked through the history of mentions (of Spencer) on this site, and found that he doesn’t use Physics in his work. I figured someone who is or claims to be a climate scientist would use all the tools at their disposal to do their work. If he doesn’t, it enrages me that denialists can use him as a “climate scientist” to back their falsehoods.

    Thanks again,


  17. Jacob says:

    Thank you Spacenut,

    From what little research I’ve been able to do, it would seem that Spencer doesn’t use Physics in his work. It irks me that people are allowed to say whatever they want while passing themselves off as credible scientists without actually being credible.

    Thanks again,


  18. M Tucker says:

    Using the current state of the US economy as an excuse for inaction is a well worn tactic of those who want to delay any action for as long as possible.

    Many economists have pointed out that delay will be more expensive to the economy than taking action now and I would love to have a public debt if Obama wants to take that position.

    Only the so called WWII effort would be economically difficult. Those who advocate for the WWII effort only look at the result of that effort, they do not examine what it took to finance it.

  19. Sasparilla says:

    That’s a really good idea Paul (if the money were there – it would have to be massive to do it realistically), do it with familiar animals (Polar Bears etc.) and call the project “The Ark” to grab the attention of the folks thumping their bibles.

    It would be shocking for a while.

  20. Jeb says:

    Actually, global warming is destabilizing La Nina and El Nino >>> See “Explained in 90 Seconds: What the @#% Is Climate Change Doing to El Niño?” >>>

  21. Joe,

    Thanks for the great article. It makes it far easier for non-specialists to follow the “warming has stalled” issue and hit back with real information.

    Concerning the much-ado-about-nothing denier claims — based on cherry picked data bits (or outright lies) — that there has been no warming since 1998:

    In a recent post on the Met Office revision — which, to my mind, exaggerated its importance in the overall discussion and gave credibility, of sorts, to the denier crowd attempting to do the same thing — Andy Revkin repeated the global warming “has mostly stalled since 1998” mantra.

    The deniers say that if the Met Office predictions come true, it will show that indeed the warming trend has stopped over for the past 17 years. (Complete nonsense, to be sure, but that’s what they’re concluding.) Revikin, in an odd bit of what appears to be soft collusion, concluded his post by saying, “In sum, there will come a time in this decade when the robustness of current thinking on the forces shaping climate will be reinforced or eroded.” He should know better, especially in light of all the information you just published.

    Revkin gave links to some commentary on the Met Office’s revision, which I followed and quoted. Here’s my post on the matter……

    From Leo Hickman’s roundup of responses to the Met Offices revision and the denier’s hay made therof:

    “Prof Chris Rapley, professor of climate science at University College London: ‘I despair of the way data such as this is translated as ‘global warming has stopped’! Global mean temperatures – whether measured or predicted – are not the issue. What matters is the energy balance of the planet and the changes that an energy imbalance will drive in the climate system – as well as the consequences for humans.

    90% of the energy imbalance enters the ocean and is not visible to the global mean surface temperature value.'”

    So this report is basically much ado about nothing (as is most, if not all of the climate “skeptics” commentary.)

    An increase in greenhouse gases increases the energy imbalance of the planet, and that is expressed in a variety of ways — ocean warming, ice melting, surface warming. Aerosols, sun cycles and El Nino/La Nina shifts can mask the greenhouse effect for a while, but it doesn’t go away.

    Meanwhile, all the Met Office said is that surface temperatures are possibly expected to rise 20% less than they were expected to rise in the short term. But they are still expected to rise to 80% of earlier predicted values. This is hardly reassuring given the real-world climate change effects we’ve seen in the past couple of years.

  22. wili says:

    “Perhaps what we need is to sell climate remediation”

    You may be onto something here.

    Many involved in sea level rise modeling are pointing out how uncertain we are about the upper bounds of what may be coming our way.

    The best number so far to come out of the modeling is that we are in for about one meter of slr by century end.

    Since this would involve massive relocation of populations and infrastructures that will take many decades. We need to start now.

    Starting a relocation program of this sort will not only be the prudent, necessary thing to do; it will also make very concrete and clear to people what severe consequences are upon us just from the CO2 we have already put into the atmosphere plus we can not avoid putting out in the near future.

  23. jyyh says:

    So, there’s been more significant ENSO events during 20th century than previously according to that study. Might the ‘heart pulse of the world ocean’ have been responding to increased heat even in the early 20th century?

  24. Banning building on flood plains, and rebuilding of flood-damaged property would at least be somewhere to start. But then, when did common sense ever guide the mob?

  25. John McCormick says:

    Paul, those are dark secrets and not suitable for an audience that cares not to read newspapers and votes for rethugs.

  26. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    With the recent advances in science and technology, humanity stands on the brink of amazing achievements. The only problem is that we are afflicted, like the mighty Krell in ‘Forbidden Planet’ by ‘monsters from the Id’. In our case these are in semi-human form and we generally euphemise them as ‘the Right’ (or ‘Ídiots’ if you prefer). And like the monsters from the Krell’s subconscious, these terrors live to destroy all that is other to themselves, and, up to now, they have always prevailed in human affairs.

  27. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    As far as Obama is concerned ‘the economy’ is the parasites, rentiers and kleptomaniacs of the financial apparatus, those banksters and grifters who wisely invested early and heavily in his career. The mere human beings of the 99.9% are ‘surplus to requirements’ ie ‘moochers’ in the correct Randian parlance.

  28. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Like Errol Flynn and the art of self-control.

  29. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Of course ENSO and all the current climate patterns must be deranged by climate destabilisation. How could they not be? The past is rapidly becoming irrelevant as a guide to the future-the recent past, I ought to say. Further back there are some nasty lessons to be learned.

  30. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I’ve never heard of a lying hedgehog.