The top climate reporter for the NYT has published what is arguably the worst article of his career, replete with statements that simply are scientifically inaccurate or misleading beyond belief:
The world leaders who met at the United Nations to discuss climate change on Tuesday are faced with an intricate challenge: building momentum for an international climate treaty at a time when global temperatures have been stable for a decade and may even drop in the next few years….
The recent spate of relatively cool years is particularly noticeable because it followed a seesawing from unusually cool temperatures to unusually hot ones in the 1990s, said Vicky Pope of Britain’s climate agency, called the Met Office….
The global average temperature is now only an imperceptible .01 degree Fahrenheit higher than it was in 1999, according to the British meteorology office.
That litany of misinformation and confusion is what you expect from the Swift boat smearer‘s website, not the paper of record. And sure enough, former Inhofe staffer and general disinformation spreader Marc Morano couldn’t be in more agreement Revkin, running the blaring headline at ClimateDepotted: “NYT’s Moment of Clarity: UN faces challenge achieving climate treaty ‘when global temps have been stable for a decade and may even drop in next few years’.”
As we’ll see, Revkin owes his readers and the whole world multiple corrections and “explanations,” if not a complete retraction.
Let me try to set the scientific record straight, since the NYT has so confused the matter. First off, the most shocking thing that Revkin does is quote the Met Office in the same exact sentence he makes his most egregious mistatement: “The recent spate of relatively cool years.”
Relatively cool? Relative to what, Andy? Venus? Here is the Met Office temperature ranking of the past century and a half on planet Earth (see here):
That’s right, according to the Met Office, there has been a recent spate of relatively very, very hot years. As the Met Office explains, “over the past decade, most years have remained close to the global average temperature reached in 1998. All the years from 2000 to 2008 have been in the top 14 warmest years on record.”
The interesting question is not why the global temperature has — using the Met Office data — been roughly flat for a few years. The interesting question is what caused the step change in temperature rise, whereby the decade of the 2000s is going to be the hottest decade in the temperature record, much warmer than the decade of the 1990s, which at the time was the hottest decade on record. Hint: Scientists call it global warming. I’ll come back to this step change, this recent jump in temperatures, in a later post.
Andy’s questionable and uber-misleading assertion — “global temperatures have been stable for a decade” — should at the very least be amended “at record high levels.”
But it’s far from clear the original statement is actually true! Indeed, you’d never know it from Revkin’s post, which relies exclusively on the temperature record of the leading UK climate change office, but the United States actually produces a global temperature record that paints a very different picture than the Met Office. But then, that temperature record does not fit into the narrative Revkin is pushing, so it’s no big surprise that he omits any mention of it whatsoever: