In February, the Washington Post published a factually-challenged column by George Will that attacked the reality of climate change. One of Will’s claims was that “according to the U.N. World Meteorological Organization, there has been no recorded global warming for more than a decade.” In a letter to the editor today, Michel Jarraud, the secretary general of the WMO, explains how Will’s column was a “misinterpretation” of the organization’s data:
Evidence of global warming has been documented in widespread decreases in snow cover, sea ice and glaciers. The 11 warmest years on record occurred in the past 13 years.
While variations occur throughout the temperature record, shorter-term variations do not contradict the overwhelming long-term increase in global surface temperatures since 1850, when reliable meteorological recordkeeping began. Year to year, we may observe in some parts of the world colder or warmer episodes than in other parts, leading to record low or high temperatures. This regional climate variability does not disprove long-term climate change. While 2008 was slightly cooler than 2007, partially due to a La Niña event, it was nonetheless the 10th-warmest year on record.
Writing on the Post’s op-ed page, Science Progress contributing editor Chris Mooney calls Will’s WMO claim a “sleight of hand” that leads to the false “conclusion that ‘global cooling’ sets in immediately after every new record temperature year, no matter how frequently those hot years arrive or the hotness of the years surrounding them.”