Saturday, March 9th 2013, 4:50 PM EST
Met Office data show only a tiny change in world temperatures
Readers of this column do not need to be reminded why it is so important for us to know whether the world is truly in the grip of runaway global warming, or whether this belief has all been based on a colossal misreading of the scientific evidence. One reason why it is so vital for us to understand this, of course, has been all those devastating political responses to this fear, which promise to change our way of life out of recognition.
Just in Britain alone, paying for our Climate Change Act is officially due to cost us up to £18 billion a year. It is now driving our entire national energy policy, threatening us with ever more crippling bills, power blackouts, and the sight of our countryside being covered in ever more giant wind factories. In convincing the world that we must make such a dramatic response to man-made climate change, nothing has been more persuasive than those graphs that purport to show global temperature soaring to dangerous levels.
That iconic “hockey stick” graph, showing temperatures recently shooting up into the stratosphere, may now have been discredited. But just as important have been all those graphs showing how temperatures have changed in recent decades. These have the effect of greatly exaggerating those changes, by narrowly focusing just on what are called temperature “anomalies”, showing how they have risen and fallen round their average level in the past 30-odd years.
What the graphs do not show is the actual level of global temperature, as it is measured above freezing point. In other words, they leave out by far the greater part of the total picture. So the respected Canadian environmental writer, Lawrence Solomon, recently had the bright idea of publishing in his Financial Post newspaper column a graph showing the temperature changes of the past 15 years in proper perspective, using figures from the most prestigious of all official temperature records, compiled by the UK Met Office and its Hadley Centre.
The result, as can be seen here, is startling. By including that huge part of the data usually left out, we see that the line looks virtually flat. The actual changes look relatively so small, compared with those rises and falls of several whole degrees the world survived in the past, that any idea that we are facing catastrophic warming pales into insignificance. In recent months, even such fanatical proponents of the warmist orthodoxy as Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, James Hansen of Nasa, and the Met Office have all had to concede that since 1997, the warming trend has stalled virtually to a standstill. Of course, there was a modest temperature rise in the 20th century, as a continuation of the warming that began 200 years ago as the world naturally emerged from those centuries of cooling known as the Little Ice Age. But the 0.5C rise between 1976 and 1998 was no greater than the 0.5C rise between 1910 and 1940 (with 35 years of cooling between them, so that the net rise in the past century has been only 0.8C).
Yet it was on that modest rise in the 1980s and 1990s that the whole of the greatest and most expensive scare in history was launched on its way, with all the terrifying political and economic consequences we see around us today. The very last people to recognise this, alas, will be our politicians, because they seem incapable of looking properly at the evidence. The price we are all increasingly having to pay for their gullibility is incalculable.