By Dr. Roy Cordato, January 22, 2013
RALEIGH — Over the past several weeks, there has been a good deal of global warming news, some that focused on the year immediately passed — 2012 — and some that focused on years to come. But in all probability the only headline you have seen regarding any of this read something like this one from The Weather Channel: “2012: Warmest Year on Record for U.S.” Several weeks ago this news covered the pages of newspapers. All the networks spread the same idea.
But, as noted, over the past several weeks there have been other global warming-related stories, and the one regarding 2012 temperature in the lower 48 states of the United States was probably the least important. After all, the issue is global warming, not warming in the U.S., and on that score the news was quite different.
So here’s a headline you probably didn’t see: “2012: 9th Warmest on Record Globally Since 1979.” The reason why you didn’t see this or a similar headline in any major media outlet is because, as far as I’ve been able to tell, the story, while completely true, went unreported.
But according to the satellite temperature record, kept since 1979, 2012 was only the ninth warmest year on record. Here are the years since 1979 ranked by average global temperature — warmest to coolest.
1979 through 2012, ranked from warmest to coolest:
But wait: There’s more news that you probably missed. Now this is a headline that did appear, but not in any venue that you are likely to have noticed: “Met Office Forecasts No Global Temperature Rise.” This headline appeared on a pretty obscure website called “The Observatory.” And who is the Met Office? It is the United Kingdom Met Office, and Met is short for “Meteorological.” The UK Met Office is heavily relied upon by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, both for climate data and climate forecasts.
So what is the Met Office predicting? No warming for at least the next five years. This is on top of its own data showing that there has been no warming for the last 15 years. According to the Met Office, the planet is looking at 20 years with no warming trend.
The graph below, published here by the Met Office, would have been an interesting one to spread across the front pages of newspapers across the country — or at least on page 62. But, alas, not many people have seen it. So here’s your chance.
The Observatory interprets the graph as follows: “The UK Met Office has revised its global temperature predictions as a result of a new version of its climate model and climate simulations using it. It now believes that global temperatures up to 2017 will most likely be 0.43 deg C above the 1971-2000 average, with an error of +/- 0.15 deg C. In reality, this is a forecast of no increase in global temperatures above current levels.”
Now you have a more complete picture of the latest climate news.
Dr. Roy Cordato (@RoyCordato) is Vice President for Research and Resident Scholar at the John Locke Foundation.