This is very encouraging for those of us who value science and the scientific method.
Despite contiued hysteria from the climateers, the notion that the earth hasn't warmed in two decades has finally cracked the mainstream and is now part of the discussion of what to do about climate change.
The issue is "climate sensitivity" - how much the climate changes relative to the amount of greehouse gasses that are spewed into the atmosphere. Hysterics have argued that their models show an extreme sensitivity to CO2 but the reality appears to be far different.
Deate about the reality of a two-decade pause in global warming and what it means has made its way from the sceptical fringe to the mainstream.
In a lengthy article this week, The Economist magazine said if climate scientists were credit-rating agencies, then climate sensitivity - the way climate reacts to changes in carbon-dioxide levels - would be on negative watch but not yet downgraded.
Another paper published by leading climate scientist James Hansen, the head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, says the lower than expected temperature rise between 2000 and the present could be explained by increased emissions from burning coal.
For Hansen the pause is a fact, but it's good news that probably won't last.
International Panel on Climate Change chairman Rajendra Pachauri recently told The Weekend Australian the hiatus would have to last 30 to 40 years "at least" to break the long-term warming trend.
But the fact that global surface temperatures have not followed the expected global warming pattern is now widely accepted.
Research by Ed Hawkins of University of Reading shows surface temperatures since 2005 are already at the low end of the range projections derived from 20 climate models and if they remain flat, they will fall outside the models' range within a few years.
"The global temperature standstill shows that climate models are diverging from observations," says David Whitehouse of the Global Warming Policy Foundation.
"If we have not passed it already, we are on the threshold of global observations becoming incompatible with the consensus theory of climate change," he says.
Whitehouse argues that whatever has happened to make temperatures remain constant requires an explanation because the pause in temperature rise has occurred despite a sharp increase in global carbon emissions.
The Economist says the world has added roughly 100 billion tonnes of carbon to the atmosphere between 2000 and 2010, about one-quarter of all the carbon dioxide put there by humans since 1750. This mismatch between rising greenhouse gas emissions and not-rising temperatures is among the biggest puzzles in climate science just now, The Economist article says.
The bottom line:
But it also points to an increasing body of research that suggests it may be that climate is responding to higher concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide in ways that had not been properly understood before.
"This possibility, if true, could have profound significance both for climate science and for environmental and social policy," the article says.
Powerline's Steven Hayward:
So The Economist story, though hedged with every reservation to Keep Hope Alive, is nonetheless a clear sign that it's about over for the climate campaign.
While climateers continue to beat the drum that each year is among the hottest since Satan opened his first furnace at Hades Hostel for Hapless Heathens, there has been an embarrassed silence, if not outright denial (heh), that temperatures have flattened out over the last 15 years. Now even the leading climateers can't maintain a straight face over this any more, as The Economist notes in its lede:
OVER the past 15 years air temperatures at the Earth's surface have been flat while greenhouse-gas emissions have continued to soar. The world added roughly 100 billion tonnes of carbon to the atmosphere between 2000 and 2010. That is about a quarter of all the CO₂ put there by humanity since 1750. And yet, as James Hansen, the head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, observes, "the five-year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade." . . .
There are still many scientists who have a lot invested in catastrophic climate change theory. They won't give up easily. And it will take years before any change in attitude will be realized from additional research. But as Hayward points out, an endgame of sorts is in sight. The hysteria is no longer sustainable. And I think there are enough honest scientists out there who will change their opinions and completely alter the debate over climate change.