mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Settled Science
Scientists: Break in Global Warming Could Last Until 2025

The “pause” in global warming the world has been experiencing over the past decade or so could continue through to 2025, according to a new study. Researchers have struggled to explain why surface temperatures have failed to rise as predicted, despite the emission of ever-increasing amounts of greenhouse gases. Scientists have posited that much of this heat is being stored in our planet’s oceans. The BBC reports:

Last year a study suggested that a periodic upwelling of cooler waters in the Pacific was limiting the rise. […] However this latest work, published in the journal Science, shifts the focus from the Pacific to the Atlantic and Southern oceans.

The team, lead by Prof Ka-Kit Tung from the University of Washington, US, says there is now evidence that a 30-year current alternately warms and cools the world by sinking large amounts of heat beneath these deep waters. […]

Other scientists say that the Atlantic hypothesis is interesting but a much longer range of observations is needed. “We really don’t have a lot of data,” said Dr Jonathan Robson from the University of Reading, UK. “So if there is this 60-year oscillation in the ocean, we haven’t observed it all, basically we’ve observed the impact of it. We may have to wait 15-20 years to know what’s going on.”

There are a few things we do know about global warming—certain gases trap solar radiation within our atmosphere, warming our planet, and humanity has been emitting these gases in huge quantities since the industrial revolution. But there are plenty of other variables and feedback loops in our planet’s climate that we don’t understand, as this recent plateau in warming shows.

Our planet’s climate may be the most intricate and complicated system we have available to study; it’s no wonder, then, that our models fail time and time again to accurately predict what comes next. This doesn’t mean that climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies belong in the dustbin, but it does highlight the folly of linking climate policies to specific temperature targets.

A final note for the environmental movement: claiming climate science as “settled” does more harm to your cause than good. By overstating their case, greens have not only alienated skeptical opponents, they’ve also undermined their own credibility. The dangers of climate change are undeniably real, but our understanding of the details—the “fiddly bits”—of this system are quite limited. Pretending otherwise isn’t just dishonest, it’s a strategic blunder.

Features Icon
show comments
  • Boritz

    Scientists: Break in Global Warming Could Last until 2025

    Christians: Jesus could return by 2025.

    • Nick

      Both are equally based on faith and belief.

      • Rick Johnson

        Except the Christians prediction is the likely to be correct.

        • Nick

          I think it is the most preferable of the two outcomes. But I also remember that you shall not know the day, nor the hour…

      • Andrew Allison

        As Yogi Berra famously said, ‘It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.’ That said, there have been two 30-year periods during the past 150 years, and it very much looks as though we’re half-way through another one.

  • Andrew Allison

    ““We really don’t have a lot of data,” said Dr Jonathan Robson from the University of Reading, UK. “So if there is this 60-year oscillation in the ocean, we haven’t observed it all, basically we’ve observed the impact of it. We may have to wait 15-20 years to know what’s going on.” is arrant nonsense. As the researchers point out, there’s a 350 year history of this effect. Whether it’s the Atlantic Ocean absorbing heat, yesterday’s Pacific Ocean or tomorrow’s you-name-it which is causing it is irrelevant to the fact that we’ve been on a relatively slowly rising staircase, and the AGW hysteria is based in one of the rising periods, which is now being followed by a (slight) decline. As noted previously, despite the exponential increase in anthropomorphic CO2, the overall trend over the past 160 years has been an increase of 0.6 degrees per century, an order of magnitude less than that predicted by the alarmists. .

    • Duperray

      The 60-year climatic oscillation was already recorded in old chinese calendars, 1-2,000 years ago. They had no understanding why, but observations entered in their traditions.
      The current 0.6°/century is considered by “deniers” as a recovery from 2 centuries ago Small Ice Age. I never succeeded to find anything about how many more centuries will this recovery cover or, the total degrees C cumulative warming to reach “equilibrium”. Did any?

      • Andrew Allison

        Separate issues. Ice ages peaked roughly occurred 18, 47 and 72 thousand years ago. The next one was 156K. If the recent history is indicative, we would expect one in about 12,000 years.
        Five- and ten-year global average temperatures peaked in 2005 and, consistent with the previous cycles, the trend is slightly downward. Since 1850 the overall trend has been 0.06 degrees/ century., an order of magnitude less than that predicted by IPPC.

      • LarryD

        “equilibrium”? Earths’ climate has never been static. There has been a mild warming trend since the end of the last glaciation, on top of which have been fluctuations both warmer and colder (e.g., the Roman Optimum, the Little Ice Age, et al). We finally have enough data to attribute the ~60 year oscillation to oceanic decadal oscillations (ADO, PDO, Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation), but we can’t yet account for the various Optimums, nor the Little Ice Age, nor the cooling associated with solar grand minimums like the Dalton.

        There is a great deal we don’t know about Earths’ climate yet.

  • Gene

    I guess I should at least be happy that “scientists” are now publicly admitting there’s been a break.

  • Nick

    Or longer. Or it could cool off. Or it could heat up. Why not ask the models? Oh, right, they can’t hind cast properly, they can’t forecast properly.

    As they used to say before we became more sophisticated, Garbage in, garbage out (GIGO).

  • ShadrachSmith

    But the %age of atmospheric CO2 has gone up, I thought that means the temperature has to go up? If not, why are we regulating CO2?

  • Duperray

    Due to respective average atmospheric content of CO² and Water vapour and to their respective absorbtion capabilities, Water vapour is 75 times more efficient as potential green-house blanket effect.
    On top of that – while CO² never create clouds or mist by its own (because its atmospheric liquefaction occurs well below -250°F) – water creates clouds which have an additionnal blanket effect: Everybody noticed that by clear sky nights temperature falls well below with comparison with cloudy night; Also, in deserts night temperature frequently falls so much that water freezes..
    So, without being a climatologist, without “models” (yielding nothing else than what was embedded in), without long temperature records (that can be twisted at leisure), an ordinary person understands that CO² is not the guilty, even not a second role, probably a follower in so called GW.
    As Nature progressively diverges so much from models’ previsions, AGW pseudo-science will founder into an ocean of laugh within few years, to the best of us.
    It is obvious that, by then, the “scientists” originators of this scam would have been able to retire or escape on time, their pockets and bank accounts full of cash.
    But what about the scores of youngest scientists having been mislead by University corrupted fundings, by scientiifc journals unable to be honest? These unhappy guys will see their careers prematurely broken, letting them like beggars at Universities’ doors.

    • Loader2000

      Water vapor is self regulating in the environment due to the fact that more water vapor, in general results in more precipitation and condensation. C02, on the other hand, does not automatically precipitate out of the atmosphere when a warm and cold front collide.

      • Duperray

        This is correct, CO² remains there, but still as 1/76th of supposed global blanket effect, if any. Water vapour, once precipitated, can be rebuilt in matter of hours. CO² is slowly dissolved in oceans or absorbed by plants and I read somewhere that annual CO² in-out moves are 10 to 25 times larger than fossil fuel generated CO².

      • Andrew Allison

        But it increases plant growth, which absorbs it. It would be nice to know how many gigatons of CO2 have been and are being absorbed. As an aside, there are 49% more trees in the USA today than 50 years ago.

  • Corlyss

    Could cut into their fund-raising! No wonder they’re upset!

  • Rick Johnson

    According to the scientific method, if someone puts a hypothesis, which is then found to be completely and utterly contradicted by the evidence, we don’t call it a ‘pause’. We call it a failure. We reject it as having any scientific validity. To continue to give it any credence is to reject science.

    Until someone can come up with convincing, credible evidence that human activity has any impact on the global climate, climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies belong in the dustbin.

    • Roy_Lofquist

      This by Richard Feynman:

  • stanbrown

    “the evidence actually suggests that the causality underlying AGW should
    be reversed. Rather than increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere
    triggering global temperatures to rise, rising global temperatures come
    first—and account for the great majority of changes in net emissions of

  • Curious Mayhem

    The whole subject is still in its infancy, and the hysteria was always, shall we say, premature.

  • DiogenesDespairs

    For those interested in facts, here are some crucial, verifiable facts – with citations – about human-generated carbon dioxide and its effect on global warming it is important to know. I recommend checking out the links in the citations. Some of them are very educational.

    The fact is, there has been global warming, but the contribution of human-generated carbon dioxide is necessarily so minuscule as to be nearly undetectable. Here’s why:

    Carbon dioxide, considered the main vector for human-caused global warming, is some 0.038% of the atmosphere[1]- a trace gas. Water vapor varies from 0% to 4%[2], and should easily average 1% or more[3] near the Earth’s surface, where the greenhouse effect would be most important, and is about three times more effective[4] a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. So water vapor is at least 25 times more prevalent and three times more effective; that makes it at least 75 times more important to the greenhouse effect than carbon dioxide[5]. The TOTAL contribution of carbon dioxide to the greenhouse effect is therefore 0.013 or less. The total human contribution to atmospheric carbon dioxide since the start of the industrial revolution has been estimated at about 25%[6]. So humans’ carbon dioxide greenhouse effect is a quarter of 0.013, works out to about 0.00325. Total warming of the Earth by the greenhouse effect is widely accepted as about 33 degrees Centigrade, raising average temperature to 59 degrees Fahrenheit. So the contribution of anthropogenic carbon dioxide is less than 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit, or under 0.1 degree Centigrade. Global warming over the last century is thought by many to be about 0.6 degrees Centigrade.

    But that’s only the beginning. We’ve had global warming for more than 10,000 years, since the end of the last Ice Age, and there is evidence temperatures were actually somewhat warmer 9,000 years ago and again 4,500 to 8,000 years ago than they are today[7]. Whatever caused that, it was not human activity. It was not all those power plants and factories and SUVs being operated by Stone Age cavemen while chipping arrowheads out of bits of flint. Whatever the cause was, it melted the glaciers that in North America once extended south to Long Island and parts of New York City[8] into virtually complete disappearance (except for a few mountain remnants). That’s one big greenhouse effect! If we are still having global warming – and I suppose we could presume we are, given this 10,000 year history – it seems highly likely that it is still the overwhelmingly primary cause of continued warming, rather than our piddling 0.00325 contribution to the greenhouse effect.

    Yet even that trend-continuation today needs to be proved. Evidence is that the Medieval Warm Period centered on the 1200s was somewhat warmer than we are now[9], and the climate was clearly colder in the Little Ice Age in the 1600s than it is now[10]. So we are within the range of normal up-and-down fluctuations without human greenhouse contributions that could be significant, or even measurable.

    The principal scientists arguing for human-caused global warming have been demonstrably disingenuous[11], and now you can see why. They have proved they should not be trusted.

    The idea that we should be spending hundreds of billions of dollars and hamstringing the economy of the entire world to reduce carbon dioxide emissions is beyond ludicrous in light of the facts above; it is insane. Furthermore, it sucks attention and resources from seeking the other sources of warming and from coping with climate change and its effects in realistic ways. The true motivation underlying the global warming movement is almost certainly ideological and political in nature, and I predict that anthropogenic Global Warming, as currently presented, will go down as the greatest fraud of all time. It makes Ponzi and Madoff look like pikers by comparison.

    [1] Fundamentals of Physical Geography, 2nd Edition

    by Michael Pidwirny Concentration varies slightly with the growing season in the northern hemisphere. HYPERLINK “”

    [2] ibid.

    [3] HALOE v2.0 Upper Tropospheric Water Vapor Climatology Claudette Ojo, Hampton University; et al.. HYPERLINK “” See p. 4.The 0 – 4% range is widely accepted among most sources. This source is listed for its good discussion of the phenomena determining that range. An examination of a globe will show that tropical oceans (near high end of range) are far more extensive than the sum of the earth’s arctic and antarctic regions and tropical-zone deserts (all near the low end). Temperate zone oceans are far more extensive than temperate-zone desert. This author’s guess of an average of 2% or more seems plausible. I have used “1% or more” in an effort to err on the side of understatement.

    [4 NIST Chemistry Webbook, Please compare the IR absorption spectra of water and carbon dioxide. ] HYPERLINK “”

    [5] Three quarters of the atmosphere and virtually all water vapor are in the troposphere. Including all the atmosphere would change the ratios to about 20 times more prevalent and 60 times more effective. However, the greenhouse effect of high-altitude carbon dioxide on lower-altitude weather and the earth’s surface seems likely to be small if not nil.

    [6] National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. HYPERLINK “” The estimated 90ppm increase in carbon dioxide, 30% above the base of 280 ppm, to a recent reading of 370 ppm, equates to just under 25% of present concentration, the relevant factor in estimating present contribution to the greenhouse effect.

    [7] Oak Ridge National Laboratory

    [8] New York Nature – The nature and natural history of the New York City region. Betsy McCully

    [9] Global Warming: A Geological Perspective John P. Bluemle HYPERLINK “” This article, published by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency, is drawn from a paper by the author in Environmental Geosciences, 1999, Volume 6, Number 2, pp. 63-75. Note particularly the chart on p.4.

    [10] Ibid.

    [11] Wikileaks: Climatic Research Unit emails, data, models, 1996-2009 HYPERLINK “,_data,_models,_1996-2009”,_data,_models,_1996-2009.

    See also HYPERLINK “” and

    HYPERLINK “” and, more diplomatically: HYPERLINK “” Et al.


    What initially troubled me was the aberrant behavior of the climate research unit at East Anglia University, which has been the main data source for AGW arguments. They initially refused (!) to reveal their algorithms and data on the grounds that they were proprietary(!!). They responded to critics with ad hominem attacks and efforts to block their publication in scientific journals. Now, as I am sure you know, this is not how one does honest science, in which you PUBLISH your data and methodology and invite critical comment to ferret out error or oversights. It took the now-famous Wikileaks “Climategate” to pry loose the data and expose their machinations. Yet despite the devastating blow these revelations should have to their credibility, the AGW “cause” has taken on a life of its own.

    Fundamentally, the argument seems to rest on a logical fallacy, post hoc ergo propter hoc – after this, therefore because of this. We see a rise in temperature and a rise in (principally) carbon dioxide, and therefore conclude one must have caused the other. It does not necessarily follow at all. There can be other causes entirely behind both phenomena, and as you see above, almost certainly there are. Beyond that, I have encountered numerous assertions of fact that cannot add up given the physical properties of water vapor and carbon dioxide that go unchallenged. One-sided arguments proliferate and people arguing the other side are frequently denounced as being employed by business interests rather than rebutted on the merits.

    In sum, I have not come lightly to the conclusion that the AGW argument as it applies to carbon dioxide is largely untrue and certainly does not account for more than a very small, nearly negligible part of the phenomena we are seeing. The implications of widespread assertions of and belief in such an untruth are staggering, and potentially enormously destructive. It is unwise indeed to let oneself be stampeded in this matter, and stampede is clearly what many have been and are trying to induce.

    I can understand politicians behaving this way; a carbon tax or carbon trading regime would allow enormous revenues to fall into their hands. I can understand “Progressive” ideologues; it logically leads to enormous expansion of government power over industry, the economy, and the daily life of individuals, which they regard as a good thing. I understand the environmentalists; they want to shrink the size and impact on the environment of modern civilization. But responsible citizens need to put aside such considerations.

  • dan

    “The dangers of climate change are undeniably real … ” — a shorthand expression that hides much and is, in part, wrong. If you say “the dangers of a tornado are undeniably real” you mean that IF a tornado hits it can cause real damage, using “real” as an emphatic. As to say that the dangers of climate change are “undeniably real” is meaningless. I can’t believe you mean that certain weather events (e.g., tornadoes) can be dangerous, because that’s too plonkingly obvious. So if you mean what used to be called global warming will have undeniably real dangers, there are many who would deny it, or at least say the dangers are far-outweighed by the benefits. In fact, just looking at the phrase, given that “climate change” covers all outcomes (because we know that climate stasis is undeniably not a possibility), you are saying that the future, undeniably, has dangers. Again, plonkingly obvious.

  • RonRonDoRon

    Reliably accurate temperature measurements go back what, about 40 years? If the “pause” has lasted for 15 years and, according to the theory presented in this article, may last for 10 more years, how can we claim to know much of anything about the long-term trend?

    If there is a 30-year cycle of oceanic heat absorption and release, don’t we need to have observations spanning several of those cycles in order to begin to see a long-term trend?

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service