No excuse for climate complacency

Slowing or not, the trajectory of global temperatures remains unremittingly upwards and our output of carbon dioxide only increases

Share

Evidence from the Met Office that the rise in global temperatures has flattened out in recent years is grist to the mill of those who would deny the existence of climate change.

Warming does appear to have “paused” – where the average rate of increase over the 30 years from 1970 was 0.17 C per decade, since then it has dropped to 0.04 C. Yet, with a leap of logic that defies good sense, sceptics conclude that all computer modelling is therefore flawed and the dangers of a steadily warming planet overblown.

If only it were true; but it is not. Slowing or not, the trajectory remains unremittingly upwards and our output of carbon dioxide only increases. In May, the concentration in the atmosphere passed 400 parts per million for the first time in several million years.

There are any number of explanations for the current hiatus in warming, not least that the deep oceans are acting as a heat store. That climate change was a phantom which has now vanished in the sunlight is not one of them.

By an unfortunate coincidence of timing, the plateau in warming comes just as the environmental agenda is losing some of its political oomph. Not only is government austerity across the rich world taking its toll on expensive green policies and public support for them. Concerns about energy security, combined with the technological developments liberating shale gas, have also given a new lease of life to fossil fuels. Is it any wonder that December’s global climate conference in Doha was largely overlooked?

Yet climate change remains the defining challenge of our times. To allow a short-term twitch in the figures to distract attention from it would be an unforgivable complacency. The science predicting so complex a phenomenon could only ever be a work in progress. And although the last decade turned out better than expected, it is the most reckless of wishful thinking to assume that the danger is past.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Political Editor: Cameron's unexpected tax pledges give the Tories home advantage

Andrew Grice
President Barack Obama walks with U.S. Secret Service agents to Air Force One at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, Calif., May 8, 2014.  

Obama's Secret Service has become sloppy with its delusions of Hollywood grandeur

David Usborne
Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence