2013 among top 10 warmest years: a civilisational response is urgently required

WarmingCan you see a pause in the warming of the planet?

The World Meteorological Organisation have just released the following press release:

The year 2013 was among the top ten warmest years since modern records began in 1850, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). It tied with 2007 as the sixth warmest year, with a global land and ocean surface temperature that was 0.50°C (0.90°F) above the 1961–1990 average and 0.03°C (0.05°F) higher than the most recent 2001–2010 decadal average. 

Thirteen of the 14 warmest years on record have all occurred in the 21st century. The warmest years on record are 2010 and 2005, with global temperatures about 0.55 °C above the long-term average, followed by 1998, which also had an exceptionally strong El Niño event.

At this point many commentators, scientists and bloggers will say “Well look at that. We told you the planet is warming.” Of course those that deny climate change will mutter about conspiracies, the “pause in warming” and such nonsense.

But let us move well beyond that conversation, cherry picking of facts and the finger-pointing that takes place every time a press release such as this comes out.

When I look at this graph I see a planetary and civilisational emergency. I see a looming catastrophe if we don’t begin advanced planning.

What I see is the urgent need to examine how we adapt to a changed climate.

Many hard decisions are before us.

Time to consider our options.

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26 thoughts on “2013 among top 10 warmest years: a civilisational response is urgently required

  1. Steve says:

    I have often wondered what it would take to convince those people who believe the world is not warming.
    If 2015 were the hottest year on record? That wouldn’t convince them because many would say the data was faked.
    Perhaps a virtually ice free Arctic in September 2017? But then some will say it was virtually ice free in the 1930’s or some other period in the past where we didn’t have satellite records.
    Some people will be convinced by this sort of occurrence, but many will just explain them away just as they explain the things that have already happened.
    And little effective action will be taken.

  2. Unfortunately nothing will change the minds of committed denialists. For them, evidence does not supersede ideology.

  3. Michael Marriott says:

    What you guys say is true.

    I think we continue efforts to educate the public and counter the deniers.

    But the conversation we must have *now* is what it would take to steward our civilisation through the next 50-100 years (and even then beyond that).

    Time to think big. We’re not going to win this by carefully crafted press releases.

    We need to inspire and motivate the next generation of leaders.

  4. jp says:

    There sure is a pause; since last week there has been no warming in Perth. I was expecting another heatwave _ it didn’t happen. Actually it’s cooling: two days ago it was 37°C and for Saturday they’re predicting 31°C. What better proof is there that global warming is a hoax?

  5. JB says:

    Hi WTD, why the average from 1961-1990 as the point of comparison? Wouldn’t 1850-1900 provide a better baseline of a standard point closer to the industrial revolution(s) and commencement of significant burning of fossil fuels. JB

    • Michael Marriott says:

      In climate modelling or analysis a 30 year period is referred to as a “climate normal” – it is used as a reference value for comparative periods. How do we know what is “normal” or “abnormal”? The climate normal is a useful point of comparison. 30 year periods are sufficiently long enough to include all the usual variations of climate/weather.

      So why not just look at a data-set post 1850?

      What matters is the *rate* of warming (i.e. speed). Is the warming natural or anthropogenic in origin? How to different time periods compare? Note that 13 of the 14 hottest years have occurred in the last 14 years.

  6. mgm75 says:

    In the UK we have just had the wettest January on record and I am sure you have all seen the damage being done in the south west by the storms. It seems that every month that passes we have “The (insert superlative of choice) on record”

  7. Sundance says:

    FYI – Some quotes in USA news this week from prominent people who agree that there is a pause and that the pause continued in 2013. Are they deniers?

    “The trends over the last 10 to 15 years compared to the trends before do appear to be lower than they were,” Gavin Schmidt, climatologist with NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, told reporters.

    According to NASA, 2013 was tied with 2009 and 2006 for the seventh warmest year on record. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) ranks 2013 as the fourth warmest year on record, tying with 2003.

    “In summary they both show that the ‘pause’ in global surface temperature that began in 1997, according to some estimates, continues,” wrote David Whitehouse, who holds a doctorate in astrophysics and was the BBC’s science editor. “Statistically speaking there has been no trend in global temperatures over this period.”

  8. Trish Hunt says:

    Let the fires eliminate Hazelwood and all other coal fired power stations. Yes, there will be deaths in the short term from heat exhaustion as there won’t be any air conditioning and hospitals won’t function. However this is a small price to pay when considering the long term impacts of climate change. We need to act now and immediately. Like a junkie we’ll suffer withdrawal symptoms but in the long run we’ll be cured of our CO2 disease.

  9. swordfishtrombone says:

    “Of course those that deny climate change will mutter about conspiracies, the “pause in warming” and such nonsense.”

    You mean conspiracies like “deniers are funded by Big Oil Money”? Also, why exactly is “pause in warming” nonsense? There have been numerous peer-reviewed papers published and theories advanced offering explanations for the “pause in warming” – are you saying it isn’t real? Even the IPCC says that it is.

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