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Roz Pidcock

Roz Pidcock

19.10.2012 | 4:30pm
ScienceThis week’s top six rebuttals to David Rose’s “warming has stopped” claim
SCIENCE | October 19. 2012. 16:30
This week’s top six rebuttals to David Rose’s “warming has stopped” claim

It’s been a busy week for climate skeptics and myth debunkers alike. David Rose’s Mail on Sunday article, in which he rehashed an old and widely discredited claim that “global warming stopped 16 years ago”, very quickly went viral. Many media outlets worldwide chose to accept Rose’s version of events unquestioningly. But science hit back and this week has seen a plethora of rebuttals of Rose’s claims, including one we published on Monday. Here’s our pick of the best of the rest.

Rose’s version of events

In his article, Rose presents the graph below, which shows global atmospheric temperature data for 1997 to 2012 compared to the average for this century, and uses it to claim that it is proof that global warming has stopped.

Offending _graph _davidrose _399x 222 (1)

You can read our full explanation of why Rose’s claim is unjustified here. But to summarise, the period in question shows reduced warming compared to previous decades. Such periods are not unusual in the historical record, however. Natural variability in earth’s climate, due to things like the El NiÅ?o/La NiÅ?a cycle, also affect global temperature. This means you have to look at the trend over a much longer time period than 16 years. Just looking at land surface temperature also ignores all the other ways we know the planet is warming, like melting ice sheets and absorption of heat by the oceans.

Six articles explain why different aspects of Rose’s article are unfounded:

Number 1. On the same day that The Mail on Sunday published Rose’s article, The Met Office released a public statement on its blog, correcting claims in Rose’s article about what the Hadcrut4 dataset does or doesn’t show about climate change. The post included the Met Office’s full response to Rose’s direct – and in some cases leading – questions, exposing Rose’s misrepresentation of the science.

Number 2. Rose picked part of a graph that appeared to support his argument, so ThinkProgress published an article on Monday with ten charts that clearly show that global warming didn’t stop 16 years ago, including how much global warming is going into other components of the climate system, notably the oceans.

Number 3. On Tuesday, the Guardian re-published a deconstruction of Rose’s argument by Dana Nuccitelli, an environmental scientist and contributor to Australian fact checking website Skeptical Science. Nuccetelli published a scientific paper with colleagues a few days before the Mail on Sunday’s article, which pre-bunked Rose’s claims. The Guardian article also criticises Rose’s other interviewee, Professor Judith Curry, for her interpretation of the role of natural climate variability and her attack on climate models.

Number 4. Also on Tuesday this week, Media Matters, a not-for-profit organisation which corrects misinformation in the US media, issued a no-holds-barred criticism of Fox Nation for accepting Rose’s story uncritically, after the Met Office had already branded it misleading.

Number 5. An article yesterday by Bob Ward, Policy and Communications Director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, dug deeper into the Met Office’s Hadcrut4 dataset and suggests Rose manipulated it to create a false graph. The article also describes Rose’s track record for producing similar pieces for the Mail on Sunday.

Number 6. Earlier today, Potholer, a Youtube channel which reports on scientific research and fact checks mainstream media coverage of science, released a video highlighting how quickly media outlets around the world accepted Rose’s story without checking the source.


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