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Think global warming has stopped? Think again


Many parts of the UK media reported last week that “global warming has stopped”. We’d be delighted if that were true! Unfortunately, the claim disintegrates on closer examination.

Icicles in the Canadian ArcticIcicles on pack ice melting in the Canadian Arctic. © naturepl.com / Doug Allan / WWF-Canon

The story is based on the latest “decadal forecasts” of global temperature from the Met Office, which show a reduction in the expected average global temperature over the next 5 years compared to its previous forecast. The Met Office has made clear that these forecasts “do not necessarily tell us anything about projections of climate change for the coming century”.

However, this did not stop many suggesting quite the opposite.

The way in which the story was (mis)reported, and the role of the climate-sceptic Global Warming Policy Foundation in spreading it, is set out very clearly in a blog by Bob Ward of the London School of Economics’ Grantham Research Institute.

And even fossil fuel giant Shell – not known as a close friend of environmental groups – has posted a very clear explanation of why there is simply no evidence to support the claim that global warming has stopped.

The stark reality is that the world is currently set on a course for warming of 4°C or more – a level that would be disastrous for nature and human society.

This isn’t just our view.

Conservative bodies such as the World Bank and the World Economic Forum have also spelt out the need for urgent action.

There is still time to head off the worst consequences of climate change – but only if we act quickly to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, embrace renewable energy and protect our forests.

Wishing the problem away on the basis of poorly informed and misleading reporting is simply taking an irresponsible gamble on all our futures.

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