Putting the pause to a blind expert test

By Stephan Lewandowsky
Professor, School of Experimental Psychology and Cabot Institute, University of Bristol
Posted on 16 September 2015

A new paper that just appeared online in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society examines the idea of a "pause" in global warming in novel ways, including a blind expert test. The paper is authored by Stephan Lewandowsky, James Risbey, and Naomi Oreskes. It is open access and can be found here.

The abstract of the paper is as follows:

There has been much recent published research about a putative "pause" or "hiatus" in global warming. We show that there are frequent fluctuations in the rate of warming around a longer-term warming trend, and that there is no evidence that identifies the recent period as unique or particularly unusual. In confirmation, we show that the notion of a "pause" in warming is considered to be misleading in a blind expert test. Nonetheless, the most recent fluctuation about the longer-term trend has been regarded by many as an explanatory challenge that climate science must resolve. This departs from long-standing practice, insofar as scientists have long recognized that the climate fluctuates, that linear increases in CO2 do not produce linear trends in global warming, and that 15-year (or shorter) periods are not diagnostic of long-term trends. We suggest that the repetition of the "warming has paused" message by contrarians was adopted by the scientific community in its problem-solving and answer-seeking role and has led to undue focus on, and mislabeling of, a recent fluctuation. We present an alternative framing that could have avoided inadvertently reinforcing a misleading claim.

 

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