Top U.S. Climate Official: 15 Years With No Global Warming Is Not a Trend

February 17, 2010 - 7:50 PM
Lubchenco twice avoided directly answering a yes-no question as to whether she agreed with the observation that there has been no statistically significant global warming over the last decade and a half.

NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco (Wikipedia Commons)

(CNSNews.com) - When asked yesterday whether she agreed or disagreed with one of the world’s top climate-change scientists that there had been no statistically significant global warming over the last fifteen years, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Administrator Jane Lubchenco would only say “that it is inappropriate to look at any particular short period of time to discern the long-term trend.”
 
In fact, Lubchenco twice avoided directly answering a yes-no question as to whether she agreed with the observation that there has been no statistically significant global warming over the last decade and a half.



CNSNews.com asked Lubchenco the back-to-back questions at a press conference that Lubchenco held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., where she discussed her agency’s budget as well as its plan to create a national “climate service.”
 
NOAA is the federal agency responsible for studying climate change. According to the agency’s strategic plan, one of its missions is to “understand climate variability and change to enhance society’s ability to plan and respond.”
 
In a Feb. 13 interview with the BBC, Prof. Phil Jones, former director of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia and one of the world’s leading experts on global warming, was asked: “Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming.”
 
“Yes,” said Jones, “but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level. The positive trend is quite close to the significance level. Achieving statistical significance in scientific terms is much more likely for longer periods, and much less likely for shorter periods.”
 
This concession from Jones that there had been no statistically significant global warming over the past fifteen years was largely ignored by the American media. But it became news in the United States on Monday when The Drudge Report posted a link to a story in the British newspaper The Daily Express that reported what Jones had told the BBC.
 
Jones became involved in a controversy last fall when numerous emails leaked from the University of East Anglia caused critics of the climate-change theory Jones espouses to raise questions about the science that backs it up. Jones has relinquished his post as head of the university’s Climatic Research Unit pending an investigation.  
 
Here is a transcript of CNSNews.com’s exchange with Dr. Lubchenco: 
 
CNSNews.com:  “You had a slide earlier that said NOAA’s (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) value to the American public includes 'informing climate change mitigation and adaptation.'  And I’m wondering your opinion on what climate change expert Phil Jones, the former head of the Climate Research unit at University of East Anglia said when he told the BBC last weekend that he agreed with the statement, 'that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically significant global warming.'  I’m wondering, do you agree with Dr. Jones that there 'has been no statistically significant global warming” since 1995?'"
 
Dr. Lubchenco: “I mentioned earlier that Climate Impacts report that was an inter-agency effort produced by all of the relevant federal agencies summarizing the state of our knowledge about climate and how changes in the climate system are in evidence in the U.S. and not just for the whole country but region by region as well as sector by sector.

"And one of the things that’s in that report which is available on our website highlights the long-term trends in global data for climate change and makes a couple of points about that that are relevant to your question.  One is that the, there is, there is strong evidence that there have been global increases in global temperatures over, over, let’s just—let’s take the last century just for to hone in on that.  Over that period of time, there have been significant periods where there are ups and downs and periods where there’s no changes and you can—if you choose to be selective in highlighting any decade in there, you can see different patterns:  Sometimes increases, sometimes decreases, sometimes no change.  What you really need to do is look at a longer history of temperature records, which is what we have because we’ve been taking good data, and that longer history shows unequivocal increases in global average temperatures.
 
CNSNews.com:  “Okay, so you would agree Dr. Jones that there 'has been no statistically significant global warming” since 1995?'"
 
Dr. Lubchenco:  “I’m saying that it is inappropriate to look at any particular short period of time to discern the long-term trend.”