Even Prof Jones admitted that he and his colleagues did not understand the impact of ‘natural variability’ – factors such as long-term ocean temperature cycles and changes in the output of the sun.However, he said he was still convinced that the current decade would end up significantly warmer than the previous two.‘It is becoming increasingly apparent that our attribution of warming since 1980 and future projections of climate change needs to consider natural internal variability as a factor of fundamental importance.’Professor Phil Jones, director of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, who found himself at the centre of the ‘Climategate’ scandal over leaked emails three years ago, would not normally be expected to agree with her. The data does suggest a plateau, he admitted, and without a major El Nino event – the sudden, dramatic warming of the southern Pacific which takes place unpredictably and always has a huge effect on global weather – ‘it could go on for a while’.
We don’t know what natural variability is doing.’ Headache: The evidence is beginning to suggest that global warming may be happening much slower than the catastrophists have claimed - a conclusion with enormous policy implications for politicians at Westminster, pictured Yet in 2009, when the plateau was already becoming apparent and being discussed by scientists, he told a colleague in one of the Climategate emails: ‘Bottom line: the “no upward trend” has to continue for a total of 15 years before we get worried.’But although that point has now been passed, he said that he hadn’t changed his mind about the models’ gloomy predictions: ‘I still think that the current decade which began in 2010 will be warmer by about 0.17 degrees than the previous one, which was warmer than the Nineties.’Only if that did not happen would he seriously begin to wonder whether something more profound might be happening.
In other words, though five years ago he seemed to be saying that 15 years without warming would make him ‘worried’, that period has now become 20 years.
Disagreement: Professor Phil Jones, left, from the University of East Anglia, dismissed the significance of the plateau.
Professor Judith Curry, right, from Georgia Tech university in America, disagreed, saying the computer models used to predict future warming were ‘deeply flawed’Some scientists have claimed that this rate of warming is set to increase hugely without drastic cuts to carbon-dioxide emissions, predicting a catastrophic increase of up to a further five degrees Celsius by the end of the century.
At last week’s Conservative Party Conference, the new Energy Minister, John Hayes, promised that ‘the high-flown theories of bourgeois Left-wing academics will not override the interests of ordinary people who need fuel for heat, light and transport – energy policies, you might say, for the many, not the few’ – a pledge that has triggered fury from green activists, who fear reductions in the huge subsidies given to wind-turbine firms.
Here are three not-so trivial questions you probably won’t find in your next pub quiz.
‘Climate models are very complex, but they are imperfect and incomplete.
Natural variability [the impact of factors such as long-term temperature cycles in the oceans and the output of the sun] has been shown over the past two decades to have a magnitude that dominates the greenhouse warming effect.
First, how much warmer has the world become since a) 1880 and b) the beginning of 1997?
And what has this got to do with your ever-increasing energy bill?
Research: The new figures mean that the 'pause' in global warming has now lasted for about the same time as the previous period when temperatures rose, 1980 to 1996.