THE BLOG
07/17/2013 05:21 pm ET Updated Sep 16, 2013

See a Pause in Global Warming? Take a Look at This!

Okay, you're sunning yourself wherever on vacation, the subject of global warming comes up, and the guy next to you says something about how it appears to have stopped. Now what? The good folks at Climate Nexus have come to your rescue with this graphic rebuttal for those who believe global warming has stopped because the global air temperature has not risen steadily over the past decade or so.

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Credit Climate Nexus

The beauty of this infographic is that it sets the context ("the Whole Picture") in which to properly view such a longterm process, and shows the complexity of change through time - all those little bumps and dips - of the single variable of air temperature (second graph on right). What is happening IS complex. Our planet is a complex system. But our planet, our globe, IS continuing to heat.

Let's look over these graphs. Note that while air temperature appears to have gone up in fits and starts, there is one part of the globe where the temperature has risen recently much more smoothly and continuously - the oceans (third graph down on the right). Now, global warming refers to the globe: the air, the land, the oceans. If the oceans are heating steadily, so is the globe.

So, point one: Global warming has not stopped.

And when you step back to look at a much longer period of temperature change (second graph down on the left), suddenly the big picture smacks you in the face. On a geologic timescale we are going through a veritable explosion in terms of air temperature. (Remember, what might seem like a little change in air temperature can cause big climate changes. The average air temperature of the ice ages was only about 16 degrees Fahrenheit colder than it is now.) Just like the giant meteor that ended the Cretaceous 65 million years ago, extinguishing a big chunk of biodiversity on Earth, the giant "carbon meteor" we're creating now is going to take a big bite out of biodiversity, too, AND out of our existence, from the looks of it.

So, point two: not only has global warming not gone bye-bye, but we're creating an explosive change on this planet - and our children will pay for it bigtime, if we don't act soon.

And we can, if we choose to - but that's another story. Pass the margaritas, please.