Here are two examples, typical of how the claim is made:
- In The New Zealand Herald, Ian Leyland stated "The surface temperature record used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows that the world has not warmed since 1998." (1)
- In The Australian, Martin Durkin, director of the shoddy anti-AGW 'documentary' The Global Warming Swindle, claimed claimed that, "To the utter dismay of the global warming lobby, the world does not appearto be getting warmer. According to their own figures ... the temperature has been static or slightly declining since 1998." (2)
In absolute pedantic terms, this is true. The high of 1998 has not been exceeded. It is also, however, irrelevant, as year-on-year temperatures are not critical - the overall trend is.
What the climate change deniers are doing is fixing on on data point - irrelevant in itself - and using it to draw our attention away from everything else that is going on which runs contrary to their claims. It's basically no different to looking out the window and deciding global warming can't be happening because it it is a bit colder today than it was yesterday. What is realy important in that example is how today and yesterday compared the same days in previous years and decades - the long term trend.
A more accurate picture is gained by looking at the five year rolling average temperature (3), which irons out the vagaries of individual years (which may have been unusually hot for all manner of reasons - there is more at work that human CO2 emmissions) and shows the real trend quite clearly:
It's important to keep this in mind because the suggestino that the planet isn't actually warming suggests directly that the whole concept of anthropogenically caused global warming is a hoax. It is the logical inference. After all, if the planet isn't warming, there can't actually be global warming, can there? But this is only credible if you assume climate is only influenced by one factor - human activity. No sane person is suggesting this. Climate is complex, composite. There are natural climactic patterns and variations due to solar activity. There is also the impact of human activity, mainly through the release of CO2 and the depletion of natural carbon sinks. Over time, the effect of human activity becomes more significant in the composite picture. That is what we are seeing now.
The climatologists at Britain's Hadley Centre produced a ten year forecast in 2007, factoring in global weather patterns. They predicted a slight dip in global temperatures in 2008, but saw no reason to think that the overall upward trend would not continue:
... at least half of the years between 2009 and 2014 are likely to exceed existing records.
However, the Hadley Centre researchers said that the influence of natural climatic variations were likely to dampen the effects of emissions from human activities between now and 2009.
But over the decade as a whole, they project the global average temperature in 2014 to be 0.3C warmer than 2004. (4)
It is unlikely the predicted a dip in temperature will be treated with proper scientific caution by the deniers. They'll shrill and squeal endlessly about it, claiming it proves the Earth isn't warming. They are wrong, and it is likely they know it, but it won't stop them. They aren't interested in truth, but in promoting their agenda.
1 - 'Powering our future or wrecking the economy?,' by Brian Leyland in the NZ Herald, 7th of January, 2008. (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/3/story.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10485514)
2 - 'Up against the warming zealots,' Martin Durkin in The Australian, 21st of July, 2007. (http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,22105154-30417,00.html)
3 - "Global Temperature" graph, viewed on Wikipedia on 31st July 2007. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Instrumental_Temperature_Record.png)
4 - 'Ten-year climate model unveiled,' unattributed BBC article, 9th of August, 2007. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/6939347.stm)