The Pause That Refreshes

We hear more and more about the Pause. This pause refers to a hiatus in lower atmospheric warming for a human generation since 1997. This “pause” by its very name implies that warming will resume sometime soon.

Only zealots will claim to know whether warming will resume or not. What we do know is that lower atmospheric temperatures declined from 1945 to 1976. The following quote from Newsweek in 1975:

April 28, 1975  “There are ominous signs that Earth’s weather patterns have begun to change dramatically….The evidence in support of these predictions has now begun to accumulate so massively that meteorologists are hard-pressed to keep up with it….The central fact is that…the earth’s climate seems to be cooling down…If the climate change is as profound as some of the pessimists fear, the resulting famines could be catastrophic.”

It did not turn out that way at all. It was the end of a 60-70 year cycle that we do not understand. Will it still be a “pause” if temperatures decline for another twenty years?


This is the average of a bevy of proxies since the last glaciation. The lunch money stuff  between WWII and the present doesn’t even register here. One can see there have been several “pauses” along the way, and several episodes of warming.

If we are going to match trends, which one do we match? The Newsweek from 1975 which was absolutely correct in its assessment of the trend, or this one from the BBC in 1997, equally correct for the trend at that time:

November 7, 1997, (BBC commentator): “It appears that we have a very good case for suggesting that the El Niños are going to become more frequent, and they’re going to become more intense and in a few years, or a decade or so, we’ll go into a permanent El Nino. So instead of having cool water periods for a year or two, we’ll have El Niño upon El Niño, and that will become the norm. And you’ll have an El Niño, that instead of lasting 18 months, lasts 18 years.”

This one did not turn out so well either, and if you could only know, it would be well to avoid rash predictions on the cusp of phase changes.

What the “pause” certainly tells us is that natural cycles at least equal human changes to the climate.

When it is getting hot, a pause is always refreshing.


This entry was posted in Climate, Global Warming, Paleoclimate, the "Pause" and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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