Climate change is a big topic in disaster management. I have earlier outlined that claims of a big impact on severe weather by climate change (at least presently) are largely overblown. As a broader risk management issue climate change is a big one.
If left unchecked, climate change could have some huge, civilisation altering, consequences over the next couple of hundred years. This is a big risk for humankind and possibly the largest over a timescale of 100-300 years.
Which is why it really gets my goat to hear claims that the warming has stopped.
There’s three things that can happen to the extra heat being trapped by the atmosphere. You can warm the atmosphere, warm the oceans or melt ice. These three systems all interact, transferring heat between them. For the denialists claims to be correct, atmospheric warming, melting ice and oceanic warming would all need to be stable. So what are they doing?
Firstly sea ice – it’s like the ice cubes in your drink. Melting it doesn’t increase your drinks temperature or increase it’s level, but it does show that your drink is warming up.
Then there’s land ice – most of which is locked up in Antarctica and Greenland.
So though surface temperatures may be steady over the last 8-10 years or so it’s quite clear that ocean temperatures are still increasing and that ice (both sea and land ice) is still melting. So the claim that the globe (as a system) isn’t warming is a load of hot air.
I do want to note that these graphs are for different variables over different timescales (usually due to the experiment that the graph is showing or the length of historical records). There’s plenty of data out there that you can go and view yourself. This page at RealClimate is a good starting point. NASA also has a good site on various climate variables here.