To climate change deniers, this is the slam dunk argument. If the rise in global warming has stopped, even as human civilization has continued to pump increasing amounts of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere, that should prove that the whole greenhouse effect thing is bunk, right? Radio commentator Rush Limbaugh certainly thinks so. "There is no warming, and there hasn't been for 15 years," he proclaimed in an August 2013 broadcast.
That sounds convincing, except that it isn't correct. In fact, data from the Met Office, Britain's equivalent of the U.S. National Weather Service, and the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit shows that the global temperature did, in fact, increase between 1997 and 2012— roughly the period Limbaugh is talking about —by 0.09 degrees Fahrenheit (0.05 degrees Celsius) [source: Parry].
It is true that the increase was relatively flat, compared to other periods in the past century. But as climate scientist and National Academies of Science member Peter Gleick has pointed out in a Forbes article, global surface temperature has had similar plateaus in the past. But the overriding trend is still that the planet is getting hotter.