I keep hearing and reading that the average world temperatures reached their peak in 1998, and leveled off since. This article — titled “There IS a problem with global warming… it stopped in 1998” is typical:

For many years now, human-caused climate change has been viewed as a large and urgent problem. In truth, however, the biggest part of the problem is neither environmental nor scientific, but a self-created political fiasco. Consider the simple fact, drawn from the official temperature records of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, that for the years 1998-2005 global average temperature did not increase (there was actually a slight decrease, though not at a rate that differs significantly from zero).
Yes, you did read that right. And also, yes, this eight-year period of temperature stasis did coincide with society’s continued power station and SUV-inspired pumping of yet more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
In response to these facts, a global warming devotee will chuckle and say “how silly to judge climate change over such a short period”. Yet in the next breath, the same person will assure you that the 28-year-long period of warming which occurred between 1970 and 1998 constitutes a dangerous (and man-made) warming. Tosh. Our devotee will also pass by the curious additional facts that a period of similar warming occurred between 1918 and 1940, well prior to the greatest phase of world industrialisation, and that cooling occurred between 1940 and 1965, at precisely the time that human emissions were increasing at their greatest rate.

Why wasn’t there a much huger volume of hysteria back in 1998, when temperatures were supposedly at their peak, than there is now?
Other than the fact that Bill Clinton was president then, and George Bush is president now, I am at a loss to explain this phenomenon.
Anyway, look at the graph:
TempCO2chart.png
(CO2 is in pink, while temperatures are in red and blue.)
You can click on the above to see a larger version, and the URLs given are the following:

UAH NCDC LT: http://www.nsstc.uah.edu/public/msu/t2lt/uahncdc.lt
Hadley CRUT: http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/te…hadcrut3gl.txt

So why is it that every time I read about Global Warming, it is taken as a given that increased CO2 levels correlate with higher temperatures?
The only correlation I can see is a political one.
So, if we superimpose a line representing global warming alarmist rhetoric (measured in parts per million, naturally) over the same period, that proverbial “hockey stick” we so often hear about immediately becomes visible.
TempCO2Bush.png
Very alarming, I’d say. Why, the alarmism is off the chart!
How much more can we endure before the global economy is ruined?
(Actually, the chart might be understating the case if we consider the escalating nature of radical alarmist rhetoric.)
MORE: Via Glenn Reynolds, a link to what’s best described as “Ye Olde Hockey Sticke.” Plus, an upside down hockey stick from the colden days of present and future past!
No seriously!
MORE: This dire warning from Salon.com (in an article titled “Anti-science conservatives must be stopped“) reminded me that not everyone is on the same page:

If conservatives block serious action until the 2020s, then the nation and the world will begin a desperate race to avert catastrophe. By then, the world’s carbon dioxide emissions and concentrations will be so high that the relatively easy market-based technology strategy will not be able to stop us from crossing the point of no return, when major amplifying feedbacks kick in and undermine all efforts to avert catastrophe. The most important feedback is probably the melting of the permafrost and tundra, which could release 1,000 billion tons of carbon — more than the entire atmosphere contains today — much of it in the form of methane, which is 20 times more potent at trapping heat than carbon dioxide.
I call the period from 2025 to 2050 “Planetary Purgatory.” Assuming conservatives block a major reversal in U.S. policies in the next decade, by the 2020s, everyone will know the grim fate that awaits the next 50 generations, including widespread desertification, the loss of the inland glaciers that provide water to a billion people, sea level rise of 80 feet or more at a rate that might hit 6 inches a decade and extinction of most species on land and sea. Maybe then, as the miseries of global warming overtake everyday life, a backlash against conservatives will begin to rise, one that will ultimately relegate that political movement to the dustbin of history

But what if conservatives block serious action to stop warming, and the planet cools? Who will be given credit for it?