The Economist likes to have a bob each way, but can’t escape the reality:
But there’s no way around the fact that this reprieve for the planet is bad news for proponents of policies, such as carbon taxes and emissions treaties, meant to slow warming by moderating the release of greenhouse gases. The reality is that the already meagre prospects of these policies, in America at least, will be devastated if temperatures do fall outside the lower bound of the projections that environmentalists have used to create a panicked sense of emergency. Whether or not dramatic climate-policy interventions remain advisable, they will become harder, if not impossible, to sell to the public, which will feel, not unreasonably, that the scientific and media establishment has cried wolf.
Here is the nub of the problem (emphasis in bold added):
This isn’t a crisis for climate science. This is just the way science goes. But it is a crisis for climate-policy advocates who based their arguments on the authority of scientific consensus. …
But his [Nate Cohn of the New Republic] attempt to minimise the political relevance of this is unconvincing. He writes:
The recent wave of news and magazine articles about scientists struggling to explain the warming slowdown could prolong or deepen the public’s skepticism. But the “consensus” never extended to the intricacies of the climate system, just the core belief that additional greenhouse gas emissions would warm the planet.
If this is true, then the public has been systematically deceived. As it has been presented to the public, the scientific consensus extended precisely to that which is now seems to be in question: the sensitivity of global temperature to increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide. Indeed, if the consensus had been only that greenhouse gases have some warming effect, there would have been no obvious policy implications at all.
So while The Economist is still giving itself some wriggle room:
There is no serious doubt that our planet continues to heat, but it has heated less than most climate scientists had predicted. … [and] Mr Cohn does his best to affirm that the urgent necessity of acting to retard warming has not abated, as does Brad Plumer of the Washington Post, as does this newspaper.
The Economist is indicating, “the public has been systematically deceived”. At least, on the appropriate policy responses.