thebulletin.org - By Dawn Stover - Sep. 23 (News Analysis) - So how can climate skeptics claim that the Earth is in the midst of a global warming “pause” or even a “decade-long cooling,” as did one recent headline from the conservative think tank known as the Heartland Institute? Two words: cherry picking. Skeptics choose a couple of arbitrary data points—a temperature reading from early 2000 and another from early 2010, for example—and highlight a temperature drop between them. Because 1998 was a particularly hot year, it often serves as a convenient starting point for skeptics, who point to a slowdown in warming in subsequent years. But the mercury did not actually stop rising: 17 of the last 18 years have been among the hottest on record, according to NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center. What looks like a slowdown is merely one statistical cherry that climate change deniers have picked because it suggests a downward path. But the deniers seldom deal with the scientific reality of the so-called hiatus: It is a short fluctuation in a long-term upward trend in atmospheric temperatures.