The Economist has been pretty reliable about beating the climate-alarmist drum for years on end now, often peddling the urgent need for an overarching global climate treaty to combat the threat. In a piece this week, however, the British publication took a much more moderate approach and hashed out some of the different studies suggesting that the planet actually might not be quite as sensitive to changes in carbon dioxide levels as the global-warming scaremongers have long been insisting.

OVER the past 15 years air temperatures at the Earth’s surface have been flat while greenhouse-gas emissions have continued to soar. The world added roughly 100 billion tonnes of carbon to the atmosphere between 2000 and 2010. That is about a quarter of all the CO₂ put there by humanity since 1750. And yet, as James Hansen, the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, observes, “the five-year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade.”