On Watts Up With That?, Dr. Don J. Easterbrook notes the attention 2010 is getting as a contender for the warmest year of the century. And then he calms everyone down:
Another graph of temperatures from the Greenland ice core for the past 10,000 years is shown in Figure 5. It shows essentially the same temperatures as Cuffy and Clow (1997) but with somewhat greater detail. What both of these temperature curves show is that virtually all of the past 10,000 years has been warmer than the present.
Figure 5. Temperatures over the past 10,000 years recorded in the GISP2 Greenland ice core
So where do the 1934/1998/2010 warm years rank in the long-term list of warm years? Of the past 10,500 years, 9,100 were warmer than 1934/1998/2010. Thus, regardless of which year ( 1934, 1998, or 2010) turns out to be the warmest of the past century, that year will rank number 9,099 in the long-term list.
The climate has been warming slowly since the Little Ice Age . . . , but it has quite a ways to go yet before reaching the temperature levels that persisted for nearly all of the past 10,500 years.