Earth's Temp at 400-Year High -- Again?

In an Associated Press story today, Study Says Earth's Temp at 400-Year High (hat tip to Drudge), AP press writer, John Heilprin brings us the "hot" news from the National Academy of Sciences:

The Earth is the hottest it has been in at least 400 years, probably even longer. The National Academy of Sciences, reaching that conclusion in a broad review of scientific work requested by Congress, reported Thursday that the "recent warmth is unprecedented for at least the last 400 years and potentially the last several millennia.

However, as we read on, there seems to be a bit of confusion here in whether or not the earth was this warm 400 years ago or several millennia ago, as the article goes on to revisit these quite recent temperature (historically speaking) records. Now, I ask you to consider, as you read each of these statements on the historical record of warming. Is today's global warming unprecedented?

Climate scientists Michael Mann, Raymond Bradley and Malcolm Hughes had concluded the Northern Hemisphere was the warmest it has been in 2,000 years.

In summary:

Combining that information gave the panel "a high level of confidence that the last few decades of the 20th century were warmer than any comparable period in the last 400 years," the academy said.

Or was it:

Overall, the panel agreed that the warming in the last few decades of the 20th century was unprecedented over the last 1,000 years, though relatively warm conditions persisted around the year 1000, followed by a "Little Ice Age" from about 1500 to 1850.

Or was it:

HEATING UP: The Earth is the hottest it has been in at least 400, maybe more.

Or was it:

SCIENTISTS AGREE: The National Academy of Sciences studied tree rings, corals and other natural formations, in part, to conclude that the heat is unprecedented for potentially the last several millennia.

OK, OK I get it. Either 400 years ago, or 1000 years ago, or 2000 years ago, the earth was the same temperature as it is today. Today, of course, we find ourselves in this "unprecedented" period of man made global warming.

Never, have we been here before. Really?

UPDATE: Today's LA Times adds to the report, US Panel Backs Data, by adding % numbers defining the panel's confidence in the data.

It concluded that, "with a high level of confidence," global temperatures during the last century were higher than at any time since 1600.

Although the report did not place numerical values on that confidence level, committee member and statistician Peter Bloomfield of North Carolina State University said the panel was about 95% sure of the conclusion.

OK, we can buy that. They are 95% confident that it is warmer now then smack in the middle of the Little Ice Age.

The committee supported Mann's other conclusions, but said they were not as definitive. For example, the report said the panel was "less confident" that the 20th century was the warmest century since 1000, largely because of the scarcity of data from before 1600.

Makes sense - less confident in the 600 years before 1600, because they don't have good data.

Bloomfield said the committee was about 67% confident of the validity of that finding [warmest century since 1000] — the same degree of confidence Mann and his colleagues had placed in their initial report.

Wow - they are about 67% confident in their findings. Not 100% confident. The debate is over. Settled science. Well! No wonder they are shocked that some scientists are curious about that other 33%.

Panel members said Mann's conclusion that the 1990s were the warmest decade since 1000 and that 1998 was the warmest year had the least data to support it.

The warmest ever - based on the "least data." MSM's interpretation - OK, let's title this piece on Global Warming, "The Warmest Ever."