WUWT reader Steve Hales writes in Tips and Notes:
Thought you might get a chuckle out of my letter to our local bucolic paper.
Story from The Chronicle-Independent
“Whatever the cause of climate change – and there are healthy debates going on about that on a regular basis – one thing can’t be denied: the planet is heating up at an alarming rate. Worldwide, it was the warmest November on record, and so far this year, we are tied with 2002 as the fourth-warmest year on record. Last month was the 345th consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th-century average, and that’s a statistic that’s hard to argue with.” – Noted and passed Chronicle Independent 12/23/2010.
My letter in response:
December, 30, 2013
Martin L. Cahn, Editor
Camden, South Carolina 29020
“So all of this adds up to no warming for almost 17 years now. And climate scientists are still debating and trying to figure out what’s going on. We have some subjective explanations and possibilities for what’s going on, but something quantitative or having the models actually be able to predict something like this–well, no, we’re not there yet.” — Dr. Judith Curry on the pause in global warming
In your paper’s “Noted and passed” feature, December 23, 2013, I discovered that “the planet is heating up at an alarming rate.” This surprised me for global temperatures have remained remarkably unchanged on a trend basis for the past 16 years. This phenomenon has received a bit of notice because it shows how complex the climate is and how difficult it is to make predictions. It also shows that there are natural factors e.g., the “Pacific Decadal Oscillation” (PDO) which negatively swamp the effects of greenhouse gasses for perhaps decades. These negative factors get precious little attention because they would lessen the urgency felt by some policy proponents to currently begin to curb emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from fossil fuels. The political difficulty of convincing electorates of the problem seems to have enabled an attitude of being less than truthful about the problem’s urgency.
NOAA’s monthly report “State of the Climate” bases its warmest or coldest month claim upon an instrument record for land based stations, which in 1880 through the first 40 years of the instrument record was extremely sparse. Based on that sparse network, then that claim of the warmest November is accurate but incomplete. What would be more helpful would be to more fully explain the pause in global warming that has occurred since 1997 and then place that warmest month claim in that larger context.
Consider for a moment if the economy had failed to grow for the past 16 years but over the last century had increased in size by 5% you could make the claim that economic output for November was the highest it has ever been since recordkeeping began (bumps and wiggles in a time series don’t influence trends) and it was the 345th consecutive month that economic output was above its 20th-century average. At the same time, government statisticians ignored that economic output had remained unchanged for the past 16 years. I am sure you would be screaming from the highest point in Camden that this deceitful practice of reporting economic statistics must end at once. But yet when this exact same practice is preformed upon climate data you are alarmed at a trend that doesn’t exist.