Twelve Months of Cooling Doesn’t Make A Climate Trend

NOTE: This was posted on ICECAP today, and I’m copying it here. See my further notes below.

By Dr. John R. Christy. 

I have been flooded this week with calls and e-mail messages concerning a story that has appeared on various Internet sites, in which the claim is made that cooling global temperatures over the past twelve months in some way negate or eliminate any global warming that might have happened over the past 100 years.

“Here is my perspective on this issue: Twelve months of data does not make a trend, especially in a system as complex and slow moving as global climate, and even more so when the cause for that short-term cooling is as reasonably well understood and well documented as a switch from a minor El Nino Pacific Ocean warming in January 2007 to the La Nina cooling event now taking place.

“The 0.59 C drop we have seen in the past 12 months is unusual, but not unprecedented; April 1998 to April 1999 saw a 0.71 C fall. The long-term climate trend from November 1978 through (and including) January 2008 continues to show a modest warming at the rate of about 0.14 C (0.25 degrees F) per decade.

“One cool year does not erase decades of climate data, nor does it more than minimally change the long-term climate trend. Long-term climate change is just that “long term” and 12 months of data are little more than a blip on the screen.”

Dr. John Christy is Professor of Atmospheric Science and Director, Earth System Science Center, The University of Alabama in Huntsville

Icecap Note: John is absolutely correct that we can’t make assumptions about one year’s trend either up or down. The story he references used the Hadley CRU land and ocean based data and of course John Christy, Roy Spencer and Phillip Gentry are using satellite derived lower tropospheric data. Satellite is widely recognized as the most accurate method for the assessment of change. The following plot of the last decade of the satellite derived global temperatures shows how the global climate is strongly influenced by El Nino and La Nina as John notes.

Note from Anthony: When the DailyTech first posted this story and referenced my blog as the source of th compilation, without ever interviewing me or asking me a single question, I notified them immediately of my concerns.  Shortly after that I published this “Update and Caveat” (below) on the original post. Dailytech graciously made a changes to the wording at my request, but by then the genie was out of the bottle.

The website DailyTech has an article citing this blog entry as a reference, and their story got picked up by the Drudge report, resulting in a wide distribution.  In the DailyTech article there is a paragraph:

“Anthony Watts compiled the results of all the sources. The total amount of cooling ranges from 0.65C up to 0.75C — a value large enough to erase nearly all the global warming recorded over the past 100 years. All in one year time. For all sources, it’s the single fastest temperature change ever recorded, either up or down.”

I wish to state for the record, that this statement is not mine: “–a value large enough to erase nearly all the global warming recorded over the past 100 years”

There has been no “erasure”. This is an anomaly with a large magnitude, and it coincides with other anecdotal weather evidence. It is curious, it is unusual, it is large, it is unexpected, but it does not “erase” anything. I suggested a correction to DailyTech and they have graciously complied.

This demonstrates how one story written in one place can often go repeated, without being challenged or double checked. This happens in many types of news reports. In my 25 years in TV, I’ve seen this happen at the local level, all the way up to the national level. We’ve seen it happen with global warming stories too. The ease of electronic immediacy in reporting often runs over the accuracy in reporting, be it blogs, websites, TV or radio, the issue is the same.

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March 5, 2008 4:19 pm

So are they trying to say that the IPCC models don’t take into account El Nino’s and La Nina’s?

Drew Latta
March 5, 2008 4:21 pm

A note might be: It is very interesting how fast this atmospheric change in weather propagated through the global system.
Also, small changes might have big effects in terms of feedbacks in the climate system.
Anyone know whether or not the albedo of this new fresh ice that has formed in the Arctic is higher or lower than the old ice? I could see it going both ways, but the old ice would have had years of anthropogenic and natural dust and soot on it perhaps making its albedo lower. New ice wouldn’t have that right away. On the other hand, old ice probably has more snow on it, and new ice less and would be perhaps darker due to that respect.

March 5, 2008 4:34 pm

Unfortunately, Solar-induced climate recovery from a Little Ice Age does not a case for anthropegenic global warming make, either. As human disposable wealth is directed to mitigating carbon dioxide emission, the impact in human suffering of the next “minimum” (I propose to call it the Gore Minimum) is magnified.

March 5, 2008 4:46 pm

Although it is quite true to say that one year’s data does not make a climate trend, it is interesting to me that a photo of a polar bear or a single hurricane event apparently does, and proves AGW theory!
REPLY: Touche’

March 5, 2008 5:20 pm

Nobody seems inclined to use this event as a potential learning tool and examine the network sensitivity to events that primarily impact urbanized North American locations. Likewise I suspect this will only cause suspicion in the future of down indicating events whilst anecdote as to AGW continues to receive top billing in the MSM. As evidence of this last try googling the recent 1934 versus 1998 issue. The supermajority of top results either report 1998 as still being the warmest or otherwise that the recent revision was minor.

March 5, 2008 6:37 pm

Actually, we don’t know that global climate is slow moving. Nor do we know that the cooling over the last 12 months is an anomaly (by which I presume you mean an unexplained change that will dissapear in future measurements).
As I’ve pointed out before NH hemisphere land temperatures fell 2.4C in the 12 months to January 2008 according to the NOAA. NH land and ocean fell 1.24C.
There is very little interaction between the northern and southern hemisperes over these time frames. So you can treat them as separate climate systems.
The only explanations are:
1. We have a serious measurement problem and the fall in temperature didn’t happen.
2. Our climate does change rapidly, and it remains to be seen how long the rapid change continues and consequently how far it goes.
BTW, the argument for slow climate change is that forcings change slowly and what we have seen over the last 12 months is internal climate variability. Which begs the question; Where is all the heat hiding, if it is not in the atmosphere or ocean surface?

March 5, 2008 6:39 pm

I have an off topic inquiry to make.
As a factor to question AGW, some have pointed to shrinking polar ice caps on Mars and other planets.
We have also noted reduced solar sunspot activity and believe that we will have more gamma rays producing more clouds resulting in more reflected sunlight and a future of cooler temps.
Can we look at Martian polar ice caps now for growth? Are increased gamma rays going to effect the Martian climate or is the shrinking caps a result of the solar activity and is lower activity going to bring growth?
Just trying to get my head around all the sweet smelling science.

Stan Needham
March 5, 2008 6:49 pm

As human disposable wealth is directed to mitigating carbon dioxide emission, the impact in human suffering of the next “minimum” (I propose to call it the Gore Minimum) is magnified.
chillguy, if, indeed, the next generation is marked by large sums of wasted and/or never realized wealth, then I can think of no person more deserving of being recognized as at fault than Mr. Gore, particularly since he has benefited from the present charade to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. OTOH, if we could just figure out how to concentrate the expenditures of “disposable wealth” on new generations of economic, renewable and clean energy and share it with developing countries, the amount of new wealth that could potentially be created would dwarf the up front investment and benefit everyone. Unfortunately, the naysayers would just migrate on to the next “global crisis”, but that’s a whole other topic.

March 5, 2008 7:51 pm

This is yet another example of why I believe nothing in the MSM without checking the data myself. The capacity of journalists for misunderstanding and misquoting knows no bounds. They generally can’t get it right even if you write if for them. What I don’t know is how much is deliberate obfuscation and how much is plain stupidity.

March 5, 2008 8:19 pm

Anthony I don’t know if you knew this or not but your were featured by name on Brit Hume and as well and he mentioned the sentence that Daily Tech has since retracted. I think your criticism of the media is quite fair because it is amazing that a piece of news made it that far up the chain of the MSM without I’m assuming one person asking you if you really said such a thing.
By the way keep up the great work. I really enjoy this site.
REPLY: Thanks I found out about that later and made Fox News edit their web content to be accurate.

Evan Jones
March 5, 2008 8:25 pm

I doubt cloud formation is anywhere near the sam e on Mars. I’ve alsoe heard mars is experiencing an orbital eccentricity, but I don’t know what effect, if anything measurable, that would have in the short run.

March 5, 2008 8:47 pm

Remember the old saying about a lie traveling around the world while the truth is getting its shoes on? Well, that is a story about memes. Memes, even partially mistaken ones, propagate in a receptive environment. This meme, close to correct, propagated through a public consciousness just a little fatigued with non-stop global warming hype. It is like a tall glass of cool lemonade on a hot summer afternoon. And those were real lemons in it, not modeled ones.

Jeff C.
March 5, 2008 8:52 pm

Anthony – thanks for the clear statement on the matter. It is refreshing to see those on the AGW-skeptic side such as Dr. Christy and youself correct the record when such extravagant claims are made. I only wish the alarmist side act in a similar manner.
FYI – Planet Gore at National Review Online also put out the “erasure” statement and later posted a correction when readers complained.

March 5, 2008 9:48 pm

Global Warming alarmists beware…

March 6, 2008 12:42 am

If the reverse were also true, I wouldn’t be using it in this way.
However, a period of high temperatures, and its GW all round.
Low temperatures, and its not.
Can’t have it both ways.

March 6, 2008 1:19 am

Hi Anthony,
I’m not sure what’s up with the zing to DailyTech. There was no misquote since Michael Asher did not quote you, or even implied that he quoted you, in the article. Your name was only mentioned as the supplier of the compiled graph.
Anyone that attacked you for something Mr. Asher wrote in his personal blog is a kook. The fact that someone baited you into a response was the only reason I even approved Michael’s update to the article.
I thoroughly enjoy your articles, keep up the good work,
Kristopher Kubicki
Executive Editor, DailyTech LLC
REPLY: Kristopher,thanks for the note and also for the kind words. However as I pointed out to Mr. Asher in private emails to him within the hour of that story going online, others would make the connection bewteen the way the paragraph was worded on DailyTech, and me. That is exactly what happened with a Fox news report, attributing Michaels description to me, and that is the issue I had. Having spent 25 years in television news, I know how this happens, and it did.
It was a good object lesson for everyone.

March 6, 2008 1:42 am

Dr Christy is surely correct. Now someone needs to explain this to the media. Here’s a report on the history of media climate hysteria. Seems the media cannot make up their minds.
1895 – 1925: cooling!
1925 – 1955: warming!
1955 – 1980: cooling!
1980 – today: warming!
Future: climate change!!! (Duh – really?)

March 6, 2008 1:58 am

Concerning your flight/DELTA/JFK…:
“Yesterday, thanks to JFK and Delta airlines I spent 16 hours traveling from NYC back to California in what should have be about 8-10 hours”.
Consider yourself very lucky. On a flight last summer from Düsseldorf-JFK-Burlington, Vermont I needed over 30 hours (20hrs at JFK Terminal 3).
DELTA runs its airline very much like the USHCN its temperature stations.
Readers beware!

March 6, 2008 2:51 am

HI All,
Has the story now become DailyTech’s misstatement? How often when contradictory evidence to a mainstream meme crops up, does the story become the fecklessness of some reporter whose overstatement or misstatement is treated as “the only thing to see here”? Anthony, do you think DailyTech’s “irrational exuberance” is the only thing to see here?
Second, a question. I understand that from the high in 1998 to Jan, 2008, that there is a generally down trend line? Is that correct?
For world avg temp., what about from the high in 1934 to Jan, 2008?
Just asking, since I don’t have a climatologist in my pocket. thanks.
Grant Hodges

March 6, 2008 3:56 am

Although the temperature drop was as big in the 1998 la ninha, neither this nor any of the other la ninhas of the last 30 years saw the dramatic increase in ice cover at the poles.
I personally lean towards a solar activity inspired cooling, and that la ninha may have been initiated by that cooling (just as el ninhos may have been initiated by warming), but at the moment the jury is out.
One thing that might give guidance as to causality may be cloud cover records. Assuming the driver was the 2005 step change in solar activity noted previously in WUWT, and assume also cosmic rays / cloud formation form part of the link to global weather. Then cloud records should show a dramatic change in cover, following the solar intensity drop, but proceeding la ninha and the increase in ice cover.
I have had a browse around the internet but can’t find any data. Does anybody know a good data source for cloud cover?

March 6, 2008 5:03 am

Of course the current claims of the pro CO2/AGW alarmists, is to blame the current unprecedented drop in temps over the last year on the La Nina cycle.
However if we look at the ENSO index:
And if we compare the El Nino/La Nina cycle to monthly temp averages:
We see that there has never been a significant drop in global temps anywhere near the magnitude we are currently seeing.
They reference the La Nina of 1988/89, it still wasn’t as much as this year.
However in fact, the most recent major La Nina cycle started in 1998, otherwise known as the “warmest year on record” (except to Dr. Hansen). Yet half that year was in a La Nina cycle, and didn’t experience the significant global cooling trend we are currently seeing.
While part of the cooling is still likely to the La Nina, I think their are a few significant points that are being overlooked.
First, if La Nina has that significant of an effect on short term temps, then perhaps much of the warming over the past several decades simply falls into the predominance of El Nino cycles. If we look at the period of 1950 – 1975, which shows a major cooling trend, we see far more La Nina events, than the period of 1977-2007.
Second, that brings up the “chicken or the egg” argument. Is it the El Nino/La Nina that is driving the temps, or the temps fluctuations that are driving the El Nino/La Nina cycle?
And third, we are in the midst of what appears could be a prolonged solar minimum/delayed start of Solar Cycle 24. Exactly how much that could be a factor in the downward trend? And if that is the case, could that be the best evidence yet that it is the Sun that is the primary driving force behind Earth’s climate fluctuations?

Steve Keohane
March 6, 2008 5:20 am

Phllip_B, That is interesting. I find it odd that an atmospheric induced warming model based on GHG would have such differences hemispherically, I can’t think of a mechanism to seperate the two.

Bruce Cobb
March 6, 2008 5:42 am

It could of course, just be coincidence, but the sun will be the ultimate arbiter of whether or not the recent cooling signals the start of a new LIA-type climate shift. My own (non-scientific) hunch is that it does, based on the inactive sun since Oct. ’05, and the very late cycle 24. However we just won’t know for quite some time.
Meanwhile, the AGW/AGCC propaganda machine is becoming increasingly shrill in their calls to act now, before it’s too late, and while the cost is still relatively low.

March 6, 2008 6:53 am

I agree that nothing is erased, but the following link suggests that it is not just a single event:
Is it wrong? I do understand that you should not just ignore the pre 1998 data when defining your slope. It may be another example of misleading graphics, but I would like to know others thoughts on it.
John M Reynolds

March 6, 2008 7:06 am

Anthony, I feel I share a bit of responsibility of this as I first pointed out the big January drop in RSS data. My comments were mostly in jest, in much the same way that Mav pointed out:
“it is interesting to me that a photo of a polar bear or a single hurricane event apparently does, and proves AGW theory!”
Yeah, pretty much.
My original comments concerning January were intended to mimic (mock, even) rubbish pro-AGW statements such as Katrina, polar bears and the like.
BTW, anyone know when Feb08 data is due? 🙂
Despite the fact 12 months doesn’t change a trend, it is fairly indisputable that our planet is extremely sensitive to the oceans. Moreso than CO2? I think so.

Jim Arndt
March 6, 2008 8:43 am

Here is something interesting that Kim turned me on to. Erl Happ has correlated the 150 to 154nm radiation to temperature in the tropics. You should check it out it is very interesting. If you then correlate this with the CRF that would be something. Maybe we could put up the the 150-154nm raditation/CRF/Geomagnetic to temperature. That would be interesting to see.

March 6, 2008 9:51 am

I’ve always thought of El Nino’s and La Nina’s as symptoms rather then causes. The heat or lack there of, related to these events has to come from somewhere.

March 6, 2008 10:14 am

“Twelve months of data does not make a trend”
But didn’t the “Global Warming” bandwagon REALLY get going because 1998?
Take away 1998 from most of the graphs of temperatures over the last 20 years and suddenly the rise looks way less ominous.

Jim B
March 6, 2008 10:32 am

12 months does not make a trend, but what about 10 years?
UAH current decade trend is a tiny .25C per century, and all of UAH trend line is what? 1.44C per century after almost 30 years of climate data, it’s continuing to level out. Considering CO2 warming follows a logarithmic trend I’m assuming 1.44C is the worst we can expect?
Actually there was really only one decade 1995-2005 where there was any real warming according to the UAH. (78-95 is flat)
I would be less concerned about the skeptics telling the truth about trends, and more concerned when the Alarmists are going to tell the truth?

Evan Jones
March 6, 2008 9:01 pm

As a reminder, we also know that the PDO cooling chickens may be coming home to roost (28-29 years into a 25-30 year half-cycle), and last time that happened, it was on the heels of La Niña.

March 7, 2008 1:37 am

Kagiso is on the right track.
How much of the cooling is due to El Nina, and how much is due to the sunspot activity???
If it’s sunspot activity (heliosphere/cosmic ray induced low cloud cover that cools the planet), then we should be able to correlate sunspot activity with low-cloud cover.
With the current low sunspot activity, is low-cloud cover at a high peak now??
That’s the question on my mind.
Meanwhile, Dell seems to indicate that El Nina does not correlate that well with temps.

Sam Jones
March 7, 2008 11:33 am

Nice fake!
I first wondered why you do not link the original pictures, but I realized quickly the why when checking your sources.
When one bothers to read the NASA GISS pages, one will clearly see that the pictures are a fake.
MODERATORS REPLY: Fake? Of course not! I’ve had some “interesting” claims such as yours, but this one is easily refuted.
Obviously you aren’t looking close enough or you don’t know the difference between a time series trend graph or an anomaly graph.
Plot the data yourself, from the links below each picture, on this page: (which by the way is in the article above, see “compiled the results” link)
which takes you to the original post with pictures, and below each picture links to raw data from each agency. Load the raw data into Excel or some similar program and you’ll get the same result.
Try it, then let us know how “fake” the data plots are.

March 7, 2008 1:28 pm

If there is a global cooling in the northern emisphere, how do you explain this:
“In December, January and February, the average temperature in Stockholm was 36 degrees — the highest on record since record-keeping began in 1756.
Record winter highs were set at 12 other locations across the country, according to the national weather service, SMHI.
Across the Baltic Sea, Latvia and most of Finland reported the warmest winter since 1925.”
THe whole article is here:
REPLY: Easy look at the global data here in this post:
La Nina tends to affect regionally different than the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) which is in the warm phase. Souther hemisphere has cooled quite a bit more than northern hemi.

Steven S.
March 7, 2008 3:56 pm

I’m very glad to see the Global Warming (GW) hoax losing momentum. The money being wasted to save a 10th of a degree is astounding. When it gets hot now everyone runs around saying it’s GW, even Gore’s people, but when it gets cold they say it’s weather, not climate. And finally, if a year is too short of a time period for data, surely 30 years is too short also, the planet is pretty old.

Bruce Cobb
March 7, 2008 4:50 pm

…”a value large enough to erase nearly all the global warming recorded over the past 100 years”. There is nothing whatsoever wrong with that statement, no matter who said it. It doesn’t say that it erases it; it simply says it is large enough to do so. It is the same as saying the amount of the decline is nearly equal to the amount of warming.

March 8, 2008 1:09 am

@Sam Jones
Better yet, let Michael E. Mann do the temperature plots!

Gary Gulrud
March 8, 2008 5:47 am

I agree with Bruce, there’s a certain excruciating preciosity here that has the unmistakable source of a troll.

Not Bluffing
March 9, 2008 3:02 am

Wow . Looks like majority are in the camp “what global warming” so amI . Firstly the author of this site is doing a great job . The only thing I can add to that what was said . Global temperature average is somehow doubtfull , inaccuracies, wrong sites , etc. On the other hand if that was used as a weapon to prove AGW , lam sure the scientist in other camp will use is as much efectively against . Just mine and only mine forecast for next 4 months , it will be cooler or average past 10 years . And then some might say , now what , ok we have to find another reason to support AGW . But to me it wont be the sun , and its 12years cycles . After seing on NG program about Sun Spots and 0.17% energi output increase if active , and cosmic rays which can induse more cloudiness. God please make sure I “read ” the data correctly . It could result we could make it next 150 years . After that we wont have any ability to increase CO2 (ommiting the fact that increasing CO2 doasnt multiply the temp increase ) cos there wont be any coal , let alone oil . Just a question , Will there be life as we know it now ?

March 9, 2008 8:28 am

Upon due consideration, I must disagree strenuously with the contention that 12 months of cooling does not make a climate trend. In fact, close examination of historical records shows conclusively that a sharp, a 12 month cooling often does indeed comprise the leading edge of a climate trend.
A sharp, 12 month cooling needs a more serious notice from key climatologists, than it is receiving.

March 9, 2008 8:30 am

Particularly since you don’t know the mechanisms behind the climate trend.

March 11, 2008 7:43 pm

I agree with not-bluffing, I have read other articles about largest snow falls in Northern parts of world, the falling temps in Australia and in the North, record freezing of Artic Ice, and articles about the solar cycle and the sunspot activity being at a low point. I agree that 12 months does not make a long term trend. But I do wish it would take the wind out of the sails of man-made global warming before energy and food prices go any higher. Thanks to Gore and the rest, our energy and food prices will continue to rise.

Jim Bushnell
March 18, 2008 11:42 am

I am a chemical engineer, not a climatologist, but am fascinated by this blog, and the important information put out by Anthony Watts. There are two things that I wish someone would clear up: what is the mechanism used to convert the data from “raw” to “adjusted”? It apparently makes a big difference. Second, how many actual data points are used to establish a global average temperature? I have not been able to find this information anywhere, but I have seen some suggestions that it is in blocks of 1200 sq kilometers. I live some 25 miles from New York’s Central Park, and often see the temperature 3 degrees C lower than reported in Central Park, so I don’t see how temperatures over a large area are very meaningful. And when you compare today’s temperatures with those a century ago, I am very suspicious of the latter.

Eelco de Groot
March 18, 2008 3:13 pm

2. Our climate does change rapidly, and it remains to be seen how long the rapid change continues and consequently how far it goes.
BTW, the argument for slow climate change is that forcings change slowly and what we have seen over the last 12 months is internal climate variability. Which begs the question; Where is all the heat hiding, if it is not in the atmosphere or ocean surface?

Hello all, I had some comments specifically to the post above by Philip B.:
I’m no climate expert by any means but I think I would agree that in principle it is not impossible that climate change can be very rapid.
As for where the heat is hiding; it is not supported by numbers but a possibility could be that a substantial amount is going into melting of ice, sea-ice and land-ice. I have read that the melting influence of land-ice is not yet properly modeled in the climate models, with regards to positive feedbacks if the albedo is lowered when the ice melts etc. In that case I have my doubts whether the fusion heat going into the melting of ice is that accurately modeled. I have not done any research about it, I’m just mentioning it as a possibility.
Before we had refrigerators, people had ice-cellars, and they would build them facing South, so solar radion could melt the ice and this reduced the temperature in the cellar. I think that at least some of the low temperatures in the Nothern Hemisphere, for a small percentage, can be explained by this. But as Dr. John Christy has said the effect of La Nina is probably much more important if you would try to calculate it, the models are I think at least good enough for comparing dimensional effects of La Nina and El Ninho with other factors.
Another small point: the melting sea and land ice in the Nothern Atlantic is freshwater which, because it is lighter than seawater, has an adverse effect on the Oceanic Conveyor Belt subsidence just as increased rainfall and snowfall in this region would have. Precise effects on the conveyor belt I would hazard to guess are difficult to model.
Point three, maybe more important, is that both climate and climate/weather systems, like the Oceanic Conveyor Belt, are intrinsically chaotic systems, which is why I think that climate change can indeed be very rapid and these fluctuations we are seeing could also herald climate change towards a much warmer state. I am no climate expert but I don’t see why such fluctuations would not actually be expected in case of rapid change. Compare it with the rapid fluctuations on the stock exchange these days, they are just a sign of instability.
But I would really welcome a slowdown in global warming very much, because we could use that: the main threat is not so much the rising temperature but the sea, it could rise much faster than we can cope with. So please bring on a small Ice Age, we need it badly!
Best Regards,
Eelco de Groot

March 23, 2008 5:35 pm

Mr Watts advises that the mischaracterization of his page on Jan 07 to Jan 08 temperature drop is a good object lesson in poor reporting (culminating in the MSM).
Another object lesson can be found on this thread. Quoting;
1) “Likewise I suspect this will only cause suspicion in the future of down indicating events whilst anecdote as to AGW continues to receive top billing in the MSM. As evidence of this last try googling the recent 1934 versus 1998 issue. The supermajority of top results either report 1998 as still being the warmest or otherwise that the recent revision was minor.”
2) “For world avg temp., what about from the high in 1934 to Jan, 2008?”
The 1934 high refers to US temps only, and the revision for global temps was indeed minor; 0.003 C.
This mistake pops up again and again on the net – that 1934 is higher than 1998 in the global temperature record, when it is only so in the US record (with caveats). I found a few science blogs (skeptical of AGW) that are ambiguous and leave the distinction unclear. This is obviously a case of agenda overcoming probity, and this is exactly what causes the quotes above, when surely the poster (1) googled the information but read only what satisfied his view, completely skipping the text which one can find in the ‘supermajority of top results’ which would have clarified the error.

March 23, 2008 6:25 pm

Below are some examples on the internet getting the 1934/1998 thing wrong.
Steve McIntyre discovered the error that led to the adjustment of US temps, which was fixed the next day at NASA, and McIntyre acknowledged. McIntyre’s following post on the adjustments at climateaudit was jovial, jamming on the US tennis open as his ‘theme’.
I think the tone, rather than the content, was picked up by unobjective skeptics and then propagated, losing accuracy along the way. The fact that this post was about US temps was obscured in the attending triumphalism. There followed a rash of blogs either making the mistake outright, or similarly muddying the waters with triumphalism leading to unclear posts. The most common flaw is to mention the US adjustment, and then drop in the global temp issue without clarifying the distinction. It happens again and again.
Global Warming Hoax
Coyote Blog
Rush Limbaugh
American Thinker
The American Pundit
Ace of Spades
This is just a small sample. Limbaugh doesn’t even mention that the adjustment is for the US.
This error made it as far as Fox, just like the error this thread is about.
Conclusion: research properly, read carefully. If you’re going to be a skeptic, be real about it and actually be skeptical – of everything you read.

Ian W
March 29, 2008 4:08 am

So now we have trends (which of course depend on choice of end points) and anomalies when reality does not fit with the trend or the models that forecast the trend.
The problem with tracking a variable using trends is that the turning point is masked by the averaging used to develop the trend and the projection developed by models that are based on obtaining best fit to data within the period of the trend calculation.
If the price of widgets has grown by $1 a year for 40 years in line with the concentration of atmospheric phlogiston then year 41 shows a drop of $2 and 42 shows a drop in price of $5 despite the continued increase in concentration of phlogiston, the ‘trend’ in widget price is still upward over the 42 years and unchanged the phlogiston based models will still project an increase in widget price.
The adherents to the model and trend will not wish to change and will rightly say that this is only a 2 year deviation from the historic trend and the models have shown to be accurate in the past – the last low widget price years should be seen as an anomaly.
Others of a more scientific bent will say that yes mathematically the trend is still upward but the sudden change in widget price over the last 2 years casts doubt over a direct causal link between pholigiston concentration which has continued to increase and widget price which has suddenly dropped. This doubt therefore should be extended to the models that use phlogiston concentration to generate projections of the future price of widgets as these models had projected a continual increase in widget price perhaps some other influence should be included.
Indeed there will be some who could state that the direct causal link between phlogiston concentration and widget price had been demonstrably totally broken and that the widget price forecasting models were completely wrong.
We are in this position now – measured reality no longer matches the forecast from the models and there has been a short term downward deviation from the long term trend that is outside even the widest error bounds of the models. We now move into a more Bayesian belief system which is strongly influenced by how firmly the adherents have pushed their arguments based on the models and the trends. Those that have a lot to lose if the models and projections based on trends are not correct will find it less easy to accept the models are wrong and will be insistent that the trend remains upward – until it is down from their chosen trend start-point. However, this position will become increasingly less tenable if reality moves further and further away from the upward trend.
I think what has been underestimated is the human aspect of not wanting to be shown to be wrong when an entire belief system, credibility, personal pride and even monetary gain is at stake. The AGW argument ceased to scientific a few years ago – it will not be won purely by pointing at peer reviewed papers (on either side). There will still be those claiming their argument is correct even when reality is indisputably at variance with it.

John Mathon
April 13, 2008 11:07 pm

It’s really simple. Since 1978 the temperature trend is up about 0.35 degrees. Before that we had a trend downward for about 30 years. Before that it was up. The last 10 years have been down.
If you extrapolate that we don’t go into a downtrend and continue the uptrend of the last 30 years for the next 90 years we get about 1 degree C. That’s half what the IPCC predicted in 2001. They predict 2.0 or more for 2100 or 0.2 C / decade but since they issued the prediction in 2001 the temperature has gone down not up 0.2C.
All of the predictions of doom depend on the temperature going up 2 to 3 degrees C. It is pretty evident now that it would almost be impossible for the temperature to hit 1 degree rise by 2100 let alone 2 degrees. To hit 2 degrees the temperaute would have to accelerate massively over the gains of the last 20 or 30 years (accelerating to 0.3 degrees / decade) and would have to reverse course of the last 10 years. That’s really difficult to believe.
It’s important to understand that trends based on models earlier than 2001 are meaningless. Most people seem to be unaware that the models are FITTED to data prior to 2001 therefore the ONLY relevant scientifically valid prediction is for temperatures AFTER 2001. To suggest models or the IPCC are correct for predicting temperatures prior to 2001 is deceptive. Using the inverse method to calculate various quantities in the models means that it would be circular logic to point to data prior to 2001 and say “Look, see how good we are doing.” Or to say: “Well, we look at the last 20 years and the IPCC model isn’t so bad over this time period.” That’s WRONG. The IPCC or any scientists cannot refer to data prior to 2001 because the models are built to match that data. I cannot emphasize enough this point because I notice even supposedly “known” “important” scientists writing false information about this and referring to the accuracy of the models. It is impossible to say this because the models were FITTED to the data. Have I made my point?
Now, since 2001 it is quite evident something is wrong. So, if the models can’t be referenced to data earlier than 2001 and after 2001 they have a ZERO correlation with the actual data in the environment then I think we can say with nearly 100% accuracy that the models are wrong. Any true scientist has to admit this truth. Maybe they can be fixed but they are wrong. Please, don’t tell me I’m the only person here who actually understands science.
Since the models are wrong it means they can’t be used for policy. It means we have no idea if the temperature in 2100 will be up 2 degrees, 9 degrees, flat, down 2 degrees or anything. The models output is trash.
Fitting data to a model is sometimes necessary but it introduces circularity and restricts the validity of using the data that was used to fit as “validation” of the model.
Anybody can find a model which can be made to “fit” data. It does not mean the model is right. Only subsequent data can be used to test the validity of the model. THe IPCC and NASA and other models have not predicted the haitus/drop in temperatures over the last 10 years. The more accurate people make the models to fit to past data the more stringent the accuracy of the model to future data and therefore the easier to prove the models false. The very argument that IPCC and other scientists have used to extoll how accurate the models are has put them in a bind. How to explain such a large divergence that doesn’t fit any of the previous data over 120 years? They made the models so they fit past data really well. There is no 10 year trend that contradicts the models in all previous data so the temperature anomaly of the last 10 years is essentially proof of the failure of the models simply because of the purported accuracy of the models.

April 14, 2008 10:54 am

Am nearing retirement. Don’t know whether to buy a condo in the north (in response to global warming) or in the south (in response to global cooling).
If I can not make plans as an individual based on the data, how are governments (less fleet of foot) going to plan for the future of their citizenry?
Maybe travel trailers for all is the solution. Woops, we tried that already in New Orleans. Never mind.

September 10, 2008 4:40 pm

They ask “does a tree make a noise when it falls over if there is no one there to hear it fall ?” I guess the same kind of logic may be true when you consider CO2.
Does the concentration rise if there is no one to measure it?
If you look at the graph on
the level barely changes until the second half of the 20th century when Charles Keeling started to measure it.
Perhaps the solution is to stop measuring!

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