Historical video perspective: our current "unprecedented" global warming in the context of scale

One of the favorite buzzwords of alarmists is “unprecedented” when talking about present day warming. Yah, the Earth’s never, ever, been hotter, the “hockey stick” proves it, it’s unprecedented, and its all your fault!

Well, we’ve known it’s unsubstantiated spin for quite a long time. NOAA apparently has too, because the data presented in this video is in fact from NOAA and is from the year 2000 on their website. But you don’t see it publicized much. Why? Well, because it totally destroys claims of “unprecedented warming” in our present day.

The source of inspiration is from my post Hockey stick observed in NOAA ice core data. And the source of inspiration for that is from J. Storrs Hall, writing here.

WUWT reader “docattheautopsy” produced a YouTube video for us for distribution for which I’m grateful and you can see below. I’ve also produced an animated GIF which is done somewhat like a video, since not all blogs and websites can support video. Here is the low-res version at 480 pixels wide. As you go back in time, our “unprecendented” temperatures of the present day don’t seem quite so large, when put in perspective of geologic time.

Low res version - click for hi-definition version (0.9MB)

Here are the permalinks to both the low-res and hi-def versions:

Low-res:  http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/noaa_gisp2_icecore_anim3.gif

Hi-Definition: http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/noaa_gisp2_icecore_anim_hi-def3.gif

And here is a YouTube video showing the same process:

Just a couple of caveats to mention:

1) The ice core data from Greenland doesn’t go past the year 1900

2) The reason for this is that ice is formed by the compaction of snow, that takes time. Young snow, and snow in transition to becoming ice through compaction is not a reliable indicator yet.

3) From the observed temperature change in the last century, one could add about a .5C to 0.7C line to the end of the ice core data. It does not change the conclusion. UPDATE: Upon further thought, In version 3 of the animation, I decided to do this to be a better comparison to the Mann/IPCC chart shown, since that is what they did also. The instrumental record for the last century (~ 0.7C) is shown in red, approximately fit to each scale.

4) My first animated GIF had a labeling error due to using a template. I forgot to label the Vostok Ice Core presentation separately. Fixed now and links updated. If you grabbed links in the first 30 minutes, please note they have changed.

UPDATE: I’ve added the source images for those that may want to include them in a slide show or display independently. Click each image below for full sized version suitable for saving on your local disk.


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Can you also show us the medieval warm period on the Vostok core. Ive been looking but not skilled enough to see it.

Did you notice the title of the article? The scale of Vostok covers half a million years. The MWP is only 1/500th of that, so it can’t be seen at that scale. Check out the video starting at about the 12 second mark and you’ll clearly see the MWP.


Off thread but: I see the NYTimes is asking for questions for reporters over at dot earth – to be answered on video early next week.


From the film Grand Canyon, the character Simon (played by Danny Glover) describes how he felt when he visited the Grand Canyon:
“You know what I felt like? I felt like a gnat that lands on the ass of a cow chewing his cud on the side of the road that you drive by doing 70 mph.”

P Wilson

Vosok to 10,000 bp
dorlomin (09:11:41) :
Greenland to 10,000bp
both overlayed found on the link

P Wilson

dorlomin (09:11:41)

This is partly presented by ice core analyst/glaciologist

David Ball

Truly puts it all into perspective. I love my interglacial. My wife, who is bored to tears by all this, asked a very pertinent question regarding the scale of this reconstruction. She asked what the temperature fluctuation range was on the graphs. My Mark II eyeball says ~10-12 C. She said she thought that was not all that alarming then. I love my wife. Of course I did not complicate it by pointing out that this is “smoothed” and the actual range of temperature fluctuation can be much greater. Her eyes would glaze over as I go on to explain that the graph is another depth charge to the false theory. Some are not as enthusiastic about my passions as I am. 8^D At least she laughs when she hears on the MSM that all the weather anomalies of late are “unprecedented”. She knows this not to be accurate.

Problem is, this ice core hockey stick above goes until 1900 only.
My favorite chart is CET or Armagh long instrumental record:
especially the period 1695-1940. Two degrees increase during 40 years, compare this with barely one degree during 70 years since CO2 ramped up.
Loehle reconstruction is very telling as well:
Arctic has been warming faster in 20-40ties than in recent times as well:
There is NOTHING unprecedented on recent 30 years temperature increase, but hey tell that to generation fed by hockey stick for decade.


2) The reason for this is that ice is formed by the compaction of snow, that takes time. Young snow, and snow in transition to becoming ice through compaction is not a reliable indicator yet.
Somebody help me out here.
That being the case, how do we know that the CO2 measurements taking from ice cores are accurate as to what was present in the atmosphere? I notice you never find any O2 PPM’s listed. I’ve not seen any good information on how the ice core measurements are correlated to atmospheric measurements. Sorry if this is a stupid question.


Another video that would be of interest involves the historians.
Historians tend to focus on particular areas, and when you bring up “Medieval Warm Period” and ask about it in their particular area, the answer are similar to: “Well, the scientists tell us it was localized, but it damn well happened in my area.” Then local anecdotes, “Europe moved towards wheat over rye.” or “Egypt managed five crops a year in that era.” or “The Pacific Northwest natives essentially retreated south for the LIA.” or “The New Zealander’s migrations….”
The total dismissal of the masses of written records as “anecdotal” because they don’t calibrate into a strict temperature reading is appalling.

M White

The BBC is showing a version of this if anyone would care to comment

Methow Ken

It is said that a picture is worth a 1000 words. This one short animated GIF sez it all; and totally destroys the ”hocky stick” alarmism all by itself.
Now: If we could just get the MSM to show this animation on the air. . . .

Tom Mills

In 2000 myself & my wife visited the geodetic hills on Axel Heiborg island in the Canadian arctic. We saw mummified trees which the scientists working there had established had grown at that latitude. The tree rings apparently showed that they had experienced 6 months darkness plus 6 months light. This shows that the island had always been at that latitude & not drifted north as Spitzbergen( which has petrified tree stumps) had. At that time they had not dated the trees & other artefacts that had been found.
Prehistoric global warming?

Richard Garnache

Execelent series of graphs. Where can I get individual copies. I put them on my I-Phone to show to warmists and other confused people.

the iPhone should be able to display an animated GIF, try it – A

Richard Garnache

Thank you for your reply. The GIF is fine for me because I have seen all this before. It is to fast for the uninitiated. I will try it and see if I can puse it like I did on my computer.
Your web site is great
REPLY: I added separate images to the post at your request – Anthony

The Economist, to which I’ve subscribed for almost 30 years, has radically changed from a very analytical publication, to a cheerleader for the CO2=CAGW [human emitted CO2 will cause climate catastrophe] alarmist point of view. Human-caused runaway global warming is accepted as settled science by this formerly rational magazine.
This change came about with the appointment in 2006 of John Micklethwait as editor-in-chief. The change has been amazing; skeptics are now ridiculed and dismissed out of hand, confirming Dr Richard Lindzen’s recent paper, where Lindzen shows through first hand experience that a change in even one position by a radical such as Micklethwait is enough to change the entire organization into an AGW propaganda outlet. We’ve seen the same thing happen at the APS, the ACS, and countless other professional publications, where the editorial board is seriously at odds with the rank-and-file membership over the question of AWG.
Currently the Economist has a blog that attempts to refute Willis Eschenbach’s article: click
You can comment on the Economist blog regarding the ad hominem attacks against Willis, or you can simply click to vote on comments already made. The lack of understanding and the unthinking acceptance that CO2 is the cause of upcoming climate catastrophe is apparent, especially in the blogger’s article. Comments setting the [anonymous] blog writer straight would make it clear that the blogger is out of his depth.
Correcting his ignorance shouldn’t be hard; several posters have already shredded his arguments. But more input from the skeptics’ side is important, since scientific skepticism is essential to the scientific method of separating truth from conjecture.


Anthony starting so many threads leads to the same misinformation being repeated and absorbed by posters. I will therefor repost from the other entry as people obviously are not reading it!
“Present” is assumed to be 1950 in this plot:
(Present might be different in ice cores but does not make much difference)
This appends a shifted (-29degC) measurement from modern Greenland on to the end of the misrepresented plots made here.
As can be seen even this crude addition shows modern temperature at 1degC above the MWP.
Todays temperature is in fact as high as any in the last 2000 yeats. In the period of the core there are only 3 higher temperatures (5900BC,4975BC, 1347BC).
REPLY: Get your own blog then, but please don’t tell me how to run mine. I’ll post as many threads as I wish. And where’s your data citation link? Shifted and spliced data? Prove that’s valid. And if you really want to be taken seriously, drop the “galactic hero” meme and come clean with your full name. No need to hide. -Anthony


M White (09:56:08) :
The BBC is showing a version of this if anyone would care to comment
They still use the hockey stick to get rid of the MWP. They can’t be taken seriously as long as they ignore the ice cores. It is nothing but the old MBH hockey stick which has been thoroughly discredited by climateaudit.org
CO2 can, and has been, much higher than today. Keep in mind that 800,000 years while a long time for us is a tick on the geologic clock.

Gordon Ford

For those going to or will be watching the Olympics in Whistler next year, some information on the mountains dirty little secrets (or glaciers and trees)

I posted this on another thread earlier today, but think it will be of interest to readers here
Ben Goldacre is a well known/respected ‘bad science’ exposer [and MD doctor] so I find his caricature of those who are not card-carrying AGW members rather odd.

Honest ABE

To get more people to watch that youtube video everyone should rate it (hopefully high), comment, and, if they want, favorite – all three actions will make it show up for people more during searches,suggestions and the various “daily/weekly/monthly” things.
For those who don’t use youtube, click on the video again (after it is playing) and the site will pop up in a new window (and you’ll need an account).

Leon Brozyna

There’s nothing like a visual representation to drive the point home. Mix in a few blink comparators to show the cooking of the books that’s happening these days and the usually disinterested taxpayer may just want his money back.

Frank Mosher

David Ball. Me too. I love my wife as she patiently listens to my rantings about temperature manipulation, fraud, etc. She has taken lately to commenting, when in public, about ” global warming”, and has noticed a consistent reply by total strangers of ” what global warming”. I do not believe the average American puts much faith in global warming. Too easy to observe the actual temperatures. Even my 85 year old mother in law commented about it when it snowed here ( Fair Oaks, CA.), on Monday. I believe the “average Joe”, does not like hypocrites, as we see in the AGW crowd. This may ultimately be our greatest weapon. fm


I thought about putting together a similar video. I was going to end it with something like this:

Honest ABE

Oh, to improve the video, and anytime Mann’s hockey stick is shown, that people point out in big bold letters that the grew is his margin of error and when/why he adds the temp data at the end.

John Blake

Since the post-Chixulub Cretaceous/Tertiary (K/T) Boundary some 65 million years-before-present (YBP), durations of five geological eras have varied widely but averaged 14 – 16 million years. Dating from 1.8 million YBP, the current Pleistocene Era is characterized, even defined, by regularly recurring cyclical ice ages averaging 102,000 years, interspersed with interglacial epochs of a median 12,250 years.
On post-Cretaceous time-scales, then, periodic Pleistocene glaciations are due to persist another 12 – 14 million years. Since this pattern did not prevail before the Pleistocene, neither atmospheric nor astronomical phenomena can be responsible. As Edward Lorenz asked in 1960, “Does the Earth have a climate? The answer, at first glance obvious, improves on acquaintance.” Lorenz’s “butterfly effect”, his Chaos Theory’s “sensitive dependence on initial conditions”, proves that for complex systems –those with three or more interacting variables– non-linear progression will be “non-random but indeterminate”, amenable to post hoc mathematical description but not to any meaningful extrapolation whatsoever.
What drives planetary temperature regimes, misnamed “climate”, is plate tectonics, geophysics, first hypothesized by Alfred Wegener in 1912 and confirmed in detail by deep-ocean (bathymetric) surveys since 1964. Geologists before then dismissed Wegener on the assumption that continental landmasses were similar to deep-ocean basins. When surveys in the mid-1960s revealed global “continental drift” in terms of sea-floor spreading, geo-science recognized Planet Earth as a dynamic rather than a static system.
Over some 2 – 5 million years now, from the late Pliocene on, plate tectonics has driven North and South American continents together, walling off eastern from western hemispheres. Perhaps allied with pulsating deep-ocean “magmatic episodes” worldwide, this configuration evidently interferes with global atmospheric circulation, canceled or reinforced by solar irradiation as may be. This means that cyclical Pleistocene glaciations will likely persist until plate tectonic dispositions shift– i.e., that Earth will suffer regularly recurring Ice Times for another 12 – 14 million years.
This is so far from Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW), a hypothetical C02-induced atmospheric effect totally neglectful of underlying geophysical components, that Climate Cultists’ shrill expostulations become prima facie meaningless. Not only does Lorenz’s Chaos Theory render “climate” (sic) extrapolations a mathematical impossibility, but on a statistical basis our current Holocene Interglacial Epoch is decades overdue to end. Skewed by the 1,500-year Younger Dryas “cold shock” of BC 8800 – 7300 (an astronomical result of cometary/meteorite objects raining to the inner solar system from Sol’s enveloping Oort Cloud), the Holocene began to fade in AD 2000 + (12,250 – 12,300) = AD 1950.
Now as we enter a 20 – 70 year “dead sun” period presaging either a Dalton or a Maunder
Minimum, chances are that Gaia is due for a 102,000-year Big Chill. Absent the Younger Dryas, this would have happened 1,500 years ago, coincident with the fall of Rome. Blinkered academics, and supremely dishonest ones at that, who willfully fail to warn humanity of impending geophysical catastrophe are guilty of a criminally negligent abuse of trust.

OT Update – I sent the ice core graph video to the biggest Conservative blogger here in the UK [about 25k hits a day] and he’s run with it.
His readers are mostly MSM and politicos – fingers crossed that it gets traction.


I prefer the series of static graphs (whats up with putting everything in videos?). These graphs deserve to be in the list of “sticky” articles, if you choose to create one.


bill: It’s ridiciulous to glue the instrumental record of coastal Angmagssalik to the GISP2 record. Also, you’re obviously not smoothing the Angmagssalik record enough to be comparable with the ice core data. And how did you manage to smooth the data in a way that makes the current period warmer than the 30s and 40s? And how did you arrive at the -29 temperature difference?


Enter glacier bay and you cruise along shorelines completely covered in ice just 200 years ago. Explorer Capt. George Vancouver found ice in 1794, and Glacier bay was a barely indented glacier. That glacier was more than 4000 feet thick, up to 20 miles or more wide, and extended more than 100 miles to the St Elias range of mountains. But by 1879 naturalist John Muir found that the ice had retreated 48miles up the bay. By 1916 the Grand Pacific Glacier headed Tarr inlet 65 miles from Glacier Bays mouth.
I wonder what caused the glacier to retreat between 1760 and 1931, I dont believe there was world wide industrialisation then.


I sent this email to Act on CO2 in response to their advertisement –
Sent: 09 October 2009 21:15
To: actonco2
Subject: TV advert
Why are you propagating this lying trash? Even the Meteorological
Office would not agree with the ‘facts’ shown in this garbage. Expect
plenty of attention from the advertising standards people.
I didn’t expect a sensible reply, but for them to just churn out their out-dated PR guff just emphasised the feebleness of their position. I quote,
“Thank you for your email to the ACT ON CO2 team. I apologise for the
delay in replying.
The latest science shows us that climate change is a bigger and more
urgent challenge than had been previously understood. The
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment
Report provides an even stronger link between human activities and
climate change, concluding that there is a more than 90% chance that
most of the observed warming since the mid-20th Century is due to human
emissions of greenhouse gases. It also clearly demonstrates the need
for urgent action to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Kind Regards”
The ACT ON CO2 Team
“Bigger and more urgent challenge than had previously been understood.”
They are proving the point that nothing has been understood by them.


Who extracted the ice core data and what are his/her’s credentials? The reason I ask is that the graph is very informative but I don’t want to use it and link to this article without knowing that the graph is legit.


bill (10:40:11) :
REPLY: Get your own blog then, but please don’t tell me how to run mine. I’ll post as many threads as I wish. And where’s your data citation link? Shifted and spliced data? Prove that’s valid. And if you really want to be taken seriously, drop the “galactic hero” meme and come clean with your full name. No need to hide. -Anthony

Anthony you castigated me for posting the same message on the sticky smoking gun threads, I was trying to say that if you start similar threads with the same theme and no different data, then I was requesting to post the same messages on both.
If I recall correctly someone (a “warmist”) on McIntyres blog real name was exposed leading to an event (I missed what it was) that forced the whole thread to be deleted. If I post garbage or wisdom on a topic It should not be made more/less acceptable because of my real status.
Looking at some of the comments made by CRU and other scientists about “nasty” emails they have received I prefer the safe option. My real name would enable google to provide home address (=business), phone, and private email.
As for references
Angmagssalik 65.6 N 37.6 W 431043600000 rural area 1895 – 2009
“Raw” data
The ice core data is from the reference in the header
I said It was a rough tack of the instrumental record onto the plot. Is there another way of doing this with so little data available?
To only show data to 1850s and say there is no massive rise in temp in the 21st C is disingenuous.

Heh. I had the same idea Thursday. I could’ve done a better animation if I had my whole suite of tools, but it gets the job done.
Next: I’m making the t-shirt!
Mark: the data is NOAA’s. As I understand it, ice cores don’t necessarily strongly correspond to observed temperatures. But the clarity of the Medieval Warm Period in this one bolsters it a bit.
But I’m not a climate scientist. I’m an art school dropout.


I am no friend of climate alarmism. I’m uneasy about what exactly these graphs are proving. Let us say that we conclude that current warming is not exceptional in a time scale of millenia. What does that show exactly? It does not prove that we should not worry about it, if it is happening. It does not prove that it will not be a threat, if it happens.
The logic has to be right, and here the logic of the argument escapes one. It does not have to be unprecedented on a scale of this length of time, to be capable of extinguishing human life.
I do not believe it will, and I do not believe that there is any reasonable evidence for the whole AGW hypothesis. But this is not reasonable evidence for anything relevant to the AGW hypothesis either.

Mark (11:53:50)
Check the end of this video for the citations you asked for


Smokey (10:38:49)
The economist lapses into silly and unpleasant personal attacks on Willis Eschenbach, in the usual way that alarmist diatribes do. However, on the substantive point, I am not so clear that what they are saying is wrong. The substantive point is, whether there is any reason other than malfeasance for the adjustments to the raw instrumental readings. Given the background supplied, it seems likely that these were the results of people genuinely trying to compensate for a fairly worthless set of readings and get something, anything, out of them.
The real problem is not that the adjustments have no reasonable motive; they do. The problem is that they are of such magnitude that they tend rather to show that there is no information in this series, the range of uncertainties is too high. Eschenbachs post would have been much stronger had he approached the situation in that way. The point is not that the record is being inexplicably faked to obscure perfectly valid readings. The point is that there is no useful record, the readings are not valid, and that you cannot extract one from instruments of this imperfection.
A rather different point from the one made in the post.


To call it “massive” in the first place is beyond disingenuous. The only solid data we have on -global- temperatures is really the satellite era alone. The surface station data is complete -censored- replete with core assumption errors.
You can’t stick an instrument with a 0.1C error down somewhere and then declare you know the -gridcell’s- average temperature to 0.1C. At the very best, a perfect “zero microsite issue” station that is completely outside of urban influence is -still- going to be just a proxy for the gridcell temperature.
And as Michael Mann has proven, 98.5% of global proxies aren’t correlated with “global average temperature.” (Aka: weight ~ 0.)

The Chinese were right-great pictures help alot. If the temps zig down like they have in the past,future generations are in a “heap of trouble”. These graphs really put things in perspective.

bill (12:00:53) :
To only show data to 1850s and say there is no massive rise in temp in the 21st C is disingenuous.

I see a minor bobble in temps and most of it occurred about 90 years ago.
I see that the temperatures are divergent from CO2 increase (not shown in graph).


Thanks guys. I whipped that video up in about 50 minutes while proctoring an exam. I’ve been somewhat anonymous until I get tenure somewhere. I’ve actually had my job threatened over this “conservative” viewpoint.
I’ll do a voiceover and extend the graph times. Once all my grading is in this semester.
Mike / Doc


Plato Says (11:19:03) :
“Ben Goldacre is a well known/respected ‘bad science’ exposer [and MD doctor] so I find his caricature of those who are not card-carrying AGW members rather odd.”
It isn’t odd if you realise that his default position is to cling to peer-review and scientific “consensus” and fiercely attack anything outside of that.
Of course, many times the “consensus” is right about what is, and what is not, nonsense but Goldacre doesn’t do enough of his own digging to find out for himself before putting the boot in.
The exception is in the case of the easier-to-spot rigged medical trials carried out on behalf of drug companies. Being a doctor he is slightly more sceptical in his own area (though he has a blind spot about AIDS).
Despite the evidence in his own field, t doesn’t seem to occur to him that there can be bad peer-reviewed science outside of his own area – hence the reversion to his default when it comes to AGW.
He is also prone to the just-because-some-right-wing-nuts-believe-it-therefore- it-must-be-wrong fallacy.

Richard Sharpe

Bill says:

Todays temperature is in fact as high as any in the last 2000 yeats. In the period of the core there are only 3 higher temperatures (5900BC,4975BC, 1347BC).

Choose your timescale carefully and you can prove anything.
Panic! Today’s temperatures highest in the last 2000 years (well, except possibly for that pesky MWP).
It’s feeling pretty cold here in the San Fran Bay Area at the moment. Where is that global warming when you need it.

photon without a Higgs

P Wilson (09:44:13) :
dorlomin (09:11:41)
Beginning at 5:01 of the video the Medieval Warm Period is shown in the ice core from Greenland. The graph is from 6:44 to 7:28 of the video


John Blake,
“This means that cyclical Pleistocene glaciations will likely persist until plate tectonic dispositions shift– i.e., that Earth will suffer regularly recurring Ice Times for another 12 – 14 million years.”
It has been a big puzzle to me that geologists came up with a new epoch – Holocene – for our present interglacial, rather than referring to is as simply the most recent interglacial in the Pleistocene epoch. Doesn’t that imply that the glacial epoch is now over? How do they know? It’s like the cliche where a motorist asks directions and is told to turn right when he reaches the last junction.

Could the labelling for the instrumental record (presumably ‘spliced’ onto several forms of proxy-based records) be changed to:
Cooked Instrumental Record
to more represent the type of data represented?
Unless, of course, ‘raw’ un-massaged instrumental data was used in the plots …
(Just a suggestion to show contrast between data ‘types’; not intended to be taken seriously )


I don’t understand your last link. It shows a thermometer record. I thought we were discussing ice cores?

Thomas J. Arnold.

bill (12:00:53) :
Is it not being ‘disingenuous’ by merely taking the figures from one station.
‘Massive rise in temperature’? – where?
The median rise is not that spectacular.
You must look at the longer perspective.
John Blake (11:27:31) :
Fascinating stuff, I believe the refreeze is due, the real worry as I have averred on this blog previously, is we are not sure of the mechanisms which cause the temperature drop required to precipitate a relaunch of the next return to the refreeze.
But when it occurs it will be at an alarming rate, giving the human race little time to adjust, it will happen and when it does it will be frightening, more so than rising temperatures, cold is the killer less so heat.


“Looking at some of the comments made by CRU and other scientists about “nasty” emails they have received I prefer the safe option. My real name would enable google to provide home address (=business), phone, and private email.”
Aren’t you being a little paranoid?