Congenital Climate Abnormalities

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

[see Updates at the end of this post]

Science is what we use to explain anomalies, to elucidate mysteries, to shed light on unexplained occurrences. For example, once we understand how the earth rotates, there is no great need for a scientific explanation of the sun rising in the morning. If one day the sun were to rise in the afternoon, however, that is an anomaly which would definitely require a scientific explanation. But there is no need to explain the normal everyday occurrences. We don’t need a new understanding if there is nothing new to understand.

Hundreds of thousands of hours of work, and billions of dollars, have been expended trying to explain the recent variations in the climate, particularly the global temperature. But in the rush to find an explanation, a very important question has been left unasked:

Just exactly what unusual, unexpected temperature anomaly are we trying to explain?

The claim is made over and over that humans are having an effect on the climate. But where is the evidence that there is anything that even needs explanation? Where is the abnormal phenomenon? What is it that we are trying to make sense of, what is the unusual occurrence that requires a novel scientific explanation?

There are not a lot of long-term temperature records that can help us in this regard. The longest one is the Central England Temperature record (CET). Although there are problems with the CET (see Sources below), including recent changes in the stations used to calculate it that have slightly inflated the modern temperatures, it is a good starting point for an investigation of whether there is anything happening that is abnormal. Here is that record:

Figure 1. The Central England Temperature Record. Blue line is the monthly temperature in Celsius. Red line is the average temperature. Jagged black line is the 25-year trailing trend, in degrees per century.

Now, where in that record is there anything which is even slightly abnormal? Where is the anomaly that the entire huge edifice of the AGW hypothesis is designed to elucidate? The longest sustained rise is from about 1680 to 1740. That time period also has the steepest rise. The modern period, on the other hand, is barely above the long-term trend despite urban warming. There is nothing unusual about the modern period in any way.

OK, so there’s nothing to explain in the CET. How about another long record?

One of the world’s best single station long-term records is that of the Armagh Observatory in Ireland. It has been maintained with only a couple minor location changes for over 200 years. Figure 2 shows the Armagh record.

Figure 2. Temperature record for Armagh University. Various colored lines as in Figure 1.

We find the same thing in this record as in the CET. The fastest rise was a long, long time ago. The modern rise is once again insignificant. Where in all of this is anything that requires billions of dollars to explain?

Finally, what about the global record? Here, you don’t have to take my word for it. A much chastened Phil Jones (the disgraced former Director of the CRU of email fame), in an interview with the BBC on Friday, February 12, 2010, answered a BBC question as follows:

Do you agree that according to the global temperature record used by the IPCC, the rates of global warming from 1860-1880, 1910-1940 and 1975-1998 were identical?

An initial point to make is that in the responses to these questions I’ve assumed that when you talk about the global temperature record, you mean the record that combines the estimates from land regions with those from the marine regions of the world. CRU produces the land component, with the Met Office Hadley Centre producing the marine component.

Temperature data for the period 1860-1880 are more uncertain, because of sparser coverage, than for later periods in the 20th Century. The 1860-1880 period is also only 21 years in length. As for the two periods 1910-40 and 1975-1998 the warming rates are not statistically significantly different (see numbers below).

I have also included the trend over the period 1975 to 2009, which has a very similar trend to the period 1975-1998.

So, in answer to the question, the warming rates for all 4 periods are similar and not statistically significantly different from each other.

So in fact, according to Phil Jones (who strongly believes in the AGW hypothesis) there is nothing unusual about the recent warming either. It is not statistically different from two earlier modern periods of warming. Since these warming periods were before the modern rise in CO2, greenhouse gases cannot have been responsible for those rises.

So my question remains unanswered … where is the anomaly? Where is the unusual occurrence that we are spending billions of dollars trying to explain?

The answer is, there is no unusual warming. There is no anomaly. There is nothing strange or out of the ordinary about the recent warming. It is in no way distinguishable from earlier periods of warming, periods that we know were not due to rising CO2. There is nothing in the record that is in any way different from the centuries-long natural fluctuations in the global climate.

In other words, we have spent billions of dollars and wasted years of work chasing a chimera, a will-of-the-wisp. This is why none of the CO2 explanations have held water … simply because there is nothing unusual to explain.






Jones also makes the interesting argument in the interview that the reason he believes that recent warming is anthropogenic (human-caused) is because climate models can’t replicate it … in other words, he has absolutely no evidence at all, he just has the undeniable fact that our current crop of climate models can’t model the climate. Seems to me like that’s a problem with the models rather than a problem with the climate, but hey, what do I know, I was born yesterday …

[UPDATE 1] Further evidence that nothing abnormal is happening is given by the individual US state record high temperatures. Here are the number of US state record high temperatures per decade, from the US National Climate Data Center (NCDC):

Figure 3. US state high temperature records, by decade. In the period 1930-1940, twenty of the fifty US states had their highest recorded temperature.

As you can see, the recent decades have not had record-beating high temperatures, nor are they unusual or abnormal in any way. Nearly half of the high temperature records were set back in the 1930-1940 decade.

[UPDATE 2] Here is another look at the lack of any abnormalities in climate data. I will add more as they come up. This is data on snow extext, from the Rutgers University Global Snow Lab:

Figure 4. Snow cover variation, Northern Hemisphere. Transparent blue line shows the month-by-month cover, and the red line is the average snow cover.

So, nothing to see here. There is no evidence that the climate has gone off course. There is no evidence of the claimed reduction in snow cover which is supposed to provide a positive feedback to warming. In fact, the surprising thing is how little the snow cover has changed over the last forty years.

[UPDATE 3] We often hear about the vanishing polar sea ice. Usually, however, people only look at half of the picture, Arctic sea ice. Although you wouldn’t know it from the scare stories, we do have a South Pole. Here is the record of global sea ice, 1979-2006

Figure 5. Global ice area variation. Blue line shows the month-by-month area, and the red line is the average area. DATA SOURCE

This illustrates the non-intuitive nature of climate. As the global temperature was climbing from 1985 until 1998, global sea ice was increasing. Since then it has decreased, and currently is where we were at the start of the satellite record. Variation in the average is ±2%. Nothing unusual here.

[UPDATE 4] Another oft-mentioned item is tropical cyclones. Here is the record of Accumulated Cyclone Energy, for both the Globe and and Northern Hemisphere, from Ryan Maue .

Figure 6. Accumulated Cyclone Energy. Upper line is global, lower line is Northern Hemisphere. Area between lines is Southern Hemisphere

As you can see, there is nothing out of the ordinary in the accumulated cyclone energy either. It goes up … it comes down. Nature is like that.

[UPDATE 5] Arctic temperatures are often cited as being anomalous. Here’s the record for Alaska;

Figure 7. Alaska Temperature Average from First Order Observing Stations. DATA SOURCE .

The Alaskan temperature is regulated by the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). The PDO shifted from the cool phase to the warm phase around 1976 [typo corrected, was incorrectly listed as 1986], and has recently switched back to the cool phase. As you can see, other than the step changes due to the PDO, there is little variation in the Alaska temperatures.

[UPDATE 6] There has been much discussion of the effect of rising temperatures on rainfall. Here is the CRU TS3 global precipitation record:

Figure 8. Global Precipitation, from CRU TS3 1° grid. DATA SOURCE

As in all of the records above, there is nothing at all anomalous in the recent rainfall record. The average varies by about ± 2%. There is no trend in the data.

[UPDATE 7] People keep claiming that hurricanes (called “cyclones” in the Southern Hemisphere) have been rising. They claim that damage from hurricanes in the US have been going up. Here is data on hurricane damage:

The figure above shows normalized US hurricane losses for 1900 to 2009. It shows an estimate of what hurricane damages would be if each hurricane season took place in 2009. The dark line shows the linear best fit from Excel. Obviously, there is no trend. This makes sense as there has also been no trend in U.S. landfall frequencies or intensities over this period (in fact, depending on start date there is evidence for a slight but statistically significant decline, source in PDF).
In addition, a new WMO study in Nature (subscription required) says (emphasis mine):
In terms of global tropical cyclone frequency, it was concluded that there was no significant change in global tropical storm or hurricane numbers from 1970 to 2004, nor any significant change in hurricane numbers for any individual basin over that period, except for the Atlantic (discussed above). Landfall in various regions of East Asia26 during the past 60 years, and those in the Philippines during the past century, also do not show significant trends.

[UPDATE 8] You’d think, from all of the shouting about the greenhouse radiation, that we would have seen some change in it over the last few decades. Here is NOAA data on average outgoing (from the earth to space) longwave (greenhouse) radiation (OLR).

Figure 10. Global Outgoing Longwave Radiation. NOAA Interpolated OLR

Change in the average OLR over the period of record is less than ± 1%, and change since 1980 is only ± 0.5%. The current average value is the same as in 1976.

[UPDATE 9] OK, how about droughts? After all, droughts are supposed to be one of the terrible things that accompany warming, and the earth has warmed over the last century. Here’s the Palmer Drought Severity Index for that time span, 1901-2002:

Figure 11. Palmer Dourght Severity Index. CRU self-calibrating PDSI

Once again, despite going up some and down some, we’ve ended up just where we started.

[UPDATE 10] More on the Arctic. From Polyakov et al ., we have this:

Figure 12. Arctic Temperature Anomaly . DATA SOURCE

The study used temperature stations from all around the shore of the Arctic Ocean, plus buoys and ice stations. It covered the area north of the Arctic Circle, that is to say the entire Arctic.

This matches an analysis I did last year of the Nordic countries. Here is a result from that study.

Figure 13. Nordic Land Temperature Anomaly. Original caption says “I used the NORDKLIM dataset available here . I removed the one marine record from “Ship M”. To avoid infilling where there are missing records, I took the “first difference” of all available records for each year and averaged them. Then I used a running sum to calculate the average anomaly. I did not remove cities or adjust for the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect.”

Note that, as we would expect, the temperature of the Nordic Countries is similar to that of the Arctic as a whole.  This adds confidence to the results. I show the trends for the same intervals as in Fig. 12.

Again, there is nothing out of the ordinary here. The recent Arctic warming is often held up as evidence for human influence on the climate. The data shows the Arctic warming from 1902-1938 was longer and stronger than the recent warming. There is nothing for CO2 to explain.

[UPDATE 11] More on storms. We’ve looked at cyclones, but what about storms in the temperate zones? Here are the results from a study (pay per view) by Bärring and Fortuniak called Multi-indices analysis of southern Scandinavian storminess 1780-2005 and links to interdecadal variations in the NW Europe-North Sea region. Here’s one of their graphs:

Figure 14. Changes in storms in Lund and Stockholm, Sweden. Increasing values shows increasing storms.

About this graph, the authors say:

(1) There is no significant overall long-term trend common to all indices in cyclone activity in the North Atlantic and European region since the Dalton minimum.

(2) The marked positive trend beginning around 1960 ended in the mid-1990s and has since then reversed. This positive trend was more an effect of a 20th century minimum in cyclone activity around 1960, rather than extraordinary high values in 1990s. Both the 1960s minimum and the 1990s maximum were within the long-term variability.

(3) Because the period between the 1960s minima and the 1990s maxima spans a substantial part of the period covered by most reanalysis datasets, any analysis relying solely on such data is likely to find trends in cyclone activity and related measures.

Can’t be much clearer than that. There’s no change in North Atlantic storminess.

[UPDATE 12] More on rainfall, this time extreme rainfall and floods. I took the data from Trend detection in river flow series: 1. Annual maximum flow, and used it to compare record river flows by decade. Here are those results:

Figure 15. Maximum River Flow Index for US, European, and Australian rivers.

The math on this one was more complex than the record state temperatures. The river records are of different lengths, and they don’t span the same time periods. Of course, this affects the odds of getting a record in a given year.

For example, if a river record is say only ten years long, the random chance of any year being the maximum is one in ten. For the longest record in the dataset above, it is one in 176. In addition, the number of river records available in any year varies. To adjust for these differences, I took the odds of the record not being set in that particular year for each stream. This is (1 – 1/record length). I multiplied together all of those (1-1/len) odds for all the records available in that year to give me an overall odds of that year not being a record.

Finally, I took the average of those overall odds for the decade, and multiplied it by the actual count of records in that year. This gave me the maximum river flow index shown above. If there were lots of short records in a given decade, we’d be more likely to get a record by chance, so the record count in that decade is accordingly reduced. On the other hand, if there were only a few long records in that decade, there’s not much chance of a record being set randomly in that decade, so the count would be reduced less.

As you can see, there is no sign of a recent increase in the adjusted number of records. Or as the authors of the study say:

The analysis of annual maximum flows does not support the hypothesis of ubiquitous growth of high flows. Although 27 cases of strong, statistically significant increase were identified by the Mann-Kendall test, there are 31 decreases as well, and most (137) time series do not show any significant changes (at the 10% level).

Once again, we see no sign of the changes in climate predicted by the UN IPCC. What were the changes they predicted?

Figure 16. Observed and Projected Changes from the UN IPCC Third Assessment Report.

As you can see above, there is no increase in extreme drought, precipitation, extreme high temperatures, or cyclone events.

[UPDATE 13] Oh, yeah, a pet peeve of mine. You know how they always say “Yeah, but nine out of the last ten years have been among the ten warmest years of the record”, as though that proved that the last ten years was an unusual, anomalous time?

The trouble with this argument is that in a time of rising temperatures, that is often true. The temperature is rising, so where would you expect the warmest years to be?

How often is it true? Thanks for asking, here’s the data from the GISS temperature record .

Figure 16. Number of “Top Ten” years in the GISS global temperature record up to that point that occurred in the ten years previous to a given year.

So yes, nine of the last ten years were in the top ten years in the record … but that was true three times in the 1940’s. So once again, there is nothing unusual about the recent warming.

[Edited to Add] I got to thinking about the IPCC WG1 report, which is the science report. People always claim that it contains nothing but science, and none of it has been overthrown. So I pulled up the Summary for Policymakers. Under the second section, called “Direct Observations of Climate Change”, the very first item says (emphasis mine):

Eleven of the last twelve years (1995–2006) rank among the 12 warmest years in the instrumental record of global surface temperature9 (since 1850). The updated 100-year linear trend (1906 to 2005) of 0.74°C [0.56°C to 0.92°C] is therefore larger than the corresponding trend for 1901 to 2000 given in the TAR of 0.6°C [0.4°C to 0.8°C].

Since the claim was slightly different than the one I analyzed above, I went back and looked at the top twelve. Here they are:

Figure 17. Number of “Top Twelve” years in the GISS global temperature record up to that point that occurred in the twelve years previous to a given year.

Once again, nothing unusual … yes, the earth has been warming, but not in any unusual or anomalous way.

Next, there is no “therefore” in the comparison of the trends. The mere fact that a number of the warmest years were in the last 12 does not guarantee an increase in the trend. If the post 2000 trend continued to increase regularly and very slightly, there would always be 12 of the warmest years in the last 12 … but the 100 year trend would steadily decrease.

[UPDATE 14] The predicted acceleration of sea level rise is one of the favorites of those who want to scare people about CO2. Since 1992, sea level has been measured by satellite. Here is the record of sea level rise over that period:

Figure 18. TOPEX satellite sea level data. The satellite measures the sea level rise using radar. DATA SOURCE

As you can see, rather than accelerating, sea level rise has been slowing down for the past few years. Another inconvenient truth …

[UPDATE 15] Extreme weather events are a perennial favorite among the forecast ills from purported climate change. I found good data on the maximum three day rainfall totals for eight areas on the US Pacific Coast. The areas are Western Washington, Northwest Oregon, Southwest Oregon, Northwest California, North Central California, West Central California, Southwest California, and Southern California. For each record, I ranked the results, and averaged them across the 8 records. This gave me a ranking index showing which years had the most extreme events over the entire region. Fig. 19 shows the results, with larger numbers showing higher ranked years (those with more extreme rainfall events).

Figure 19. Extreme rainfall events, averaged over eight US Pacific Coast climate zones DATA SOURCE

As you can see, there is nothing unusual in the data. The number of extreme events hasn’t changed much over the period, and there is no long-term trend.

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Thanks Willis.
I did what you did last year, with the same result.
It has been very difficult to get that information out.
I’m very glad you did.


Nice way to put it.
Of course, there are peer reviewed papers to the contrary, that the current warming isanomalous, and needs explaining. But the statistics (used in them) are questionable, and there are other papers to the contrary. Which brings us back to where you are.

Clear and to the point. Even the most moronic politician, like Ed Milliband, should be able to grasp what Willis has laid out above.

A C Osborn

Thank you for such a simple clear description of this NON PROBLEM they have wasted billions of dollars on, which they are trying to use to Tax the developed countries for more Billions (or maybe Trillions) of dollars.


Willis. William of Occam would no doubt agree with you. It’s the simplest of all explanations, that there is nothing there to explain, at least as regards CO2.
That will be shocking to many. But what a treat it is to see the whole thing unravel, albeit in slow motion.

Cold Englishman


Cold Englishman

As an old Land Surveyor I should have said “Precisely”.

Al Gore's Holy Hologram

In ancient times the Sumerians and Babylonians came up with the flood myth to scare the population from ‘making too much noise which angered the gods’. It was the theocratic way to deal with population growth. But it didn’t work, population size kept growing and innovation helped deal with increased demand for food, housing and fuel.
The ancient Hindus, Turks and Egyptians deified cows to prevent their slaughter as the milk was very important to a population who could not afford a meat diet and to a farming culture who did not know how to deal with increased demand for meat. Here theocracy instead of reason helped out again.
And that’s the way politicians work. Instead of giving us honest rational conversation, even in a so-called age of reason and enlightenment, they churn out the same kind of lies that theocracies did for centuries. Instead of saying we need to build a modern infrastructure and renewable energy to deal with the energy security problem, they fed us Biblical styled horror stories about the world drowning or burning if consumers don’t atone for their sins and abandon certain freedoms. Gaia will turn her anger upon us if we do not heed the wisdom of her modern Noah-styled prophet (Al Gore).
We’re having these heated debates, mud-slinging, name calling, fights, fanatics trying to use science to advance their political ambitions, etc. And all because the energy security issue has been transformed via AGW theory into a moral and spiritual issue because the powers that be decided to frame it as a religious issue, which brings out a lot of heated emotions and conflicts which achieve nothing for the majority and allow a minority to profit.
Get rid of this AGW nonsense. Admit that its time is up. Reframe it as an energy security issue that the whole world should take part in. Introduce global personal carbon trading between very rich individuals and very poor individuals with everyone else in between free from the trade, so that the poor may decide as individuals to live low carbon lives while earning an income from the rich who benefit. We can scrap most of the welfare system this way, streamline it and make it more efficient.

Michael Lewis

Brilliant! Willis, you have an incredible talent for explaining complex, or in this case, really straightforward, (except for those whose eyes and ears are sealed shut), issues, in clear plain terms. This little essay should be on the front page of all of the dailies. You make it obvious that we have a case of “if it aint broke, why fix it!”

Are we to conclude from this that even anthropogenic global urban heat island climate change has not been scientifically proven? I’ll bet that Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and even the Great Pumpkin aren’t real either. My beliefs lie shattered at my feet!

dave ward

That’s one of the best explanations I have seen, since the whole CRU business was exposed.
Thankyou, Willis.


The article would be fine if the fundamental question AGW proponents were asking was the cause of recent warming. Actually that is not what most of the AGW people are arguing. Their question is not “what has caused the recent warming” but “will pumping billions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere cause future warming”.
That is a legitimate line of study – as yet with an inconclusive set of answers. I think the IPCC made a big mistake, and spoiled their argument badly, by trying to link the most recent period of warming to AGW.


The other reason we shouldn’t be wasting those billions $ is much more obvious, it won’t make a scrap of difference.
The International energy Agency ( IEA ) has warned OECD countries that even if they reduced their GHG’s to zero by 2030 they will not stabilize co2 levels in the atmosphere at 450ppm.
Why, because by 2030 non OECD countries will be producing more than 25 billion tonnes of ghg’s while OECD countries will be producing less than 15 billion tonnes.
Martin Ferguson Minister for resources and energy ( Australia) states that in the next 10 years China alone will bring online about 1000 average sized coal fired power stations, equivalent to 34 times Australia’s coal burning generation capacity. ( July 2009)
So even if you believe the AGW nonsense it’s still a complete waste of time and money, Lomborg got it right we should be spending our resources on adaptation, whether we are battling natural climate change or whatever.

Thanks for this. Nothing has really changed. True. When I see trends of only 0.25 to 0.5 degree per century I always get suspicious. I mean how accurate was our equipment 100 years ago? If there is some warming due to humans it is probably due to AHF and not AGW. I mean for example, how much cooling water is used (to produce water vapor) for nuclear energy? Water vapor is a stronger greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
I have proven for myself that the increase noted in carbon dioxide is nothing to be afraid of, it is just a scam. There is a whole industry now based on this lie and even our pension money is invested here. If you want to probe the issue, just ask the so-called experts this question::
I will agree that CO2 traps heat (from earthshine 24hours per day) because of the absorption of CO2 in the 14-15um wavelength. I say, good, fine I believe you. But likewise there must be cooling because of various absorptions of CO2 in the range from 0-5 um (from sunshine 12 hours per day)! This cooling must logically take place everywhere where there is CO2 and where sunlight hits on the molecule regardless of height or pressure.. It is even so apparent that this happens that this radiation can be measured as it reflects back from the moon. So my question is: exactly how much cooling and how much warming is caused by the carbon dioxide?
So far no one has been able to show me the balance sheet i.e. exactly how much cooling and how much heating is caused by CO2.
What I have found is that I cannot find this research because it seems to me that such an simple observation of mine (ie. that CO2 also must cause cooling) has never been taken into account. Where the IPCC got its values from (for “forcings”) is a mystery to me but it is appears not to be based on actual measurements (research) that would produce a formula of some sorts. I think they were all just weighted values.


I have used the same line of reasoning to hit otherwise sensible skeptical, pro-science people over the head with, to no avail.
Take, for instance, raw-US surface temperature data, and juxtapose it with UAH satellite data, and there is about the same rate of temperature rise: about 1C degree per century.
In the US, “Bill Nye the science guy” was heard to proclaim on MSNBC that of course recent epic snow storms blanketing the 120 millions in the Northeast are because of global warming! Why? Because added energy (from ACO2) HAS to go somewhere~
NEVERMIND that humidity levels over decades are actually declining, and that new record high temperatures in the US (by state) are absent.
Once in the grip of a theory, normally sensible and scientific people are incredibly averse to assessing a widely-accepted belief. One is reminded of the famous Stanley Milgram experiments of the 1960s.
In these, it was shown that people would inflict killing levels of pain on an innocent “test subject” merely on a scientists say so – shades of the Final Solution!
My only solution is the stern infliction of repeated doses to Popperian skepticism! Take the mindless and brainwashed and put reality testing into them.

John F. Pittman

Excellent post Willis. The only addition I would make is the infamous graph that Dr. Pachauri used. I would contrast the limted data long term of your graphs with the more universal data but short termed of his graph. The comparison would be the antimethodological approach of Dr. Pachuri using trends of decreasing length until using lengths less than 30 years conflicting with the very institution that he heads. Such grandstanding deserves more contempt that the climategate scientists. One can correct the science with publishing the correction. How does one address such antimethodological approachs by the very person in charge of making sure the methodology is correct?

Old Goat

Very well put, and I for one, understand. So do many others.
Why, then, have supposedly intelligent politicians the world over seized upon the (according to them, indisputable) proposition that the world is warming, and that it’s our fault?
How come they are so gullible? Well, I think we all know the answer to that one – they’;re not, but they DO recognise an opportunity to exert greater control on the populace, frighten them half to death, and relieve them of their cash at the same time.
The most surprising thing is that, having been caught with their hands in the till, they continue to bluster their innocence, and continue with their preposterous dogma.
How do we shake this ideology? How many are involved, and how deep does it go? We know that the UK Labour party are fully on board, and refer to sceptics as “flat-earthers”, “deniers” or even “liars”. We also know that the mainstream press have a fear of fronting for sceptic science, as do the BBC who are merely the Pravda of the British government. It obviously goes far deeper than most of us are aware, and names of organisations such as “Bilderberg”, “Frankfurt School”, “Club of Rome” and the “Fabian Society” seem to appear regularly.
If this is some deep-seated, worldwide plan to change our lives, what can we possibly do to oppose it? Who can we trust? We can see that Investigation Groups, Think-Tanks, and similar organisations consist of members who have their own agendas borne of the common cause – how can we EVER achieve an independent enquiry into this sinister movement, when almost everyone seems to be part of it? It’s like a bad dream – we can’t rust anybody. They have true sceptic scientists by the short and curlies, in that they dare not raise their heads above the parapet for fear of losing credence, funding, posts or all three. It’s an insidious cancer. Is there a cure?


We cannot know the answer to the anthropogenic effect without precise knowledge of our climate’s sensitivity to carbon dioxide. And this, of course, is a difficult bit of knowledge to acquire. We cannot make sensible and safe policy prescriptions without it, however, and all efforts should be bent toward its acquisition. Everything else is just blowing in the wind.


‘The more things change the they stay the same’ – I’ve just read an account of a parish priest in south west Scotland writing in the early years of the 19th century – ” Frost and snow have been of such rare occurence, and of such short continuance, that the children in Whithorn run the risk of becoming as incredulous of the effect of cold on water as the Emperor of China”

Carbon Dioxide

I live less than ten miles from the Armagh Observatory and can confirm that it has been rather parky of late.
Brass monkeys have observed singing soprano.
(Thats “monkeys” please note, not “The Monkees”, the four piece, pop combo of the late 1960s, Davy Jones et al)

THERE IS NO ANOMALY. IPCC AR4, Ch 3 quotes a warming over the last century of 0.6 C and a standard deviation of 0.25 C. The 0.6 C warming is within +/- 3 standard deviations, or +/- 0.75 C. The warming is not significant; it falls within natural variation. THERE IS NO ANOMALY by IPCC’s own numbers.


So here’s the test…
Can the models (which require CO2 increase to match current trend) replicate any of the earlier warming periods without invoking a CO2 increase? Perhaps one of the modellers out there can demonstrate this for us and then release the code and data for scrutiny?

Allan M

Jabba the Cat (04:09:45) :
Even the most moronic politician, like Ed Milliband, should be able to grasp what Willis has laid out above.
What! Flash Gordon and his pete Milipede! Surely you are mistaken.

Scott in Minnesota

Thank you for this explanation, Mr. Eschenbach. It is simple and elegant. Not to mention convincing. Quoting a major proponent of climate change and global warming to make the point is very helpful. I doubt it will satisfy the majority of believers, but it will help me explain my point of view, and I appreciate it.

@ TLM (04:28:52) :
“Their question is not “what has caused the recent warming” but “will pumping billions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere cause future warming”.”
The historical record shows no major increases in temperature with increasing output of CO2 into the atmosphere, which suggests that the influence of CO2 is considerably less significant than has been made out. It is therefore fair to say that in the near future it is unlikely to be a significant factor.
I hope that with recent events and the rise of questioning voices in the scientific community that we will soon see other more sensible theories advanced for the operation of the mechanisms of climate change on this planet which have a greater foundation in reality.


Thanks, Willis, for pointing this out.
It’s a good thing we can quote Phil Jones now for agreeing with one of the key skeptical positions.

Allan M

Allan M (05:02:50) :
Sorry. Flash Gordon and his pet Milipede.


“Al Gore’s Holy Hologram (04:21:07) :
Introduce global personal carbon trading between very rich individuals and very poor individuals with everyone else in between free from the trade, so that the poor may decide as individuals to live low carbon lives while earning an income from the rich who benefit”
I strongly object. Political price-fixing is price-fixing, market distortion is market distortion, no matter how you put it. Using tax payer money to subsidize needed developments – like developing better solar power, better energy storage – is ok, but distorting the entire economy by INSTALLING wind power and solar power while they are still marvelously impractical is complete madness and leads to trillions wasted and misspent. With that kind of money you could develop fusion power – whether tokomak based, laser based, fusor based or cold fusion based – a 100 times over. Carbon markets are artificial and only good for all kinds of crookery.


Strange that the graph here of the Central England Temperature record does not much resemble the data as shown here, by the people who produce the record.
Strange too that you plot a 25 year “trailing trend”, the physical meaning of which is not obvious – as you can see by the fact that it does not show your claimed rise from 1680 to 1740. If you were to take 25 year moving averages, or smooth using a filter with a 25 year window, you’d get something that looks very much like this.
Perhaps it’s better, though, not to smooth, not to filter, not to over- or under-interpret. Let’s just look at the ten hottest years in the CET. Here they are, in reverse order: 2007, 1989, 2003, 1995, 1997, 2002, 1949, 1990, 1999, 2006.
Anything about those years strike you as unusual? Nothing that makes you curious enough to seek an explanation?
“Since these warming periods were before the modern rise in CO2, greenhouse gases cannot have been responsible for those rises.”
This statement is very bizarre. Don’t you know when CO2 concentrations actually began to rise? Please read this, and revise your statement as necessary.


This is EXACTLY the question I (and thousands of other Joe Sixpacks like me) have been asking for years…from the very beginning. We have never gotten a reasonable answer. If there is nothing unusual going on, then what is all the fuss about? Or if we have been warmer in the past, then why is only modern warming “man made?” They have no answers for these most basic questions. It is good to see a scientist publicly asking as well.
We have been taught man is “bad” our whole lives in our schools. It is the mantra of the Left. Man must be controlled and throttled back. The entire AGW cult has more to do with that mindset than actual temperature observations.
But they cross the line when they try to tax us for this nonsense. And when they start taking away freedoms and economic opportunity (or economic sustainability) based on “carbon output”, it gets downright personal. Joe Sixpack is waking up to all kinds of nonsense…because he is not getting any answers to very basic questions like the one you have presented.

Thank you Willis. As ever, spot on.
In fact it was your description of your attempts to obtain information from the CRU that first got me interested in the whole AGW issue.
Then – like, I am sure, most other reasonably intelligent and genunely interested ‘ordinary’ people – I quickly became really angy with the degree of arrogance, rudeness, character assassination and general stupidity that even my most mild (and often self-deprecatory) enquiry would spark off in response.
I didn’t like it personally, but the positive upside of such behavior is that it can actually mobilize us ‘masses’ … we get indignant, we get upset and pissed off, and we are roused to start asking questions and digging deeper for answers.
And – only a very short time later – here we all are with the most salient question of all, the subject of your piece.
So thanks again.


If you take out UHI, manipulation, hiding data, hiding declines, cherry picking (Yamal), hockey stick illusions, data torture then the rise in temperatures over the last 35 odd years is utterly unremarkable and can be explained by natural variability.

Veronica (England)

That depends whether you think that trends of 0.25 C per century or 0.57 per century are significant, either statistically or practically. To close the loop, your article might imply that those rises are due to sunspots and so on, and show how we are climbing out of the last little ice age.
I suppose a deeper lesson to take is that individual data sets seem unremarkable, but the combined, averaged, adjusted and homogenised “global” temperature set is alarming. Maybe, as you have addressed many times on this webiste, that says less about the data, and more about the data processing.

Peter, Austria

It remains to be seen whether politicians like Ed Miliband (as Jabba the Cat hopes) are willing to grasp the undeniable logic Willis Eschenbach displays here, uprooting for good the withering tree of AGW lies and deception. European pols, having hitched their fates to the CO2 racket for decades, are stubbornly reluctant to face the truth.
And their clandestine schemes of using the AGW jihad to establish some kind of Orwellian world governance, getting rid of democracy, are still being pursued: just watch the heinous and absurd regulations the EU keeps imposing on us.

Veronica (England)

Holy Hologram
There’s truth in what you say and there is a quote from Al Gore somewhere that confirms it… Human beings need something to believe in and unite behind. Religion did that for us for thousands of years. In the 20th century it tended to be political ideology. Now there is a basic human need to espouse a cause, and if religion and politics no longer wash with the educated and sophisticated masses, let environmentalism take their place.
I don’t think one needs to postulate a conspiracy. It is a natural instinct in people to have something to believe in, and politicians probably believed what they were hearing from climate scientists too, in the absence of any official contrary opinion. But no doubt politicians can make use of that instinct when it suits them.

The ghost of Big Jim Cooley

Many thanks Willis. I myself use the CET to show that there simply is no significant warming to explain. It’s good to see it laid out in a different way. Anyone can look at the full data here Since the mid 1990s we have been hitting 10+ deg c (average England yearly temp). However, just like global, the temps don’t seem to be rising, but flattening. Unfortunately, with such a long record the Met Office often use it to say “warmest ever” or whatever. A running 10-year average is much more indicative, but the Met Office won’t use it for the obvious reason that it shows cooling since 2008.

Bruce Cobb

TLM (04:28:52) :
The article would be fine if the fundamental question AGW proponents were asking was the cause of recent warming. Actually that is not what most of the AGW people are arguing. Their question is not “what has caused the recent warming” but “will pumping billions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere cause future warming”.
That is a legitimate line of study – as yet with an inconclusive set of answers. I think the IPCC made a big mistake, and spoiled their argument badly, by trying to link the most recent period of warming to AGW.

Actually, the AGW argument changes, chameleon-like as it continually strives to adapt to the fact that the truth has a way of coming out eventually, despite their best efforts to squelch it. In any case, the argument that the rise in atmospheric C02 over the past century or so has been in any way responsible for the unremarkable rise in temperature has not been proven, let alone man’s measely 3% contribution, so the idea that it might cause future warming is just silly, and further study of this non-problem wasting $billions more idiotic.
The IPCC didn’t make a mistake; they were a mistake.


From the start, if considered a Y axis in degrees, any movement up and down was a Nano-anomaly, impossible to feel by anybody.
But, “In other words, we have spent billions of dollars and wasted years of work chasing a chimera, a will-of-the-wisp. This is why none of the CO2 explanations have held water … simply because there is nothing unusual to explain!”
So, there were “casualties” but it was not my faultmy “friendly fire” was with good intentions, . How easy!, after the majority of goals intended by the scamers have been already reached, as for example the status of “dangerous substance” for an essential for organic life gas as CO2.
Who is going to revert all wrong changes in legislation all over the world?
Who´s gonna take out of the minds of such a lot of innocent and naive people who swallowed the whole lie from toes to head?
What about all those enviromental secretaries or ministeries created all over the world with the purpose of spoiling businesses and destroying employment giving industries, by making impossible their existence?
Will politicians and the ones who have profitted with the scam, change laws or pay the money back?


Really stupid question. the black line is the 25 year trailing trend, in degrees per century, referring to the left hand Y axis.
that now shows warming at 5c per century (as it has before, both up and down).
Is that really right, that the CET temperature is so volatile that it can show trends of that magnitude?


What is the minimum trend that can be statistically proven for these datasets with this level of variance?
To me, they both look like random walks, rather than the outcome of ‘forcing’ changes.

Richard Telford

Those who would claim that this blog is antiscience need look no further than this post, such is the absurdly narrow scope of scientific enquiry posited here. Absence of references to philosophers of science to support the position developed here further displays contempt of learning.
If the rising of the sun were of no scientific concern, why did Western philosophic thought not contend to meerly let it rise, rather than spending millennia trying to understand it.
Has science no role in making predictions? If its remit is restricted to explaining anomalies and unexpected occurences, then predictions must be left to tarot card readers.


I don’t buy the argument made in this post.
The grounds for thinking that rising CO2 will, overall, lead to higher average surface temperatures are well estabished. See, e.g. Jeff Id’s treatments of the subject at “the Air Vent.”
“What is the sensitivity of climate to CO2?” “What are the delays before CO2’s effects are manifested?” These are important issues.
In recent time, say 1900 to 2010, temperatures have gone down at location X, stayed more or less the same at location Y, and risen at location Z. So stipulated.
Composite global records paint a picture of significant overall rises in average temperature. Unfortunately–as all here know–the quality of the data in these records is variable and in some cases poor. The quality of the metadata is worse.
Once the data are cleaned up and properly analyzed, what will the trend of the past centrury or so look like? My guess is that an unusual trend of rising temperature will remain–a slightly less steep version of what AGW Consensus advocates currently display.
At Lucia’s Blackboard, there’s a current thread for discussing how recordkeeping, archiving, sharing, and analysis can be improved.
Such projects are likely to be expensive in dollar amounts, though trivial as a percentage of GDP. Such money would be well-spent.
The notions that there are no causes for concern or investigation are unwarranted, in my opinion.

stephen richards

TLM (04:28:52) :
We only learn about the future by understanding the past. If the past has been distorted either by politicians or by some other method of distortion then we cannot know anything about the future. Alas, also, we can only ever make reasonable predictions about perfectly linear systems. They do not exist in the natural world. The reason that most ‘skeptics’ get so annoyed is not because we think that global warming does not exist, but that we do not know what the significance of that warming might be. Willis’ analysis and that of SteveMc, Ross Mc etc, demonstrate that historically the current trend of warming is not significant in human historical time but it may be in geological time or it may not be. Because of the shenanigans of Mann, Hansen, Briffa, Amman and so on, and so on, we have lost the last 20 years worth of knowledge and opportunity to better understand what we should have done and to have done it within our current economic budget.
These people and their supporters have ruined 20 years worth of research!!
Poor old Lamb, god rest his soul, wasted the best period of his career by having these idiots throw it away.

stephen richards

The ghost of Big Jim Cooley
The MetOff have also pumped up the numbers in recent years with the rest of the greenpeace publicists.

stephen richards

As to the significance of 0.7°C. The month of Jan2010 had an anomoly by satelite measurement of 0.7°C. How do you all feel? Still alive? The world ended?

“I don’t think one needs to postulate a conspiracy. It is a natural instinct in people to have something to believe in, and politicians probably believed what they were hearing from climate scientists too, in the absence of any official contrary opinion. But no doubt politicians can make use of that instinct when it suits them”.
I am a (semi-retired) chemist and I decided for myself to determine whether or not carbon dioxide (CO2) and our carbon footprint is really to blame for climate change as claimed. I did this because I felt a bit guilty after watching Al Gore’s movie. But I could not find anything definitive that would prove to me that CO2 is to blame. In fact, I found that there is untruth in Al Gore’s story. A lot of CO2 is dissolved in cold water and comes out if the oceans get warmer. Cause and effect, get it? Smoking causes cancer but cancer does not cause smoking. But Al made it look from the past that our CO2 output must be the problem.
One would think that a person Al Gore’s caliber must have known that they were busy telling us an untruth or if he did not know then he must have realised by now. My question is;why does he not come out in the open and admit his mistake?
To err is human….

John Peter

Just as we thought that the battle against unprecedented AGW may now possibly be won or become a stalemate this appears in The Telegraph
“Do we want to ignore climate change and risk losing all this?
There is a growing conviction that the cost of ignoring climate change will be far greater than of tackling it now, writes Geoffrey Lean.”
“Guess who just produced this pronouncement on how humanity is heating up the planet? “The basic science of the greenhouse effect is sound (ie more anthropogenic CO2 means more warming).”
Dr Rajendra Pachauri, the increasingly embattled chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)? Nope. Professor Phil Jones, under cross-examination from the inquiries into the notorious emails from his Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia? Try again. Ed Miliband, the increasingly vocal Energy and Climate Change Secretary? Not even close.
Give up? It was none other than Dr Benny Peiser, the leading climate sceptic and director of Lord Lawson’s Global Warming Policy Foundation.
If you’re surprised, you shouldn’t be. For Lawson himself has said much the same, telling a parliamentary committee a couple of years ago that it was “fairly clear” that “man-made emissions, largely carbon dioxide, have almost certainly played a considerable part” in the warming of the globe.”
So as Dr. Jones is (partially at least) moving in one direction it is alleged that arch sceptics are moving the other way. You could not make it up. Life is stranger than fiction. And that in the Telegraph as James Delingpole is elsewhere declaring that the CRU independent enquiry team is anything but independent in its constitution:


Climate models are man made artefacts! So because temperature behaviour cannot be replicated by a man made artefact – then is cause must be man made?


rw @ 5:21. Sure the years at the end of a rising trend will be the hottest. Your point? And Phil Jones has just admitted rates of temperature rise significantly similar to the ’75-’98 rise three other times in the last century and a half. Where is the anthropogenic signature?


This…after profitting himself with more than 23 million pounds. How nice!