Another excuse for 'the pause' – it's 'not so unusual'

New Lovejoy paper says the ‘pause’ is ‘not so unusual’ & ‘no more than natural variability’

Shaun Lovejoy has published a new paper which cites his prior claim of 99.9% confidence that one of the two temperature graphs below is your fault, and the other due to natural variability.

Paul Homewood  puts the claim to the test below.

Both graphs are half-century plots of HADCRUT4 global temperatures. Both use exactly the same time and temperature scales.  Can you tell with 99.9% confidence which one is 1895-1945 (Nature’s fault), and which is 1963-2013 (Your fault)?

 TIME –>
(graphs from Paul Homewood)

FYI according to Lovejoy’s claims, the top graph (1963-2013) is man-made, the bottom graph is due to natural variability.

In Lovejoy’s new paper, he acknowledges a ‘pause’ in global warming since 1998, says it’s “not so unusual” and concludes “the pause is no more than natural variability.” Indeed, the pause is due to natural variability that has not been accounted for by climate models, and thus invalidates attribution claims that the past 50 years of temperature variations are necessarily due to man-made CO2. Furthermore, prior work by NOAA and others has found ‘pauses’ of 15 or more years are indeed unusual and would suggest the climate models are overly sensitive to CO2. According to RSS satellite data, the ‘pause’ has lasted almost 18 years.

The Paper:

Return periods of global climate fluctuations and the pause

S. Lovejoy


An approach complementary to General Circulation Models (GCM’s), using the anthropogenic CO2 radiative forcing as a linear surrogate for all anthropogenic forcings [Lovejoy, 2014], was recently developed for quantifying human impacts. Using pre-industrial multiproxy series and scaling arguments, the probabilities of natural fluctuations at time lags up to 125 years were determined.

The hypothesis that the industrial epoch warming was a giant natural fluctuation was rejected with 99.9% confidence. In this paper, this method is extended to the determination of event return times. Over the period 1880-2013, the largest 32 year event is expected to be 0.47 K, effectively explaining the postwar cooling (amplitude 0.42 – 0.47 K). Similarly, the “pause” since 1998 (0.28 – 0.37 K) has a return period of 20-50 years (not so unusual). It is nearly cancelled by the pre-pause warming event (1992-1998, return period 30-40 years); the pause is no more than natural variability.



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Wait a second, I thought we were the ones pointing to natural variability? It seems like all the points the skeptics have been making for the last 10 years are now being trotted out to explain the pause…When do we get our apology? (For that matter, I’ve been waiting for my “big oil” check for a long time. When do we get that?)

Bill P.

Shouldn’t they maybe “pause” in their quest for more of my money confiscated through taxation, at least until they get their models sorted out?
Oh, but that’s the thing about having government do the confiscating, isn’t it? Your excuses can be pretty flimsy. Or nonexistent.


Ha ha ha ha ha. Tee hee

Daniel G.

The IPCC suggests -0.1 to +0.1 of natural variability on the attribution chapter of the AR5. Saying the pause exists out of natural variability is a cop-out.

I wonder how they account for better recording equipment and automatic recording since the seventies?


The science was settled.
Natural variability was ruled out, but now it’s back in.
It wasn’t the sun, but maybe now it could be.
Sea ice was melting, melting I tell you. Now it’s at a satellite-era record.
It was CO2, but now it’s probably CO2 but could also be stadium waves, stronger winds, softer winds, dodgy satellite data, coincidence! Whatever.
The heat was over-powering, now it’s missing and probably hiding at the bottom of the ocean.
The models were fine, now they’re um, er, er…..
Not looking so great for this ‘settled’ science, is it?


Pretty much everything else in climate change dogma is “unprecedented”. But The Pause is nothing special

John G.

If we get to choose I say it’s a man-made pause and I declare victory over climate change.

Let’s see now. The warming period was 100% man made.” This non-warming period is 100%
natural variability. I wonder how he can tell which is which?


The obvious question:
If the pause since 1998 is caused by natural variability, how much of the preceeding rise was caused by natural variablity?


Sounds like climate science is more variable than the weather….just wait a few days and we will have a new system. I think if skeptics just stand still, climate scientist’s Political Decadal Oscillation will come around to our view.


It is all because of Al Gore. Every damn place he goes, it gets so damn cold. It’s bloody freezing here right now. Can Al Gore please stop jetting around and just let the planet warm up?

David Ball

Nostradumbass school of retro-diction.


Obama and his EPA know that answer and we must be regulated according to their beliefs! Even the Supreme court has sided with this fools tax. We are the fools and they are taxing us. There will be no pause to the regulation and taxes.

… the ‘pause’ is ‘not so unusual’ & ‘no more than natural variability’
I agree 100% with this. The ups and downs of climate since the Little Ice Age (and yes, there was one “Dr.” Mann) have all been natural variability. The impact of man’s activities (as verse Mann’s activities) have had vanishingly small and negligible impact on climate.
Can we declare victory in the debate now? They are saying that climate and weather are natural phenomenons. Can we not all agree with them on that?

Of course pauses have happened in the past. And yes, they were due to NV. And they are happening now. So his reasoning is they are also due to NV? Which would indicate that so is the warming (absent any disproof of the null hypothesis).
His problem is that none of the models model the pause! Back to the drawing board for him!
As for the 2 graphs, it is easy to tell which one is the “man-made” one. It is the one with a pause at the end (the 1900-45 does not have one).


the bottom one seems to have a pause at the beginning…
…the top one at the beginning and end
but none of that really matters anyway…..temperature history is a guess at best….and all temperature reconstructions show ups and downs…when the overall trend is still down

Anthony P.

Cheshirered, you mentioned their line about heat trapped at the bottom of the ocean but you left out that they claimed it was being released with methane as the Arctic ice melts. Otherwise, you nailed it.
Don’t you just love this? The ‘pause’ is due to natural variability but the 20 year warming wasn’t and was all due to the scourge of the planet–man.

Bruce Cobb

Of course it’s “not so unusual”. No one said it was. But then, neither was the 20-year warming period from the late 70’s to late 90’s, supposedly manmade, “so unusual”.
What was and is so unusual about that warming period was all the fuss, hullaballoo, and hand-wringing about it.


The increase in SST was due to insolation, not any greenhouse gas effect. IR radiation cannot penetrate water. This increased insolation accounts for all of the late warming trend circa 1977-97. CO2 has never been shown and cannot be shown to be the cause of this late warming trend. The global warmers have only unsupported theory, but in fact this theory is a foundering hypothesis, refuted by empirical data- the temperature record of the last 17 years. Thus such papers as this which argue tenously and with faulty logic, which is the best that the global warmers can do.


Actually suppose the current “pause” is also attributed to human activity? See for example this image:×419.jpg
One can easily assert that the increase in particulate matter (soot) is leading to cooling — at least, if all you want to do is compare graphs.


“not so unusual”
Excellent . . . climatology as per Tom Jones. 😉

Robert of Ottawa

If the “pause” is natural variability, perhaps so is the “warming”.

Pamela Gray

Once again, to repeat what is now the best response ever:
The Roy Spencer Response: Well. DUH!

son of mulder

Nuff said

Richard M

The entire paper is a strawman. The most common skeptical position is not 100% natural variation. Hence, claiming this is rejected is meaningless. How do these silly papers make it past peer review?

JPC Lindstrom

There ARE pauses earlier on in the temperature record but they are usually following vulcanos and/or El NInos, We haven´t had any large vulcanos or strong El Ninos during the Hiatus period. It is something else or rather, there is nothing there and it never has been. (Not to induce a catastrophy anyway)

Robert Austin

99.9% confidence! Hey, why not just round it off to 100%?


Face it… remove all adjustments and there has never been any “global warming” at all.

john robertson

Is this Lovejoy for real?
If so an abject failure as a scientist.
Or is this another communication saboteur , who took his name from the Simpsons character , who has that immortal line; ” Won’t someone please think of the children”. Or the star of Shaun the Sheep?
As others have nailed, if it is natural variation now, because the Team ™ IPCC needs it to be, what suspended natural variation during the modern warming?
As the deliberate ignorance of history, the lying use of “unprecedented” and constant doomsaying are the mark of the charlatan, this Lovejoy, if real, exposes himself to an ungrateful world..


Isn’t “natural variability” just hand-waving about unknown climate effects that have always been at work. Weren’t we told that they hadn’t just identified but also quantified ALL climate forcings well enough to rule them out as the cause of warming?
If they understand all of the factors that determine global temperature then there’s no reason to invoke natural variability. If they don’t then there’s no reason to believe their attribution of late 20th century warming to humans.
“Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.” – Ayn Rand


Appogies in advance. I couldn’t stop my mouse 🙂


so if temps can pause due to natural variability, they can also go up and/or down for the same reason. so temps going up and/or down cannot be evidence of anything except natural variability, unless the shape of the two graphs above are very different. but they look statistically almost identical, with very similar variability.


Up to the time when we see crops being farmed in Greenland that require a more temperate climate then what was farmed there about 1000 years ago it will always be difficult for anyone to credibly claim that the current climate variability is anything but natural.
If this was to come to pass only then can the claim be made “we have never seen this before”, which really means “our records and information do not go back far enough to know if this has happened in the last 10,000 years”. AGW proponents seem to take the 1000 year odd climate cycles and impact around the Mediterranean for granted as minor variations but more dramatic evidence of cycles is ignored since it does not fit the AGW theory as it might make people THINK.
Let’s make the most of it while it lasts, if I understand it correctly it was no fun 300 odd years ago.
Historical temperature reconstructions will always remain open for debate, farming on Greenland is not.

Can you tell with 99.9% confidence which one is 1895-1945 (Nature’s fault), and which is 1963-2013 (Your fault)?
Not a valid question as neither is human caused ( my fault ).


“Can you tell with 99.9% confidence which one is …..”
Yeah, easy. The one that carries on rising is natural. the one that flattens off is due to ever rising CO2.
To be honest, I did have to look closely before I found the 98 El Nino.

Nigel in Waterloo

Temp goes up = CAGW is coming! Soon!
Temp doesn’t go up = meh, that’s just ‘temporary’ natural variability.

Berényi Péter

Both the pause and the previous warming are man made, obviously. I tell you how.
Twenty years ago nothing was easier than to adjust recent temperatures upward and old ones down, then repeat the procedure ad nauseam. However, it can’t be done any more on a large scale, because people are watching. That’s the inconvenient truth.
For example in 1977 Northern hemisphere temperature drop from 1938 to 1964 used to be 0.87°C (Fig. 2.5, at bottom of page). Since then this mid century cooling was reduced to 0.31°C (GISTEMP) or 0.28°C (HadCRUT4).
Bulk of this particular adjustment was made decades ago. Data were inconsistent with computational models and in cases like that true pseudoscientists rewrite measurements retrospectively instead of bothering with their model, because that’s the standard post normal procedure.
Unfortunately people are busy archiving their products lately, some even dare to compare recent datasets against older ones and, preposterous as it may be, ask questions.
Of course, it’s academic freedom which suffers greatly.
From HadCRUT3 to HadCRUT4 they were only able to reduce said cooling from 0.364°C to 0.28°C, so they are proceeding rather cautiously, nevertheless, it is still progress.
But it is even more difficult to play with the last 2 decades, so what we get is a man made pause, that is, one enforced by the vigilance of the skeptic blogosphere.


I presume that the data prior to any “adjustments” has been expunged from the records? Perhaps it’s worth someone taking a look – an FOI perhaps?


Ahhhh…. now I get it. CAGW causes natural variability. CO2, the Miracle Gas.

richard verney

Unless CO2 is saturated at around 385ppm, if CO2 leads to warming, it becomes increasingly more difficult for a pause to develop and be sustained with CO2 levels rising over and beyond 385 ppm.
In the summary, the earlier pauses that Lovejoy relies upon are not identified with dates and CO2 concentrations. The fact that there may have been a pause, in the past, when CO2 levels were lower (pre industrial levels said to be around 280ppm) does not strongly support Lovejoy’s argument. We are led to believe that there is quite a significant difference in forcing between CO2 at about 280 ppm and about 385 to 400 pppm (and rising). Don’t forget that many claim that even if we were to now cap CO2 levels at 400 ppm, temperatures would still rise due to the residency time of CO2 in the atmosphere (ie., much warming is allegedly already locked in).
The take home of this paper must be that climate sensitivity to CO2 is lower than natural variation, since this is the reason put forward for cancelling out what would otherwise have been CO2 driven warming.

richard verney

outtheback says:
June 25, 2014 at 10:49 am
Not only crops but also animal husbandry.
Keeping animals requires a lot of water, and animals can quickly die in harsh winter conditions. Only a couple of years ago in the UK, we had tens of thousands of live stock deaths due to the harsh winter conditions especially hill farming in Wales and the Scottish Highlands.
Given the primative technology available to the Vikings, winter conditions in Greenland must have been warmer than winter conditions seen now seen in the Highlands in Scotland or otherwise one or two harsh winters would have wiped out the Viking settlements.


I’m 99.9% sure the data doesn’t say anything is 99.9% sure.


As a litigator I often think in cross-examination terms. Some of you commenting above could have a future in the courtroom.

Willis Eschenbach

I’m so tired of the “natural variability” excuse.
The claim that it is “natural variability” is a pathetic attempt on the part of climate scientists to avoid saying “we don’t know the cause”. In fact, it totally avoids the idea of a cause for the “natural” variability at all.
This is important, because of course, according to the alarmists CO2 is the sole and only cause … so saying “we don’t know the cause” reminds folks that there are causes other than CO2, and not only that, but those causes are unknown … and the alarmists can’t have that.

Tim Hammond

Willis says:
“This is important, because of course, according to the alarmists CO2 is the sole and only cause … so saying “we don’t know the cause” reminds folks that there are causes other than CO2, and not only that, but those causes are unknown … and the alarmists can’t have that.”
The whole farrago rests on saying that we have ruled out all other causes, thus it must be CO2. That is a weak argument (and a fallacy) at best, but people buy it. If we now say there are things we don’t know about, then the argument totally falls apart.
Thus it is “natural variability” which hides the fact that it is “we don’t know.”

Arno Arrak

The explanation of the 17 year cessation lf warming is very simple: it is the consequence of the failure of the greenhouse theory of Arrhenius to operate in the real world. It so happens that warming has ceased while carbon dioxide has steadily increased for the last 17 years. During all these years the Arrhenius theory has been predicting warming but nothing ever happened. If your theory predicts warming and nothing happens for 17 years you know that this theory is no damn good. It belongs in the trash basket of history where it has a place right next to phlogiston, another failed theory of heat. The only greenhouse theory that can accurately explain the present pause-hiatus or whatchamacallit, cessation of warming, is the Miskolczi greenhouse theory (MGT). That is because it can handle the case where more than one greenhouse gas is simultaneously absorbing in the IR, something which Arrheinius cannot do. Carbon dioxide, the only gas Arrheinius can handle, is not even the most important greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. Water vapor is far more important and there is, on the average, 25 times more of it in the air than carbon dioxide . According to the MGT carbon dioxide and water vapor will jointly form an optimal absorption window in the IR which they control. Its optical thickness in the infrared is 1.87, calculated by Miskolczi from first principles. This corresponds to a transmittance of 15 percent or absorbance of 85 percent in the infrared. If you now add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere it will start to absorb, just as the Arrhenius theory tells us. But as soon as this happens, water vapor will start to diminish, rain out, and the original optical thickness is restored. As a result, no warming takes place despite an increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide that just took place. This is the situation we are in now – warming has ceased despite a constantly increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide content. This is just the way laws of nature control the absorption of radiation by gases. They have always done that and any reports of previous greenhouse warming are nothing more than misidentification of natural warming by eager-beaver “climate” scientists to prove the existence of their magical greenhouse warming. There is none. It follows that there can be no such thing as anthropogenic global warming. Belief in the existence of AGW is therefore an illusion, a pseudo-scientific fantasy of scientific illiterates.

Friends of Science have several billboards up in Alberta showing “Global Warming Stopped Naturally 16+ Years Ago”. See night-time photo of one version here:
Here is another version on the 42-foot superboard at Airdrie, Alberta:
Our home page features the billboard showing source information.

Doug Danhoff

They are all liars and when this scam is over should never be allowed to teach or work for any scientific organization. I suspect they will never be held accountable for the cost in human lives but a large L burned into their forehead would be acceptable.

Doug Danhoff says:
June 26, 2014 at 12:10 pm
They are all liars and when this scam is over should never be allowed to teach or work for any scientific organization. I suspect they will never be held accountable for the cost in human lives but a large L burned into their forehead would be acceptable.
And an obligatory hand bell, I think.
“Unclean, unclean”