@UCSUSA “Union of Concerned Scientists” doesn’t understand what “unprecedented” means when used with the word “warming”

Despite the name, UCS, is a political advocacy group, producing FUD while trolling for dollars. Here’s a great example with a h/t to Dr. Howard “Cork” Hayden.

Earth’s surface has undergone unprecedented warming over the last century, and especially in this century.

Every single year since 1977 has been warmer than the 20th century average, with 16 of the 17 warmest years on record occurring since 2001, and 2016 being the warmest year on recorded history. A study from 2016 found that without the emissions from burning coal and oil, there is very little likelihood that 13 out of the 15 warmest years on record would all have happened.

Source: https://www.ucsusa.org/global-warming/science-and-impacts/science/human-contribution-to-gw-faq.html

First a definition of the word “unprecedented”:

Note that “in this century” isn’t part of the definition. it says “never done or known before”

So in that spirit, here’s some other “unprecedented” warming in Earth’s history, via the Vostok Ice Core dataset:

The little red box highlights the temperature spike in the present that is attributed to “man-made warming”.

All of the other reddish spikes dwarf the current “unprecedented” temperature increase.

Perhaps UCS should rename themselves the “Union of Confused Scientists”.

Remember though, they’ll take anyone, even a dog. All you need is a valid credit card.


136 thoughts on “@UCSUSA “Union of Concerned Scientists” doesn’t understand what “unprecedented” means when used with the word “warming”

      • Not really, unprecedented is an absolute term. Inconceivable is a relative term that is more of an indictment of the lack of thought exercised by the speaker.
        Vizzini was merely mentioning that he had not considered the obvious to be conceivable, which makes him both ignorant and stupid.

        • Inconceivable: “not capable of being imagined or grasped mentally; unbelievable.”

          While every opinion is a reflection of the speaker (as it was with Vizzini, and the reason Inigo called him on it) the term is meant to be absolute. If something truly is “inconceivable,” it is incapable of being conceived, imagined, or grasped by anyone. The term is only relative when it is used improperly.

        • But we know only a great fool would use “unprecedented” without researching it. And we know Vizzini is not a great fool, in fact, we would have counted on it. So we can clearly not choose the wine in front of you…wait…what are we talking about again?


  1. The Union of Concerned Scientists is also anti-nuclear because of its “danger.” You know, the same “dangerous” technology that has provded the safest method of producing electricity over the past 70 years.

    • Supposedly, Life On Earth hangs in the balance, contingent on us lowering emissions. Nuclear power is a proven, large-scale technology with near-zero emissions, but let’s bet the farm on unproven technologies that might be a half century away from large scale commercial feasibility. (And by “bet the farm” I mean ALL the farms.)

      They cannot believe that CAGW is a serious risk if they’re not willing to support nuclear power to prevent it.

      • “Nuclear power is a proven, large-scale technology” Wait, then what lifestyle changes would that require to implement? Whoa, you can’t save the world without causing major grief for the inhabitants along the way. Think of the children.

        • Converting to nuclear power would not require rationing energy to control every aspect of human activity across the globe. How are we going to rebuild world socialism if we don’t have an impossible task that everybody has to be willing to sacrifice to complete? If you don’t have most people sacrificing, how are the elite rent-seekers and overlords going to live like kings?

      • “Supposedly, Life On Earth hangs in the balance, contingent on us lowering emissions”

        Hah!! If you listen to the likes of Figueres et al it’s nothing at all to do with lowering emissions, it’s all to do with going red: moving to the Left. (They tried it in Venezuela and that was a success – apart from the fact it was the wrong kind of socialism!!

      • Steve O ,
        You are absolutely right and these are of the same mindset as all the Greens and left leaning progressives .
        They simply have no idea how modern civilization has evolved and how the majority of 8 billion people are fed and are able to live comfortable lives because of cheap and plentiful available energy.
        Nuclear energy is the solution to reduce increasing CO2 emissions but they bury their heads in the sand .
        I am sure that they would be happy to cripple whole countries economies and force many people on low incomes into hardship when there is absolutely no need to pursue their crazy policies .

  2. The Union of Concerned Scientists is a poor second to the Peoples Democratic Republic of Korea, as one of the adjectives in the title might be accurate.

  3. Skeptics of basic science must be getting pretty desperate if they are resorting to criticizing which vocabulary words are used in press releases. So you guys really down to that, eh?

    A solid defense for say an accused criminal would consist of citing facts that prove him innocent. A desperate defense on the other hand would consist of exactly this sort of approach, nitpicks and personal attacks that try to distract attention from the larger picture.

    I’m not sure who this argument is supposed to impress except for the legions of people who discount climate models because they want to, for instance because they don’t match an ideology that they want to embrace (usually concerning the supposed — and unproven — benevolence of free markets).

    I’m sorry to inform you, but the greenhouse effect is Science 101, and recent warming trends are in line with commonly-accepted climate models that people like you have been criticizing for years. For that matter, we wouldn’t even know about the ice ages you cite in the first place if not for climate research. Important (though not perfect) research that we can use to help plan for the future. Research that skeptics are hell-bent on trying to stop, largely for selfish and emotional reasons rather than for rational or truthful reasons.

    • Proponents of global warming must be pretty incompetent if they can’t even get the terminology right.

      As for the Greenhouse effect being “science 101” As a stickler for getting things right, I’m sure you’ll be calling for Al Gore and Bill Nye to remove this video:


      And you still have not shown that the claim of 20th century warming being “unprecedented” is accurate. You’ve shown no citations, no data; just a smarmy opinion.

      • How I love when Anthony chimes in. You never fail to delight sir! Thanks again!

        Dan… your smug attitude reminds me of that SouthPark episode where all the SanFrancisco types were smelling their own toots. it was hilarious. There was a major smug storm rolling across the west. I wonder if they met you before they made that episode. They must have.

        • Honest liberty

          I hope you see the episode with the guy who buys a Prius to signal his virtue. It just so-o-o West Coast.

      • Anthony,
        The Union of crooked (communist, corrupt, etc.) published propaganda pieces on the likely impact of global warming on weather in various states and regions of the U.S. starting in the mid-1990s. I plan to study how well their prophecies turned out in Michigan after I retire in six weeks. It would be great if other readers on this site did the same for their state and region. We could publish a compilation to show how wrong the prophecies turned out.

    • “Remember though, they’ll take anyone, even a dog. All you need is a valid credit card.”
      I guess Dan has a valid Green Credit Card (made out of…Plastic) !!
      Sick em Kenji….woof…riiiiip….no more pants….Good boy Kenji !!

      Rant finished !! lol

    • I do love it when smart-alec Alarmists come on here to demonstrate their superiority!

      Who exactly accepts these climate models with no expertise?

      And who is trying to stop research? And how do you know other people’s motivations?

      So you blindly accept what you have been told without question, and believe everyone who disagrees is evil. Congratulations, you are a Medieval village priest.

      • Inconvenient facts are not accepted as such.
        And facts are not to be confused with “truths”, which in Leftyland can be anything you want them to be.

        • that is why collectivists and hedonists prefer moral relativism/relativism in general as opposed to moral absolutism/objective truth. They cannot, in their own minds, be tied down to any rigid consistency or worldview. Truth is what they make it. They are the petulant, spoiled child that despises rules. Therefore they must make their own…never recognizing the inherent destruction that immature spoilage manifests once they reach the age of maturity.

          This permits them to attempt to weasel out of any situation and claim justification for such on whatever nonsensical, inconsistent grounds they choose. They like to pretend that justification is anything other than a disgusting violation of right and moral action…but they know. The word itself implies an incorrect act, otherwise it wouldn’t exist.

          It is no wonder then why so many are selfish, egotistical, smug, arrogant, dismissive, woefully ignorant of nearly all science, totalitarian, power hungry, and are now actively pushing for censorship of opposing views. The nature of their worldview is self-defeating and wildly inconsistent, so they must shout and censor, and when that fails, violently attack.

          they are filth and a stain on humanity.

          • The data is what is ignored, computer models get it right EVERY time! Mind you, if they could give me 6 numbers on the lottery + the bonus ball, then I might start to believe in them! 😉

    • Perhaps Dan could simply explain to us why humans spewing carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels created the current warming period and not whatever natural forcings that caused the previous four?

    • Skeptics of basic science must be getting pretty desperate if they are resorting to criticizing which vocabulary words are used in press releases. So you guys really down to that, eh?

      I’ll be nice:

      Dan, as I understand science, the goal is to be as clear as possible, when using the symbols of communicating. For example, there’s a big difference between using “2x” and “x^2” in an equation. You want to get the order and the case size of the symbols right, yes? You want to use the best combination of symbols that everybody agrees on to convey a common understanding.

      Science, of all places, is a place to be concerned about precision, both in mathematical presentation, and, even more, in plain-language presentation that represents this mathematical presentation to people who do not have the mathematical background.

      The word, “unprecedented”, has a clear meaning, with respect to the context where it is applied. It is a RELATIVE term, depending on the duration to which it is applied. Restricting this context to a century duration easily masks the greater context to which the word CANNOT be applied. Why restrict the context to a century of geologic history, knowing that, in the ENTIRE CONTEXT of that history, this word is NOT precise in the least. In fact, in this greater context, the word is completely false. And the people using this word in this purposely chosen, restricted context are “scientists”, the aim of whose field is to be as precise as possible.

      Attention to vocabulary, then, is NOT an unfair focus in criticism. Rather, LACK of attention to vocabulary, as you seem to favor, IS a bit unfair with respect to skeptics whom you falsely imply are focusing on vocabulary to stoop to a new level of “low”.

      It’s not that we are “low”. It’s that your standards are perhaps low, where science is concerned.

      Have a nice day.

      • Robert, you are so right. One of the many and varied flaws in Climate Science Related Information is that it doesn’t even attempt to be scientifically precise, all the way back to defining ‘climate’. It’s all about the narrative. Details? That would just mess things up.


      • R.K. …Don’t waste your time being “nice| ..Trump is not “nice|, he is a crude, vulgar person…..BUT ! He gets shit done !!

      • And it is FUN to mock such pretentious lack of precision. Or was it a deliberate attempt to be disingenuous? Still fun to mock. Carry on lads and ladies.

      • As an English teacher, I always used “unprecedented” to mean “for the first time.” It did not mean “for the first time since the last time” or “for the first time since the Flood” or “for the first time in this administration.” It means not having a prior incidence. Every occurrence that has happened more than once did have a first occurrence–only one first occurrence. Our recent hot spells are nowhere near unprecedented; there have been many before. Even the very hot summers of 1934 and 1936 probably happened before, and nothing like them has happened since, certainly not in 21st century America. “Unprecedented” is not merely overused; it is misused, abused, misapplied, and has been rendered useless as a word. Sad.

    • ” resorting to criticizing which vocabulary words are used in press releases.”…

      absolutely…..because words have meanings….in this case “unprecedented”…which is obviously the wrong word
      …but your side consistently does that…is it incompetence?…or designed to paint a fake picture? some people would call that flat out lying

      • They think “unprecedented” means ‘regularly occurring”! I must have gone to a poor school.

    • Dan,
      Perhaps you would be good enough to share with all of us just how you came to be so unreservedly sure of yourself and everything that you believe. Not that most of us have a problem with our egos, but most of us demand irrefutable evidence, and even then reserve stating dogmatically what might still have some unanswered questions. Yet, you have no problem cutting right through things that other more humble people are not convinced about. So, please share with us just how you came to have such confidence in things that you have not really demonstrated mastery of.

    • I can’t see the red peaks when I put on my green glasses, either. But my IQ drops about 50 points as well.

    • Dan, snarky does distract, but you should understand that the ice ages were well discovered long before there was anything called ‘climate science.’ It was even before there was much in the way of specialists, by geologists, paleontologists, and biologists. As to Science 101, most science is beyond that. If you have been instructed differently about these, we have a problem.

    • Oh look! A drive-by troll. Haven’t seen one of those things in ages. Oh well, as their Warmunist pseudoscientific ideology is dying, the trolls must just shrivel up, not unlike the Wicked Witch of the West did when doused with water. For trolls, truth and facts is the witch’s water.

    • Research that skeptics are hell-bent on trying to stop

      That’s like me saying I’m against growing poisonous mushrooms and you accusing me of being against growing food. I’m all for research, but not research done with predetermined outcomes in support of a political position. As for your other claim:

      greenhouse effect is Science 101

      I’m sorry, but it is not. Bill Nye (The Science Guy) built an apparatus to demonstrate the GHE and built it exactly backwards. Anthony’s replication of the experiment demonstrated exactly that. But let’s leave Bill Nye out of it, and talk about YOU.

      Your claim is that GHE is Science 101, so go ahead and explain it in your own words. Not cutting and pasting, not links, just a paragraph or two explaining the basics. Let’s see if you can explain your side of the argument properly. I dare you. I double dare you.

    • Recorded history is several millennia. There is plenty of evidence it was hotter in the Minoan, Roman and medieval warming periods so the article is demonstrably false. You are just not bright enough or well read enough on the subject to have a valid opinion.

    • Dan – August 30, 2018 10:18 am

      Skeptics of basic science must be getting pretty desperate if they are resorting to criticizing which vocabulary words are used in press releases.

      I’m sorry to inform you, but the greenhouse effect is Science 101, and recent warming trends are in line with commonly-accepted climate models that people like you have been criticizing for years. For that matter, we wouldn’t even know about the ice ages you cite in the first place if not for climate research.

      Dan, your above (bold faced) comments pretty much confirms the fact that you are currently a student in the Public Schools and who has been forced to learn/believe the Politically Correct [junk] science that is now the mainstay of the PS curriculum.

      Are you also an avid supported of the “junk science” claims that are being touted by the AiG organization as noted by the following, to wit:,

      The Creation Museum, located in Petersburg, Kentucky, United States, is operated by the Christian creation apologetics organization Answers in Genesis (AiG). It promotes a pseudoscientific, young Earth creationist (YEC) explanation of the origin of the universe based on a literal interpretation of the Genesis creation narrative in the Bible.


    • Don’t forget to show us your math Dan. Show us how the anthropogenic component (410 – 280 ppm, being charitable) warms the oceans as purported on a background of 40,000 ppm of water vapor in the tropics. See if you can get that one within 30 orders of magnitude.

    • Of course “Dan” is long gone. That’s what driveby trolls do. Their mission is to search and destroy (in their tiny brains) anything which counters their Belief system. It’s what they do. Never mind why. Even they don’t know.

      • Next they run back to their coven so that they can proclaim to their fellow worshipers how they schooled a bunch of deniers.

      • Silence is victory. In the minds of those who practice this dictum, they have just done a good deed, and the fact that they cannot see the responses to their deed is proof that the deed is unchallenged. Out of sight, out of mind, gloat, and it’s a winning commentary.

    • “Research that skeptics are hell-bent on trying to stop…..” What? Skeptics want to debate, hoaxers cite consensus.

    • In other words, lying is OK so long as you are pursuing a goal that Dan approves of.

      There is nothing “unprecedented” about current temperatures. It’s been warmer than it is today for about 90% of the last 10,000 years.

      Pointing that out is not a nit-pick. It is reality.

      Current temperatures are threatening to break through the lower 2 sigma levels for almost all models. The claim that models are accurate are based on the fact that the 2 sigma level has not yet broken.

    • Unprecedented in the current century and the last just means we have warmed up since the end of the Little Ice Age.
      It isn’t the knock out claim that you have been paid to believe Dan.

    • Dan, as I understand it the discussion of the theory of the greenhouse effect MAY be a part of Science 101, but computer modeled proof of the theory remains elusive. Science relies entirely on empirical verification of theory, nothing less.

    • Dan,

      your comment is a classic case of being DEAD ON ARRIVAL, which is not surprising since this was your FIRST approved comment, which has all the looks of a hit and run comment.

      It is clear you have NOTHING cogent to say, which is why you will not come back because you have run out of nothing to say.

    • “Skeptics of basic science”

      I know no skeptics of basic science. Science 101 teaches the proper place for skepticism. When one hears a fantastic claim, that a concentration of CO2 which has been seen on earth many times for millions of years is suddenly ‘dangerous’ one is inclined to be skeptical. The reason for such skepticism is that a baseless claim of doom should be carefully and skeptically examined. If no previous example of the circumstances is known, some additional investigation is worth pursuing. If not, if there is nothing unprecedented about the circumstances, the default must fall to the position to that of the skeptics. CO2 below 3000 ppm does not cause planetary catastrophes.

    • You can’t really compare the Farmer’s Almanac with so called “Climate Science”.
      If the Farmer’s Almanac was wrong as often as “Climate Scientists” (i.e. all the time), it would be worthless and nobody would buy it.

  4. “All of the other reddish spikes dwarf the current “unprecedented” temperature increase.”

    …and the question should be….why didn’t it this time

    • 1) Quite likely we’re going a bit higher. (That’s a good thing)
      2) The ice cores probably don’t adequately reflect short term maximums
      3) We may be due for a turn around to glaciation ( unlikely, but possible) ( and that’s a very, very BAD thing)

      • The Minoan, Roman and Medieval warm periods have been getting progressively less warm.

        The current warm period still hasn’t reached the levels of the medieval period, but we don’t know if it’s over yet.

        • Hmmm … maybe we should spend a few bucks of CAGW’s trillions to to buy a DeLorean and send all those people some sweaters?
          In the past they didn’t realize the future would say they needed them.

  5. Come on man, it is a fact, that there are periods of millions of years in the paleo record when atmospheric CO2 has been high and the planet is cold and vice versa.

    There is not even correlation of atmospheric CO2 levels and planetary temperature in the paleo record.

    It is a fact that the planet’s climate changes cyclically both poles.

    It is a fact that after 30 years there is no mechanism to explain the past cyclic climate change.

    This graph shows the cyclic warming and cooling during the current interglacial period (Holocene).

    Greenland ice temperature, last 11,000 years determined from ice core analysis, Richard Alley’s paper. William: As this graph indicates the Greenland Ice data shows that have been 9 warming and cooling periods in the last 11,000 years.


    The paper quoted below notes there has been 342 natural warming periods, all of which were followed by cooling periods, in the last 250,000 years in the Antarctic Peninsula ice sheet data.

    The periodicity of the southern hemisphere warming and cooling is the same as the periodicity of the northern hemisphere which points to same forcing function (it is the sun).


    Davis and Taylor: “Does the current global warming signal reflect a natural cycle”

    …We found 342 natural warming events (NWEs) corresponding to this definition, distributed over the past 250,000 years ….

    …. The 342 NWEs contained in the Vostok ice core record are divided into low-rate warming events (LRWEs; < 0.74oC/century) and high rate warming events (HRWEs; ≥ 0.74oC /century) (Figure). …

    …. "Recent Antarctic Peninsula warming relative to Holocene climate and ice – shelf history" and authored by Robert Mulvaney and colleagues of the British Antarctic Survey ( Nature , 2012, doi:10.1038/nature11391),reports two recent natural warming cycles, one around 1500 AD and another around 400 AD, measured from isotope (deuterium) concentrations in ice cores bored adjacent to recent breaks in the ice shelf in northeast Antarctica. ….

    As this paper notes the highly precise periodicity of the past climate changes points to a forcing function outside of the earth (hint is the sun).


    Timing of abrupt climate change: A precise clock by Stefan Rahmstorf
    Many paleoclimatic data reveal a approx. 1,500 year cyclicity of unknown origin.

    A crucial question is how stable and regular this cycle is. An analysis of the GISP2 ice core record from Greenland reveals that abrupt climate events appear to be paced by a 1,470-year cycle with a period that is probably stable to within a few percent; with 95% confidence the period is maintained to better than 12% over at least 23 cycles.

    This highly precise clock points to an origin outside the Earth system (William: Solar changes cause the warming and cooling); oscillatory modes within the Earth system can be expected to be far more irregular in period.

  6. Perhaps UCS should rename themselves the “Union of Confused Scientists”.

    Better still, … UCS = “Union of Confused Sophists”

    “Utterly Confused Scientists”
    “Undeniably Confused Scientists”
    “Union of Consensus Scientists”

    or maybe …

    “Unprecedented Conformist Stupidity”

  7. “Every single year since 1977 has been warmer than the 20th century average…”

    What do they think that proves? It’s perfectly possible for 99 years of a century to be higher than average, if the other year is really cold and the others only a tiny bit warmer than average. And obviously if the century began with a long, cold spell, then warming later will be above average.

    These statistics are simply meaningless, propaganda designed to fool those who have no understanding of numbers.

    • It really is worse than that! One would expect that roughly 50 years of the 20th C will be warmer than the average. With a general upward trend, almost all of those will be in the last 50 years. The last 41 years of the 20th C and the first 18 years of the 21st C are unsurprisingly above the average. All that proves is, what is generally acknowledged, that temperatures are increasing. It admits to no precedence or attribution. It is a simple statement of statistics, intended to impress the unsophisticated.

    • The 20th century was warmer than the 19th. Why was the 19th so cold? Not interested? O.K. I guess.

    • Considering the fact that we have been warming up since the end of the Little Ice Age (around 1850, it’s hardly surprising that we have been warming for most of this century.

      Additionally CO2 levels did not start trending upwards until around 1950, so the world had been warming for about a century before CO2 could have possibly started to play a role. Not only that, most of the warming occurred long before CO2 could have played a role.

    • Warmer than an average of a 100 year time period?

      But 1930 was still warmer than every other temperature before or since.
      So What?

  8. The Union of Confused Sociopaths are a favourite of the BBC’s.
    All women ”scientists” or extremely concerned spokes women for the concerned scientists.

  9. The last “Unprecedented global warming” cycle:

    Breaking News:

    Aug 1945 – Every single year since 1910 has been warmer than the 19th century average, with 16 of the 17 warmest years on record occurring since 1910, and 1938 being the warmest year on recorded history.

    Anthony – I’m just faking the numbers there – but hope that someone in the field here, could do that up properly. Could come in handy on a few thousand occasions.

    (EDITED: To change 2010 to 1910) MOD

    • Duh – edit:

      Aug 1945 – Every single year since 1910 has been warmer than the 19th century average, with 16 of the 17 warmest years on record occurring since 1910, with 1938 being the warmest year in recorded history.

    • Yeah, I too am a bit confused as to how you could get 16 or 17 years worth of record warmth in less than 8 years.

      • Must be modeled years.
        Do we have unreal years like they have unreal numbers in mathematics?

      • If you are up-to-date with your dues and send in the appropriate number of cereal box-tops, do you get your ‘personalized embossed certificate’ and secret decoder ring?

        • Good call, Gary. That’s it in a nutshell, so to speak. Probably they mail out mimeographed newsletters semi-annually asking for donations.

  10. “A study” has also been used to say fracking oil and gas was a money losing business model and would quickly fail when the money ran out and we would be back on the decline curve of “conventional” reserves. Try again.

  11. “Every single year since 1977 has been warmer than the 20th century average…”.
    So what? Every single year in the Holocene has been warmer than the 400,000 year average. That’s the sort of thing you get with cycles.

  12. “Remember though, they’ll take anyone, even a dog.”

    Given the quality of Kenji’s posts here on WUWT, I would say he’s more of scientist than anyone at UCSUSA.

  13. I was an esteemed member of the Union of Concerned Scientists. I had $20 and a valid credit card. The two standards required for membership. While my membership has long since lapsed, I still receive regular emails from them, indicating my value to them and the importance of my opinion. (and my $20)

    • It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if they still count you as a member when they do their press releases.

  14. ‘All of the other reddish spikes dwarf the current “unprecedented” temperature increase …’.
    And those red spikes represent average temperatures over thousands of years, the maximum temperatures reached during each interglacial would have been higher yet.

  15. Where are the error bars on the ice core graph?
    Sorry, but I don’t take much (Vo)stock in those. They may give a vague idea of what it was like, but we can’t say definitely warmer than now.

  16. If I take a hundred temperature measurements, then I should not be at all surprised that many of them may be individually higher than the average of all one hundred!

    Not only is the UCS seriously under-educated in science, they are unfamiliar with some basics of arithmetic.

  17. I have been been unsuccessful in trying to find the source for the graph on the NOAA website. Does anyone have the web address?

  18. The really scary part is the Vostok graph. Notice how all the sudden warmings, even the ones not as high as today, ended abruptly. The middle one in as little as 1000 years, as the climate descended into a glaciation period. 2100 might be as much as 2degC lower than the current temperatures, and headed down 7deg.C below todays temperatures for a loooong time.

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