THEGREENGROK

OK, Climate Refudiaters, Fess Up


by Bill Chameides | January 14th, 2011
posted by Erica Rowell (Editor)

Permalink | 33 comments

A couple of years ago the climate refudiaters looked at the climate tea leaves and predicted global cooling. The data are now in. So how’d they do?

Two years ago some were predicting that the climate was headed to cooling.

Refudiater blogs proclaimed that global warming was a myth and the truth was that we were on the cusp of a major global cooling. Some examples: here, here, here, and here.

Well, the tough thing about the prediction business is that prognostications have to stand the test of time (or else what good are they but anticlimactic conjecture)?

Well, the Data for 2010 Are In

>> 2010 was tied with 2005 for the hottest year on record. Details here and here.

>> The period from 2001 to 2010 was the hottest 10 years on record. Details here and here.

One might predict now that we will soon see a raft of retractions from the refudiater community admitting that they got it wrong. But if one did, I suspect that would be another prediction that would not stand the test of time.

filed under: climate change, faculty, global warming, temperatures
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33 Comments

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  1. Bill Chameides
    Feb 10, 2011

    Hey, folks. These discussions are great. And I think Mel has captured a lot of the key arguments. But getting back to the cooling issue … I have to say you refudiaters disappoint me. Do you accept data or not? You can argue, if you want, what year has been the warmest — a 5- to 10-year trend is more relevant for climate actually. You can argue about what will happen in the future — as many of you are obviously wont to do. But admit what the data tell us — there is global cooling trend. Fess up.

  2. Jim
    Jan 27, 2011

    I find all the comments by the refudiators interesting. Global averages from the periods 1880-2000 and 1901-2000 are about the same therefore it calls into question global warming? We weren’t spewing nearly as much CO2 between 1880 and 1901, also there is a lag between the CO2 being added to the warming it induces. CO2 is essential to life, therefore it can’t cause global warming? Wow, talk about a straw man argument. CO2 can be quite harmful. Ever see the movie Apollo 13? When the CO2 scrubbers stopped working, oxygen levels dropped and they began to suffocate. Water is essential to life as well, but lots of people die every year in floods. Too much of just about anything is bad.

    • Bill Chameides
      Feb 22, 2011

      Jim: I gather that when you say “interesting” you mean tongue-in-cheek interesting. Small point: As you probably appreciate, you can’t test for the existence of a warming trend by comparing average temperatures between 1880-2000 with the average between 1901–2000.

  3. travis
    Jan 27, 2011

    “Clearly, if we burn all fossil fuels, we will destroy the planet we know. Carbon dioxide would increase to 500 ppm or more.” James Hansen, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/feb/15/james-hansen-power-plants-coal/ Read the entire post. Tell us what you divine from it. PS: I agree with phasing out coal plants. We have enough natural gas to do it and should do it as quickly as possible. The nuclear plants that are on line are also better than coal.

    • Bill Chameides
      Feb 22, 2011

      Travis: If we burn all fossil fuels, carbon dioxide will be a whole lot more than 500 ppm.

  4. travis
    Jan 24, 2011

    Given the number of comments this post has generated, it is curious that head “refudiator,” Dr. Chameides, has not jumped in to set the record straight. Why has his final word not been forthcoming? I believe there is variability in the climate system. What else should we expect from a complex, nonlinear system. I am not convinced that CO2, a substance essential for life on earth, is at the same time a substance that is destroying life on earth. Apparently I am not alone. Much of the command and control approach to dealing with climate change involves CO2. Hence, I believe the hansenoids have to respond to, or “refudiate” if one likes, any and all questions about the role of CO2.

    • Bill Chameides
      Jan 25, 2011

      Travis, Just so you and our other readers know (and this is something I’ll add to our comment guidelines so people know what to expect in terms of Bill’s response time): Bill responds when his busy deanly schedule allows. So more often than not, while the online conversation is carried on in something close to “real time,” he reads it on a delay. (And there’s a good chance he will weigh in on this, too, when he gets to your comment and my response.) – Erica Managing Editor, TheGreenGrok.com

    • Peter G
      Jan 26, 2011

      Travis: It’s disingenuous to pretend that scientists are claiming CO2 is “destroying life on earth”. What scientists state is beyond question: CO2 by its intrinsic molecular structure absorbs infrared radiation, changing the radiative balance of the earth. Laws of physics and chemistry are not dependent on politics or opinion.

  5. Ken Towe
    Jan 23, 2011

    If you will go to the 1998 NOAA site: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/1998/5 you learn that in 1998 the global average temperature was “about 59 deg. F (15 deg. C)” and is the 1880-1997 average. We are told: “That value can be added to global anomalies to approximate absolute temperatures.” Although the actual numerical values are not given, one can estimate the 1998 anomalies from the published time series figure. The 1998 global anomaly is about +1.3°F (+0.7°C). Thus, with respect to the 1880-1997 average the 1998 global average absolute temperature was 60.3°F (15.7°C). This value is 2.18°F warmer than the 2010 average of 58.12°F. To make matters even more confusing NCDC-NOAA reports that both the 1880-2001 and 1880-2004 averages are identical to the 20th century average (1901-2000). Identical? No change with a difference of 21 years? Source 1880-2001: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/2002/13 Source 1880-2004: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/2005/13 Source 1901-2000: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/2006/13 Submitted 1/23

  6. Ken Towe
    Jan 22, 2011

    GROK wrote: “Well, the tough thing about the prediction business is that prognostications have to stand the test of time (or else what good are they but anticlimactic conjecture)?” To be fair, what about those alarming predictions made by Jim Hansen? In June of 1986 he was widely quoted in the newspapers. June 11, Milwaukee Journal; Charleston SC News and Courier: “James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said global temperatures should be nearly 2 degrees higher in 20 years, “about the warmest the earth has been in the last 100,000 years.” Test of time? Net change from 1986 to 2006 was about +0.7°F (0.39°C).

    • Mel
      Jan 24, 2011

      Ken, In their 1988 J. Geophys. Res. paper, Hansen et al. projected a 0.45o C global temperature increase for the 20 year period 1988-2008 with ‘Scenario B’ emissions path, which has tracked real emissions pretty well over the last 22 years. The original GISS model used a sensitivity of 4.2o C, which made the model run a bit hotter than it would have if they had used the current best estimate of ~3o C. Had Hansen et al. used a 3o C sensitivity, the outcome would have been pretty close to what you determined for the period 1986-2006 (0.39o C). Can you point us to a paper (in the scientific literature) where Hanson, or any of his co-authors, projected a 2o F (1.1o C) global temperature increase by 2006?

    • Stephen
      Jan 25, 2011

      Ken Towe: You’re putting a lot of faith in an AP reporter accurately reporting what Hansen said at a time when no one knew much about climate change. First off I’ve never heard a climate scientist predict anything — they offer projections based on their current understanding…If Hansen did make a projection it would been as a range i.e. 1 to 2 degrees. What is astonishing is the huge number of blogs with quotes from this 1986 newspaper clipping as if it disproves everything…wow talk about grasping at straws.

  7. Mel
    Jan 22, 2011

    MattN and Travis, I think all would agree that if you select 1998 as your starting point, global temperatures have not increased that much and it doesn’t matter if you choose RSS, UAH, GISS, or CRU, they all show pretty much the same thing. However, ‘skeptics’ have backed away from 1998 as a starting point because everyone realizes that cherry-picking the strongest El Nino year ever as the starting point is a bit too obviously disingenuous. Most are now identifying 2001 as the start of the warming hiatus. For example Lord Monckton recently stated in The Australian “Since January 2001 global temperature has risen (taking the average of the two satellite datasets) at a rate equivalent to just 0.6 °C/century.” OK, warming has slowed since 2001. So what? Global temperatures actually cooled between 1970-1977, 1980–1985 and 1987–1995 and the long-term trend was still sharply upward. People who made the ‘global warming stopped’ argument after these short-term cooling trends ended up with egg on their face. There is variability in the climate system – it does not respond monotonically to any driver. Your argument seems to be ‘CO2 has been increasing and short-term temperature didn’t – therefore CO2 isn’t a driver of global warming’. Can you offer any physical explanation why we should expect the short-term variability in the system to somehow disappear just because it is being driven by CO2?

  8. MattN
    Jan 20, 2011

    Look at this data and show me how anyone can state with a straight face that we are still warming: http://stevengoddard.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/capture286.jpg That’s straight up Hadley CRU data, one of “The Big 4” temperature metrics cited by the IPCC…

    • Mel
      Jan 22, 2011

      MattN – Look at any of the data sets – GISS, CRU, even UAH – and show me how anyone can state with a straight face that the trend since ca 1965 is not a warming trend.

      • MattN
        Jan 24, 2011

        :golfclap: Congrats Mel, really. That takes the prize as the best strawman argument ever. Precisely NO ONE has claimed it has not warmed. “We” just claim CO2 is not the cause of the warming…

        • Mel
          Jan 26, 2011

          Matt, you pointed out that global warming has slowed over the last decade or so. I simply pointed out that the long-term trend since about 1965 is clearly a warming trend. That’s not a ‘strawman’ argument. I did not misrepresent your position and then attempt to refute it. In fact I pretty much agree with your point – global warming has slowed since 2001. My feeling is that you shouldn’t just point to the short-term trend when the long-term trend is the important issue. No need to get snarky with the ‘golfclap’ stuff. You just said “Precisely NO ONE has claimed that it has not warmed” (01/25 2:14) yet in your earlier posts you made quite a fuss about demonstrating the planet hasn’t warmed since 1998. I think you need to be clear about the timescales you are referring to. The point I’m arguing is that short term variability says nothing about what is driving the long-term trend in a noisy system – or whether or not the long-term trend has stopped or reversed. I’ll restate my question; I agree that global warming has slowed since 2001 – what’s your point? Are you trying to argue that the recent period of slower global warming proves that CO2 has no impact on climate or are you suggesting that global warming has stopped?

  9. MattN
    Jan 20, 2011

    2010 was warm. Yep, sure was. Here’s what I know for SURE: It was not the warmest year on record, that designation still belongs to 1998. Despite 12 years of continued CO2 production and the strongest El Nino since 1998, we STILL could not top that year. We may not be cooling all that much right now (if at all), but one thing is for certain: We are NOT getting HOTTER. In order to cool, you must first stop getting hotter. That’s where we are right now.

    • Bill Chameides
      Jan 26, 2011

      MattN: So you have fessed up on the cooling thing. And on a decadal time frame we are most certainly warming.

  10. MattN
    Jan 20, 2011

    UAH says 1998 is still the warmest year on record. You can do your own calculation with their data here: http://vortex.nsstc.uah.edu/public/msu/t2lt/tltglhmam_5.4 RSS says 1998 is still the warmest on record: You can do your own calculation with their data here: http://www.remss.com/data/msu/monthly_time_series/RSS_Monthly_MSU_AMSU_Channel_TLT_Anomalies_Land_and_Ocean_v03_2.txt HadleyCRU says 1998 is still in 1st place and 2010 is in 3rd. See their data here: http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/hadcrut3vgl.txt Thats 3-to-1. Not surprising Doc chose the ONE METRIC that says 2010 was warmest ever: Hansen’s GISS/NOAA

    • Bill Chameides
      Jan 26, 2011

      MattN: Actually I quoted NCDC, GISS as well as an early ranking from December by WMO ( http://www.nicholas.duke.edu/thegreengrok/2010energyreview ) in advance of its official ranking ( http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110120111252.htm ). Whether or not 2010 was the warmest or the second warmest or even the third warmest does not change the fact that there has been no global cooling — the last 10 years have been the warmest on record. So suck it up and fess up, dude.

      • MattN
        Jan 26, 2011

        3-to-1, 2010 is NOT the warmest on record. There has been no measurable increase in global temeratures for the last 10 years. It has been FLAT. In order to go backwards, you must STOP GOING FORWARDS. That is exactly what has happened. 2011 is going to be a very cool year…

  11. travis
    Jan 18, 2011

    Simply to state that the climate since 1997 has been the warmest period in the last 131 years does not tell the whole story. If one accepts the “tortured” data from Hansen, et alia, 2010 and 2005 are the warmest in the period and 1998 is tied with “2002, 2003, 2006, 2007, and 2009.” If one accepts HadCRUT3, 1998 is warmest followed by 2010, 2005, 2003, and 2002. The 13 years may be the warmest period in 131 years, but during that 13 years, the warming flatlined. During the same 13 years, CO2 (according to Mauna Loa) increased every year for a total of 25.96 ppm. According to the CO2 as driver of climate change theory, the warming for the last 13 years should not have flatlined. It should have increased. It did not. Does this disprove the CO2 as driver theory? Perhaps not, but it certainly raises a valid question. Travis

    • Peter G
      Jan 18, 2011

      Ok Travis, please explain how you come to the conclusion that temperatures have “flattened”. http://www.skepticalscience.com/Monckton-Myth-2-Temperature-records-trends-El-Nino.html And CO2 always absorbs outgoing infrared radiation, so CO2 increases radiative forcing, regardless of other feedbacks. So yes, it’s a driver, without question.

      • travis
        Jan 18, 2011

        I used GISS data from 1998 through 2010 for means: 0.56. 0.32, 0.33, 0.47, 0.56, 0.55, 0.48, 0.62, 0.55, 0.58, 0.44, 0.58, and 0.63. I plotted on graph paper. I admit that I eye-balled a best fit line. However, it looked prety flat to me. If some enterprising grad student wants to WOW us with his/her linear regression skills and produce a better best fit line, be my guest.

        • Peter G
          Jan 20, 2011

          You might use 1997 or 1999 as your starting point instead of 1998, which just happens to be a very hot El Nino year. Or better yet, use a 5 year running mean over a longer time frame, to better separate weather from climate. http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/Fig.A2.lrg.gif

          • travis
            Jan 21, 2011

            I did not select 1998. NASA did. If one reads the NASA press release, it says “the next warmest years are 1998, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007, and 2009, which are statistically tied for the third warmest year.” (see nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/1020-warmest-year.html)

      • Ken Towe
        Jan 20, 2011

        PETER G… If the CO2 driver is a global one, perhaps you can explain why the US 48 states have not experienced the CO2 forcing? Each state has its own record high year. Using the NCDC-NOAA temperature database, one finds that most of these record highs (two-thirds) occurred before 1987. From 1954 to 1987 (a climatically meaningful 33 years) not even one state recorded a new yearly high but eight states experienced new record cold years. The average temperature of the US 48 states went from 54.1°F in 1954 to 54.1°F in 1987. (In 2010 it was 53.8°F). Yet during this same 33 year period the Mauna Loa CO2 value went from about 300 ppm to 350 ppm. No change in the average US 48 state temperature with a 17% increase in CO2?

        • Bill Chameides
          Jan 26, 2011

          Ken: As you know, temperature histories for the U.S. alone cannot be used to establish or refute a global trend. And trying to look for a direct correlation over a short time period between CO2 and temps is an overly simplistic approach to a more complex system — see my response to Travis above.

          • Ken Towe
            Jan 26, 2011

            Bill… As I tried to point out two days ago (see below), the average global temperature from 1880 to 1997 was 59°F (reference was cited). The 1998 global anomaly was plus 1.3°F = 60.3°F. This is more than 2°F warmer than last year at 58.12°F. That’s a decline, is it not? I don’t know how much the US temperatures played in that decline but the US facts are these: From 1998 through 2010 the temperature trend for the US 48 states and every NCDC region except the West (only two states, CA,NV) is DOWN. The trend in every state except CA and NJ is DOWN. IOW, there has been an average temperature trend decline in the last 12 years from latitude ~47°N south to 24°N and from ~67°W out to 128°W… an area of about 3.6 million sq. mi…. ~10% of the northern hemisphere land area. We can continue to minimize the US climate history, and maybe it’s true that global climate change has no bearing on the US climate, but the figures are interesting.

      • Mel
        Jan 22, 2011

        Travis – you state “According to the CO2 as driver of climate change theory, the warming for the last 13 years should not have flattened.” Sorry to be blunt but his is just plain wrong. No one has ever suggested that short-term periods of slower warming , or even cooling, would not be part of the climate response to CO2.

      • Bill Chameides
        Jan 26, 2011

        The past 10 years have been the warmest on record. That is what I would call warming, and it is most certainly not cooling. And it tells a very clear “story”: while global temperatures over short periods can fluctuate for various reasons, the decadal trend is upward. If you look at the temperature trend over the 20th century, you will find lots of short-term temperature dips and peaks, but the long-term trend has been upward. The climate is far too complex to expect a simple linear relationship between CO2 and temperature on a year-to-year basis. A simple analogy: The heat from the sun clearly drives temperature, but 12 noon when the sun is highest in the sky is often not the warmest time of the day. And it is not all that unusual for a day in September to be warmer than a day in July even though the sun provides more heat in July. In short, there are other factors that influence daytime temperatures in addition to the sun. The same holds for CO2 and climate. For more on other influences on climate, see past posts, including: >> http://www.nicholas.duke.edu/thegreengrok/solomon-watervapor022010 >> http://www.nicholas.duke.edu/thegreengrok/globalwarmingsince1998 >> http://www.nicholas.duke.edu/thegreengrok/lanina/ >> http://www.nicholas.duke.edu/thegreengrok/cool2008 For an interesting take on this beyond TheGreenGrok see: >> http://www.skepticalscience.com/Monckton-Myth-2-Temperature-records-trends-El-Nino.html

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