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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Average Annual Global Temperatures and IDiots

Here's a chart of the average annual global temperature change over the past 150 years. I don't know about you, but to me there seems to be a bit of a trend.

The highest recorded temperature was in 1998 and last year the temperature was 0.08° lower than the year before. Nobody with an IQ over 50 thinks that the temperature has to increase every single year in order to demonstrate global warming.

Speaking of IQ, the BBC "climate correspondent" just wrote an article for BBC News: What happened to global warming?.
This headline may come as a bit of a surprise, so too might that fact that the warmest year recorded globally was not in 2008 or 2007, but in 1998.

But it is true. For the last 11 years we have not observed any increase in global temperatures.

And our climate models did not forecast it, even though man-made carbon dioxide, the gas thought to be responsible for warming our planet, has continued to rise.

So what on Earth is going on?
It's actually not quite as bad an article as it sounds. There's some interesting discussion about short-term trends and how to predict them. Unfortunately the author leaves the impression that global warming may not be caused by humans. In seven of the past eight years the global temperature has been higher than it has ever been except for 1998. Isn't that worth mentioning?

The interesting thing about this is that the exact quotation above is presented on Uncommon Descent under the same scary title: What happened to global warming?. There's no additional information to put the headline into context.

Why is there a correlation between the rejection of evolution and the rejection of other scientific discoveries? Isn't it obvious? The IDiots are not in the business of promoting the scientific theory of Intelligent Design Creationism. Their goal is to discredit science and they'll try anything at all to advance that goal.


  1. A common delusion among those who deny MMGW is the idea that we somehow want it to be true, and wring our hands maniacally every time we have a warm winter or a scorching summer. Excuse me? I doubt that any of us wants rising seas, desertification, and extremes of weather just so that we can say 'told ya so!' We would love for the evidence to be wrong, we would love to find out that there is no problem. If we wanted the Earth to warm up why would we be fighting so hard to prevent it?

    We simply go with the science, and the future doesn't look good.

  2. And this assumes that 1998 was the hottest year on record. NASA accords 2005 with that honor.

  3. I know it is slightly different on the left side of the pond but I don't see much correlation between creationist IDiots and Sceptics over here. Over here there is more of a correlation between people who reject faith based creationism and those who demand to see the evidence of Man Made Global Warming. But even if there is a 100% correlation over in Toronto it is not relevant as to whether it is unfortunate to question whether Global Warming is man made.

    And your graph is one of the pieces of evidence that opens up that question. How does the pattern of that graph correlate to CO2 emissions? Very poorly. Others may argue it correlates better with sun spots or hem lines. Or maybe it is just a natural warming that is going on? Maybe the human influence on a natural process is only marginal?
    The scientific position is to always be sceptical and question and reject faith led pronouncements.

  4. How does the pattern of that graph correlate to CO2 emissions? Very poorly.

    It's not just a correlation; it's a confirmed prediction. You have made Larry's point. If you reject the best, most consilient scientific explanation, established over decades by practicing scientists, that's denial -- of science -- not "skepticism." If you can't provide adequate evidence for the actual role of sun spots or hem lines or unicorns, your proposed speculative hypothesis is, at best, intellectual chauvinism.

  5. The scientific position is to always be sceptical and question and reject faith led pronouncements.

    AGW has not been "pronounced".

    I love how denialists arrogate the prestige of science by projecting their deficits onto scientists.

  6. Warmest year was when?

    Cherry picking a very warm El Nino starting year is a cheap trick.

    Since then we have the warmest decade on record, the warmest individual year, the warmest overall land surface temperature, the warmest sea surface temperature, the least amount of Arctic ice on record, ... what more do you need?

    Granted you (Larry) are not a denialist but let's give a bit more information.

    Pete Dunkelberg

  7. While the melting of the arctic ice is very compelling evidence of an overall warming trend, it is difficult to accept that such a warming trend is global when several locations across the US this year have recorded significantly cooler temperatures. For example, where I live is in Louisville, Kentucky. This July, the hottest month of the year for this location, recorded it's coolest month ever since record keeping started in the 1870's. Where I used to live in Michigan, the same, the coolest summer on record. This is pretty interesting information and compels me to think more that the climate is changing instead of just getting warmer.

    Frankly, I like the warm weather so I'm not afraid of the trend but what does make me a bit apprehensive is the idea that we can implement some crazy technology that will suddenly stop the warming / changing trend. May as well just nuke the world and let nuclear winter take over, that will cool things down a bit (yes, that's sarcasm). Either way, anything more than simply being more responsible with our waste and CO2/Methane/NOX emissions or planting more trees is no different than playing with nukes.

    So I'll just conclude that while the evidence supporting only a warming trend is definitely compelling, I reserve the right to remain skeptical while not dismissing the evidence. If I'm completely wrong, show me why.

  8. is difficult to accept that such a warming trend is global when several locations across the US this year have recorded significantly cooler temperatures.

    You're forgetting that global warming is only half the problem, the other half is the climate change that it will bring. Some areas will get warmer and some will get cooler, and from what I've heard many climate models are showing that the eastern half of North America is in the latter category.

    ...I like the warm weather so I'm not afraid of the trend...

    I like warm weather too, but it seems rather selfish of me to say that I will be happy with allowing the environment to possibly undergo extreme stresses that might cause mass extinctions and severe weather that could threaten many lives and livelihoods.

  9. ?? It is difficult to accept that the average global temperature is increasing, because as always, the weather varies from spot to spot ??

    Non sequitur.

    The last decade has been easily the warmest on record.

    Pete Dunkelberg

  10. I like warm weather too, but it seems rather selfish of me to say that I will be happy with allowing the environment to possibly undergo extreme stresses that might cause mass extinctions and severe weather that could threaten many lives and livelihoods.

    I think that is a narrow view of the situation.

    True or false: The earth's global climate has cycled several times from exceedingly warm to exceedingly cool?

    True. Extinctions also took place during both cooling and heating periods.

    Do I think that we need to cut down CO2 emissions? Yes, I do. Do I think that we need to plant more fauna across the planet? Yes, I do. Do I feel bad that the earth is going to loose some of is diversity to extinction? Yes, I do. Regardless, I'm still going to enjoy the warmer weather.

    Lastly, if by your own words, the climate is indeed changing and even getting cooler in some areas, then it's not exactly, "Global" warming. Global Climate Change is a far better wording since that seems to also be a trend, regionally.

  11. Yes it is global warming. The average global temperature is increasing.

    Slightly warmer/cooler weather at various times and places is always expected and is consistent with the above.

    You are not going to enjoy it. Just for a slight taste, where I live we had a long hot summer, and our high temperature for the day is still 90 for another few days - relief from a streak of 94's in October.

    But in the future when it gets warmer, there is less ice, less dry land, less rainfall in major crop areas, war and a falling human population, will you enjoy it?

  12. Weather is not climate.

    We are much too far into the problem for even those who read science blogs to still be confusing those two different things. If even commenters here are confused on such a basic point, no wonder there is no political basis for action.

    Pete Dunkelberg

  13. Weather is not climate.

    True, weather is a function of climate. So I'll concede that global warming is a part of global climate change.

    As for political action, I think there's a lot of good activity going on politically right now to bring on more responsible uses of our finite resources.

    But in the future when it gets warmer, there is less ice, less dry land, less rainfall in major crop areas, war and a falling human population, will you enjoy it?

    Some of that is pretty speculative. Nobody would enjoy such a world. The picture you're painting here has a couple of sources, one is that we humans are doing absolutely nothing about our possible role in the cause of this major climate change. However, that doesn't work very well as an source because we are taking action, worldwide, to change our behaviors. If it's not fast enough then, what? Another source could be that this change is going to happen whether we try to stop it or not simply because we cannot / should not stop the trend that our earth may naturally be going through. Those two explanations are only to address your bleak outlook to the future of the planet.

    I don't think the future is that grim.

  14. Aarrrggggg no it is not an unknown natural cycle. I hate to persist vs one person like this, but you make yourself a textbook example, and the subject is important morally as well as scientifically.

    Picking out the always present cooler than average spots to deny that the global average temperature is increasing, and saying well even if it is increasing maybe it's just natural, are the two lamest denialist arguments. As with evolution denial (creationism) the arguments can get much more sophisticated - and they are still BS.

    We know who is putting the CO2 into the air, and it is not Mother Nature.
    The greenhouse effect is basic physics. More CO2 leads to a higher equilibrium temperature. This is because infrared radiant energy escapes our atmosphere less quickly. Infrared is absorbed and then re-radiated in a random direction many times in the air before escaping, and CO2 absorbs important wavelenghts more than N2 and O2 do.

    This is happening in accordance with climate models. No climatologist expects a pure linear rise in temperature, so some involved quibble over models does not help the denialist case except by creating confusion.

    "Pete, don't you know that correlation is not causation"? Sorry, physics is causation. The greenhouse effect is not a spurious correlation any more than the correlation of gasoline and motion of your car is spurious.

    "What about this and that other factors"? Get over it. There are other factors, and some even help temporarily. For instance the Sun has been slightly cooler than expected in recent years. None of the other factors make the greenhouse effect stop. Radiant energy still escapes our atmosphere less quickly.

    So how bad is it going to be, and how soon? We don't know how soon, but if we keep adding CO2 the bad times will come sooner. How bad eventually? this bad based on the latest research on the equilibrium temperature at different levels of CO2. Worse if we keep on burning carbon.

    Pete Dunkelberg

  15. So, one way to view what you're saying is that all CO2 emissions around the world need to stop right now. I'm the one that's denying reality?

    The real cause of all this panic isn't even the greenhouse effect or climate change. It's human's polluting the environment that they have to live in, equating it to crapping on our food, then eating it. I know this. I already said that I know this. I am not denying anything.

    The problem that is apparent is that the message that is being preached isn't following the results that are being felt. If this region of the country is, by climate models, showing that there is going to be a cooling effect, then the general public living in this region is going to look at the global warming side and ignore it as being just some alarmist environmentalist propaganda - no?

    This conversation has helped me see a bigger and more complicated picture and I appreciate the patience and time spent in talking to me about it.

    I just tend to shun anything that appears as knee-jerk panic and this is how I am perceiving the response. Realistically, CO2 emissions will never stop - ever, at least not while mammals are still breathing. That we are trying to lower those emissions is a great task and I completely support it but to think that it will all stop overnight is just not going to happen. So, don't you think it's more practical to plan for the worse case and try to minimize the damage?

    Well, I gather by the last response that you are tired of talking about it so if you wish, you have the last word.

    Thanks again.

  16. Anyone taking a quick glance at that graph would assume - as you say - that there had been a general upward trend in temperature. But look closely at what has been plotted. It's not average temperature - but the divergence - positive or negative - from temperatures recorded between 1961 and 1990. What a peculiar way to plot results! Why were those particular years chosen as the base line? Was it done deliberately to produce a graph that looks like a general upward trend in temperature? Is this statistical jiggerypokery of the worst kind?

  17. sciencebod... I'm not sure what you're problem is. If I graph the numbers 4,5,6,7 the difference between that series and 5 (-1, 0, 1, 2) or the difference between that series and 3 (1, 2, 3, 4) THE GRAPH STILL LOOKS THE SAME!!!

    It's not trickery. You just need the place your Y axis somewhere, so they chose to put it at the average temperature in the 30 year period around which AGW appeared to start.

    If you wish, move the Y axis. The graph stays the same.

  18. There is plenty of scientific evidence that the global temperature over hundreds of thousands of years is like looking at a wavy sea. It peaks regularly every 100,000 to 125,000 years, with corresponding troughs in between. Look on the internet under "pre-historic global temperatures" and you can find plenty of graphs showing this. Mankind was not pumping CO2 into the atmosphere through any of this cycle going back over half a million years, except for the very last few years, but the regular trending was just the same.

    So why are we looking at a graph here, going back only 160 years (no time at all to use to judge climate trends), and concluding that mankind must be causing the latest upward trend in temperature, when we know by looking back over 500,000 years that the temperature is due to be rising at the moment anyway, due to the natural cycle?

    Does this disprove man made global warming? No. It isn't proof that mankind is having no effect whatsoever. But it does show that the temperature would be rising at the moment anyway, whether mankind was on the earth or not.

    Thus to question whether mankind is causing global warming is very reasonable scientific debate. To be labelled a "denier" is insulting, and actually makes the person issuing the insult appear to be very arrogant and unwilling to engage in proper scientific debate. They have made their mind up, and anyone who challenges them with scientific evidence will be insulted, so as to avoid the need for them to justify their viewpoint !

    So, there is no conclusive proof one way or the other, and there is plenty of scientific evidence which can be used to make a case for either argument. So let's drop the insulting "denier" label, and carry on looking at the science, over proper climate change timescales of 500,000 years, and not just cherry pick the last tiny piece of the graph covering only the last 0.03% of the timescale for which we have climate change evidence.

  19. Global temperatures rise and fall in a 100,000 to 125,000 year cycle, and we happen to be on the rising part of the curve at the moment.

    Why do man-made climate change "preachers" only ever look at the last 160 years when they make their claims, and not at over 500,000 years for which we have data from ice-core samples, etc.? 160 years is just 0.03% of the 500,000 year timescale. You can't make scientific claims about trends by taking just the last 0.03% of the data, which happens to support your point in isolation.

  20. 'Scientist' (perhaps you would like to present your verifiable qualifications), we already know that the Earth undergoes warming and cooling cycles, but where is there any evidence that this current warming trend is part of a natural cycle? Rather had to do with a 25,000 year variable between cycles. We know that the current warming coincides with increasing greenhouse gas emissions as a result of human activity, so anthropogenic global warming seems much more likely. And if anyone drags out the sunspot cycle I will start microwaving kittens.