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Category — Global cooling

A Cherry-Picker’s Guide to Temperature Trends Update: Warming Crisis Not

Back in October 2009, my post “A Cherry-Picker’s Guide to Temperature Trends” examined the many different statements that could be made to describe the tendencies of global temperatures over the past 20 years. I concluded that anything from rapid cooling to a faster than expected warming could be supported by carefully picking through the available data.

Now, more than a year later, and after one of the “warmest years on record,” I’ve updated my analysis so that any new statements characterizing global temperature can be evaluated against the complete set of recent observations.

In general, I find that statements such as “global warming has stopped” should be tempered, at least for the time being. But I conclude that my original article’s summary remains more or less* applicable:

What I can say for certain, is that the recent behavior of global temperatures demonstrates that global warming is occurring at a much slower rate than that projected by the ensemble of climate models, and that global warming is most definitely not accelerating.

I say “more or less” because one could argue from the data (as we’ll see below) that the warming rate during recent years has upticked with the warmth in 2010 indicating a warming that is occurring faster than projected and is accelerating. But, I think that this represents a temporary condition.

In due course (say over the next several months), the warmth in 2010 will continue to subside as the cooling influence from a Pacific La Niña event supplants the warming influence of last year’s El Niño (see here for example). This will have the effect of flattening out recent temperature trends and returning them once again to lower-than-projected values. I imagine that we’ll see such an impact when it comes time again for me to produce an update to this update.

But until that time, I’ll describe the situation as it presents itself data available through December 2010. [Read more →]

February 7, 2011   13 Comments

A Cherry-Picker's Guide to Temperature Trends (down, flat–even up)

Accusations of cherry-picking—that is, carefully choosing data to support a particular point—are constantly being hurled around by all sides of the climate change debate. Most recently, accusations of cherry-picking have been levied at analyses describing the recent behavior of global average temperature. Primarily, because claims about what the temperature record says run the gamut from accelerating warming to rapid cooling and everything in between—depending on who you ask and what point they are trying to make.

I am often asked as to what is the “right” answer is. What I can say for certain, is that the recent behavior of global temperatures demonstrates that global warming is occurring at a much slower rate than that projected by the ensemble of climate models, and that global warming is most definitely not accelerating.

Choice of Cherries

But as to questions concerning just how far beneath climate model predictions the rate of warming is, or for just how long the average temperature of the world has not warmed at all, the answers depend on several things, among them the dataset you want to use and the time period over which you examine—i.e., which cherries you wish to pick.

Figure 1 illustrates the various cherry varieties that you have to choose from. [Read more →]

October 12, 2009   45 Comments

What Does the Last Decade Tell Us about Global Warming? (Hint: the ‘skeptics' have the momentum)

“Worldwide temperatures haven’t risen much in the past decade…. If you are a climate-change activist pointing to year after year of mounting climate crises, you might want to rethink your approach.”

- Richard Kerr, Science, May 2, 2008.

There has been a flurry of activity in recent weeks in the discussion as to the significance (scientific, political, social) of the evolution of the global average surface temperature during the past 10 years or so.

For those of you who don’t know, the surface temperature of the globe, as a whole, has not warmed-up by anyone’s calculation since at least the turn of the century (January 2001) and depending on your dataset and statistical technique of choice, perhaps as far back as January 1997. And all of this non-warming occurred over a period of time during which the global emissions of CO2 increased faster than ever before (thanks primarily to China). In fact, anthropogenic greenhouse-gas forcing is about 5 percent greater now than a decade ago (about 16 parts per million).

To many folks who have, for years, been fed a constant course of “the-world-is-heating-up-faster-than-ever-before-and-you-are-the-cause,” 9 to 12 years of no warming at all seems to indicate that something is amiss with this mantra.

This was reflected in a Gallup Poll last spring, which found the highest percentage yet of people who think that “global warming” is being “exaggerated.” And this number has been growing.

IPCC “Consensus” and Unwarming

The growth in climate realism (i.e., a realization that alarmists are overplaying the probable impact of CO2 emissions) has most certainly been sparked by the fact that the rate of the earth’s temperature rise has been slowing rather than accelerating, contrary to general IPCC conclusions. This development, naturally, plays into the political debate about (at the 11th hour if not midnight) “mitigating” potential climate change through carbon dioxide emissions reductions. [Read more →]

September 28, 2009   13 Comments

The Global Cooling Scare Revisited (‘Ice Age' Holdren had plenty of company)

“Predictions of future climate trends by Stephen Schneider and other leading climatologists, based on the prevailing knowledge of the atmosphere in the early 1970s, gave more weight to the potential problem of global cooling than it now appears to merit.”

- Paul and Anne Ehrlich, Betrayal of Science and Reason (Washington: Island Press, 1996), p. 34.

Recent attention has been paid to the coming Ice Age talk of John Holdren and Steven Schneider before they got global warming religion.

Here are some “global cooling” quotations and comments from an earlier era. While such concern was not a scientific ‘consensus,’ such as that created by the United Nations’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in favor of high-sensitivity anthropogenic global warming, the Ice Age scare was a very active hypothesis that should give pause to the Boiling Age purveyors of today.

“Certainly the threat of another ice age was the topic of much scientific and popular discussion in the 1970s. Books and articles entitled ‘The Cooling,’ ‘Blizzard,’ ‘Ice,’ and ‘A Mini Ice Age Could Begin in a Decade,’ abounded. The ‘snow blitz’ theory was popularized on the public television presentation of ‘The Weather Machine’ in 1975. And certainly the winters of the late 1970s were enough to send shivers through our imaginations.”

- Harold Bernard, Jr., The Greenhouse Effect (Cambridge, MA: Ballinger Publishing, 1980), p. 20.

“The worriers about cooling included Science, the most influential scientific journal in the world, quoting an official of the World Meteorological Organization; the National Academy of Sciences worrying about the onset of a 10,000 year ice age; Newsweek warning that food production could be adversely affected within a decade; the New York Times quoting an official of the National Center for Atmospheric Research; and Science Digest, the science periodical with the largest circulation.”

- Julian Simon, “What Does the Future Hold? The Forecast in a Nutshell,” in Simon, ed., The State of Humanity (Cambridge, Mass: Blackwell, 1995), p. 646. 

“In the early 1970s, the northern hemisphere appeared to have been cooling at an alarming rate. There was frequent talk of a new ice age. Books and documentaries appeared, hypothesizing a snowblitz or sporting titles such as The Cooling. Even the CIA got into the act, sponsoring several meetings and writing a controversial report warning of threats to American security from the potential collapse of Third World Governments in the wake of climate change.”

- Stephen Schneider, Global Warming: Are We Entering the Greenhouse Century? (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1989), p. 199. [Read more →]

September 26, 2009   16 Comments

John Holdren on Global Cooling (Revisited)

[Editor Note: An earlier series at MasterResource on John Holdren, President Obama's science and technology advisor, is being reprinted given the recent controversy surrounding Dr. Holdren's earlier views. This original post is dated December 30, 2008]

Skeptics of climate alarmism have often trotted out the fact that a number of climate scientists sounded the alarm over global cooling before they sounded the alarm over global warming–an argument for humility in the face of complexity, uncertainty, and change.Global cooling was more than fringe thinking. As Paul Ehrlich and Anne Ehrlich wrote in their 1996 book, Betrayal of Science and Reason (p. 34):

“Predictions of future climate trends by Stephen Schneider and other leading climatologists, based on the prevailing knowledge of the atmosphere in the early 1970s, gave more weight to the potential problem of global cooling than it now appears to merit.”

President-elect Obama’s new science advisor, John Holdren, was concerned about global cooling too.  In Ecoscience: Population, Resources, and Environment (1977: p. 686), Paul Ehrlich, Anne Ehrlich, and Holdren stated:

“Many observers have speculated that the cooling could be the beginning of a long and persistent trend in that direction—that is, an inevitable departure from an abnormally warm period in climatic history.”

The Ehlrichs and Holdren also gave voice to cooling alarmist Reid Bryson, who said this in his essay in their edited book of essays published in 1971, Global Ecology:

“I believe that increasing global air pollution, through its effect on the reflectivity of the earth, is currently dominant and is responsible for the temperature decline of the past decade or so.”

During the 1970s, there was also concern about anthropogenic global warming at some future date. The Ehrlichs and and Holdren covered this base in Ecoscience (p. 686):

“There can be scant consolation in the idea that a man-made warming trend might cancel out a natural cooling trend. Since the different factors producing the two trends do so by influencing different parts of Earth’s complicated climatic machinery, it is most unlikely that the associated effects on circulation patterns would cancel each other.”

This is a very interesting quotation. It is premised on the notion that any human influence on climate cannot be good because it is human. The externalities must be negative, not neutral or positive.So nature and only nature is optimal? Is that really what the global warming debate is all about? If so, climate alarmism and forced energy transformation is more religion than a sober look at science, economics, and politics from a humanistic perspective.

August 12, 2009   3 Comments

John Holdren on Global Cooling (Part I in a Series on Obama's new science advisor, 'Dr. Doom')

Skeptics of climate alarmism have often trotted out the fact that a number of climate scientists sounded the alarm over global cooling before they sounded the alarm over global warming–an argument for humility in the face of complexity, uncertainty, and change.

Global cooling was more than fringe thinking. As Paul Ehrlich and Anne Ehrlich wrote in their 1996 book, Betrayal of Science and Reason (p. 34): [Read more →]

December 30, 2008   11 Comments