Global-warming deniers jump for joy every time there’s even a brief dip in generally upward trends


One of the more peculiar aspects of global-warming denialism is that its apostles seem not to understand that the trend is not relentlessly upward.

As the chart above makes clear, the long-term upward trend has brief downward dips. But your typical right-wing zealot sees every such dip as proof positive that global-warming theories are a hoax perpetrated by wacko environmentalists.

The latest example of this phenomenon arises with a transitory change in the long-term melting of Arctic ice. THIS REPORT from one British newspaper debunks the nonsense peddled by two rival newspapers:

When it comes to climate science reporting, the Mail on Sunday and Telegraph are only reliable in the sense that you can rely on them to usually get the science wrong. This weekend’s Arctic sea ice articles from David Rose of the Mail and Hayley Dixon at the Telegraph unfortunately fit that pattern.

Both articles claimed that Arctic sea ice extent grew 60 percent in August 2013 as compared to August 2012. While this factoid may be technically true (though the 60 percent figure appears to be an exaggeration), it’s also largely irrelevant. For one thing, the annual Arctic sea ice minimum occurs in September – we’re not there yet. And while this year’s minimum extent will certainly be higher than last year’s, that’s not the least bit surprising. As University of Reading climate scientist Ed Hawkins noted last year:

“Around 80% of the ~100 scientists at the Bjerknes [Arctic climate science] conference thought that there would be MORE Arctic sea-ice in 2013, compared to 2012.”

The reason so many climate scientists predicted more ice this year than last is quite simple. There’s a principle in statistics known as “regression toward the mean,” which is the phenomenon that if an extreme value of a variable is observed, the next measurement will generally be less extreme. In other words, we should not often expect to observe records in consecutive years. 2012 shattered the previous record low sea ice extent; hence ‘regression towards the mean’ told us that 2013 would likely have a higher minimum extent.

The amount of Arctic sea ice left at the end of the annual melt season is mainly determined by two factors – natural variability (weather patterns and ocean cycles), and human-caused global warming. The Arctic has lost 75 percent of its summer sea ice volume over the past three decades primarily due to human-caused global warming, but in any given year the weather can act to either preserve more or melt more sea ice. Last year the weather helped melt more ice, while this year the weather helped preserve more ice.


There is more on this matter HERE and HERE and HERE.



  1. Does the same principle apply to the current hurricane season?

  2. doc: Answer your own question. And while you’re at it, tell us where you stand on the issue of global warming.

    Are you a denialist like your hero Ron Johnson? Are you in league with the anti-science crowd that prevails in your political party? Or are you inclined to agree with the vast majority of climate scientists?

    I don’ recall that any of the many thousands of comments you’ve submitted here have clearly staked out a position on this important matter of climate change. Show some gumption, doc. Take a stand.

  3. First of all, it’s climate change and not global warming.

    Is the climate changing? You bet. Has been for my entire life.

  4. doc: I knew you’d wimp out.

    By the way, you’re wrong in saying it’s “not global warming.” More than 90 percent of climatologists say it IS global warming — and they say it’s caused by humans, no matter your hero Ron Johnson’s ridiculous theory that it’s principally caused by sunspots.

  5. OK so call it global warming. I even agree with the fact that the globe is in a warming trend and I can even agree that humans have had some impact on the overall warming trend.

    But so what? I have posted that on this blog before.

    I have also posted that the bigger question is now what? Not in a, I am liberal and want to use this crisis to increase my power sense, but in a, what can we practically do to address the issue?

    There may be consensus that warming is occurring but I don’t believe there is quite such a consensus on how much warming, or what that will mean for the planet. The same climate experts that predict warming predicted 11 major named hurricanes in the Atlantic this year.

  6. doc: Only a fool would say this: “The same climate experts that predict warming predicted 11 major named hurricanes in the Atlantic this year.”

    You apparently don’t know the difference between meteorology and climatology.

    Besides, nobody — repeat: nobody — predicted more than 5 or 6 major hurricanes in the Atlantic this year. So where did you get that nonsense about “11 major named hurricanes.”

    You’re supposedly a man of science, doc. Shouldn’t you be a little precise in the calculations you’re peddling?

  7. I stand corrected, not major hurricanes, but named storms.

    Now, how many named storms have we had? Do you consider this to be an active or extremely active season as predicted? Do you wonder about the effectiveness of long term models when even short term models are still not very accurate?


    In its 2013 Atlantic hurricane season outlook issued today, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting an active or extremely active season this year.

    For the six-month hurricane season, which begins June 1, NOAA’s Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook says there is a 70 percent likelihood of 13 to 20 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 7 to 11 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 6 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher).

    These ranges are well above the seasonal average of 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes.

  8. Bruce Richardson

    Mr. Cunningham, the long-term trend since the end of the last major glaciation has been a warming trend. That’s why the upper one third of the United States is no longer covered by ice. Glaciers formed during the ice age are still melting. The long-term trend since the end of the Little Ice Age in the middle 1800’s has been a warming trend. There was a temperature dip that ended around 1912. The long-term since then has been warming. The warming has always been in fits and starts. Long-term trends are composed of shorter term trends—some warming, some cooling, and some essentially flat.

    The chart that you included has some problems. First, the original data is by month. That was averaged by year before plotting. Nature doesn’t know about January and December. If the data is monthly, it should be plotted monthly. Smoothing can be useful sometimes, but it should be kept in mind that smoothed (averaged) data is changed data. Generally with data such as these, a 13-month centered moving average is about as far as I would go. Smoothing over 5 years (60 months) is excessive. The smoothed plot is no longer representative of the original data.. When I create a chart such as you have, I always show the original data with the smoothed plot on top. That way anyone can compare the smoothed data to the original data. With your chart, there is no way to do that. You can only compare the smoothed (averaged) over 5 years to data that has been averaged by the year.

    Indeed the data has downward dips of varying lengths. The trend since January 2001 was around +0.02°C per decade or +0.2°C per century. That is statistically flat, no warming or cooling. The last time we had a period that flat for that long was the period from November 1960 thru May 1973. That was about 40 years ago–before the most recent warming period began.

    There is no jumping for joy such as many who are not skeptical do whenever there is a heat wave, drought, or storms. I am concerned. We have to look back over 100 years to find solar activity as low as it is right now. The low solar activity is predicted to continue—perhaps for decades. The Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) has moved into a cool phase. The Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) is still in a warm phase but it seems to have peaked. There hasn’t been additional warming since around 2003. It could be headed back into a cool phase. There is a good chance that we may seem some cooling. If that cooling is significant, we could see shorter growing seasons and lower crop yields. That could cause great suffering in the third world.

    You mentioned the summer arctic sea ice minimum of 2012. The non-skeptical side made a big deal out of that without mentioning that it was caused by an unusual weather pattern over Arctic that year. Skeptics pointed out that unless 2013 saw the same type of weather pattern, there will be more ice is 2013. We were saying that while folks on your side were still talking about the “arctic death spiral.” You apparently have no doubt that this Arctic warm phase was caused primarily by humans. I have to wonder what caused the multitude of previous Arctic warm phases. There is land in Greenland that was being actively farmed by the Vikings during the Medieval warm period that is still frozen today. Those Viking settlements died out during the Little Ice Age. That is a cool phase that we are still coming out of. Hopefully it isn’t one that we are headed back in to.

  9. Pat, you apparently don’t understand how these predictions are generate, climatologists are involved in the predictions too.


    “Statistical models can generally reasonably well replicate hurricane activity … but there are always going to be years when you bust,” said Phil Klotzbach, a Colorado State University climatologist who heads a team that issues one the most closely watched long-range hurricane forecasts.

    “We issue our final seasonal forecast in early August. But if we did put out a mid-season update, I would certainly back down from the prediction considerably,” he said.

    Colorado State University slightly lowered its seasonal forecast on Aug. 2. But it still said 2013 would see above-average activity, with eight hurricanes and three that develop into major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher on the five-step Saffir-Simpson intensity scale.

  10. Pat – This link may be helpful for those like Ted Biondo who question the accuracy of temperature measurements in the 1800s.


    As for Bruce Richardson’s comment, he obviously is not aware of the drastic increased amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere directly caused by humans, nor is he aware of the accelerated pace of warming it has caused.

  11. Dan Pangburn

    Average global temperature history since 1975 is like a hill. We went up the hill from 1975 to 2001 where the average global temperature trend reached a plateau (per the average of the five government agencies that publicly report average global temperature anomalies). The average global temperature trend since 2001 has been flat to slightly declining but is on the plateau at the top of the hill. Claiming that the hill is highest at its top is not very profound. The temperature trend has started to decline but the decline will be slow; about 0.1 K per decade for the planet, approximately twice that fast for land areas.

    A licensed mechanical engineer (retired) who has been researching this issue (unfunded) for 6 years, and in the process discovered what actually caused global warming and why it ended, has four papers on the web that you may find of interest. They provide some eye-opening insight on the cause of change to average global temperature and why it has stopped warming. The papers are straight-forward calculations (not just theory) using readily available data up to May, 2013. (data through July made no significant difference)

    The first one is ‘Global warming made simple’ at http://lowaltitudeclouds.blogspot.com It shows, with simple thermal radiation calculations, how a tiny change in the amount of low-altitude clouds could account for half of the average global temperature change in the 20th century, and what could have caused that tiny cloud change. (The other half of the temperature change is from net average natural ocean oscillation which is dominated by the PDO)

    The second paper is ‘Natural Climate change has been hiding in plain sight’ at http://climatechange90.blogspot.com/2013/05/natural-climate-change-has-been.html . This paper presents a simple equation that, using a single external forcing, calculates average global temperatures since they have been accurately measured world wide (about 1895) with an accuracy of 90%, irrespective of whether the influence of CO2 is included or not. The equation uses a proxy which is the time-integral of sunspot numbers (the external forcing). A graph is included which shows the calculated trajectory overlaid on measurements.

    Change to the level of atmospheric CO2 has had no significant effect on average global temperature.

    The time-integral of sunspot numbers since 1610 which is shown at http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.com/2010/01/blog-post_23.html corroborates the significance of this factor.

    A third paper, ‘The End of Global Warming’ at http://endofgw.blogspot.com/ expands recent (since 1996) measurements and includes a graph showing the growing separation between the rising CO2 and not-rising average global temperature.

    The fourth paper http://consensusmistakes.blogspot.com/ exposes some of the mistakes that have been made by the ‘Consensus’ and the IPCC

  12. bradfregger

    Like all unabashedly liberal zealots you miss the point entirely.
    I will try to she’d some light on your liberal fantasy; not for you
    I’m sure your religious fanaticism is beyond help, much like
    Creationists you refuse to take science seriously.

    1) Us “deniers” do not deny climate change (that’s you guys).
    We deny AGW which is based on an disproven hypothesis.
    2) Your pathetic 160-year-old graph is but a blink of the eye
    within the process of climate change. It’s like people screaming
    about a new Noah’s flood because its raining heavily.
    3) Of course the graph is tending to go up, we’re coming out of
    a little ice age.
    4) If you understood science, you’d know the major problem the
    AGW fanatics (climate change deniers) have I’m their limited
    understanding of the scientific process: If the predictions based
    on the hypothesis are not realized, the hypothesis is WRONG.
    Every AGW prediction has been wrong, including the one that
    stated that the artic would be ice free by the year 2013.

    You can throw up all the graphs you want, they don’t mean a thing,
    the main hypothesis to prove AGW is wrong. That ends the ball
    game. Your team can stick around the playing field, wishing the
    result were different … But the rest of us are going home.

  13. Steverino

    Thanks Pat for pouring ice water on Biondo’s next ice age.

  14. Bruce Richardson

    Neftali, believers seem to want to assume that anyone who is skeptical of some of their claims is ignorant. In case you haven’t noticed, I am capable to making my point without making personal and derogatory remarks.

    Actually I have been tracking and plotting CO2, temperatures (NOAA, GISS, HadCRUT, UAH, and RSS), solar activity, and other natural cycles for many years. I would see charts and wonder why the heck would they plot it that way. I would first replicate that chart and then compare it to an honest chart. You will find one of my CO2 charts here in pdf format:


    Actual measurements only go back to around 1960. Older than that are from ice cores. You will notice that CO2 increased from around 300.4 ppm (0.030%) in 1912 to around 310.1 ppm (0.031%) in 1945. That’s an increase of around 9.7 ppm or about one thousandth of a percentage point. The core data goes further back to around 284.3 ppm in 1832. At around 220 ppm plants growth is greatly reduce. At around 120 ppm, it is unlikely that human life can exist on this planet. Both plants and humans require a certain amount of CO2

    CO2increased from around 310.1 ppm (0.031%) in 1945 to around 330.8 ppm (0.033%) in 1975. That’s an increase of around 20.68 ppm or about two one thousandth’s of a percentage point.

    It increased from around 330.8 ppm (0.033%) in 1975 to around 370.2 ppm (0.037%) in 2001. That’s an increase of around 39.46 ppm or about four thousandth’s of a percentage point.

    In increased from around 330.8 ppm (0.033%) in 2001 to around 400 ppm in (0.040%). That’s an increase of around 69.20 ppm or seven one thousandth’s of a percentage point.

    Those four periods represent the first warming period (1912-1945), a period of no warming (1945-1975), the second warming period (1975-2001). another period of no warming (2001-2013).

    Here is a chart showing the NOAA data with linear regressions showing those four periods. Notice that the actual data is plotted with the regression overlaying the data for comparison:


    Here is a chart that I need to update but it illustrates the difference between temperature increase and CO2 increase during the first and second warming periods.


    The first warming period had a rate of around +0.14°C per decade and a warming magnitude of a little over 0.5°C .

    The second warming period had a rate of around +0.14° per decade and a warming magnitude of around 0.4°C.

    We had two warming periods in the 20th Century that were of about the same rate and magnitude according to the NOAA Land & Oceans data. The change in atmospheric CO2 during the first was around a thousandth of a percentage point. During the second, the change was around four one thousandths of a percentage point. For times the increase in CO2 gave around the same rate and magnitude of warming.

    Mostly climate scientists attribute the first warming period to “natural cycles” and only talk about the second warming period without really explaining what the natural cycles were that caused the first. And without really explaining why those same natural cycles when again in a warm phase could not also be primarily responsible for the second warming period. So far, explanations for the lack of warming over the last 12 years have been strained.

    An increase in atmospheric CO2 of four thousandths of a percentage point is not what I would call “drastic.” I do think that humans probably are responsible for most of that increase. I also think that some of the increase in agricultural productivity is due to that increase. Plants get most of the carbon that they need from the CO2 in the air.

    We haven’t heard much about the Arctic Death Spiral lately. Maybe this chart will explain why. 🙂


  15. Bruce Richardson

    Neftali, I took a look at the chart that you provided the link to. That’s here:


    They didn’t plot the data. That’s the sort of chart that caused me to start downloading and plotting data for myself. It’s one of those “why the heck would they plot it that way” charts.

    They don’t show the actual data. They don’t tell us exactly what they did to that data before plotting it. The don’t tell us exactly when the plot ends. It’s low resolution with grid lines every 25 years. That allows the viewer to assume that the chart is current.

    OK. I replicated their chart. They averaged each year and then represented that year with a single data point at each July and then plotted those data points. They stopped their plot at January 2005 which effectively hides the part of their own data that shows no warming since 2001. Their chart makes it appear that the warming continues since 2001.

    Below is a link to my chart which tells the whole story. My chart shows the actual data since 2001 as the yellow plot.

    Their plot that stops at January 2005 is Red. The part that they lopped off without telling us is orange. The green plot shows how averaging by year changes the original data. The aqua plot is a linear regression from January 2001 through July 2013. The rate is -0.01°C per decade. Actually a very slight cooling but it’s really statistically flat–no warming or cooling.

    Their chart is deceptive. It would lead the average person to a false conclusion. Someone at NOAA has been doing this sort of thing for a number of years. The deception has to be intentional.

    Here is a link to my chart:


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