Climate Denial Crock of the Week/1998 Revisited

Mon, 2009-09-07 08:38Peter Sinclair
Peter Sinclair's picture

Climate Denial Crock of the Week/1998 Revisited

One of the enduring myths of climate denialism is that global warming stopped sometime in the last decade. I see it in the blaring headlines of pseudoscience websites, in comments on my videos, even some of our most “distinguished” journalists have been taken in.



The early part of the video talks about 3rd, 4th, 5th warmest Mays, Junes, July's or something. That would fit with cooling as well because cooling doesn't mean cold.

Not dealt with here are the recent headlines about 20 year cooling projections which would be something different than the 5-10 year cooling trends we see that would seem to be more related to Ocean cycles.

I realize that the current cooling trend isn't being considered cooling because of the unusual spike in 98, but a counter to that is that 98 was broadcast loudly as proof on AGW - thats a case of playing it both ways.

… needs to be diluted a little further. A “cooling” trend might reasonably be expected to include temperatures that are, well, COOL - or at least not in the top 10 per cent in recorded history. Yet 10 of the last 12 years - including eight of the last 10 - are among the hottest on record. ALL of the years since 2000 are hotter than ANY of the years before 1997. Google “global average temperature.” Look at any graph. And then give your head a shake. When Pat Michaels - one of the slipperyist profiteers ever to milk the denial machine - admits that global warming is real and that humans are to blame, that is exactly analagous to the fat lady singing. When Pat Michaels says, “Get over it” … well, I have to argue Rick old chap that it’s time to get over it.

My coffee is getting cold ... or I mean it's cooling, but it's still too hot to gulp down.

8 of the last 10 years are among the hottest on record, what a joke. If anyone thinks that every temperature since 2000 has been hotter than year before 1997 your crazy. You can't make this claim because we did not have devices to measure temperatures throughout most of history. And the fact that for most of history polar ice caps have not existed proves that temperatures have been much higher than what we are at right now. I have a question though Richard. Would it be more dangerous for the temperature to go up 2F or down 2F?

Might I suggest that you do a bit of homework? Try going to RealClimate: It's a very good primer on some of the basics that you don't seem to have grasped yet.

I look at real climate once in a while, but I generally stay away from it for the same reason I stay away from climate audit - they talk over my head or maybe they're just too in love with books and figures and graphs and white coats. Common sense of real world experience gets lost in all the math and scientific jargon.

"maybe they're just too in love with books and figures and graphs and white coats"

Gee, maybe they are actually talking FACTS -- now there's a concept! A web site about climate science written by climate scientists who answer questions & comments from other scientists -- imagine that!

I can't always make heads or tails about the technical stuff either, but the link to which I have referred Mr/Ms Shooshmon is for a page targetted at the layperson, not other scientists, and it is an excellent starting point.


Femack, was your comment directed toward me? I feel like I have a pretty good understanding of what's going on here. Everybody knows that a molecule of CO2 gives off infrared. We give off infrared simply by exhaling. I think the questions are what role the clouds play, how the earth's biomass adjusts to varying levels of CO2 and how fast infrared escapes into outerspace. Nobody here seems to want to discuss these issues. Who cares about if a trend shows cooling or warming. The temperature is gonna go up then down then up and down again and so on.

I was talking to you, and my suggestions stands. This site is about how people spin information to confuse the public about the science. If you want to talk science, go on over to RealClimate, read the "Start Here" section, and then jump into the conversation there. I'd be delighted to read what climate scientists would have to say about the validity of your position.


Dunning-Kruger effect said it all about shooshmon!

BS. 1998 was given as a symptom of things to come. 1998 was well-known to be a very strong El Nino event, perhaps exacerbated by AGW. However, nine of the warmest 10 years since the beginning of instrumental data were in the 1990s. This was used to prove the existence of AGW. This is not "playing it both ways" at all. It is simply stating the facts.

Also, you mention monthly temperature averages. Those mean really nothing in relation to AGW. It is just weather, really. String a whole bunch of months together and you're starting to approach what is considered "climate". String several years together and you're talking "climate" exclusively and not "weather".

Those 20-year cooling projections are complete BS, too. There may be a few cooler years within the span, but it is inconceivable that the average temperature of the next 20 years would be cooler than the previous 20 years with the greenhouse gases added. That is, unless we REALLY got our act together and dropped our GHG emissions by 70 or 80% over the next 10-20 years or so. Then again, the lag of temperature response to GHGs would probably render a cooling trend impossible anyway.

okay - but the projection does exist. I guess some people feel that something else is going to compensate for the CO2. Continued low sun activity or some such thing.

Commenter CM debunked the New Scientist article quite effectively here:

That debunk gives references to the actual audio that was inaccurately described by New Scientist.

Remember, NS is a lifestyle/entertainment niche magazine, not a science magazine.

Want a good science news magazine at that level of readability? Try this:

The sun remains in its noteworthy funk.....
Time will tell.

Littlemore says:

"A "cooling" trend might reasonably be expected to include temperatures that are, well, COOL - or at least not in the top 10 per cent in recorded history."

Littlemore, you show your complete lack of scientific and statistical knowledge in that statement. A cooling trend means a statistically significant decline in average temperature. It DOES NOT mean temperatures are necessarily cool. You can have a cooling trend and still have years that are well above the baseline average. The important thing is the temperature declines. I have conducted extensive statistical analyses on the GISSTemp HadCRUT and satellite data sets. There is a statistically significant cooling trend in all data sets over the 2000s.

Please Littlemore, don't show your complete ignorance just as your colleague Sinclair is ignorant, it just makes you both look like idiots. You cherry pick till the cows come home when statistics is against you.

Well, congratulations on your work. And maybe, for those such as yourself, I should have gone on at greater length about my apparently unschooled notion of a “trend.” If you want to discuss only and specifically the “trends” that have occurred in three or seven years, then I will concede that the trend line is decidedly down since 2005, but add that it is unquestionably up since 2000. (Here’s the link for the GISSTemp graph Of course, to really argue that the trend is UP from 2000 would be to ignore 1998 (which I don’t advise). And to suggest that temperature is actually trending DOWN over time would be to ignore reality. Please, PLEASE, muster your vast skills at statistical analysis and look at this graph. Consider, again, that every year since 2000 is warmer than any year (IN THE MODERN TEMPERATURE RECORD AS DEPICTED IN THIS GRAPH.) before 1997. Then, click on the video and sit patiently until the former denier-in-chief, Pat Michaels, himself, offers his last three words: “Get over it.”

Why have you used 2000 as a start point? That is cherry picking on a grand scale. Breakpoint analysis shows that there is a breakpoint in the temperature time series in December 1997. Therefore, 1998 should be used as a start point for statistical analysis. Again you show your propensity to cherry pick to support your argument. The graph you allude to is a graph of annual data only. A proper statistical analysis requires at least monthly data (which I have done). Again. It is not relevant that every year since 2000 is warmer than those before 1997. The fact is that warming has stopped for at least eight years and declined for that period in the satellite data set. Of course you cherry picked 2000 as it was the depth of a La Nina that followed the El Nino of 1997/8. Cool La Ninas commonly follow severe El Ninos. Know you data before you deign to comment.

A graph is not statistics.

If you look back in the comment string (“There is a statistically significant cooling trend in all data sets over the 2000s”) the choice of the year 2000 as a break point seems to be yours, not mine. As for your tortured comment that, “A graph is not statistics” - quite right. And a photo is not a perfect representation of its component parts, but it can be a darned handy reference. The great thing about this graph is that it starts in 1880, giving us the option of looking at a much longer-term trend - one that becomes more statistically reliable for the richness and depth of its data. I suggest you stop, just for a moment, the forced manipulations of your “breakpoint analysis,” and look at the whole data set. You might notice (as the best scientists in the world all have) that the earth is warming, alarmingly and consistently. You might notice, for example, that 8 of the 10 hottest years in the temperature record have occurred during your “cooling trend” of the last 10 years. (Or did I mention that already?)

From “The Guardian”, UK: Global warming to trigger “earthquakes, tsunamis, avalanches and volcanic eruptions.”

So that's official then. Thermageddon and the Ecopolypse will cause earthquakes, tsunamis, and then the seas will boil!!! The very crust beneath our feet will crack and swallow us up!!! Scientists are all in consensus on that!!! Why won’t you listen, you deniers, you heretics and apostates???? Doom, I tells ya, doom is fast approaching!!!!

Oh the weeping and gnashing of teeth!!! You stupid greedy SUV drivers and energy hogs!!! You have condemned us all and Life Itself to the fiery pits!!!!

okay - I'll listen - but just this once


This week, a United Nations panel on climate change issued one of its most urgent warnings to date, explaining that unless major changes to greenhouse gas emissions are made within the next few years, it will become extraordinarily difficult to ward off the worst impacts of climate change.

We cannot afford to lose another decade,” Ottmar Edenhofer, a German economist and co-chairman of the committee, told The New York Times...

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