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Secrets about global warming that you must not know, least they ruin the narrative

22 January 2013

Summary:  The climate refuses to continue warming and much of the US public refuses to believe forecasts of climate catastrophe. As a result the tone of the propaganda becomes increasingly hysterical, the disdain for science increasingly obvious. Here we contrast current agitprop with actual words of climate scientists. Read for yourself and decide.

"Earth On Fire" by Phil Plait

“Earth On Fire” by Phil Plait

Contents

  1. An example of hiding the science
  2. The UK met office says the decline might continue
  3. James Hansen sees the pause
  4. Some vital things to remember about global warming!
  5. For More Information

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(1)  An example of hiding the science

Debunking the Denial: ’16 Years of No Global Warming’”, Phil Plait (bio here), Slate, January 2013 — Opening:

The difficulties in debunking blatant antireality are legion. You can make up any old nonsense and state it in a few seconds, but it takes much longer to show why it’s wrong and how things really are.This is coupled with how sticky bunk can be. Once uttered, it’s out there, bootstrapping its own reality, getting repeated by the usual suspects.

Case in point: The claim that there’s been no global warming for the past 16 years. This is blatantly untrue, a ridiculous and obviously false statement. But I see it over and again online, in Op Eds, and in comments to climate change posts.

The good news is, Kevin C. from Skeptical Science has created a nice, short video showing just why this claim is such a whopper.

The video Plait considers so definitive was produced by Keven C., a computational scientist (see bio here). Also, it does not disprove the pause, it explains the cause (an astronomer like Plait should understand the difference):

… the following video clarifies how the interplay of natural and human factors have affected the short-term temperature trends, and demonstrates that underneath the short-term noise, the long-term human-caused global warming trend remains as strong as ever.

What Plait doesn’t mention is that the pause in warming has been affirmed by a wide range of experts:

  • by the IPCC,
  • by Phil Jones (Director of UEA’s Climate Research Unit), James Hanson (Chief, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies), The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project (links here).  by Judith Curry (Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology),
  • by (again) Phil Jones, and the UK Met Office (links here),
  • by a large body of peer-reviewed research (examples at both links), as well as graphs of the major temperature data series — which clearly show the pause.

Below are updates about the pause from the UK Met Office and James Hansen. Plait probably doesn’t want you to read them.

(2)  The UK met office says the decline might continue

The UK Met Office has previously discussed the pause in warming since roughly 1998. Their decadal forecast shows no statistically significant change as the most likely result forecast for the next five years (2013-2017).

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UK Met Office, 7 January 2013

UK Met Office, 7 January 2013

Figure 1: Observed and predicted global average annual surface temperature difference relative to 1971-2000. Retrospective predictions starting from June 1960, 1965, …, 2005 are shown as white curves, with red shading representing their probable range, such that the observations are expected to lie within the shading 90% of the time. The most recent forecast (thick blue curve with thin blue curves showing range) starts from November 2012. All data are rolling annual mean values.

Decadal Forecast“, UK Met Office, last updated 16 January 2013 — Excerpt:

Decadal forecasts, also called ‘near-term’ climate predictions, range up to a decade ahead. Predictions account for natural variability … Forecasts are experimental, so at this early stage of development skill levels vary from place to place and for different variables. … During 2012 our decadal prediction system was upgraded to use the latest version of our coupled climate model. The forecasts and retrospective forecasts shown here have been updated to reflect this change.

Global average temperature is expected to remain between 0.28 °C and 0.59 °C (90% confidence range) above the long-term (1971-2000) average during the period 2013-2017, with values most likely to be about 0.43 °C higher than average (see blue curves in the Figure 1 below).

The warmest year in the 160-year Met Office Hadley Centre global temperature record in 1998, with a temperature of 0.40°C above long-term average. The forecast of continued global warming is largely driven by increasing levels of greenhouse gases.

To learn more about this see “Decadal Forecasting – What is it and what does it tell us?” at the Met website.

For more forecasting work from the UK Met Office and by scientists from the Met Office and 12 other international research centres: “Real-time multi-model decadal climate predictions“, Doug M. Smith, Climate Dynamics, December 2012 — Red emphasis added. Excerpt:

Decadal climate prediction is immature, and uncertainties in future forcings, model responses to forcings, or initialisation shocks could easily cause large errors in forecasts. … in the absence of volcanic eruptions, global temperature is predicted to continue to rise, with each year from 2013 onwards having a 50% chance of exceeding the current observed record. Verification of these forecasts will provide an important opportunity to test the performance of models and our understanding and knowledge of the drivers of climate change.

(3)  James Hansen sees the pause

Global Temperature Update Through 2012“, James Hansen (Chief) M. Sato (Sr Staff Associate) and R. Ruedy (Manager), NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, 15 January 2013 — “Discussion of latest data.”  Excerpt (red emphasis added):

Global temperature thus continues at a high level that is sufficient to cause a substantial increase in the frequency of extreme warm anomalies. The 5-year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade, which we interpret as a combination of natural variability and a slowdown in the growth rate of the net climate forcing.

An update through 2012 of our global analysis1 (Fig. 1) reveals 2012 as having practically the same temperature as 2011, significantly lower than the maximum reached in 2010. These short-term global fluctuations are associated principally with natural oscillations of tropical Pacific sea surface temperatures summarized in the Nino index in the lower part of the figure. 2012 is nominally the 9th warmest year, but it is indistinguishable in rank with several other years, as shown by the error estimate for comparing nearby years. Note that the 10 warmest years in the record all occurred since 1998.

The long-term warming trend, including continual warming since the mid-1970s, has been conclusively associated with the predominant global climate forcing, human-made greenhouse gases2, which began to grow substantially early in the 20th century. The approximate stand-still of global temperature during 1940-1975 is generally attributed to an approximate balance of aerosol cooling and greenhouse gas warming during a period of rapid growth of fossil fuel use with little control on particulate air pollution, but satisfactory quantitative interpretation has been impossible because of the absence of adequate aerosol measurements.

Below we discuss the contributions to temperature change in the past decade from stochastic (unforced) climate variability and from climate forcings. …

GISS NASA, 15 January 2013

GISS NASA, 15 January 2013

(4)  Some vital things to remember about global warming!

While cheering madly (ie, irrationally, emotionally, hysterically) for their faction of scientists, laypeople often lose sight of the big picture — the key elements for making public policy.

The major global temperature measurement systems tell — broadly speaking — the same story since the late 1970s: two decades of warming, followed by a pause.

This is consistent with the larger firm conclusions of climate scientists: two centuries of warming, coming in pulses (ie, waves), with anthropogenic factors becoming the largest (not the only) drivers since roughly 1950.

(6)  For more information

To read other articles about these things, see the FM reference page on the right side menu bar.  Of esp relevance to this topic:

Other posts about climate forecasts:

  1. More forecasts of a global cooling cycle
  2. More about the forecast for flooded cities in the late 21st century
  3. Looking into the past for guidance about warnings of future climate apocalypses
  4. What can climate scientists tell about the drivers of future warming?
  5. What can climate scientists tell us about the drivers of future warming?  – part two of two
  6. Checking up on past forecasts about climate change, a guide to the future
  7. An optimistic &  successful (so far) forecast by an eminent climate scientist

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