The science is settled: no warming

Published at Quadrant Online on March 26, 2013

The planet is no longer warming. The brief warming episode of the late 20th century completed its course in the mid 1990s, and is now extinct. These are now uncontroversial statements. They are based on hard data which has been available for many years on the websites of many official agencies. But somehow those agencies found ways to interpret the data differently, and to continually sidestep the elephant in the room.


This is an adopted article.

The IPCC report of 2007 came and went, failing to detect — or at least failing to acknowledge — that global warming was no more. On the contrary, “it’s worse than we thought” was the rallying cry throughout the lead-up to the COP15 at Copenhagen.

But the prevarication couldn’t last forever. Three years ago, CRU’s Phil Jones admitted to the BBC that there had been no statistically significant warming since 1995.

The pace picked up when the UK Met Office models surreptitiously projected a 20-year standstill on Christmas Eve 2012; and then James Hansen — oft described as the father of global warming — confirmed a “pause” of a decade or more. Now the whole house of cards has finally tumbled with Rajendra Pachauri, official spokesman for the IPCC, confirming in Melbourne that global temperatures have plateaued for 17 years.

Will global warming ever start again? Nobody knows.

The long flat trend will of course be replaced by a new trend at some future point, but its eventual sign and slope are inscrutable. The as-yet-unidentified combination of forces driving the current standstill might break in any direction.

Dead or simply resting?

Some diehards contend that a 16-17 year plateau is too short a period to comprise a flat trend. But actions speak louder than words, and much shorter trends have been seen as decisive in the past.

The 1992 Rio Conference founded a major international treaty on a warming trend that was 12 years old. Hansen’s 1988 launch of the DAGW campaign was little more than a decade after scientists had feared the beginning of a new ice age.

It is widely acknowledged that 15+ years is ample to determine a trend:

  • In 2008, the NOAA reported that 15 years of zero trends would invalidate the expected warming rate.
  • On May 7, 2009, a leading climate modeller emailed colleagues: “the ‘no upward trend’ needs to continue for 15 years before we get worried.”
  • In 2011, Dr Ben Santer averred that a ‘hiatus period’ of 17 years would be required to negate the ‘human fingerprint’ shown in climate models.
  • Gavin Schmidt on “You can’t use short-term (15 years or less) trends to prove that global warming has or hasn’t stopped.”

Let us turn to the best-practice manual for climatology, the “Guide to Climatological Practices” (3rd Edition) published by the World Meteorological Organisation in 2011. At 4.8.1, under the heading “Period of Calculation”:

“A number of studies have found that 30 years is not generally the optimal averaging period for normals used for prediction. The optimal period for temperatures is often substantially shorter than 30 years, but the optimal period for precipitation is often substantially greater than 30 years… In general the most recent 5- to 10-year period of record has as much predictive value as a 30-year record.”

Blatant misuse of language

Following Dr Pachauri’s admission, we can expect a spin barrage built on words like “hiatus,” “remission,” “lull,” “time-out,” “stalled” and “paused.”

The use of a term like “pause” is a blatant misuse of language. It relies upon an evidence-free prophesy that the deceased trend will some day be resurrected. It is no more than Freudian wish-fulfillment.

There have been three distinct warming episodes since the instrumental record began — 1860-80,1912-40 and 1978-96 — but nobody suggests that any of them were linked by a “pause”. Some historians argue that the two World Wars were a single event with a 21-year ‘intermission,’ but few find this convincing.

The statistical fact is that the late 20th century warming trend is history. It is over. It is so yesterday. As Monty Python’s immortal “Dead Parrot” sketch illustrates so vividly, there is a vast gulf between “resting” and “dead.”

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15 Thoughts on “The science is settled: no warming

  1. Alexander K on 30/03/2013 at 3:10 pm said:

    Allied with this message is that the Brit Met Office, courtesy of the pronouncements of their Head Scientist, Julia Slingo, has admitted that their ability to carry out accurate climate forecasting is roughly similar to a 50/50 bet, despite their claims for their supa-doopa climate modelling and their equally supa-doopa computer. This has surfaced due to their woeful forecasting being very wrong again for this year, plus the unfortunate fact that most of their forecasts have a pronounced warming bias built in to them for 9 of the 10 years of the last decade. Their supercomputer seems able only to give inaccurate results faster!
    The Malthusian Greens seem to have no qualms over killing the very old, the very young and the infirm and current; the Winter death statistics due to extreme cold and to artificially-inflated costs for home heating fuels in the UK make horrifying reading.
    The NZ equivalent to the Brit Met Office, NIWA, have promoted the idea of climate warming as our collective fault so effectively that many of our citizens accept and believe it . I was shopping in our local branch of The Warehouse this morning and saw a large sign above the tills which explained that The Warehouse’s heating is currently turned down to assist the community to overcome Global Warming – what utterly fatuous unscientific rubbish!

    • a large sign above the tills which explained that The Warehouse’s heating is currently turned down to assist the community to overcome Global Warming

      It’s almost too much trouble, isn’t it, to ask them what their evidence is, or what proof they have that that is so? In New Zealand, to question the validity of a public sign is to make a fuss. Nobody wants to make a fuss! Everyone wants to go about their business and by extension to let everyone else go about their business without hindrance. To question is to oppose, and to oppose is anti-social. For the seeker after truth, what is to be done? There must be an answer — there must be a way to bring falsehood to the attention of our fellow citizens. Perhaps a public meeting? A blog? A scientific paper? A letter to the editor? A complaint to the wife? A visit from Lord Monckton?

    • Perhaps we could advise the best way for The Warehouse to combat “global warming” is to stop importing Chinese made rubbish that lasts a few weeks max.

      Of course, Easter Eggs are OK, and a jolly happy Easter to one and all!

  2. The death loving Eco-facsists gentlepeople at Hot Topic have a somewhat different view on Barry’s article.

    However, I notice that the estimable Neil Henderson clearly knows his stuff (on the Fed Farmers thread), and has got Prof Dave Frame to concede a couple of points on the methane issue. Hats off to that man!

    • Barry on 01/04/2013 at 11:58 am said:

      Despite the charmless headline, Gareth doesn’t seem to have any counter arguments worth considering.

      He believes ice is still melting and the seas still rising without the aid of atmospheric warming, but offers no explanation for this magic.

      Warm water apparently sinks to the ocean depths, leaving no trace on or near the surface. Once ensconced there, it exercises some mysterious remote influence causing glaciers to retreat everywhere and droughts to occur in Australia.

    • From Renowden (h/t Richard C):

      “Warming will stop only when atmospheric CO2 stabilises and the oceans reach thermal equilibrium, which isn’t going to happen any time soon.”

      How dreadful for the future of the human race, that we might never be free of the awful consequences of our CO2 emissions. How convenient for those who would rule us, that they might never run out of justification to control us.

      But there’s no reason to believe that warming might continue, when it clearly has stopped already for so long. The talk of ocean heat “buildup” is unsubstantiated, highly controversial and similar to warnings from advertisers about scale buildup in our shower, which we manage to address without revolutionary change.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 01/04/2013 at 12:23 pm said:

      Barry you beat me to it but I addressed Renowden’s bottom line (re OHC) down-thread here:-

      He really needs (but prefers otherwise) to look at the latest OHC data objectively (all entirely consistent with the solar driver explanation BTW).

  3. David on 31/03/2013 at 8:58 am said:

    They seem to be getting even more shrill at Hot Topic. The abuse flies thick and fast. The panic is setting in I think. It would be nice to point out how Steve McIntyre has caught John Cook from SKS as being a total liar over the Lewandowski paper but who needs the drama.

    • Yes, who, indeed?

    • David on 01/04/2013 at 1:18 pm said:

      Also you just know that if anyone makes an unfavourable comment that Gareth and Ken will be looking at the IP address, checking out the poster’s home address and phone number. Using that info to do a google search and putting it all in a little file…..

      Yep, that heats all down deep in the Ocean and pretty soon will jump out and yell “surprise!”
      Its April Fools Day every day at Hot Topic.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 01/04/2013 at 12:02 pm said:


      “Warming will stop only when atmospheric CO2 stabilises and the oceans reach thermal equilibrium, which isn’t going to happen any time soon.”

      He refers, via Masters re OHC, to Balmaseda et al., 2013 that only looks at the global aggregate (not basin-by-basin) and terminates analysis at 2009. Since 2009 there are indicators, both in upper (last 4 yrs) and deeper ocean (last 1 yr), that OHC is in fact stabilizing (reaching thermal equilibrium).

      Gareth is in for a rude wake-up very soon if he insists on relying on out-of date data. And then who will really be the “snotty faced” one, with copious egg too, sitting on a “heap of parrot droppings”?

    • Richard C (NZ) on 01/04/2013 at 6:19 pm said:

      Judith Curry on Balmaseda et al:-

      “Lets assume for the moment that the sequestration of heat in the deep ocean since 2000 is robust. What might be the cause of this, and what is the physical mechanism? Well, the only conceivable mechanism is associated with ocean circulations, driven internally by thermohaline processes or by the wind driven circulation. The reanalyses can be used in principle to diagnose what is going here in terms of which ocean basin/region is leading this effect, seasonality, etc. So what happened circa 2000? Well, there was climate shift associated with a massive reorganization of circulation patterns in the Pacific. Is this of relevance? Who knows, no one has done the analysis on this to my knowledge.”

      “The important point to me is that the new ocean reanalysis products support much more comprehensive diagnostics of heat transfer and storage in the ocean, including dynamical mechanisms in the context of overall climate dynamics. Focusing on a global trend from the reanalysis data isn’t how to extract the useful content from these data, IMO.”

      Bob Tisdale on Balmaseda et al:-

      “I find the title of the paper somewhat odd. The paper is based on the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) Ocean Reanalysis ORAS4. That reanalysis is described in detail in the Balmaseda et al (2012) paper (submitted) Evaluation of the ECMWF Ocean Reanalysis ORAS4. Basically, the reanalysis is the product of a climate model that has data rolled into it. Since volcanic aerosols and sea surface temperatures are used as inputs, it should therefore come as no surprise that the reanalysis will include the “distinctive climate signals” associated with El Niños and volcanic eruptions.”

      “Curiously, looking back at my Figure 1, the only acceleration appears in the red “ORAS4 without bias correction” for depths of 700m to 2000m, but that should have been excluded from Balmaseda et al (2013).”

      “A reanalysis is an even more abstract form of ocean heat content “data”—one that also requires “corrections” to provide the desired results.”

  4. From the weather is not climate dept, this photo shows the snow cover in the Cairngorm mountains of Scotland at Easter 2013

    My friend who took the photo reports the best ski conditions he has ever experienced in Scotland, with a metre base of solid snow, a dusting of powder, and minus 15 degrees temps.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 01/04/2013 at 1:16 pm said:

      What will be the after effects Andy? That is, there will have to be higher temperatures to thaw at some stage, how long will that take and when? And that’s a lot of H2O to move, if the thaw is abrupt wouldn’t they be anticipating flooding?

      There’s enough drag on the NH economies already (in de-humanized terms), the two above scenarios would only add to that. Especially if there are even more animal stock losses for example (not sure about Scotland here). Those losses are of future stock levels impacting on the ongoing sustainability that farming is based on.

    • There will be flooding when the temperatures warm up. Then we can blame that on “climate change” and build more windmills to make it go away

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