Skeptical Science: heads in the sand

Un-Sk Ps-Sc on the Pause and models

Un-Sk Ps-Sc on the Pause and model accuracy

Even Nature has acknowledged that the Pause is real, and that the models are missing something:

Average global temperatures hit a record high in 1998 — and then the warming stalled. For several years, scientists wrote off the stall as noise in the climate system: the natural variations in the atmosphere, oceans and biosphere that drive warm or cool spells around the globe. But the pause has persisted, sparking a minor crisis of confidence in the field. Although there have been jumps and dips, average atmospheric temperatures have risen little since 1998, in seeming defiance of projections of climate models and the ever-increasing emissions of greenhouse gases. […]

But none of the climate simulations carried out for the IPCC produced this particular hiatus at this particular time. That has led sceptics — and some scientists — to the controversial conclusion that the models might be overestimating the effect of greenhouse gases, and that future warming might not be as strong as is feared.

But let’s take a look at the headbangers over at Un-Skeptical Pseudo-Science. To start with, the Pause. In 2008, the page read as follows:

Did global warming stop in 1998?

1998 was an unusually hot year as it featured the strongest El Nino of the century. In fact, from Jan to May, 2007 is tied with 1998 as hottest year on record. The WMO reported in August that January and April 2007 were the hottest on record.

However, when determining trends, you don’t pick one month or year out of isolation – particularly if that year features a short term weather anomaly like El Nino. By this method, based on the fact that 2005 was .17°C hotter than 2000, you could conclude that the rate of global warming doubled from 2000 to 2005.

Using the fudged surface temperature sets, Un-Sk Ps-Sc was still able to claim the climate was still warming (phew). Fast forward to 2014. Another six years of no warming, and the only alternative is to… er, change the subject to ocean heat instead:

There’s also a tendency for some people just to concentrate on surface air temperatures when there are other, more useful, indicators that can perhaps give us a better idea how rapidly the world is warming. Oceans for instance — due to their immense size and heat storing capability (called ‘thermal mass’) — tend to give a much more ‘steady’ indication of the warming that is happening. Here records show that the Earth has been warming at a steady rate before and since 1998 and there’s no signs of it slowing any time soon.

And the evidence for this is from a paper by one of their own – Dana Nuccitelli. Handy!

How about the accuracy of models in 2008? Un-Sk Ps-Sc used some graphs cut and pasted from the IPCC’s third assessment report (in 2001), to fool the sheep into believing that models were just perfect:

Cut and paste from 2001

Cut and paste from 2001

They then claim that observed temperatures “closely match” Hansen’s Scenario B, helped no doubt by the multiple fudge factors applied to GISS temperature data. If satellite data had been used instead, the argument would be far less compelling.

Today’s version of the page is still using those graphs from 2001, now a whole two IPCC reports out of date. It still plugs the Hansen Scenario B, despite the observed temperature series ending in 2005.

And just today, Nuccitelli, writing in his ‘97%’ column in the Guardian uses a figure which conveniently supports the same position, despite the fact that balloon and satellite data show an increasing divergence between observations and models.

Which image do Cook & Nuccitelli pick?

Which image do Cook & Nuccitelli pick?

When the usually warmist Nature concedes that something is happening to the climate system which was not forecast by the models, then you should listen.

And in fact, most ‘proper’ scientists would look at this as an opportunity to further the understanding of the drivers of climate change, both natural and anthropogenic, but the headbangers at Un-Sk Ps-Sc would much rather stick their heads in the sand and pretend nothing has changed.

It could almost be said that they were denying the reality… but that would be petty, wouldn’t it?


  1. It’s an old one of mine, but thought you might enjoy it.

  2. The child-like logic of Skeptical Science, alarmists one-stop shop for all things global warming, beggars belief.

    From their in-house Guru, Nuccitelli, to their founder and celestial-like Cook, you’d have to wonder just how far they’d go to keep the faith. The scientific process is thrown aside in favour of Kool-aid mythology, to the prophecies Nuccitelli and Cook.

  3. They continue to use the 1998 El Nino meme by claiming that the hiatus started there. But if you use Sks’ own trend calculator you can go back into 1995 (eg 1995.75 – 2013.99) and not get a statistically significant warming trend even for such dubious datasets as GISS.
    It suits their purposes to claim that 1998 was the start year because they can then assert that those evil skeptics are just cherry-picking. But pretty much all datasets show no warming trend since 1996.

  4. Please forgive my layman’s ignorance if there’s a blatant flaw in my logic. I write this expecting correction, not as a statement of scientific fact.

    We are told that if all CO2 emissions stopped immediately, global temperatures would continue to rise for another 50 years plus minus while the climate system achieves something called “equilibrium.” Fair enough.

    Now let’s think about the “Paws.” Perhaps this is a result of the climate system having achieved some sort of equilibrium?

    So let’s have a look at what changed about 50 years ago. The most obvious is that Total Solar Irradiance (TSI) stopped rising and has remained fairly static since. In other words, a “Paws.”

    But the warmists are fond of telling us that the sun can’t be a factor in warming because temperatures continued to rise while TSI remained flat.

    Could it just possibly be that the Sun is the major climate forcing? Could it just possibly be that, while the Greenhouse Effect is indubitably valid science, the famous feedbacks are in fact negative and exactly offset it?

    Or am I making the classic fallacy of “Correlation does not mean causation”?

  5. Reblogged this on CACA.


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