Climate over the long-term

A huge difference between children and adults is perspective.  With a greater perspective, ups and downs can be put in better context.  Visiting with those who lived during the "great depression" don't see the recent "great recession" as much of a atrophy as the younger generation does.

Similarly, a look at global temperatures over time can put the current climate change into better perspective.  A lot, unfortunately, depends on what graph we use.  There is no consensus on which data set to use, as is seen in this UN IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) graph.

IPCC Temperature Reconstruction

I've already written about accuracy of measurement and using indirect measurement to "reconstruct" temperature records, but for purposes of providing perspective, we can take the following graphs of data at face value.  The graph above shows temperature in the Northern Hemisphere for the past 1300 years.  Notice the scale is in tenths of a degree.

World on verge of ‘mini ice age’ ? Geophysicist rejects global warming theory , page 1

Notice the scale on the sides is not tenths of a degree but in an entire degree.  Now notice the far right where we see present day temperatures.  It's been substantially warmer and colder than it is now--not by fractions of a degree, but many degrees.  Somehow humans survived--and even thrived.

Going back even farther, a peer-reviewed scientific paper from Denmark shows ice core samples from 1.4 billion years ago indicate that the "Same forces as today caused climate changes 1.4 billion years ago."  Perspective helps.

It is astonishing to think so many think that right now is the best temperature for the earth.  Wine used to be a major commodity grown and made in England--which can be seen with so many streets in London, including Vine Street, named after wine making that was popular during Roman times.  Oregon now has a thriving grape industry--something that wasn't practical in the 1970's when many were worried about global cooling as seen in this Newsweek article titled "The Cooling World."

Additionally, when Vikings first came to North America, they called the place "Vinland" because of the grapes growing there.  Remember that was probably in Newfoundland, which is not now well known for growing grapes.

People in the Northern Hemisphere love going to warmer areas of the world like California, Florida, and the Mediterranean because they like it there.  Statistically, more people die when it's cold than when it's warm..  Perhaps this warming trend is a good thing.


Perhaps the most damning argument against the "consensus" of man-made global warming can be seen in what has become known as "Climategate."  In short, in November of 2009, a file of data, documents, computer code for graphs, and emails that appears to have been collected for a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request was leaked or taken without permission from University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit (CRU) located in the United Kingdom.  It seems to show real and deliberate collusion among scientists to promote the view of man-made global warming and suppress information that was counter to that view.

I've personally read many of the emails that show obstruction toward releasing the requested information, comments on how to suppress inconvenient Wikipedia posts, data and papers, and I even saw computer code where the programmer puts in his notes to add and subtract from the real data points so the graph looks the way they want.

The media and the alarmists mostly dismiss all this as "stolen" or "hacked" emails that "show a few scientists in a bad light, being rude or dismissive," but one must ask, "if the science is so sound and certain, why try to suppress and hide data?"  It convinced the highly esteemed climatologist Judith Curry that something was wrong and it changed her mind completely about the soundness of the "scientific consensus."  She went public with her view in this interview, but the resultant backlash by colleagues made her retire from her tenured faculty position at Georgia Tech University--not because of her formerly praised ability and credentials, but because of abuse by colleagues.

This kind of behavior clearly shows a lot of the climate debate is really politics, not science.

To read more details:

Are Glaciers Melting?

Are glaciers melting?  Yes.  They do every year during warmer seasons.  They also grow back during colder seasons.  From the data, it does suggest most are are melting more than they grow.  That said, not all do--and a significant portion do not, including many in Greenland, and especially in Antarctica recently where growth dwarfs the area of most other northern glaciers combined.

Oscillations in the Antarctic and Arctic are below.  Notice the enormous fluctuations are in millions of square kilometers.  Notice also the time scale only goes back to 1979.  There is often an increase in the Southern Hemisphere when there is a decrease in the Northern Hemisphere.

The most recent growth in Antarctica is so massive it is actually contributing to a lowering of sea level rise.

Earth has had five ice ages that scientists can determine.  The most recent ice age ended about 11,000 years ago.  A look at the Earth's temperatures over the millennia shows this relatively recent warming trend is not the largest ever threat to mankind.

From a geologic standpoint the Earth is in a warming phase--not man made, but natural--so many glaciers should naturally be melting away, otherwise much of Northern US would be under ice.  I'm sure the people of Michigan, Wyoming, and Montana are glad it's warmed up.  Perhaps the people of Canada, Alaska, Scandinavia, and Siberia will be, too.

Are Sea Levels Rising?

Reading a National Geographic article on sea level rise reminds me of some of the things in my post about how to make good scientific measurements (and how not to): measuring equipment needs to be consistent or well-calibrated over many years.  This particular article talks about records and measurements going back to 1880.  I am not suggesting there is no sea level rise, just how much we are scientifically certain about and whether the records are representative of what is going on across the entire world.

The claim is that there is a 3.2 mm (about 1/8th of an inch) rise each year and that the rate is increasing. As with global temperature changes, one rarely sees in mainstream journals whether or not levels have ever dropped or whether they are located evenly across the globe so that they are a good indicator of global levels, as opposed to just several local ones.  For example, according to one source, Poland has the world's the oldest tide gauge, which provides records back to 1808. In the United States, the farthest back is 1856 when two tide gauges were put in operation with one in New York and one in San Francisco.  That's not very much coastline to do make many claims about global changes.  One must assume then, that indirect or proxy measurements are used for sea levels during this era and prior to it.  Indirect measurements are not as accurate as direct measurements.

A look at the Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level (PSMSL) map clearly shows the many modern accurate measurements only go back 30 years.  (Click on "Series Length" to see in black the number of sites that go back less than 30 years.)  Very few go back more than 100 years--especially in the Western Hemisphere and Australia.

One also must account for rising and sinking of the land--which was discovered and now determined by satellite measurements.  For example, Vienna and New Orleans are sinking and Alaska and Scandinavia are rising.  We don't know for sure what areas were doing prior to being able to make such land movement measurements.   Are those measures as accurate as they are now in terms of both rising and falling, and in terms of when those rises and falls occurred?

Additionally, if one is to say man-made warming is causing sea level changes, he or she must all account for sea level changes caused by:
  • The tides, caused by the moon
  • Large and small waves caused by wind and the tides
  • High- and low-pressure areas in the atmosphere, which change the surface level of the ocean
  • Temperature changes in the ocean, which change the density and volume of the water
  • Rainfall and river water flowing into the ocean
Again, the current hysteria about future flooding disasters along the coasts could be correct, but given all the uncertainty about how much rise is occurring what is causing any claimed rise needs to be looked at critically--and reported, which it is not.

Good science requires one to also look at how that data is aggregated and look at claims that are contrary to the current view.  A 2017 peer reviewed article claims that some sea levels are actually stable:
The reconstructed tide gauge records of Aden, Mumbai and Karachi are perfectly consistent with multiple lines of evidence from other key sites of the Indian Ocean including Qatar, Maldives, Bangladesh and Visakhapatnam. The sea levels have been stable since the start of the twentieth century in Aden similar to Karachi and Mumbai.
This article did not get much press coverage in 2017, but it should have.  Additionally, this finding is in direct opposition to what the data looks like after it was aggregated by the PSMSL.  The authors are very direct, saying, the adjustments are "highly questionable" and "suspicious" because there are no scientific reasons for them, and that "the adjustments are always in the direction to produce a large rise in sea level."

If these accusations are true, not only are sea levels in certain areas not rising, but data to suggest rising sea levels is being falsified to give that particular result.  Definitely not good science.

Much more of this peer reviewed article is quoted here.

"Temperatures have never risen this fast!"

When doing scientific studies, one's greatest precision of measurement is based on the least accurate instrument.  For example, if you're measuring two bodies of water, one with the precision of a 10th of a degree and the other within a half a degree, your precision for the entire comparison is only half a degree.  Additionally, the accuracy of those thermometers need to be compared against a standard to ensure they are calibrated.

When measuring climate, this rule seems to be be ignored. The precision of modern thermometers is between 0.2 and 0.6 of a degree Celsius.  But temperature records go back to times before that precision.  How accurate were the thermometers before our current digital ones?  Were they placed across the globe sufficiently to give a real idea of global climate?  Probably not--especially if we go back before the 1900's.  (Are they even so now?  Most are placed in North America and Western Europe.  Much fewer are in Asia, Australia and South America.) In the graph below from the UN's IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change), it shows direct temperature records go back to the 1850's and implies they are accurate to within a less than 10th of a degree--better than today!

As we go back to times before someone had an actual thermometer placed at a station, scientists use "proxy data" such as tree rings, marine sediment cores, or ice cores to measure the temperature.  These are not direct measurements, but rather indirect measurements based on assumptions.  How accurate are those indirect measurements?  Frankly, we really don't know.  We can't go back thousands of years and do a real comparison.  It is an assumption--probably based on current models, but are they accurate withing a degree?  Less than a degree?

Northern Hemisphere Temperature Reconstructions by the UN's IPCC:
IPCC Temperature Reconstruction

This looks very official and scientific and seems to prove things are warming faster than ever, but notice the scale on the sides and the changes in the 900's through 1100's.  We must ask are our reconstruction records accurate to withing a 10th of a degree?  A more honestly displayed reconstruction the IPCC data shows the margin of error in shaded gray:

Both of these graphs show substantial variability within a short period of time, but again, they are using proxy data, not direct measurements.  Additionally, we need to ask from how many locations were the proxy data samples taken.

To be clear, I am not denying that there does seem to be a slight (half a degree) temperature increase--which is less than the change than you get from a slight breeze--it's the claim that the increase has never been faster.  Even accepting the graph above at face value, there are other parts that have changed quickly, but again, there is an assumed precision here that is not provable.

The false assumption of precision is accepted by the media.  When one article declares, "Global temperature rise is fastest in at least 11,000 years, study says," it is obvious that someone is engaging in sensationalism.  In this particular article, it admits that the temperature records are "reconstructed temperatures records" which  has "natural variability over the study's time span accounts for roughly 1 degree C."  So the assumption is that "reconstructed" temperatures are accurate withing one degree and that one degree is "natural variability."

Then the article says later:
According to the reconstruction, global average temperatures increased by about 0.6 degrees Celsius (1 degree Fahrenheit) from 11,300 to 9,500 years ago. Temperatures remained relatively constant for about 4,000 years. From about 4,500 years ago to roughly 100 years ago, global average temperatures cooled by 0.7 degrees C. 
So reconstructed data from tree rings, ice cores and other indirect proxy data is accurate within a 10th of a degree Celsius?! That's again better than our actual direct measurements today!  Remarkable.

In addition to the accuracy of the temperatures, they are also using proxy data to determine times.  Today we know what time of day the measurements are taken and determine a yearly average.  Can we be so accurate to determine what year a marine sediment was or an an ice core?  It is bad science to suggest we can go from direct temperature readings to indirect temperature reconstruction and claim we have a continuous, accurate record showing it's getting warmer faster than ever.

Which side is the one that is ignoring science?

Related articles:

Are the Current Climate Models Predictive?

One of the great myths of the modern age is that with more technology, the better we are at predicting weather.  It is ironic, as well, that given what we know weather forecasts beyond five days become increasingly less accurate, yet we can somehow predict climate (which is the prevailing, or average, condition of weather in a particular area) 100 years from now.

Growing up, weather forecasts used to almost always give the percentage, say 20%, chance of rain.  Now it doesn't seem so as frequent, but it's still part of the forecast--just not the reporting.  Really, what is going on is that given current conditions, looking historically, 20% of the time it rained and 80% of the time it didn't.

Sadly, climate forecasts--especially by politicians--are presented as being extremely certain.  So how do they actually measure up?  There two ways to test them:

  1. Wait and see and then compare, and
  2. Take conditions we know existed in the distant past and them predict the "future" from that time to the present, and then compare them to the actual historical data. This latter method is often called "backcasting" as opposed to forecasting.

Fortunately, since the beginning of the man-made global warming claims and climate models started at least in the 90's, we have nearly 30 years of data to do both.

John Christy, a renowned climate scientist, testified before the US House Committee on Natural Resources on May 13, 2015 about the accuracy of climate models.  Part of his testimony can be found on YouTube here.  He took 102 climate model predictions, averaged them and compared them to the climate actually experienced by 2015.  Here's his graph:

Image result for john christy target graph

Granted, there is debate on whether this is a fair representation (pro and con), but in each of the discussions of why it's inaccurate, it is admitted that there are "uncertainty ranges" in predictions (and measurements (see a prior post on How to Make Good Scientific Measurements).  Those uncertainty ranges are for the predicted temperatures are more than half a degree.  Look at the left scale on this graph.  That's more than half the entire graph.  That means the accuracy of "catastrophic scenarios" is very suspect.   Here is a more detailed and updated representation of the graph above:

Simply put, graphs of our future temperatures are artificially (albeit scientifically) smoothed and averaged to make them appear to be more certain.  

Patrick J. Michaels in his book, Meltdown, does backcasting of two climate models from about 1993 back to 1905.  In one model, says one economist reviewer, Thayer Watkins, "the backcast change in temperature was 96 percent higher than the observational change of the eighty eight year period. That is nearly a 100 percent error per century."

Additionally, if there are 102 models used, one would assume they are all different because of different assumptions--which is accurate.  All models must include and omit real-world elements and disagree on small assumptions.  The UN International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) uses 22 models in its reports.  If the science were "settled" then we shouldn't need 22 or 102 different models.

Additionally, climate scientists Patrick Michaels and Paul Kappenberger presented a paper that compared observed global surface temperature warming rates since 1950 to what was predicted by 108 climate models used by government climate scientists to predict how much carbon dioxide emissions will warm the planet.

What they found was the models projected much higher warming rates than actually occurred.  “During all periods from 10 years (2006-2015) to 65 (1951-2015) years in length, the observed temperature trend lies in the lower half of the collection of climate model simulations,” the said, “and for several periods it lies very close (or even below) the 2.5th percentile of all the model runs.”

The Union of Concerned Scientists in one of it's articles says in defense of these models that they have gotten better in recent years and, "that the simulations accurately predicted the warming experienced in the past decade to within a few hundredths of a degree."

This is an absolutely astonishing statement by a scientist given that the direct measurements are no more accurate than 0.2 - 0.6 degrees, and any good high school teacher science teacher will tell you that scientific results can be no better than your least accurate measurement.  The significant digits in this case can only be tenths of a degree--not hundredths.

To be clear, the argument here isn't that there is no warming, but how much how accurate are the predictions and are they sufficient to invest literally trillions of dollars that are being encouraged to be spent on mitigating this said crisis?

Good Scientific Theory is Disprovable

Along with the scientific process of observe, hypothesize, experiment and draw conclusions, two things are implicit in making something scientific:
  1. It’s disprovable
  2. It’s predictive
Being willing give up long established beliefs is difficult for many.  I remember being younger and arguing yet realizing I was wrong.  The mark of a mature person is a willingness to change one's mind after proper evidence. So, is your belief that global warming is man-made disprovable? Or the contrary, is your belief that global warming isn't man-made disprovable? What would it take for someone to convince you you're wrong on the subject? 

If nothing would – it’s a religion for you so there’s no point in having a scientific discussion
There are several good articles about religion versus science.  One by Walter Williams ends with this:
Political commentator Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956) warned that "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed -- and hence clamorous to be led to safety -- by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."
Society, and particularly politics relies on a crisis.  Several politicians have said, "Never let a good crisis go to waste."  It's harder during a crisis to think critically and scientifically--especially being willing to admit that the course one is on may be the wrong direction.

As mentioned in my first post about why I started this blog,  "in the 70's, I vividly recall every nature show I ever watched ended with the obligatory comment that man was the greatest threat to nature.  I read the same message in my Weekly Reader in grade school. that we were overpopulating the earth, and that our pollution was destroying the climate and going to cause...the next ice age."

In the 90's things dramatically changed and the fear became the opposite:  global warming.  About the same time I read the well footnoted book, Trashing the Planet, by oceanographer Dixie Lee Ray and learned a great many other things I heard as a child may not be true.

The scientific process thrives on the assumption that we keep the old theory until a better one comes along and then adopt that.  We cannot be scientific if we ignore or offhandedly dismiss those points against our own.  One of the most difficult things researching these articles is finding differing opinions and deciding how much of the debate to include in a short article.  Good debate should acknowledge the opposing view, not creating a "straw man" to tear down, but to honestly deal with what we disagree with and win over the observer with the high quality of our own arguments.

This rarely happens with controversial issues.  We used to get 15 minutes of news , punctuated by commercials, but now we seem to be looking for easy sound bites that capture our point of view and exclude the others.

It has been said by many that those who don't believe in global warming are "science deniers" (a clear reference to "holocaust deniers").  A more accurate claim would be that not being willing to listen and seriously entertain an opposing view is denying science.

Real science is disprovable.

Is "Climate Change Opposition" Well Funded?

A common theme against those who disagree with the man-made global warming theory is that they are funded by the fossil fuel industry.  In fact, there is even a website where one can look up a "denier" and find out whether he or she had any funding from the oil, chemical or gas industry.

Claiming a scientist is affiliated with these industries is to taint any results that disagree with the current "consensus." The suggestion is that if that's where they get funding, of course they'll find results that protect those interests.  Greenpeace, the Scientific American, the Smithsonian and many others have articles on how much "dark money" is spent to convince the public our current climate change is normal (or "deny climate change," as they put it).  According to the Smithsonian, upwards of a billion dollars flows to them.  Scientific American says, "In all, 140 foundations funneled $558 million to almost 100 climate denial organizations from 2003 to 2010."

Rarely, however, does the bias get reported the other direction.  It is difficult to parse out exactly how much is actually directly supporting the current "consensus," just as it is likely the Scientific American numbers above do regarding opposition funding, but using the US Government Accounting Office data from 2018, I found the following:

$50.5 billion by Federal govt from 2003 to 2010 was spent in support of the man-made global warming research:
  • 2003 - $5 bln
  • 2004 - $6 bln
  • 2005 - $6 bln
  • 2006 - $5 bln
  • 2007 - $6 bln
  • 2008 - $6.25 bln
  • 2009 - $7.75 bln
  • 2010 - $8.5 bln

An additional $21.4 billion is spent in the category of technology and international spending. (Source:

A graph of the above looks like this:

This is just from in the United States federal government funding.  Not included are all the environmental organizations. foundations, billionaires and movie stars trying to stop climate change: Sierra Club, Greenpeace, George Soros, Leonardo DiCaprio, etc.  Then, if we include funding across the world outside the U.S., that number would be staggeringly larger.

Then, consider that the UN just called for $2.4 trillion to be spent on mitigating climate change.

If one were looking at bias, follow the money.

Further reading:

How to make good scientific measurements (and how not to)

One of the principles of good scientific investigation is to eliminate as many variables as possible.  When measuring in a lab, you should avoid changing out thermometers, because they're all different.  If you do, you have to calibrate them first to show they measure the same way the old one did.  You also need to make sure you don't change the location of the thermometer and, if you have multiple thermometers, that they are distributed appropriately.

In 2009, former meteorologist Anthony Watts decided to look at the placement of US surface temperature stations.  He found that "the majority of official climate thermometers in the USA were improperly sited by the government’s own standards."  There were many particularly odd sites. Sometimes the site had more building or remodeling occurred near the site, they were now in parking lots, or near air conditioners:

 or the shade of trees or even near a child's basketball hoop:

(Full report)

This causes the sensor's accuracy to change.  If it's near another heat source, it is warmer than expected.  If it's in the shade all the time, it's likely cooler during the summer.  One cannot have confidence in a thermometer's accuracy if it's improperly placed.

Why is this important?

Accuracy in measurement is extremely important in scientific investigations. If the accuracy of a measurement is plus or minus 0.5˚, for example, then any change withing 1˚ could be irrelevant.  

A good example is when you step on a bathroom scale, see your weight, step off, then step back on.  Sometimes the second reading is slightly different.  It's not that you gained or lost weight in a moment, but the device isn't that precise.  

All scientific equipment have manufacturer specifications that show their accuracy.  That accuracy can be checked in a lab setting, as was done in this 2010 American Meteorological Association (AMS) journal article.  (Portions available without membership are here.)  It says regarding the Automated Weather Service (AWS), "the HMP35C sensor in the AWS network can experience more than 0.28°C errors in temperatures from -30° to +30°C [-22° to 86°F]. Beyond this range, the RSS error increases from 0.4° to 1.0°C."

Look at the NOAA graph below:

Notice the temperature scale on the left deals in 2/10th's of a degree.  A critical scientist needs to ask, "Are the measurements of our digital thermometers accurate accurate enough to determine there really is a significant change or is it just statistical "noise" in this example?  Using the data from the AMS journal above, AWS temperature changes are only significant if greater than 0.56°C (0.28°C above the measurement or 0.28°C below it), and up to 2.0°C if they are beyond the -30° to +30°C (-22° to 86°F) temperature range.

Also, given we're now using digital sensors, which are supposedly more accurate devices--ignoring any issues above about improper placement of such devices--does the accuracy of measurements before we began digital thermometers that accurate to determine if there's really that significant a change?

Sources For Skeptics

An entire post could be written on bias in the media and bias when doing searches for skeptical man-made global warming claims, but this is simply a short list of what I think are good sites for those who would like to read more.

Most sites are continuously updated, so someone looking for the first time at skeptical arguments can often get lost in detail and might give up.  My goal for these pages is not to always be posting, but to summarize the major points skeptics see in the current arguments.  It is to be a resource to get someone started looking critically at what is out there.  Once done, you can find more details here:

Individual Articles of Interest:

Climate over the long-term

A huge difference between children and adults is perspective.  With a greater perspective, ups and downs can be put in better context.  Visi...