Hey David Whitehouse: why is the sky green?

Let me respond. Answer: It isn’t.

Now let me respond to Whitehouse’s recent post at WUWT. He asks, “Why is the temperature unchanging?” Answer: It isn’t.


Right at the outset Whitehouse says:

It seems probable that 2010 will be in terms of global annual average temperature statistically identical to the annual temperatures of the past decade.

Here’s the truth that David Whitehouse wants to avoid: it’s possible that 2010 will be the hottest year on record.

Whether it turns out to be so or not, it’ll be close — and the very hot 2010 argues against those who dispute the reality of anthropogenic global warming. So right away Whitehouse shows his mastery of sophistry, by changing the focus from “possible hottest year on record” to “statically identical to the annual temperatures of the past decade.”

His implication — in fact, the theme of his post — is that this means temperature hasn’t changed in at least 10 years. That’s a dismal failure of logic.

He even wants to stretch it to 15 years, so he presses on:

Some eminent climatologists, such as Professor Phil Jones of the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit, suggest the global annual average temperatures haven’t changed for the past 15 years.

I call “shenanigans” on Whitehouse.

What Jones said is that the warming (in the HadCRU record) since 1995 isn’t statistically significant. That’s not the same as “temperatures haven’t changed for the past 15 years.” This much is clear: for David Whitehouse, truth is irrelevant. What matters is propaganda.

Let’s take a look at annual average temperature since 1980. Here are the results of the 4 best-known temperature records. The averages for 2010 are incomplete since the year isn’t over yet, but they include data through October, except for the cruT3v data which only go through September:

Let’s focus on the time period under discussion. I’ve changed the baseline to be post-2000, so all four data sets will have the same baseline for computing anomaly. I’ve also added trend lines as well as estimated trends and their (2-sigma) error ranges. The trend estimates are from linear regression, errors are estimated assuming the noise is white noise — which for annual averages is not too bad an approximation.

For those who are interested in truth over propaganda, temperature is not unchanging. The evidence says it’s continuing to increase, just as it has for the last three decades and more.

David Whitehouse’s misrepresentation — now that is unchanging.

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61 responses to “Hey David Whitehouse: why is the sky green?

  1. “David Whitehouse’s misrepresentation — now that is unchanging.”

    It’s simply a way of making it seem “debatable” as to whether it’s actually warming or not. When the dataset is less than 30 years then they claim it’s too short to make any firm conclusions. When it’s that much or more then they claim both that we really need 60 years worth while also cherry picking whatever shorter start and end points that can be used to dismiss the larger trend.

    Of course then if you argue the point you’ll be lambasted by someone else for raising the “strawman” that skeptics don’t accept temperatures have increased.

    Much like the arctic ice argument I simply can’t take seriously anyone who tries to argue warming has stopped.

  2. Tamino,
    Your third graph isn’t being displayed.
    jg

  3. More utter nonsense from Watt’s place. It’s becoming even more of a train wreck than usual. The argument that Whitehouse makes is just blatantly false. Anyone just scanning the data can see that the temps have increased dramatically.

    I will give this to the Watts guest posters, they are super consistent with their formula: use fallacious argument that ‘proves’ your point, then claim victory or that the consensus is crumbling or whatever.

    The more they use the formula the more they remind me of that kid in the 80s movie Porky’s that comes back to his buddies all beat up and claims victory saying “I used my face to break the son of a bitch’s hand.”

  4. So by Whitehouse’s logic, as long as average temperature rises slowly enough that, with our current detection systems, we can’t get a statistically significant result looking at 10- or 15-year snippets…

    …then it can rise at that rate FOREVER without ever actually rising AT ALL!!

    Brilliant.

  5. It seems to me he’s rehashing the same stuff, over and over. The article you comment on is also listed at the Global Warming Policy Foundation’s website, alongside another one from about a fortnight ago called “Don’t Mention The La Nina”, in which he says:

    “It’s always unwise to speculate too much on data that hasn’t yet been measured, as unwise as it is to count chickens, but even though it’s been quite an interesting year temperature wise (heat waves in Eastern Europe, droughts and fires in Moscow), it does however not appear to be anything unusual. It will probably be like all the other years since 2001, no change and statistically identical to each other. But that’s only an impression; we still have two months to go.”

    Compare this with

    “The fact is that the global temperature of 2007 is statistically the same as 2006 as well as every year since 2001. Global warming has, temporarily or permanently, ceased.”

    from the New Statesman article called “Has global warming stopped?” in 2007.

    Broken record or new record (For what? Guess!)?

  6. Was/is this Daivd Whitehouse a reporter for the BBC? The reason I have to ask is that a search on his name turned up references to a reporter who helped propagate a hoax known as the EQ Pegasi Hoax.

    http://www.borderlands.com/newstuff/research/dmoore.htm

  7. On further checking, yes it is the same David Whitehouse! Judging from what I’ve read about the hoax, a lot of people were upset with him for propagating a non-story and trying to create a conroversy where there was none.

    Some people never change…

  8. Something looks wrong about that last graph. In the next-to-last, 1998 is the highest for UAH and RSS. In the last graph, 2010 is far higher. If I am understanding what’s being said, the two graphs should only differ by a vertical shift, so the relative position of the years should not change.

    [Response: Each of the four series is vertically shifted by a different amount, so that they'll all be on the *same* baseline (unlike the 1st graph), which brings most years into closer alignment but makes 1998 more different (esp. between ground-based and satellite data).

    But the main reason is that the last graph doesn't include 1998 -- it starts in 2000 -- making 2010 highest by far.]

  9. I do not know whether the annual global temperature anomaly will set a record this year. But I do know that ending the year in December rather than July or April is an arbitrary convention. In fact NASA has been calculating January through December and December through November annual averages for as long as I can remember.

    So recently Hansen has been calculating rolling twelve month averages — and earlier this year I was calculating them just as soon as the NASA GISS monthly data came out.

    Please see:

    NASA GISS land and sea
    http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0Au57vongYoiAdEQwRWdLT0lRWjFhNGY3NnpKb1J1d0E&hl=en

    On the basis of these figures we broke the record in rolling twelve month average anomalies back in March of this year. Then that ending in April was higher and that ending in May was even higher.

    Later I decided to look up how statistically significant this was and found a statement from NASA that was made back in 2005:

    Please see:

    Our estimated error (2σ, 95% confidence) in comparing nearby years, such as 1998 and 2005, increases from 0.05°C in recent years to 0.1°C at the beginning of the 20th century.

    GISS Surface Temperature Analysis
    Global Temperature Trends: 2005 Summation
    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/2005

    Given an uncertainty of 0.05°C can we actually say with 95% or greater confidence that the twelve months ending in May were the warmest?

    The temperature anomaly for those twelve months was 66.33(/100)°C. This means that we cannot claim 95% confidence that the most recent twelve exceeded any consecutive twelve month period where the anomaly was 61.33 or greater. So are there twelve month periods where the anomaly is equal to or greater than 61.33?

    Yes. Those ending in October through December of 2005 (61.58, 61.42, 62.17), May through October of 2007 (61.33, 62.08, 61.67, 61.25 and 60.83) and the twelve month periods ending in March and April of 2010 (63.58 and 65.67).
    *
    However, prior to this year, every record rolling twelve month average had been statistically tied with that ending in September of 1998 (58.67). At 63.58 March of this year was no different. But the twelve month rolling average ending in April easily broke the statistical tie with that September 1998. Furthermore, every rolling twelve month average since has been higher than any twelve month rolling average of any preceding year — and has exceeded that ending in September of 1998 by a statistically significant amount.

    Now it is possible that the rolling twelve month average will dip below the record that was set back in July of 2007. At some point. It is somewhat more likely that a rolling twelve month average will be statistically tied with that ending in September of 1998. This will be the result of statistical noise.

    Niether the monthly anomalies nor the twelve month rolling averages are monotonously increasing. Yet the trend is clear. Temperatures are increasing. They have to — given the rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, its absorption spectra and the principle of conservation of energy. To argue otherwise flies in the face of the figures and the physics — and amounts to sophistry that relies on the gullibility of one’s audience.

  10. Aw man (sigh) — you mean that after showing how many 10 year periods of negative slope there are within the past record of increasing temperatures (to debunk [one of] the global cooling myth[s]), the next step is going to be finding all the 10 year periods with insignificantly positive slopes in the historical record of increasing temperatures (to debunk the warming has stopped myth)?

    [Response: The *point* is that 10 years isn't really long enough to narrow down the trend rate to reasonable limits. Those who use such short periods (like Whitehouse, Watts, Bob Carter, Joe D'Aleo, JoAnne Nova, etc.) are just exploiting the noise to obscure the trend -- which requires short time spans.]

    • I misread “short time spans” as “short attention spans”: the defining characteristic of Watts’ audience. If they just paid attention, they wouldn’t be so easily fooled.

  11. David Whitehouse is on the Academic Advisory Panel of the Global Warming Policy Foundation. Their site describes him as follows:

    “David Whitehouse, who has a doctorate in astrophysics, was successively BBC Science Correspondent and Science Editor BBC News Online. He is the author of a number of books on solar system astronomy and the history of astronomy.”

    A good chunk of the climate disinformation originating in the UK can be traced back to the GWPF.

    • Ah, so he has no excuse for being scientifically illiterate. A little depressing I suppose. I hope he now has no connection to the BBC.

  12. Tamino, you have a broken image reference to 4temp2000.jpg in the article directory. Seeing as the file has the same name as the image displayed in above that is in the “grandparent” (November) directory I presume you meant to delete the now broken reference but simply didn’t get to it.

    [Response: Fixed. Thanks.]

  13. I’ve always thought the BBC science coverage was abysmal. It appears that the “two cultures” still don’t talk much in Britain.

    Whitehouse is a scientist, though. He SHOULD know better.

  14. Isn’t Whitehouse just like the frog who gets boiled alive because the change in the temperature of the water is so slow that it is impreceptible until too late.
    As Kevin Stanley points out, if we keep shrugging off “staticisically unchanged for the last 10 years”, then we can end up anywhere.

  15. Brian Klappstein

    “…The evidence says it’s continuing to increase, just as it has for the last three decades and more…”

    The slope of HADCRUTv3 for the last 10 years is .006C/yr. The slope of the 10 years prior to that is .025C/yr; of the 20 years prior to that: .016C/yr. I wouldn’t say that a 3 to 4 fold decrease in slope is “just as it has….”.

    [Response: Bullshit. There are uncertainties in those slope estimates because there's NOISE as well as signal -- which denialists love to point to when it works to their advantage but selectively ignore when it suits them.

    Ignorance isn't bliss.]

    • Why did you choose to use HADCRUTv3? Could it be that it is known to underestimate the global warming trend as it omits parts of the globe where we know global warming is strongest?

      Regarding the claim made by many a “skeptic” that global warming stopped, Rasmus Benestad wrote:

      The confused argument hinges on one data set – the HadCRUT 3V – which is only one of several estimates, and it is the global temperature record that exhibits the least change over the last decade. Other temperature analyses suggest greater change (warming). Thus, one could argue that the HadCRUT 3V represents the lower estimate, if a warming could be defined for such a short interval….

      Another issue is that some of the data – i.e. the data from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) – have incomplete coverage, with large gaps in the Arctic where other data suggest the greatest increases in temperature. The figure below reveals the holes in the data knowledge. The figure compares the HadCRUT 3V data with the NCEP re-analysis.

      Mind the Gap!
      Rasmus Benestad, 18 November 2008
      http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/11/mind-the-gap

      More recently, Stefan Rahmstorf wrote:

      This discussion focuses on just a short time period – starting 1998 or later – covering at most 11 years. Even under conditions of anthropogenic global warming (which would contribute a temperature rise of about 0.2 ºC over this period) a flat period or even cooling trend over such a short time span is nothing special and has happened repeatedly before (see 1987-1996). That simply is due to the fact that short-term natural variability has a similar magnitude (i.e. ~0.2 °C) and can thus compensate for the anthropogenic effects.

      The animated graph shows the temperature difference between the two 5-year periods 1999-2003 and 2004-2008. The largest warming has occurred over the Arctic in the past decade and is missing in the Hadley data.

      A warming pause?
      Stefan Rahmstorf, 6 Oct 2009
      http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/10/a-warming-pause

      The analysis made by Ralmstorf and Benestad was subsequently confirmed by Hadley. Given the sparseness of the data they base their analysis on — particularly in the higher latitudes where polar amplification is a factor — Hadley’s estimate of the warming trend is “on the low side”:

      New analysis released today has shown the global temperature rise calculated by the Met Office’s HadCRUT record is at the lower end of likely warming. The study, carried out by ECMWF (the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts) with input from the Met Office, performs a new calculation of global temperature rise. This independent analysis is based on information from a wide range of sources….

      The new analysis estimates the warming to be higher than that shown from HadCRUT’s more limited direct observations. This is because HadCRUT is sampling regions that have exhibited less change, on average, than the entire globe over this particular period. This provides strong evidence that recent temperature change is at least as large as estimated by HadCRUT….

      New evidence confirms land warming record
      18 December 2009
      http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/corporate/pressoffice/2009/pr20091218b.html

      From the abstract for the technical paper that was subsequently published:

      The data sets agree well for both temperature and humidity variations for periods and places of overlap, although the average warming over land is larger for the fully sampled ERA data than for the spatially and temporally incomplete CRUTEM3 data.

      Simmons, A. J., K. M. Willett, P. D. Jones, P. W. Thorne, and D. P. Dee (2010), Low-frequency variations in surface atmospheric humidity, temperature, and precipitation: Inferences from reanalyses and monthly gridded observational data sets, J. Geophys. Res., 115, D01110, doi:10.1029/2009JD012442.
      http://www.agu.org/journals/pip/jd/2009JD012442-pip.pdf

      From a more recent paper by Hansen et al. (2010) we find remarks that are essentially the same as those made by Rahmstorf above regarding decadal variability:

      Of course it is possible to find almost any trend for a limited period via judicious choice of start and end dates of a data set that has high temporal resolution, but that is not a meaningful exercise. Even a more moderate assessment, “the trend in global surface temperature has been nearly flat since the late 1990s despite continuing increases in the forcing due to the sum of the well-mixed greenhouse gases” [Solomon et al., 2009], is not supported by our data. On the contrary, we conclude that there has been no reduction in the global warming trend of 0.15-0.20°C/decade that began in the late 1970s.

      Global Surface Temperature Change (draft 2010-08-03)
      J. Hansen, R. Ruedy, M. Sato, and K. Lo
      NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, New York, USA
      http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/paper/gistemp2010_draft0803.pdf

      More importantly, when we measure the global temperature anomaly we are doing doing so in a very thin layer, about two meters over the surface of the land and in the first few centimeters of ocean. But if you wish to include 50% of the atmosphere you need to include everything up to an altitude of 5.5 km, and if you wish to include the bulk of the ocean its average depth is 2 km. And it is in the latter that the vast majority of the heat content anomaly is to be found — more than 20 times that which is in the land and atmosphere.

      Please see figure 1 of :

      Did global warming stop in 1998?
      http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-stopped-in-1998-intermediate.htm

      In either case, global warming shows no signs of letup and referring to HADCRUTv3 to argue otherwise is at best misleading.

      • Timothy, maybe you or some of the other regulars have some thoughts on this, but that Fig. 1 graph in Skepticalscience troubles me: how is it possible that such variation in ocean heat content occurs? Where does the energy go during the (brief) periods of decline one sees in the graph?–not into the atmosphere, according to the same graph, and where else is there? (Heating of the crust not being a realistic option, according to my understanding.)

        Frankly, it reminds me of the infamous Herr Beck’s “reconstruction” of CO2 concentrations, in that it is characterized by massive swings that I just can’t imagine a physical basis for. And likewise, the only solution I see is that the variation isn’t real, that it is a methodological artifact. But it wouldn’t be the first time I missed something.

        So–thoughts?

      • Mmm, part of the problem seems to be that the Skepticalscience post is rather old. Dr. Trenberth has a brief and readable note in Nature about the state of play:

        http://acacia.ucar.edu/cas/Trenberth/trenberth.papers/NatureNV10.pdf

      • Re: Kevin McKinney @ November 12, 2010 at 12:27 pm

        “Timothy, maybe you or some of the other regulars have some thoughts on this, but that Fig. 1 graph in Skepticalscience troubles me: how is it possible that such variation in ocean heat content occurs? Where does the energy go during the (brief) periods of decline one sees in the graph?–not into the atmosphere, according to the same graph, and where else is there? (Heating of the crust not being a realistic option, according to my understanding.)”

        I don’t presume to speak for Tim, but I’ll give it a try (correct me where I screw up, Tim). Probably the best explanation I’m aware of Kevin, is El Nino/La Nina. Remember that El Nino transfers heat from the Pacific Ocean to the atmosphere and La Nina the opposite. It’s all still in the system and growing overall, but the expression of ENSO as El Nino/La Nina drives internal reorganization of where the energy is stored.

        I don’t have the references right now (traveling), but that’s my understanding.

        The Yooper

      • Ah, the rush to post creating errors; sorry, Tamino.

        I forgot to be more specific. Per your link to Trenberth ’10, much of the energy flux that should be recorded in either the ocean or the land is probably being missed in the deeper ocean.

        This is addressed to some degree in the Skeptical Science post here.

        Hope that’s less murky,

        The Yooper

      • Daniel, thanks! The deeper ocean is much the better answer, all right, and makes considerable sense.

      • Pete Dunkelberg

        Ocean heat content – try this.

  16. Brian Klappstein

    “…There are uncertainties in those slope estimates…”

    Sure there are but that doesn’t mean that warming hasn’t actually slowed down…

    [edit]

    [Response: Maybe the moon transmuted itself into green cheese a millisecond ago. Of course there's no EVIDENCE of that -- but that doesn't mean it didn't happen.

    The so-called "skeptics" not only love to brandish uncertainty like a weapon in one breath and selectively ignore it in another, they love to make a case built on claims for which there's no evidence.

    Quit assaulting us with bullshit.]

    • You get similar results with 5 year averages – satisfying the ‘skeptics’ penchant for short time frames.

  17. In the main essay Tamino quotes Whitehouse:

    It seems probable that 2010 will be in terms of global annual average temperature statistically identical to the annual temperatures of the past decade.

    The NASA GISS global avearge temperature anomaly for 2000-9 is 0.5123°C. The rolling 12-month average for October 2009 – September 2010 is 0.6417. The rolling 12-month average for November 2009 – October 2010 is 0.6425. To be statistically significant the difference would have to be 0.05°C. Using NASA GISS it would appear there isn’t much chance of that — as the difference between the decadal average(2000-9) and the current rolling average is 0.1294.

    Furthermore, if one calculates the average global temperature anomaly in hundredths of a degree Celsius for 1990-9 and 2000-9 one gets 31.45 and 51.23 respectively. The difference is 19.81. It would appear that there is no reason to conclude that the warming has changed from 0.20°C/decade — unless one omits where warming trend has been the strongest. (See above.)

    [Response: The 0.05 limit is the possible noise level due to measurement errors alone -- it doesn't include random variation which is physically real but not indicative of trend. That variation is larger, as well as "in addition to," so the possible variation which could happen even if there's no trend is considerably larger than 0.05.]

    • Tamino responded inline:

      Response: The 0.05 limit is the possible noise level due to measurement errors alone — it doesn’t include random variation which is physically real but not indicative of trend. That variation is larger, as well as “in addition to,” so the possible variation which could happen even if there’s no trend is considerably larger than 0.05.

      Understood. 0.05°C is the observational uncertainty for a given year. The trend is 0.2°C/decade. The uncertainty is the trend due to natural variation rather than observation is roughly 0.2°C for any given decade.

      Nevertheless, assuming I did my calculations correctly the average temperature anomaly for the 1990s (as an average of all the monthly anomalies from Jan 1990 to Dec 1999) was roughly 0.3145°C and for the 2000s was roughly 0.5123°C. The difference is roughly 0.1981°C. Which is almost equal to the ~0.2°C that we expect as the result of the underlying trend. And I just re-checked my math.

  18. Isn’t one of the real stories here how warm 2010 has remained given La Nina? J through S tied with 1998 as the hottest J through S. It would seem to me that if 2010 were to somehow finish as one of the hottest 3, it’s a solid indication of warming’s persistence.

    • Indeed. Although the early year saw strong El Nino conditions, by March things had moderated and the SOI was very high recently. Given the presence of such a large upwelling of cool water on the earth’s surface, high temperatures are a surprise and a concern.

      http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/

      If it heads anywhere neutral in the next few months I’m sure this will be a record year.

  19. Steve O'Connor

    It’s ok – WUWT (plus all the other deniers who regurgitate such drivvel) are just backing themselves into more of a corner.

    • Yes, but they refuse to *see* that it’s a corner! Over time it will be more and more obvious to the uncommitted middle, but time isn’t on our side in other ways, as we all are uncomfortably aware.

  20. The possibility that 2010 will be the warmest on record continues to sadden me. Over the past 30 years there has been continuing breaking of records and rising global temperatures and we still see people like Bob Carter denying the reality.
    At the moment, things look bad, but I simply cannot give up. I have to keep fighting for the sake of my children and all the other children around the world who will inherit this place from me and my generation.
    We need radical change in our energy systems and we need it now. There is no doubt as to what to do, we just need to get people to do it.
    Keep fighting Tamino.

  21. Brian Klappstein

    Tamino:

    I see you’re having great difficulty with the Swanson/Tsonis climate “shift” 2001 hypothesis as an explanation for declining warming since the turn of the century. Expunging it from the conversation won’t make it go away, and only reflects poorly on your open mindedness.

    [Response: I have no difficulty with Swanson/Tsonis. I suggest you read RealClimate's post on the subject, rather than swallow some denialist's line about its meaning.

    What I refuse to accept is more bullshit from you (since that's all you've contributed so far). Like claiming a "3 to 4 fold decrease in slope" and suggesting an idiotic "maybe" based on zero evidence.

    Open-minded doesn't mean removing your brain. Or maybe to you it does.

    P.S. When your future comments disappear, rest assured it's not because they're hard to deal with. It's for the same reason your previous comments have been edited: because you failed to rise above the stupid threshold.]

  22. Daniel J. Andrews

    Re: Dr. Jones comment on no significant warming (at the 0.05 level). It was significant at somewhere around 0.07-0.06 (according to a response to a question I had asked here, I think). What I’m curious about now is since 2010 has been so warm, is that enough to now show significant warming at 0.05?

    Not that it really matters. A cooler year in 2011 might knock it back over the 0.05 again. Short-term trends are noisy. I’m just idly curious.

  23. Daniel J. Andrews

    Just noticed SkepticalScience.com has this new article on the misuse of significance tests and their misuse in climate science.

    skepticalscience.com/How-significance-tests-are-misused-in-climate-science.html

  24. In the post and comments so far that I have read the emphasis has been on the Whitehouses first assertion of zero temperature rise. It seems everyone had the good sense to stop reading the BS at that point. I blundered into the next few paragraphs of his post to find the following which to me was at least equally absurd.

    First he asks a rethorical question:

    But what does this 10-15 year temperature standstill mean?

    Which he answers basically with this:

    “This means that for 10-15 years the combined effect of all the Earth’s climate variability factors have increased in such a way as to exactly compensate for the rise in temperature that the increased CO2 would have given us. It is not a question of the earth’s decadal climate cycles adding up to produce a constant cooling effect, they must produce an increasing cooling effect that increases in strength at exactly the same rate as the enhanced greenhouse effect so as to keep the earth’s temperature constant.”

    So whats the worry. The Earths climate system has it all under control. Pump some anthopogenic CO2 (even at an exponential rate) into the atmosphere the Earths climate sensors detect the change and bring the temperature back so there’s zero increase. And it seems we can presume that it does this with a reasonably short time response.

    Does it get any sicker than this? When Issa, Barton, Shimkus and Sensenbrenner rekindle the climate wars they’ll be calling on guys like this to justify why they should cut GISS and NOAA funding 90% . As perverted as that may be to those who study the science, its all music to the Tea Party’s ears.

    • What a maroon. I wonder how he explains the fact that the paleoclimate shows quite a bit of variability.

    • No, actually, I think you misunderstand Whitehouse. Here’s what he does:

      (1) He asserts (wrongly) that temperature has been flat for 15 years.

      (2) He then proposes the straw-man argument that this observed flattening might be due to natural negative forcings exactly counteracting the positive forcing from AGW.

      (3) BUT then he concludes that this would be an improbably unlikely coincidence. The implication, which he leaves for the very end of the post, is that there isn’t actually any warming from CO2 at all; it’s just a hoax.

  25. Rattus Norvegicus

    Tamino,

    Perhaps you can comment on this post at Skeptical Science. While I think that he has a point that you can’t ignore the noise structure I don’t see any reason to dump frequentist statistical analysis if the noise structure is known at a reasonable level of confidence.

  26. J and PJKar,
    Whew, I’m glad we’ve finally diagnosed exactly the stupidity that Whitehouse is suffering from. Now maybe we can come up with a vaccine.

    • Yeah Ray! Good keeping your sense of humor through all this. With those absurdities in that short post layered on top of each other like they are it ends up reading like some kind of insane joke or something. I started laughing myself after I read it a couple of times.

      J’s correction is right to a large extent but to me it doesn’t quite explain Whitehouse’s illogical conclusion. Maybe I quite reading too soon (but not soon enough!) but if Whitehouse thought about that inane strawman proposal for two seconds he should be thinking “man maybe the temperature really is increasing”.

      The vaccine is noble idea that could benefit all mankind in the long term. For a short term fix though I would just go with wheeling the Schnapps cabinet out of the computer room.

    • Not being very bright myself, I worry about the unintended consequences of making morons smarter via vaccinations. I would rather have a vaccine that makes them dumber. We already know the consequences of their stupidity.

  27. I posted on WUWT, with some trepidation mind you, for the 2nd time ever because that David Whitehouse diatribe is just so full of stoopid that it demands a rational response. I won’t belabour you with my response to the first point, because I responded roughly as Tamino did. Though I did point out that the no-statistically-significant-warming-since-1995 question posed by the BBC in that infamous interview was carefully crafted by Lindzen and Motl to embarrass Phil Jones. They knew that if you went back just one year previous, to 1994, then it is a statistically significant trend. Lubos loves to revel in his disingenuousness on his blog:

    Insignificant warming trends: why 1995 was chosen

    But here was my response to another blatant lie by Whitehouse:

    …the second demonstrably incorrect assertion that David makes in the article is this:

    In the past decade the atmospheric CO2 levels have increased from 370 ppm to 390 ppm and using those figure the IPCC once estimated that the world should have warmed by at least 0.2 deg C.

    Right. From the IPCC 2007 report:

    Projection of Future Changes in Climate

    For the next two decades, a warming of about 0.2°C per decade is projected for a range of SRES emission scenarios. Even if the concentrations of all greenhouse gases and aerosols had been kept constant at year 2000 levels, a further warming of about 0.1°C per decade would be expected.

    (my emphasis added)

    So the IPCC actually said, in *2007* no less: “For the next two decades”, whereas David said: “In the past decade”. Huge difference. The IPCC is talking about the future (from 2007 to 2027), while David is living in the past (2000 to 2009). A blatant misrepresentation of what the IPCC is saying. Intentional? Hmm.

    Please come back to us in 17 years and then we’ll see what the global temperature average is looking like if we continue on with Business As Usual.

    So with two colossal gaffes like that leading off the article, you’ll excuse me if I didn’t notice all the “subtle nuances” and “clever irony” in the rest of it (that the WUWT drooling sycophants were raving about) .

    I did get back this lovely missive in return for my well-evidenced posts:

    Steve Metzler’s posting is a disgrace. Accusing David Whitehouse of deliberately misleading, and that after he sets up an Aunt Sally argument and accuses David Whitehouse of doing something he didn’t.

    Dirty pool. You owe him an apology Mr Metzler.

    Heh heh. Struck a nerve, I did.

  28. ETA: the mindset of deniers like Motl is just astounding to behold. For them, it’s all about scoring rhetorical points, as the ecosystem visibly crumbles around them. I probably won’t be here (I’m 54) when the stuff really hits the fan, but I’d love to see the denialosphere’s reaction when the permafrost and northern peat bogs finally give up the ghost and release all that CO2 and methane, and something like 70% of the previously farmable land is a dust bowl.

    Their predictable reaction: “Well, who knew?”

  29. Ricki,

    I am, in fact, giving up. I think the bad guys have won and the destruction of human civilization in the mid 21st century is inevitable at this point. I’ll keep on debating, but for me this is just an academic exercise at this point. We’re right, but being right on something like this doesn’t count if you can’t convince people in power that you’re right.

  30. PJKar and Steve Metzler,
    Scientists do have the consolation that warming will eventually be so undeniable, that even the denialists will notice. Unfortunately, I am not so sanguine that this will be a moment of vindication. I am sure that the denialists will find some way to blame the scientists, and a willing, stupid public will believe it and direct all their anger at the smart kids.

  31. After reading David Whitehouse’s post and noting that he was called “Dr. Whitehouse” at WUWT, I tracked down his credentials. As noted by others above, he has a Ph.D. in astrophysics. Frankly, I find it hard to stomach that someone with Ph.D. level training in science would try to mislead using the “statistically significant change” comment made by Phil Jones. The misleading nature of this argument should be clear to anyone with an introductory background in statistics. Am I correct in assuming that astrophycists should have at least basic training in statistics?

    • David B. Benson

      BillD | November 13, 2010 at 12:05 am — Unfortunately, for many areas of physics statistics is something one just picks up, probably not that well. Beyond a single undergraduate course in probability and statistics that is also true of most engineers as well.

  32. Fun with statistics, Tamino? Two can play.
    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/gistemp/from:1980/plot/gistemp/from:2002/to:2009/trend/plot/gistemp/from:1980/to:2009/trend/plot/gistemp/from:1999/to:2010/trend/plot/gistemp/from:2001/to:2010/trend

    Seems your consistent warming trend over the last few years is just as dependent on cherry picked start and end points as is the sceptics ‘cooling trend’. What is evident to me is that you are still unwilling to recognize the distinct flattening from 2002 to 2009, which may be a remnant of a multi-decadal oscillation, now swamped by AGW. Time will find you out.

    [Response: Apparently you can't play the "statistics" game, all you can play is the "lie with statistics" game.

    Despite being shown how stupid your argument is, you insist on repeating it. The warming trend over a "few years" is so highly uncertain that it tells us nothing useful -- it especially doesn't show a "flattening from 2002 to 2009" as anything other than noise. But exploiting noise to cast doubt on trend is one of the denialists' favorite arguments, and Whitehouse has taken it to the extreme.

    Time will show you the error of your ways. Unfortunately, the error of your ways might cost billions of innocent people their lives.]

  33. “Why is the temperature unchanging?” Answer: It is.

    Here are the global warming rates:

    0.16 deg C per decade for the 30-years period from 1970 to 2000
    0.16 deg C per decade for the 30-years period from 1980 to 2010
    http://bit.ly/fnmNgS

    CONCLUSION:

    NO CHANGE IN THE RATE OF GLOBAL WARMING RATE IN 10 YEARS.

    What matters is the decadal trends, not the individual year’s temperature.

    • Gavin's Pussycat

      Yep, the rate is pretty robust when looking at 30 years. And 0.64 degree total warming from 1970 to 2010 by the way, and counting. Eh, ‘unchanging’?

  34. Also, he doesn’t appear to understand the distinction between ‘constant rate of increase’ and ‘no increase at all.’

  35. dhogaza… You know that UAH doesn’t cover the 1970s right?