You Bet!

In an old post way back in 2008, I set out the conditions for a “bet” (not that I’m a betting man), which could better be looked on as a test of the idea that “global warming has stopped.”


It was spurred by all the repeated claims that “global warming stopped in 2001.” Before that it was “global warming stopped in 1998,” but that was obviously wrong so soon that those claiming an end to global warming just moved the goalposts, starting with 2001 instead.

I created two models for the future evolution of global temperature (at the time, since 2008). One was continued warming at the same rate as had happened since 1975. The other was no more warming. Of course, this is about the trend, but there are bound to be fluctuations too. So, I used the standard deviation from the trend since 1975 as a measure of how big we could expect those fluctuations to be. For each model, I plotted the expected continuation of the trend (or its absence) together with the ranges 2 standard deviations above and below, to delineate the range of temperature (global, annual average) expected from each model.

The “continued warming” model range is shown in red (central estimate as a solid line, upper and lower ranges as dashed lines) and the “no more warming” model in blue. And here’s what they were (using global temperature data from NASA):

old1

Whenever a year was above the “no warming” range, it counts as evidence of continued warming. When it was below the “continued warming” range, it counts as evidence of no warming. The areas which count as evidence were shown here:

old2

Of course any given year might stray into one of those regions simply due to random fluctuations, so to make the “bet” a better test, I stated that whichever side got evidence for two years in a row would be declared the winner.

The data have been refined since then, but only slightly. Here’s what it looks like using the improved data (not significantly different than it was back then):

new1

So — where do we stand?

All the years from 2008 through 2014 fell into the “neither one” range. But 2015 was squarely in the “still-warming” region, and 2016, although not yet complete, is well on its way to falling in the “still-warming” region too:

new2

The year 2016 is likely to break the 2015 record, but even if it doesn’t it’s still very likely to be the 2nd year in a row in the “still-warming” region.

In which case, we’ll have a winner: still warming.

We’ll also have about six billion losers: the human race.

All those people who insisted that warming had stopped, and especially those who said we were headed for imminent global cooling, were wrong. Wrong. Wrong. They should admit it, and admit they’re wrong about nearly everything to do with climate change. Don’t expect them to be reasonable.

Those who protest that “skeptics don’t say there’s no global warming!” should be called liars. Because they are. Take a look at this “opinion piece” by Dr. Lars Schernikau, from which I quote the very first sentence printed:


1. Global warming caused by human activities does not exist.

There are also those who “admit” there’s human-caused global warming, but then make idiotic statements implying that it stopped, as in a recent letter to the editor, from which I quote:


(3) Does the absence of warming over the past 15 years disprove the alarmists’ theories about catastrophic global warming and, if not, why not?

The answer is: there has been warming over the past 15 years.

The deniers (who definitely do not deserve the name “skeptics”) will sometimes say “no such thing as man-made climate change,” at other times say “yes there is but no global warming for the last 15 years,” and in fact have a nasty habit of making myriad claims which are not just false, they contradict each other. They’ve adopted a very effective strategy to confuse and confound the general public: throw everything possible at the wall and see what sticks.

Some of them may in fact come out as “winners” due to the immense profits from fossil fuel sales. I’m more concerned with the losers … six billion of them.


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34 responses to “You Bet!

  1. Some of them have changed the goal posts and insist the data has been fudged. Here in Australia we have newly elected Senator Malcolm Roberts, along with others like Jennifer Marohasy and Maurice Newman leading that charge, for example

    http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=18459

    http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=18490

  2. According to the CIA, the world population was estimated to be 7,256,490,011 as of July 2015.

  3. “We’ll also have about six billion losers: the human race”
    Sorry Tamino but your margin of error is the entire estimated population of CHINA

    Current global population – ~7.4 billion
    Current population of China – 1.35 billion
    Point at which we exceeded 6 billion – 1999

  4. I have been following the progress of this “bet” over the last few years. I also looked at the 5-year set you mention in the old post. In my Excel worksheet, the 5-year trend did seem to fall into the “not-warming” box for a few years, but for the 5 years 2011-15 it hit the “still-warming” box. I am not sure I was calculating the SD properly and also assumed I needed to wait 5 years for one side or the other to “win” due to the data not being independent until you are looking 5-year ranges that don’t share years. Could you perhaps look at the progress of the 5-year version of your “bet” to clarify these observations? Although I expected the “still-warming” side to “win” I am a little surprised at how fast it has after a slow start in the first 5 to 6 years after 2007 (most of the initial dots are below the trend line).

  5. “We’ll also have about six billion losers: the human race.”

    Well over 7 billion these days, and by mid century there will be 9 – 10 billion … losers. (after which time unchecked warming may well start to ‘control’ population in ways I’m glad I won’t get to see …)

  6. That there is debate at all is ridiculous.

    It is warming, its been predicted correctly for a long time, as per your post on Hansen’s 1981 paper. You get essentially the same results no matter how you process the data – as per the honest skeptics in BEST. It is a slow moving disaster that is already happening. We are smart enough to reduce CO2 emissions drastically, but lack the political will.

    Part of the problem is the neoliberal ideology that dominates mainstream thinking. When people just accept that nothing can be done about poverty in an extremely wealthy world, is it then surprising that they hold other ridiculous beliefs?

  7. Yes. It has become increasingly clear that the paradigm of “denial” was accurately chosen to describe one too-common response to our historical plight. It’s well-documented that this is often enough ‘denial for hire,’ but I suspect that in a great many cases it is in fact the psychological defence mechanism the term properly denotes. And we all use it, to some degree, even if only to the extent of “I won’t think about this just now.”

  8. Maybe 6 billion at dire risk and the remaining 1.4 billion wealthy enough to protect themselves?

  9. Judging by their comments on science-accepting blogs and mass media, some of the more vociferous AGW-deniers are motivated by “conservative” ideology (that is, cultural identity). Ideological AGW-deniers are convinced that only liberals and environmentalists accept the scientific evidence for AGW. For these people, it’s all about culture war, and they’re determined not to give an inch of ground to their enemies. This kind of AGW-denier is receptive to the pseudo-skeptical arguments of professional disinformers, but IMO, he repeats them mostly to strengthen his own resolve.

    • Yes, and won’t they be surprised when the climate ignores their victory in the culture wars.

      • No, they won’t. Melting glaciers, rising sea levels, cruise ships in the arctic, mass coral bleaching – anyone who still thinks it’s not getting warmer is beyond convincing.
        Alternative medicine persists in the face of scientific medicine daily delivering outcomes that would have been considered nigh on miraculous 100 years ago. So it will be with climate denial.

  10. For those confused by Tamino’s “6B” figure, I urge you to read Bacigalupi’s The Water Knife, it goes into detail about the early days of climate winners and losers in the American Southwest.

    Best,

    D

  11. While on a tour of the Australian nuclear science and technology organisation (ANSTO) earlier this year, the guide informed us that the planet is about to enter a little ice age. He did this while standing in front of a poster showing the rise in CO2 at the monitoring station in Tasmania (as measured by ANSTO).
    So there you have it. Global warming stopped in 2016.

    • In that situation, would it be inappropriate to call him an idiot?

      • I’d reply to him. Is that you Donald? You seem to have changed! Where is the possum?

      • It’s really strange. He was clearly not an idiot in general – he was saying plenty of sensible things about chemistry and nuclear science in other parts of the tour. But then he starts talking about climate science and asserts that sea levels are falling, that high CO2 levels in the distant past mean that CO2 cannot be a problem, that temperatures are falling, that ocean pH changes are and always will be negligibly small, that solar cycles dominate climate etc etc.
        I pointed out how far removed from reality he was (he disagreed) and after the tour I sent an email to the relevant person at ANSTO, who wrote back saying they would talk to him about it.
        It’s rather depressing that an “education officer” for a major scientific institution is presenting a mix of accurate science and wild conspiracy theories to students on a daily basis.
        …and no, I am not “Donald”.

      • sorry, bit slow on the Donald reference…

    • ALEXANDRE LACERDA

      I’m pretty sure that this year will be the next starting point for future “no warming since X” claims.

    • Perhaps grounds for a legitimate complaint? Surely it’s not the guide’s place to misinform on climate science.

      I continue to be boggled by the extraordinary overlap between optimism and support for nuclear and denial of climate change – and I think it has profoundly harmed genuine nuclear for climate advocacy; the largest body of existing support for nuclear can’t be mobilised effectively in the climate cause because it is aligned politically with climate denial and obstructionism.

  12. The New York TImes had a front page article this week on Sunny Day Flooding. It sounded a lot like Tamino’s post on the same topic. They gave a number of examples of cities trying to pay for new seawalls. Once the mainstream media starts to run this type of article more people will start to take notice. The Times has also run an article on increasing heavy rain. I wonder if the reporter gets some of his ideas from Tamino.

    Sorry, this is off topic here but comments were closed on the original thread.

  13. Of note, people are passing around a new “challenge” to anyone who can prove statistically significant warming.

    http://www.informath.org/Contest1000.htm

    • Not new. Tamino has, I think, commented on this already, albeit briefly.

      • Oh I see now. His model for temperatures is a random walk. I don’t think that is valid. A random walk with no trend allow for a sustained departure from the mean value. But the physics doesn’t support this. If the earth’s temperature is a degree above its mean, it won’t stay there, as staying there would require continued extra energy capture, say by a brighter sun, or an excess of greenhouse gases.

    • This looks quite interesting. Now he hasn’t given (as far as I could see) a full description of how he generated his data, and as they say, the devil is in the detail. Clearly by adjusting the relative sizes of the standard deviation of the random data and the magnitude of the trend you can make it either very easy to see the trend, or impossible to find it in the noise. And I’m thinking that maybe he’s carefully chosen these to fit his prejudices. The other thing a less than scrupulous person would do is to generate lots of random data sets, and then select the more way out of these.

      But, on the other hand, how can he look at global temperature data and not see a trend? I took 135 years of gistemp annual data and fitting a linear model to it got a slope of 0.007 degrees C per year. I’m not saying that fitting a linear model to it is a good idea – all I want is a measure of the rate of increase in temperature.

      Then I threw these same numbers up in the air 10,000 times, and picked them up in any old order, and found the linear trend. The biggest slope I got was 0.0026 degrees C per year. Thus it seems that the actual arrangement of annual temperatures which gives nearly 3 times this warming rate is either a truly exceptionally unusual chance event, or its the result of a trend.

      So sadly I’m forced to conclude that he is just another charlatan.

      • Hahaha! I am not even remotely a statistician, but I was curious about the “challenge”, so I downloaded the dataset. And curiously, the series seem to have a wide range (a very wide range) of slopes. If we are told some of these have had a trend of +1 or -1 degree C per century added, then the underlying trend must in some cases be already as large. Common sense tells you that if you add a trend of -1 degree per century to an existing trend of +1 degree per century, it will be flat, and completely indistinguishable from an unadjusted trend that is genuinely flat. So, clearly, the “challenge” is a scam.

        I pondered for all of 5 seconds what could generate such big trends in what are laughably (and deceitfully) labelled “purely random series”, and I googled “keenan random walk”.

        Charlatan.

  14. cce: Of note, people are passing around a new “challenge” to anyone who can prove statistically significant warming.

    BPL: And I would take them up on it–except that in the past, deniers have tried anything they could to get out of paying. I would have to take them to court, and I don’t have money for that. They know they’ll never have to pay off even if they lose.

  15. Meanwhile, in the oceans, where ~93% of the heat from global warming ends up……..

    http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/OC5/3M_HEAT_CONTENT/

  16. OT, but an update from the “Crystal Serenity” thread: the largest ship to transit the Northwest Passage so far, the 820-foot, 69,900-ton Crystal Serenity, had no trouble in her transit of the Northwest Passage. As noted by NSIDC, she took less than 3 weeks for the run, including sight-seeing time in Ulukhaktok and Pond Inlet. She’s currently near Illulissat, Greenland, with arrival in New York scheduled for September 16.

    http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

    http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?p=50988458

  17. > Surely it’s not the guide’s place to misinform on climate science.

    Oh, you were probably sent on the wrong tour. You got the 3:30 Creation tour, instead of the 4:30 Science tour, right?

    If it’s anything like the USA, government assures that taxpayers get the facts they prefer to keep them happy. It’s a free market — buy the facts you prefer.
    —–
    http://www.organcave.com/
    Organ Cave is a national natural landmark & historic land mark of historic places … Our tours will give you a chance to learn about the American Civil War and … Walk the trails formed by Noah’s flood and see the wonders of Creation.
    —–
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steven-newton/creationism-in-the-grand-canyon_b_7898010.html
    Jul 30, 2015 – In a strange twist, the park association bookstores are forced to carry Tom Vail’s creationist coffee-table book about the Grand Canyon ….