Deniers: Is This Really the Hill You Want to Die On?

Of all the lies we constantly hear from deniers, one of the most common (and with them, most popular) is some variation of “no global warming for 15 years.” It started many years ago with “no global warming since 1998,” has since been revised to “no global warming since 1997” and “no global warming since 2001” and “no global warming since 2002,” has run through “no global warming for 18 years” and “no global warming for 20 years,” but now seems to have settled on “no global warming for 15 years.”

The reason it keeps changing is that whenever they decide on what to bellow about, it quickly becomes obvious it’s not true. None of their claims is true. That’s no problem for them. Doubt is their product.

They used to base such claims on Earth’s surface temperature data. But a glance at how temperature at Earth’s surface has changed will quickly dispel that notion.


It’s ridiculously obvious that in addition to the trend in temperature — the changes that persist — there are also fluctuations, changes that don’t persist. The red line in the above graph is an estimate of the trend; if we subtract it from the data we have an estimate of the fluctuations, which I’ll show here by adding a blue line to represent the year-to-year fluctuations.


To make it look like there’s no warming, they have to isolate a brief span of time, one so short that the trend doesn’t have enough time to make itself obvious, so the fluctuations are all you really see. And they have to pick a time span when the fluctuations tend downward, to cancel out the appearance of the upward trend. You might try the span from 2001 through 2014, for instance:


A close-up shows that this time span is one during which the fluctuations tended to go opposite to the trend, essentially hiding the trend:


It’s what fluctuations do. They go sometimes up, sometimes down, and when they go up then go down it can look like a downward trend, cancelling out the upward trend. But fluctuations don’t persist. That’s why those who show you a tiny time span, don’t want you to see what led up to it — or what came after.

The same claim could have been made for the period from 1980 through 1994:


A close-up shows the same:


Alas for the poor climate deniers, the last two years both set new hottest-year records and 2016 is on its way to doing it again. The result is that the record of surface temperature makes it embarrassing to tell people there’s been “no warming since…”

Another embarrassment for them is that during the very time they like to crow about “no warming,” we’ve seen such a massive decrease in Arctic sea ice:


Then there’s the amount of heat in the ocean, rather than at the surface where we live:


There’s also the level of the sea itself, which has risen because global warming has melted so much land ice and because the sea expands as it warms:


There’s also the incredible rate of the loss of Greenland ice:

And the shrinking of the world’s glaciers. And the migration of species to higher latitudes and higher elevations. And the earlier arrival of spring. And earlier snowmelt. And more wildfire burn. And earlier breakup of the ice on frozen lakes. There are so many signs, only those in denial can deny it — and those signs have been clear during the “last 15 years” just as they were before.

But there’s still a little bit of data one can twist to look like maybe, if you hide most of it and squint while looking at it in just the right way, you can make yourself believe there’s been “no global warming for 15 years.” It’s the satellite data for the temperature in the lower troposphere from the University of Alabama at Huntsville.

That’s why, when politicians whine about “no global warming” they only show you that data. Not surface temperature. Not ocean heat content or sea level. Not Greenland melting or glacier disappearance or any of the other things that show how hot it’s getting. They only show you what they can manipulate to make their case … and generally don’t even show you all of it, they have to leave out what might provide context.

But they have a problem. A big one. It’s getting more and more obvious that their “no warming for XX years” narrative is bullshit. They picked that dialogue, and it’s going to end up killing them. The day will come, soon, when not even Donald Trump will be able to weasel his way out of the reality of man-made climate change.

Deniers: you picked this hill. For you … it’s not a good choice.

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10 responses to “Deniers: Is This Really the Hill You Want to Die On?

  1. I don’t know what the statistical trend estimate would be, but it’s salutary to eyeball how even the UAH 6 beta dataset, which initially appeared to “correct” UAH 5 away from its corroboration of the surface record, is on course (thanks to 2015-16) to validate the surface record all over again:

  2. Pity that we suffer lunatics gladly. Congress could sanction their treasonous psychopaths. They used to do that. The data plotting I want to see is how much money it takes to make a person deluded. And keep them so. Then entice the rest of us looking on in admiration. Everyone who indulges in the luxury of carbon energy (just about all who read this) is turned and hooked on the easy energy – and we do not want to let it go. And the trope is that my “grandmother in the old country who needs a washing machine.” is driving more carbon energy deployment.. We are fooled, trapped in the high population expansion economy. The tipping point is huge. And growing.

  3. As sensible and as concrete these facts appear, you can take to the bank that for the next decade or so, the hill that they will die on will be:
    1. We can’t be sure that humans are the primary cause (so by implication, it’s not our fault. Must be something natural).
    2. Co2 is known to be good for plant growth, so the more the better.
    3. Warming is good, because look how many people die from the cold every year. Bring it on!
    4. Al Gore!!! (no coherent argument here really. (Sort of like invoking Hitler)

  4. Bob Tisdale has another trick up his sleeve – he shows you a graph starting 1998 but seemingly including 2015 (and 2016?) but calculates a 61-month running mean to make the last 2 1/2 years disappear from the trend.

    So he’s picked the start of the box but ‘hides the increase’ in the trend :) although the data are shown in the chart.

    A true denier would believe anything – but that’s something which a honest layman could fall for…

  5. Scary looking graph. What is really scary is that there is no observable manmade global warming on temperature graphs that have not been carefully fabricated by leftist activist government scientists.


    [Response: It looks to me like you’re one of those conspiracy-theorizing ideologues who isn’t willing or isn’t able to reason. Kindly take your crazy ideas elsewhere. But thank you for making it clear just how off-the-wall you are.]

    • Uh, John, have you ever stopped to think how difficult it would be to pull off a conspiracy like this? I mean the raw data are available on the Internet in most cases. And when, skeptical scientists have stopped to look at the data, guess what–it reproduces the results of those gummint scientists. Before spouting off like that, you really should stop and consider how stupid something like this makes you sound. After all, the Intertubes are forever, and there’s no such thing as anonymous stupidity any more.

    • Well, other than the people from BEST, who were funded primarily by outside sources, including the Kochs.

    • Uh, John, so are right-wing, anthropogenic climate change-doubting John Christy and Roy Spencer now “leftist activist government scientists” too? (See the unequivocal warming in their “carefully fabricated” graph here: Not to mention the warming independently confirmed by Berkeley Earth (, as noted by Marco, and by the private company Remote Sensing Systems ( Or is your skepticism grounded purely in circular logic, such that anyone who produces evidence of AGW is by definition a “leftist activist government scientist”?

  6. Also consider the motivation. Some of these people don’t care about being right. They care about delaying action as long as possible. And on that end they have been successful. Obviously, they are wrong. Just as they were wrong 20 years ago. But by the mere fact that we are still debating this 20+ years later (instead of having taken decisive action to prevent and ameliorate the problem), they have won.