Global Cooling

The Hadley Centre/Climate Research Unit in the U.K. has joined NASA, NOAA, and Berkeley Earth, in reporting 2018 as the 4th-hottest year on record, with the five hottest years being the last five years.

David Whitehouse of the “Global Warming Policy Foundation” wants us all to hear about global cooling.

And what’s his evidence to back that up? Simple! Just ignore everything that happened before 2016, to get this:

That is how David Whitehouse of the “Global Warming Policy Foundation” actually thinks. Of course, he’s what the GWPF calls their “science editor.”

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60 responses to “Global Cooling

  1. Michael D Sweet.

    I find it hard to believe that anyone looking at the graph of temperature could actually think that “global cooling” has occured over the past three years. The only explaination that I think makes sense is that some people will say anything they are paid to say.

    • I think that covers cases like Whitehouse.

      On the other hand, there is no shortage of denialist foot soldiers with emotional motivations, which may include political tribal affiliation and ego (I’ve noticed that a lot these folks seem to derive pleasure from being smarter than ‘the scientists’–no matter how delusory that belief may in fact be.)

  2. Dang, I wish I could have gotten someone to bet me this wouldn’t happen. Just not enough naive people around here, I guess!

    Oh, well, at least it’s worth an update of my “When did global warming stop?” (I’ll post the link when I’ve done the update.)

  3. The updated version, incorporating the Gentlemen Who Prefer Fantasy’s latest, er, fantasy:

  4. And here’s even more “proof” of global cooling!!! …A seal happily basking on the ice in my boat basin in Newfoundland…

    Of course the ONLY ice around is in the brackish, slow waters of the basin which freeze far more easily than the deeper, more dynamic ocean. The polar vortex missed us forcing warmer air up into our environs.

  5. They’re taking their pointers from Trump – no matter what they say (lies), they’ll just tell you later what they REALLY said. And the stupid syncophant fans of Trump and “global cooling” will go along with it, having lost all ability to READ or think for themselves.

  6. You should check this one out, fitted a quadratic to the rate of change of temperature and claimed that it proved that the planet has started to cool off. An amazing abuse of statistics!

    • Yes. Some dill at my work posted the graph with the trend removed to show that there is no warming. No idea what he was actually thinking.

  7. But the 5 straight years of temperatures going up that preceded this “global cooling” was what? Recovery from the last ice age?!

    Nothing these clowns come up with surprises me – yet (supposedly) intelligent people who should have the good judgement to know better, and who hold positions of trust and responsibility and we depend on to know better – appear to welcome and encourage them in this nonsense.

    So, is the sheer crappiness of their arguments actually their ultimate defence against charges of dangerous irresponsibility? ie that the arguments are so devoid of facts, logic and substance that it never was anything other than Bullshit (without any reference to truth or falsehood) so no responsibility is taken?

    • They are just playing a primary school playground game. You just say stuff, not worrying if its right or not, and that just keeps the game going. But I think they’ve reached peak stupid – they’ve got nowhere left to go.

  8. Susan Anderson

    Entirely predictable. I said back at the start of the 2016 El Nino that soon these people would be claiming the top temp as their baseline. Never mind that 2015-16 was worse than 1997-98. This isn’t quite the video I was looking for, but it will have to do:

    • B…b….but the drop…it’s ALMOST significant!!! (trend=.1/yr, p <= .07)!!!

      So long as you ignore all the other data this is cherrypicked from, of course!

      • Chris O'Neill

        Using with GISTEMP I get a p value of 0.22 (Z=1.23). Sks’s calculation incorporates correlation of course. And gives -0.982±1.600.

        Interestingly, there is actually a stat significant 3.5 year warming period coming into the El Nino from 2013 to 2016.5. I haven’t found a 3 year stat significant warming period but haven’t looked very hard.

      • Yes…but when have you seen a denier properly account for autocorrelation when discussing “pauses” and “recoveries”? Or even mention the notion?

      • Chris O'Neill

        You are right of course. Which leads to the interesting possibility that global warming denialists will actually find a stat significant period of global cooling ignoring autocorrelation and then say “ha, etc, etc”. There’s a good chance of this happening in the next year or two so I won’t be surprised if they do it.

        On the subject of stat sig global cooling periods, the lastest ending I found on Sks was in the 1950s. I guess if you searched for cooling periods while ignoring autocorrelation you could find more recent ones.

  9. Well the important thing was the stunning level of accuracy in Dr. Whitehouse’s devastating writeup. For example: “No mention then of the events that elevated the global 2015 and subsequent years, the EL Nino and the Pacific marine heatwave.”

    And he’s SO -technically- correct since the Met Office, but not Whitehouse, spelled El Niño correctly when they specifically mentioned the event when discussing years subsequent to 2015.

    2016 was: “The warmest year on record in a series stretching back to 1850. The figure was boosted by an El Niño.”
    For 2017: “The warmest year on record without the influence of an El Niño”.

    I’ll bet their faces are red over at the Met Office now. Caught being accurate in another sloppy accusation!

    Off to the store to buy a century of firewood – it’s gotten colder since the sun went down and obviously that means the ice age is upon us.

    • Yeah…but to my mind it’s even worse than you are saying. He is USING his own incorrect evaluation of underlying autocorrelations to accuse the MET of not correctly evaluating for autocorrelations. Truly an example of the projection of one’s own ignorance and/or deceit on to the parts of others at its finest.

      If I may be political for a moment, the present-day “conservative” movement has taken such projection to depths heretofore never even remotely plumbed by others.

      • He wouldn’t be able to get away with it if his message wasn’t eagerly sought by a subset, and yes, it’s political/ideological. In the real world, you can see spillover of the people who simply want to be told either “it’s not your fault, dear” or “it’ll be fine” in the comments at the Wall Street Journal. The WSJ news organization is running a pretty well-done series on the impact of climate change, and the comments include lots of the most basic denier rants and conspiracies, oh, and bits of the requisite demonizing of specific individual scientists. It’s like a time warp to ten years ago – but I’m also noticing that the comments that push back on the loonies are starting to score well. Tiny cracks even in the Murdoch land, I hope. They’ll still push ANYTHING in their anti-science op-eds, but the news reporting side faces what nature really does with a dose of greenhouse gas.

  10. David Whitehouse has a long history of intentionally spreading information he knows to be wrong.

  11. “fitted a quadratic to the rate of change of temperature and claimed that it proved that the planet has started to cool off. An amazing abuse of statistics”

    I see a new post from Tamino coming. This claim of cooling since 2016 has become one of the most frequent denier comments, from what I’ve seen recently. Must say something about their target audience thinking skills

  12. And I’ll bet no denier notices that the article has a byline of “Average global temperature has been falling for the last 3 years” that is linked to the HADCRUT data and is followed by a graph. Both of those things show that global temperature has been falling for only two years. Sheesh.

  13. Well, to get to those 4 records years an exceptional strong el Nino was needed. What if there had been a very strong la Nina? The last 4 years would not be records. Of course there was no la Nina but it could have happened.

    • Um…actually the first record year–2015–was ENSO neutral. The following year was an El Nino year, but not as strong as 1998. And of course, back in August, before the Arizona Cardinals posted their dismal 3 wins and 12 losses, they could have won it all. What’s your fricking point?

    • Chris O'Neill

      What do you mean IF there had been a very strong la Nina? There was a very strong la Nina in 2011-12. Unfortunately very strong la Ninas don’t last forever, wishful thinking notwithstanding.

    • Nice Fourier avatar! But your point is IMO rather diversionary–rather in the mode of Dr. Spencer’s commentary on the recent record-breaking Australian heat-wave, which emphasized the specifics of the meteorological set-up.

      Of course there will always be a ‘proximate cause’ in the form of an ENSO variation or a meteorological set-up. Extremes don’t ‘just happen’ for no reason whatever. But had there not been the set-up that led to the record heat-wave, then given the observed warming trend, we can be pretty sure that some other set-up causing similar results would come down the pike some time relatively soon.

      And similarly, had your counterfactual of a very deep La Nina come true, we can still be pretty sure that the long-term warming trend would remain robust, because we have a well-worked-out understanding of what is driving it.

    • What if there had been a very strong la Nina? The last 4 years would not be records.

      This is impossible to know. In fact, in some data sets, the last 5 years have been records. Are you suggesting all of those records must have been caused by very strong el Ninos? Of course, you would be wrong.

  14. Problem = statistical illiteracy of the readers.

  15. [edit]

    [Response: You didn’t say a single word about the topic at hand, you just linked to one of the stupidest blog posts in the history of the universe. Was this an attempt to discredit climate science? If so, it backfired.

  16. Plenty of realists predicted that 2016 would be the new 1998 for fake skeptics, and the wry conjecture was about how long it would take. It took no more than a few months of cooler temps from the the 2016 peak of the 15/16 el Nino (the el Nino itself was mainly a 2015 phenomenon, but the lagged global temp response peaked in 2016) before “global cooling is underway” arose from the obvious quarters.

    2 years for a global climate signal?! The inanity of the fake skeptics at the GWPF is mind-boggling. Are they really that stupid? Desperate? Politically driven?

  17. It was hotter yesterday in Sydney. Definitely global cooling happening here.
    PS, big fossil fuel lobby… you know where to send the cheque.

  18. Ocean Heat:

    1,368 W/m^2 ISR, 1,368 W/m^2 * .7 = 957.6 W/m^2 ASR.

    A Watt is 3,600 J/h.

    The oceans are 70% of the surface.

    In 1 year of 8,760 hours the oceans receive 2.69E24 Joules.

    Between 1950 and 2020 the oceans have accumulated about 20 E22 Joules.

    Over 70 years 1.89E26 arrived at the oceans.

    The accumulation is about 0.11% of the amount that arrived.

    A rounding error.

    • Except that your calculation starts with the wrong value: the well-known 1,3468 (-ish) value you use is for top-of-atmosphere. The effective radiation at the surface is about a quarter of that, on average, accounting for a rotating spherical surface:

      (Sorry, there’s a more up-to-date version of that, but I’m not finding it right now.)

      Moreover, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to compare the accumulation to the gross incoming SWR. If you are budgeting for financial purposes, it’s much more material whether you are running a deficit year in and year out than how big it is in relation to your income–unless, of course, you are willing to change your financial behavior, and have the ability to do so. In the case of the shortwave budget, it is relatively insensitive to human activity.

    • I hate these kind of denier arguments, regarding small numbers or small proportions. I keep waiting for the “therefore …” but it never comes. What really matters is the effect.

      • “I keep waiting for the “therefore …” but it never comes.”

        A typical denier strategy is to throw out some–possibly even true-ish–factoid leaving the “obvious” inference for the–possibly ill-informed–reader to make.

  19. I won’t claim that it’s entirely original, but I saw this coming back in July 2016…

      • Going back to Australia’s heat…..

        “Since 1910, high temperatures in Australia have risen an average of 1.6°C.”

        If we subtract a century of warming (yes it varies from place to place, but 1.6 C is probably a good ballpark) from each of the many records recently set, what are we left with? Still really hot. Still a brutal, unusual heat wave. But how many records? Not many:

        Click to access scs68.pdf

        (Scroll down to find tables that list the new records next to the old).

      • “Not many,” as in 22 pages of tables!! Now, that’s dry humor!

    • Earliest prediction I found here was


      George D | February 18, 2016 at 6:55 am

      “No warming since 2016. Global warming has clearly stopped.”

      I can just hear it now.


      Many saw it coming. Just goes to show how predictable is the stupid.

      • Doc
        I didn’t do a good job of explaining myself. Most of the locations wouldn’t have set records if not for the roughly 1.6 C warming. It still would have been hot, but mostly not a record-breaker.

        From the higher departure point (atop the trend) an unusual heat wave become unprecedented.

      • Indeed Snape .
        Do the same for excursions from the mean like the temperatures reached in 1930’s USA .
        The potential is truly terrify yet those on denial use such events to say, see it is not happening we have seen it all before.
        We are pushing the climate system well beyond what has been possible in the last 135,000 years
        What does a 1/135,000 year weather event look like?
        We are going to find out with increasing frequncy.

  20. Taking climate model evaluation to the next level

    Veronika Eyring, Peter M. Cox, […]Mark S. Williamson

    Nature Climate Changevolume 9, pages102–110 (2019)

  21. Tamino, this is slightly off topic, but has to do with more with an effective climate communication issue that I would like to ask you about. I was disappointed in most of the articles I saw during the recent cold snap, and thought though well-intentioned, they ended up giving a confusing message with round-about discussion of 3 confounding issues of 1) what happened to global temperature today (or during this cold snap)?; 2) what is the long term trend?; and 3) theories of what might be the impact of the melting arctic and changes to the jet stream and atmospheric circulation. The third being the most speculative and removed from the immediate issue. What I would have liked to have seen as a much more direct answer, was addressing item 1 and then noting the long term trend. I haven’t paid much attention to what happens globally on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis, but my educated guess is that it either didn’t change in a notable way, or that it was just as likely to have gone up/down slightly as part of the “noise.” I think an article with a clear message on 1 and then mentioning the long term trend would have made for a much clearer message to the public. And then leaving 3 to a different article. Can you help enlighten me on item 1?

    [Response: I’ll try my hand at the blog post you hoped for; it sounds like a good approach to me. I don’t have the data at hand, but I know where to get it. Soon…

    As for 3, I think it’s better supported by evidence and becoming more persuasive among scientists than the general public or media realize. This might be one of those cases where we’ve been too conservative, always saying “maybe” and “perhaps” and “possibility” — all of which are true — but never getting down to “maybe not the lock, but close enough we’ll be damn fools to ignore this.” It’s just not the scientific way of talking.]

    • Thanks Tamino, I look forward to the post. I understand what you’re saying about 3, and from my viewpoint as an interested observer, it sure looks that way to me too, but it ended up just being an “in” in most of the articles to introduce the topic of uncertainty, and lose focus on the more direct issue.

  22. Is David Whitehouse really that stupid or does he just think other people are stupid? The temperature graph clearly shows that since the current general upward trend began (seemingly about the late 1970s), there have been many short upwards and downwards fluctuations in temperature, with the upwards fluctuations exceeding the downwards fluctuations on average to give the general upwards trend. What reason does Whitehouse have for thinking that the current short downwards fluctuations is any different from the previous ones of the last forty years? To take an analogy, as a place on the surface of the earth moves (in time) from winter to summer, the temperature at that place has an overall tendency to increase as the sun shines more and more directly on that place’s hemisphere, but superposed on that trend are short term fluctuations resulting from local (synoptic etc.) weather processes. No-one is foolish enough to expect every day in spring to be warmer than the previous day, or to claim that if a spring day is cooler than the previous day, that means that the seasonal winter to summer warming trend has reversed or never existed. Yet this is precisely the same type of argument that Whitehouse is making, in claiming that the current short downwards fluctuation means that the recent forty years upward trend in mean global surface temperature has either reversed or never existed.

    • “Is David Whitehouse really that stupid or does he just think other people are stupid?”

      Several generational iterations ago a question on one standard IQ test was: “What does ‘One swallow does not make a summer’ mean”? Something tells me neither Whitehouse nor his followers would have gotten those associated IQ points at the time.

    • Whitehouse and others like him don’t need to believe what they’re saying, or expect that their readers believe it. There is simply a strong demand in some areas for anything, absolutely anything, that makes it sound like reality isn’t real and that change isn’t necessary. He’s filling a demand, he’s not looking for truth. So we shouldn’t bother wondering if he’s somehow just missing a key piece of information.

      Don’t waste time thinking Whitehouse can somehow be taught where he’s wrong so he could correcting himself. He’s not interested as long as he’s doing his current job.

  23. Didn’t know a good place to put this, but Peter Guttorp’s “How we know that the Earth is warming” has been reprised in this months “Best of” issue of CHANCE Magazine, from the American Statistical Association.

    That article, and related ones in the same issue, were wrastled into existence by the ASA Advisory Committee on Climate Change Policy.