This is NOT natural

This graph should be on every billboard in the U.S.

Paleo from PAGES2K:

combined with the surface temperature from Cowtan & Way

47 responses to “This is NOT natural

  1. Nice plot. Do you have reference or the data? I would like to use it too.

    [Response: Paleo from PAGES2K:

    combined with the surface temperature from Cowtan & Way

  2. my thoughts: We are in deep trouble because of the unnatural variation identified in your graph. We can do something about that rise in temperature. We drove that increase and we have not changed our ways to date as is shown in the graph. We can change our ways and we should do it now.

    Start with Greta’s three immediate demands:

    * Immediately halt all investment in fossil fuel exploration and extraction
    * Immediately halt all fossil fuel subsidies
    * Immediately and completely divest from fossil fuels

    I am tired of watching the the oligarchs indulge themselves. Let’s demand that we all indulge Greta now and act on her demands.

    • Here is my solution: It goes even further than Greta and has the additional benefit of being implementable. Our kick-off meeting is scheduled for this Friday in Zurich Switzerland. Many interesting people joining: Scientists, CEOs, doctors, engineers, marketing professionals, and young climate strikers. Feel free to get in touch, if you want to join.

      • I like the Nordberg plan. I do have a concern with this matter:

        “Every government will receive a large sum of money, which IT CAN USE AS IT SEES FIT (emphasis added). Since fossil fuel prices will increase significantly, it will be wise to use the money for investments in renewable energy and to protect the weakest in society from the effects of rising living costs. In developing countries, it will be possible to do a lot more than that. After all, giving everyone in the Global South a universal basic income of 40 USD per month would change a lot of things.”

        I would like to see the funds clearly dedicated to establishing global universal basic income because I think UBI is a game-changer for the global economy. If I think about a windfall to US government today, I believe it would likely be used as another opportunity to provide tax relief to the millionaire and billionaire class or to update our antiquated nuclear arsenal. I have seen enough of that.

      • I like the Nordberg plan, too, but the current US government would never adopt it–the GOP maladministration and senate are owned heart and soul by Big Fossil. So if the plan were enacted in the US, priorities would already be different in the first place. [Crosses fingers, knocks on wood, and looks around surreptitiously for black cats. Oh, and where’s that damn salt shaker when you need it?]

      • doc says “I like the Nordberg plan, too, but the current US government would never adopt it–the GOP maladministration and senate are owned heart and soul by Big Fossil.”

        The Nordberg plan simply needs to merged with Greta’s demands and put forward as a demand. Demands don’t concern themselves with what the other party wants to adopt, but on what those making the demand feel they must have. Power concedes nothing without a demand. I think it makes sense of this political struggle as similar to the movement to abolish slavery in the US. The folks who owns the potentially profitable entity, whether it be fossil fuel exploration or human chattel are quite unlikely to release the entity/property without a fierce struggle. We have to marshal our energies to take on this struggle.

        This is the activity that we need to bring heart and souls to. We have to support ourselves and each other and reflect on how hard this task has been and is going to be. We have worked ourselves into uncharted territory in many regards, but the struggle against injustice and oppression that is written on the map of the past will move with us in the uncharted territory. I hope our grandchildren will look back and say, wow, the old folks really dug in with serious demands and acted in solidarity back in 2020, didn’t they?

      • Exactly right, sbm!

  3. A bit off topic, but I’ve been tracking coronavirus deaths.

    13th January. 1
    20th January 10
    23rd January 18
    24th January. 26
    25th January. 42
    26th January. 51
    27th January 81
    28th January. 106

    Plot them as a graph and you get an accelerating curve. Anyone here care to comment?

    [Response: Where did you get the data?]

    • Now this is a problem that governments do seem committed to tackling head on!

      • Yeah, coronavirus is provided for free, and hence has no value. Unlike FF, no-one sells it.

      • @Doc Snow,

        There is a business an economic aspect to coronavirus … It’s been mentioned more than one place by epidemiologists and public health officials that, like SARS, despite there being biotechnology to produce vaccines, there is insufficient demand for biopharmaceuticals to be interested, because they can’t make enough money at it, so these are not pursued.

        I can’t be sure, but I wonder if/whether the problem with Jacobson-Delucchi-et-al-style build-outs of renewable energy are so uninteresting for energy companies and utilities is because they are so efficient and cheap, they can’t mark them up and make profits sufficient to be bothered. It reminds me of the initial disinterest which “big iron” companies like IBM (*) showed for PC markets because they, and their salespeople, couldn’t see how they could make enough commission on them. Of course, by the end of the 1980s, IBM crashed.

        (*) Disclosure: I worked for IBM at the time, as part of their Federal Systems.

      • E-Q, sure. There’s going to be an economic tie-in somewhere with almost anything human. And apparently there is some money in coronavirus:

        I heard an interview yesterday with (I think) the head of Moderna. I was struck that they don’t even need actual samples of the virus; with their messenger RNA tech, they engineer antigens from spec, if I understood correctly. And the ‘spec’–the virus genome–was already posted in the open by the Chinese authorities.

        A telling point about CV versus the bad old ‘friend’, influenza, though:

        CDC estimates the flu this season has sickened at least 15 million and caused 8,200 deaths, an illness that dwarfs the harm from coronavirus.

        “In comparison to flu, the impact on the new coronavirus in the United States will be trivial,” Schaffner said. “It’s new, it’s novel, it’s mysterious. It started in an exotic place. We are all energized. So it is no great surprise the general public is interested.”

        On the matter of the RE buildout issue, I think you have a point. Oil companies have several times flirted with renewable energy, and a couple–Total comes to mind–are doing so again presently. But past efforts have foundered, I think because in comparison to the profits to be made with FF, the upside hasn’t been sufficient. It’s a bit like going from dealing meth to working fast food–except that in the FF case, the drug is still legal, and in fact, subsidized by governments to the tune of trillions annually:

        Still, there are examples of energy companies that seem to be doing quite well with RE. For example, NextEra Energy (which grew out of Florida Power & Light):

        NextEra has just over 15GW of wind power and 2GW of solar in operation, and has contracted to add a further 4.7GW of wind and 4.4GW of solar by the end of 2022, as well as about 900MW of battery storage. These additions could rise to 7.8GW of wind and 7.3GW of solar if more contracts are signed, according to the financial results.

        “Our confidence in renewables being the low-cost generation alternative in the middle of this decade remains stronger than ever,” said Robo. “We expect the disruptive nature of renewables to be terrific for customers, terrific for the environment and terrific for shareholders by helping to drive tremendous growth for this company over the next decade.”

        Note that NextEra is a Fortune 200 outfit, with over 14,000 employees. IIRC, it’s got the highest capitalization in its class. And its stock has been appreciating rapidly over the last several years. (Wish I’d bought some! But it hadn’t happened across my radar yet.)

    • The site linked to below already has the plots discussed here with links to its sources, plus lots of other interesting facts about CoronaVirus.

  4. Mostly reports on the BBC, plus a couple of New Scientist news items.

  5. The science journal, Nature, has an open access site where they give updates regarding the infectious disease, including numbers infected, where, numbers of deaths. WHO last week estimated it has an R0 of 1.4-2.5.

  6. John Nielsen-Gammon

    Nice. If you’re taking requests, I’d love to see added to this the time series of global surface temperatures subtracting out the GHG+Aerosol response curves from the third figure of . Perhaps with another arrow labeled “this would have been natural”.

  7. Thanks Tamino for this useful reminder of PAGES2K. I hadn’t seen their data in a long time.

    The only problem with this hockey stick representation, however, is that it will not convince anyone of those who really need to be convinced.

    To report about alarming matters without being discredited as an alarmist: that is the real challenge of the present time.

    • You’re right, sadly. I had a protracted conversation–like about 5 years–with a denialist-who-thought-he-was-a-skeptic but he would never accept the reality of the Al Gore AIT version of that graph. It “couldn’t” be real, because [unspecified] physics–which, though never really explicated, seemed to amount to “the Earth has a lot of thermal inertia so this couldn’t happen.” In the end, all it proved for him was that Al Gore was a liar and a scammer.

  8. You should quote Shawn Lovejoy on this.

  9. As has been mentioned, this graph is unlikely to convince deniers. That doesn’t worry me because nothing will convince them.

    When I show this graph to people who already accept the truth, it still has a massive impact. They believe the scientists, they believe me, but when you hear “rapid, unnatural rise” that’s one thing, when you see it — many who were already on board say things like “Wow!”

    So it should be on a billboard. The message isn’t “It’s real,” the message is “Be afraid. Be very afraid.”

    • Yes. And a lot of folks are still not really paying all that much attention. The graph is a bit of an attention-grabber–at least, if you grok graphs.

    • Perhaps instead of (or in addition to) thinking about billboards, this (with some explanatory text) should be sent to our representatives in congress, our local high school science teachers, our local TV news stations (focus on the weather reporters), and to national TV news organizations. Out of habit, I have generally watched CBS evening news as well as the local CBS affiliate (WBZ Boston). Their coverage of climate change has been pretty minimal (being polite here — pathetic might be a more appropriate description of the coverage). Also, send it to relatives and friends (I have done some of that).

    • So, OK, after bashing CBS News for its (IMHO) inadequate coverage of climate change, I find this news story on CBS that indicates that the chart Tamino has posted is indeed ALREADY ON billboards (and elsewhere, including on someone’s Tesla!):
      However, it has been given a different format: the data has been represented as a kind of bar code with vertical bars representing the years, and the bars are color coded by temperature anomaly.
      Also, there are apparently fake versions circulating. Video is worth watching (about 7.5 minutes)

  10. Thomas Everth

    Hi Tamino, for those of us who wish to repost the graph (I did) the immediate question asked is: Where is the explanation of how this graph was generated. I think it’s based on the Neukom data + recent decades added?
    However, it might be worth it if you had the time if you could write an explanatory post that shows what was done to generate the plot so we can then link to that.
    Thanks! Thomas

  11. Just for a very black bit of humour: could you highlight the temperature in 1998, the year when climate change deniers – for so long – told us global warming ended.

  12. To be honest, what I fear far more than the expected climatic effects of an increasing CO2 concentration would be the worldwide result of one or more really big volcanic eruptions.

    I don’t mean the Pinatubo level here, but for example that of Mt. Samalas in 1257.

    And I prefer not to talk about dark guys like Yellowstone or the Campi Phlegraei … because they would plunge us within a year or two into a permanent winter, and that for many many decades!

  13. This is also not normal…

    fires still burning in Australia…

  14. Hello Dr. Foster.

    2019 was the last year for the shorter term projections from Hansen et al. 1988 (the longer-term, rolling projections go on for longer). So some of the usual denialists suspects have been misrepresenting the accuracy of Hansen et al.’s (H88’s) projections. For example, Ross McKitrick:

    I’ve made another rebuttal to that blogpost from McKitrick, which may or may not get through Judith Curry’s moderation (she’s recently been blocking further rebuttals):

    So I was wondering if you wanted to respond as well to McKitrick’s distortions. In my moderated comment, I compared 1984 – 2019 warming trends to Hansen et al,’s model-based projections. I used GISTEMP, Berkeley Earth, Cowtan+way, Cowtan+Way with HadSST4, NOAA, HadCRUT4, CMA (until end of 2018), JMA, ERA5, JRA-55, NCEP-2, and MERRA-2. I dropped CFSR since it’s already known that long-term trend is wrong post-2010, due to a change in the model used for the re-analysis.

    McKitrick also claims to correct for ENSO and volcanic eruptions in Cowtan+Way, but doesn’t do so for H88’s projections. That doesn’t make sense, since H88’s model-based projections contain volcanic eruptions in 1995 and 2015, H88’s projections contain internal variability (that would include ENSO), and McKitrick doesn’t account for factors such as changes in TSI. As Hansen later noted:

    10.1073pnas.0606291103 :
    “Close agreement of observed temperature change with simulations for the most realistic climate forcing(scenario B) is accidental, given the large unforced variability in both model and real world.”

    Click to access 14288.full.pdf

    Over the longer-term, the effects of the shorter-term internal variability should even out as it becomes overcome by the longer-term anthropogenic forcing, allowing one to leave the internal variability in for both the model-based projections and the observational analyses. Thus leaving internal variability in should be a better comparison for longer time-periods such as 1984 – 2019 or 1988 – 2017, but not as much for shorter time-periods of 1988 – 2005 from Hansen’s above linked paper.

    But since McKitrick claimed to correct for some internal variability, I was wondering if you wanted to do a more competent form of that correction as well, since you’ve previously accounted for ENSO, TSI, and volcanic eruptions in observational analyses.

    And for folks who want to learn more about H88’s projections, see:

    Click to access inp_Hausfather_ha08910q.pdf

    Click to access 20200203_ModelsVsWorld.pdf

  15. This is NOT natural
    “‘The only problem with this hockey stick representation, however, is that it will not convince anyone of those who really need to be convinced.”
    “The message isn’t “It’s real,” the message is “Be afraid. Be very afraid.”

    A problem with combined maps like these is that you risk conflating two different sets of statistics and time periods and measuring devices.
    Proxy records are not actual temperatures, rather they are averages of temperatures over usually year [200 years ago] to decadal or longer [2000 years ago] time frames rather than daily or hourly frames as used in producing the spike.
    A spike in temperatures such as in the current short series could occur and hardly be recognised in the past as it would be averaged out of existence as merely a slightly higher part of the graph.

    I doubt this argument will have any weight if the purpose is alarming people but it should have some weight scientifically.

    [Response: It’s bullshit. This issue has been examined in detail (including by me) and there’s no way a similar rise lasting so long (a century now) and going as far (more than a degree) would not have shown up in the proxy records, with a vengeance.]

    Corona virus deaths lag behind the twin factors of contact causing incubation and demonstration of actual disease.
    Some alarmists claim a doubling of the disease every 5 days.
    Deaths do not represent the proportion of the actual death rate. One would have to compare the number of infections two or three doublings back to get the real death rate per infection.
    It looks and sounds nasty.
    Blood from survivors might provide ommunoglobulin to save some current victims.

  16. Response: It’s bullshit. This issue has been examined in detail (including by me) and there’s no way a similar rise lasting so long (a century now) and going as far (more than a degree) would not have shown up in the proxy records, with a vengeance.]

    Thank you for the reply and honesty. It is hard to change people’s views , like mine, when I think I am right but may not be.
    I will continue thinking about it and if I can find any extra mathematical basis to back up my view or disprove it I will present it for your consideration.

  17. This comment by angech is a good moment to remind us how people like Steve McIntyre can behave:
    angech, when you write

    A spike in temperatures such as in the current short series could occur and hardly be recognised in the past as it would be averaged out of existence as merely a slightly higher part of the graph.

    why don’t you spend even a millisecond in thinking that the people whose work you criticize very probably thought about that issue long before you did?

    Your typical reaction (very similar to that of a vast majority of commentators at WUWT and many other ‘skeptic’ sites) is one of the reasons for my comment above:

  18. KR
    “Note that the 0.9C spike of 200 years has, after filtering, become a 0.3C spike of 600 years duration. This makes complete sense – the average value added by the spike (which will not be removed by the Marcott et al transfer function) has been broadened and reduced by a factor of 3x, retaining the average value under the spike.”
    The slight possible flaw in your argument is defining the duration of the spike as the duration of the time record.
    If, the time interval the spike exists in is 2400 years, for example. The effect of the spike is diluted out another twofold reduced by a factor of x12.
    It would be 0.075C which would for all practical purposes not register.

    Thanks to you and Tamino for reviving the Marcott issues. I think I either missed them or was just becoming aware then.
    At least I know my view has some support even if Tamino showed it was wrong.

  19. Tamino: At a minimum, your graph needs another arrow pointing to the warming between the end of the LIA and 1950 – clearly indicating that this warming (0.4? degC) is [mostly] natural variability. Although some warming prior 1950 can be attributed to rising anthropogenic radiative forcing, the bulk of it cannot. IIRC, the IPCC’s attribution statements apply only to warming since mid-cenury. This means the biggest source of natural variability occurred during the instrumental period, rather than the two millennia that preceded. Coincidence?

    This leads to the question of whether the PAGES reconstruction captures the full dynamic range of natural variability. When real temperature data is converted to proxy data and enough noise is added, the dynamic range of some reconstructions shrinks. The BHM method of reconstruction shows about twice as much cooling during the LIA as the other methods used by PAGES. Two-thirds of the proxies in this reconstruction are from tree rings (with segment length problem, sensitivity to drought and other problems). Figure 6 shows that the dynamic range of the tree ring proxies is much smaller than for other proxies.

    Figure 1 of
    Figure 8 of

    Furthermore, it is disturbing that this reconstruction doesn’t show appreciable cooling during the Maunder and Dalton minimums. Based on modern sunspot and TSI records, solar forcing during the Maunder minimum could have been on the order of -1 W/m2. Climate models forced with estimates of volcanic and solar forcing show more variability than your reconstruction.

    Fortunately, it makes little difference if there were a sizable synchronous global MWP or not. Without one, your graph shows the Current Warm Period exceeding past temperature after the midcentury Pause in warming. However, it really wouldn’t matter appreciably if the CWP didn’t exceed a hypothetical MWP until 1990 or even 2010. IMO, we should stick to what we know “for sure”:

    1) The basics of radiative transfer calculations were worked out and shown to be valid in our atmosphere long before AGW became controversial. Radiative forcing from rising GHGs and temperature have risen steadily for the past half-century at an average rate of 0.4 W/m2/decade and 0.2 degC/decade. (Now that aerosols are falling, the uncertainty they produce is becoming less important.) As long as that trend continues, it will become harder and harder to assert that warming isn’t important or that a significant fraction of observed warming represents natural variability.

    2) A 1 W/m2 radiative imbalance represents an awesome amount of power. If all of the heat from such an imbalance remained in the atmosphere and a 50 m mixed layer of the ocean, the temperature would be rising at a rate of 0.2 K/year. Some of that heat is escaping below the mixed layer into the deeper ocean, but that process must slow someday. More heat will be emitted to space by the radiative cooling from a warmer planet, but that process doesn’t help until the planet IS warmer.

    I’m far more certain of these two points than the validity of graph you think belongs on every billboard in America. Or the Hockey Stick.

  20. “When real temperature data is converted to proxy data …”

    What does this even mean? How does one do the indicated conversion?

    BTW: At base, there is no such thing as “real” data versus “proxy” data in science. Even counts of things are proxies for the real things.

    • Yes, that sentence left me scratching my head as well. In addition to jg’s questions, why would one ever convert to ‘proxy?’ Kind of flies in the face of the whole concept, one would think. (Quality control procedures, maybe?)

      Also, I’m confused about the ‘dynamic ranges of proxies.’ Frank mentions “Figure 6” but links to Fig. 1 in one paper, and Fig. 8 in another. I spent a few moments on the latter, but it did not appear to me that it showed a ‘dynamic range’ for tree ring proxies that was appreciably different than the others shown. (In fact, several of them used a scale 2x larger than that for the tree rings.)

      Bottom line: I’m really not getting what Frank is trying to communicate, at least in the first part of the comment.

      I will say, regarding “warming prior 1950”, that a while back I did a BOTE estimate of early 20th century attribution, based (IIRC) on expected sensitivity. My guesstimate was that about 1/3 of the observed warming was due to anthropogenic GHGs. That’s ‘blog science’, for sure, but for what it’s worth…