Models Wrong About the Past Produce Unbelievable Futures

Models vs. Observations. Christy and McKitrick (2018) Figure 3

The title of this post is the theme driven home by Patrick J. Michaels in his critique of the most recent US National Climate Assessment (NA4). The failure of General Circulation Models (GCMs) is the focal point of his presentation February 14, 2018. Comments on the Fourth National Climate Assessment. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

NA4 uses a flawed ensemble of models that dramatically overforecast warming of the lower troposphere, with even larger errors in the upper tropical troposphere. The model ensemble also could not accommodate the “pause” or “slowdown” in warming between the two large El Niños of 1997-8 and 2015-6. The distribution of warming rates within the CMIP5 ensemble is not a true indication of a statistical range of prospective warming, as it is a collection of systematic errors. Despite a glib statement about this Assessment fulfilling the terms of the federal Data Quality Act, that is fatuous. The use of systematically failing models does not fulfill the “maximizing the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information” provision of the Act.

USGCRP should produce a reset Assessment, relying on a model or models that work in four dimensions for future guidance and ignoring the ones that don’t.

Why wasn’t this done to begin with? The model INM-CM4 is spot on, both at the surface and in the vertical, but using it would have largely meant the end of warming as a significant issue. Under a realistic emission scenario (which USGCRP also did not use), INM-CM4 strongly supports the “lukewarm” synthesis of global warming. Given the culture of alarmism that has infected the global change community since before the first (2000) Assessment, using this model would have been a complete turnaround with serious implications.

The new Assessment should employ best scientific practice, and one that weather forecasters use every day. In the climate sphere, billions of dollars are at stake, and reliable forecasts are also critical.

The theme is now picked up in the latest NIPCC report on Fossil Fuels. Chapter 2 is the Climate Science background and the statements below in italics with my bolds come from there.

Chapter 2 Climate Science Climate Change Reconsidered II: Fossil Fuels

Of the 102 model runs considered by Christy and McKitrick, only one comes close to accurately hindcasting temperatures since 1979: the INM-CM4 model produced by the Institute for Numerical Mathematics of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Volodin and Gritsun, 2018). That model projects only 1.4°C warming by the end of the century, similar to the forecast made by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC, 2013) and many scientists, a warming only one-third as much as the IPCC forecasts. Commenting on the success of the INM-CM model compared to the others (as shown in an earlier version of the Christy graphic), Clutz (2015) writes,

(1) INM-CM4 has the lowest CO2 forcing response at 4.1K for 4xCO2. That is 37% lower than multi-model mean.

(2) INM-CM4 has by far the highest climate system inertia: Deep ocean heat capacity in INM-CM4 is 317 W yr m-2 K -1 , 200% of the mean (which excluded INM-CM4 because it was such an outlier).

(3)INM-CM4 exactly matches observed atmospheric H2O content in lower troposphere (215 hPa), and is biased low above that. Most others are biased high.

So the model that most closely reproduces the temperature history has high inertia from ocean heat capacities, low forcing from CO2 and less water for feedback. Why aren’t the other models built like this one?

The outputs of GCMs are only as reliable as the data and theories “fed” into them, which scientists widely recognize as being seriously deficient (Bray and von Storch, 2016; Strengers, et al., 2015). The utility and skillfulness of computer models are dependent on how well the processes they model are understood, how faithfully those processes are simulated in the computer code, and whether the results can be repeatedly tested so the models can be refined (Loehle, 2018). To date, GCMs have failed to deliver on each of these counts.

The reference above is to a study published in July 2018 by John Christy and Ross McKitrick  A Test of the Tropical 200‐ to 300‐hPa Warming Rate in Climate Models. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.


Overall climate sensitivity to CO2 doubling in a general circulation model results from a complex system of parameterizations in combination with the underlying model structure. We refer to this as the model’s major hypothesis, and we assume it to be testable. We explain four criteria that a valid test should meet: measurability, specificity, independence, and uniqueness. We argue that temperature change in the tropical 200‐ to 300‐hPa layer meets these criteria. Comparing modeled to observed trends over the past 60 years using a persistence‐robust variance estimator shows that all models warm more rapidly than observations and in the majority of individual cases the discrepancy is statistically significant. We argue that this provides informative evidence against the major hypothesis in most current climate models.


All series‐specific trends and confidence intervals are reported in the supporting information Table S1. The mean restricted trend (without a break term) is 0.325 ± 0.132°C per decade in the models and 0.173 ± 0.056°C per decade in the observations. With a break term included they are 0.389 ± 0.173°C per decade (models) and 0.142 ± 0.115°C per decade (observed). Figure 4 shows the individual trend magnitudes. The red circles and confidence interval whiskers are from models, and the blue are observed.  Trend magnitudes and 95% confidence intervals. Number in upper left corner indicates number of model trends (out of 102) that exceed observed average trend.

If models accurately represented the magnitude of 200‐ to 300‐hPa warming with only nonsystematic errors contributing noise, these distributions would be centered on zero. Clearly, they are centered above zero, in fact in both the restricted and general cases, the entire distribution is above zero.

Table S2 presents individual run test results. In the restricted case, 62 of the 102 divergence terms are significant, while in the general case, 87 of 102 are. The model‐observational discrepancy is not simple uncertainty or random noise but represents a structural bias shared across models.

Worst and Best Models (Table S2) No Break With Break
bcc‐csm1‐1 220.1 593.3
CanESM2 410.3 534.4
CCSM4 258.1 430.6
EC‐EARTH 296.0 222.5
FIO‐ESM 129.2 310.9
GISS‐E2‐H 157.3 444.8
GISS‐E2‐H‐CC 139.0 468.5
GISS‐E2‐R 382.4 237.7
HadGEM2‐ES 50.0 575.4
INMCM4 0.0 2.9

Note. First column: test score for restricted case (no break). Score is significant at 5% if it exceeds 41.53. Second column: test score for unrestricted case (with break at 1979). Score is significant at 5% if it exceeds 50.48.


Comparing observed trends to those predicted by models over the past 60 years reveals a clear and significant tendency on the part of models to overstate warming. All 102 CMIP5 model runs warm faster than observations, in most individual cases the discrepancy is significant, and on average the discrepancy is significant. The test of trend equivalence rejects whether or not we include a break at 1979 for the PCS, though the rejections are stronger when we control for its influence. Measures of series divergence are centered at a positive mean and the entire distribution is above zero. While the observed analogue exhibits a warming trend over the test interval it is significantly smaller than that shown in models, and the difference is large enough to reject the null hypothesis that models represent it correctly, within the bounds of random uncertainty.


The reference to Clutz (2015) is the post Temperatures According to Climate Models

See also: 2018 Update: Best Climate Model INMCM5


Don’t Miss the Memo on Climate Change

Marlo Lewis, Jr. provides a web memo entitled A Policy Maker’s Guide to Climate Change Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Here are five things you need to know:

1. Climate change is not a “planetary emergency.”

2. The climate catastrophe narrative is concocted out of overheated climate models, inflated emission scenarios, political hype, and unmerited pessimism about human adaptive capabilities.

3. All metrics of human well-being show the state of the world is improving; sustaining such progress requires greater access to affordable energy.

4. The very real costs of climate “solutions” hugely exceed their hypothetical benefits.

5. Citizens have more to fear from the climate policy agenda than from climate change itself.

This memo provides supporting evidence for those conclusions.For example,

Models vs. Data. Much of what passes for climate science today is model-based speculation about future climate impacts. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) runs an ensemble of 32 model groups called CMIP5.[1] The models on average projected twice as much warming over the past 40 years as actually occurred in the lower global atmosphere.[2]

A reasonable explanation for the models’ lack of realism is that they overestimate climate sensitivity—the long-term change in average global temperature after a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration. The average climate sensitivity estimated in two dozen recent studies is 40 percent lower than the average estimated by the U.N. models.[3]

Only one model in the CMIP ensemble has accurately tracked temperature trends in the bulk atmosphere over the past 40 years—the Russian INM-CM4. When INM-CM4 is run with a realistic emission scenario in which natural gas increasingly displaces coal as an electricity fuel, the world achieves the Paris climate treaty’s 1.5°C warming limit with no new climate policies.[7]

Improving State of the World. If climate change were a global ecological crisis, we would expect to find evidence of declining human health and well-being. Instead, we find dramatic improvement in life expectancy, per capita income, food security, and various health related metrics.[8]

Conclusion. Perceptions of a “planetary emergency” arise from overheated climate models, inflated emission scenarios, disregard of basic data on human health and well-being, and relentless exaggeration by political interests claiming to speak for “the science.” The very real costs of coercive de-carbonization outweigh the hypothetical benefits. The more “ambitious” the climate policy, the more likely it is to damage economic growth, consumer welfare, and our institutions of self-government.[42]

Link to WebMemo in pdf format A Policy Maker’s Guide to Climate Change


Climate Change NOT as Advertised

Just before the Trudeau government imposed its Carbon Tax, it did a PR release advertising all the bad things we are doing to the planet, changing the temperature and weather by burning fossil fuels. Several skeptics pushed back (see links at end). This post is a synopsis of a complete rebuttal from Friends of Science. The whole document is interestingly written and presented, with only a few of many telling points highlighted here.

Climate Change Your Mind. Responding to the Canadian government’s “Canada’s Changing Climate Report” CCCR2019  Excerpts in italics with my bolds and headers

Federal Government says: Both past and future warming in Canada is, on average, about double the magnitude of global warming.

Friends of Science say: CCCR2019 used a reference frame that began in a cooler solar minimum and ended in a higher temperature El Nino period.

The CCCR2019 report uses 1948 as a reference point, a time when temperatures dropped significantly. Referring to this low period as a starting point gives a skewed comparison. In addition the referenced period from 1986 to 2005 ends with an El Nino year, where naturally-caused high temperatures were recorded. This gives a false impression that Canada is ‘warming faster than the rest of the world.’

Moreover, in the above graph all five major datasets show that since 2002, temperatures have Flatlined. This is despite a significant rise in carbon dioxide (CO2), shown by the upper squiggly line in the graph. The squiggles represent the seasonal rise in carbon dioxide during winter, when the great plains and forests are covered by snow, and the uptake of carbon dioxide by plants through spring and summer.

Federal Government says: Canada’s climate has warmed and will warm further in the future, driven by human influence.

Friends of Science say: CO2 Influence is not Seen in Canadian Temperature Records.

Canada has a seasonal range from cold to warm temperatures of 50°Celsius in the near land surface air temperature record. Using the recorded daily temperature minimums (TMIN) and maximums (TMAX) from 1900 to 2013 results in the red and blue colored graph above. A black line in the middle range shows the global temperature anomaly, indicating a tiny rise. At the bottom of the scale in the blue, it is clear there is a reduction in minimum temperatures (meaning overall it is less cold during coldest periods) of about 5°Celsius, but this is at the coldest end of the scale. There is no corresponding rise in the temperature maximum (which would mean hotter during the hottest times), which one is led to believe from the CCCR2019 report.

If carbon dioxide (CO2) was causing warming, it should have been visible in an increasing daytime maximum high, but there is no evidence of it.

Federal Government says: The effects of widespread warming are evident in many parts of Canada and are projected to intensify in the future.

Friends of Science say: Climate Models do not Reflect Observations.

If we are to rely on climate models for setting policy, we should expect that the models closely match observations. As you can see above, based on 102 model runs for the IPCC, the models project significant warming; the reality is that both satellite data and thousands of weather balloon records show that global warming has flatlined despite a significant rise in carbon dioxide emissions from human industry. The models did not predict this ‘hiatus. The theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming says carbon dioxide from human emissions drives warming – that is the impetus for the efforts to implement carbon taxes or invent ways to restrict or mitigate carbon dioxide emissions. The theory is flawed, as you can see above.

Federal Government says: Because of climate change, Canadians must face a ‘new reality’ that events such as spring flooding will be happening more and more frequently.

Friends of Science say: No evidence supports claiming seasonal or urban flooding is unusual.

As Dr. Madhav Khandekar, former WMO regional expert, past Environment Canada research scientist of 40 years, past IPCC expert reviewer, peer-reviewer and author of more than 150 peer-reviewed papers says that seasonal flooding in Canada is typically a combination of early warm temperatures over heavy snowpack and ice jams on rivers. If there are warm temperatures while the snowpack is still firm, the water rapidly pools and there is no open land to absorb the run-off. The flood waters often back-up, exacerbated by ice jams on rivers. This is a common occurrence throughout history, and little seems to be done by residents or municipalities to prepare for this reality. Since so many homes are on potential flood plains in Canada, shouldn’t building standards reflect this fact and municipalities require that new homes be elevated to mitigate potential damage?

CCCR2019 highlights the catastrophic southern Alberta/City of Calgary flood of 2013 as ‘probably’ caused by Anthropogenic Global Warming. This claim ignores the evidence that Calgary had eight of its worst floods prior to 1933. Had the CCCR2019 panel looked at the Calgary Public Library website or visited the Glenbow Museum, they could have seen the evidence for themselves.

Federal Government says: Coastal flooding is expected to increase in many areas of Canada due to local sea level rise.

Friends of Science say: Canadian coastlines are challenged by subsidence or erosion, not related to human-caused global warming.

Natural Resources Canada map shows regional uplift or subsidence.

However much of Canada is quite stable. In fact, due to the melting of the ice age glaciers, much of Canada’s land is in the process of isostatic rebound – a subtle, slow rise as the earth rebounds from the tremendous pressure of the kilometers of ice that once overlay our country.

CCCR2019 presumes that sea level rise from melting Greenland or Antarctic ice sheets will cause sea level rise issues to certain coastal areas in Canada, but this is not a foregone conclusion. Even if large masses of Greenland were to melt, the interior of Greenland is shaped as a bowl that would retain much of the meltwater.

As CCCR2019 notes, many northern regions of Canada are facing challenges due to permafrost melt and some communities face eroding coastlines. This may be seen as sea level rise, but it is due to subsidence or erosion, neither of which are related to human-caused global warming. In previous generations, northern residents were nomads, their ancestors simply moved camp to the most advantageous place for fishing, hunting or seasonal camping. Rather than proposing greenhouse gas emission targets, perhaps a more practical thing would be to design housing for northern communities that can be relocated. As more and more permafrost melts, more carbon dioxide and more methane will be released, however, a carbon tax will not stop that from happening. These are natural cycles. We must adapt.


Who  are you going to trust: Federal Government or Friends of Science?  Consider the evidence.


See also Climate Hearsay

About Canadian Warming: Just the Facts


NYT Maple Syrup Story Not Fit to Print

Journalists are finally exposing the rot inside the news mass media. Sharyl Attkisson resigned as an investigative corespondent from CBS News and wrote at Epoch Times How Media Narratives Became More Important Than Facts. Excerpt in italics with my bolds.

I was among the first to really pay attention to the increasingly effective operations to shape and censor news—the movements to establish narratives rather than follow facts—and to see the growing influence of smear operations, political interests, and corporate interests on the news.

We agree there is terrific journalism being committed on a daily basis at organizations from The New York Times to local news stations. However, we agree that national media has also largely become co-opted by powerful interests who understand how to direct the news landscape in a way that services certain narratives and agendas.

Case in Point Global Warming vs. Maple Syrup

Eric Felten describes how this works in his article at Real Clear Investigations Why This NY Times Maple Syrup Story Tastes Odd. His exquisite takedown of a recent NYT essay linking AGW to maple syrup should be gracing a page in the NY Times, except for narrative being the mission, not truth. Excerpt below in italics with my bolds.

Climate change is at it again, ruining everything good. This time around it’s maple syrup that is at risk, according to the New York Times, which on Saturday had the alarming headline, “Warming Climate May Slow the Flow of Maple.” Or at least it would be alarming if it weren’t for the tell-tale word “may.” If a warming climate were actually slowing the flow of the sap that makes for syrup, you can be sure the Times would declare it clearly. To say it “may” slow the flow suggests that it isn’t actually happening, at least not yet.

King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium sample maple syrup in Ottawa last year.

But one would hate to be unfair to Kendra Pierre-Louis, the reporter who typed up the doom and gloom for the Times. Perhaps she has evidence supporting her warning of dire syrup consequences—statistics, even. Let’s see how she marshals her facts and makes her case.

“In fact, climate change is already making things more volatile for syrup producers,” Pierre-Louis laments in her front-page article. “[M]aple production fell by 54 percent in Ontario and by 12.5 percent in Canada over all.” The cause was “an unusually warm spring.” Well that’s some pretty compelling data, or would be if it were from 2018, or perhaps 2017 or even 2016. But no, that’s not even close. To find a year in which there was unseasonably warm weather that affected the maple crop, Pierre-Louis had to go all the way back to 2012, which is the year the Times cites as the “fact” for climate change’s impact on syrup producers. The Times finds room to return to that year again later in the article.

Isn’t it a bit odd that the New York Times cites 2012 for its evidence of climate change? After all, were the paper looking for a bad production year, the most recent one would be a perfect example: 2018 was an off year for maple syrup production in Quebec, the province that produces the vast majority of Canadian syrup. In 2016 Canada produced a record 12.16 million gallons of maple products; 2017 was another banner year, with Canada delivering a new record of 12.51 million gallons. But last year was a relatively bad one, with maple production falling in Canada to 9.8 million gallons, a significant drop — indeed, a drop more substantial than that in 2012. And yet for some perplexing reason, the Times fails to mention the drop in 2018, let alone the statistics showing record production in the previous years.

If we’re worried about maple syrup production, wouldn’t you think that the recent decline would be more newsworthy, or at the very least worth including in the article, if not making it the lede?

It doesn’t take much digging to find what’s wrong with 2018 as an example of climate change hobbling the syrup trade. Yes, weather was to blame for 2018’s bad results. It just wasn’t the right sort of weather. Here’s how Halifax Today reported on last year’s maple results: “Quebec — which produces about 72 per cent of the world’s maple syrup — produced 40.4 million litres, down 22.4 percent from 2017 due to unusually late snow and cold.”

Unusual cold? That’s right. As the official government Statistics Canada explains in its report on “Maple products, 2018,” in “Quebec, production was hurt by unusually late snow and cold, while the decrease in New Brunswick was the result of a long and severe winter followed by a short spring.” This year could prove to be another disappointment for Canadian maple farmers. In late February Canada’s CBC reported, “Local syrup farms say the recent cold temperatures are leaving taps dry.” Could it be that the New York Times neglected to mention the maple syrup decline of 2018 and the slow start to 2019 because the reductions were caused by abnormal cold rather than warming?

One should find that hard to believe. Because for that to be true, one would have to believe that the Times is willing to cherry-pick data in an effort to mislead its readers. Surely the newspaper of record has more respect for itself than to play such a cheap trick on its customers. RealClearInvestigations reached out to the Times’s reporter via her website for comment but received no response.

The evidence piles up that the Times is playing fast and loose with the facts. Take the suggestion by the Times that climate change is limiting the number of days when maple trees can be successfully tapped. “More Narrow Window for Syrup Production,” reads the newspaper’s sub-headline. The weather determines the sap flow, after all, and University of Vermont “sugar maple expert” Mark Isselhardt told the Times that “[e]very day that you don’t get sap flow has the potential to really impact the total yield for that operation.”

But is the production window actually narrowing?

Surely the sugar maple expert at the University of Vermont, in telling the Times about the window when sap is ripe for collecting, had at his fingertips the latest data, which are readily available. The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service keeps figures — helpfully broken down by state — on maple syrup production in the United States. Among the information collected are data on the “Maple Syrup Season,” that elusive window. The figures for the last four years are readily available. In 2015, the season for the U.S. as a whole was 26 days. In 2016 it was 33 days. In 2017 it was 37 days and in 2018 the window expanded again, this time to 42 days. The figures for Vermont — which we can assume our University of Vermont maple expert is particularly familiar with — show the state’s maple syrup season widening: 26 days in 2015; 44 days in 2016; 46 days in 2017; and 52 days in 2018.

What about the suggestion in the New York Times that the production window is not only shrinking, but moving, as climate change causes “season creep”? The newspaper quotes the executive director of the New York Maple Producers Association, who says that when she was a kid, 50 years ago, the start of the tapping season was mid-March. “This year,” according to the Times, “they were tapping in late January.”

Were they really? In upstate New York, the last week in January this year was marked by brutally cold temperatures. A normal high temperature for late January in Buffalo is 31 degrees. Though there were days in that ballpark during the month — and one mid-month day actually made it to 47 degrees — late January was for the most part frigid. The high temperature in Buffalo Jan. 30 was 11 degrees. On the 31st the thermometer peaked at 7 degrees.

This last winter’s extreme cold persisted well into February in Canada, where the deep freeze kept the maple sap from flowing. It wasn’t until the middle of March that sap started to trickle from the trees north of the border.

How did the New York Times get things so wrong? Is it carelessness? Or is there an ideological agenda at play, one that requires the reporting and writing to lead to a preestablished conclusion? On Twitter, the NYT reporter calls herself Kendra “Gloom is My Beat” Pierre-Louis. That is no doubt a gesture at self-aware humor. But it also suggests that her reporting is skewed: If you see gloom as your beat, by definition you ignore information that doesn’t advance the narrative of impending doom. And then there is the larger institutional bias. Pierre-Louis is officially a “climate reporter” for the Times; she leads NYT-branded “student journeys” to places such as Iceland (cost: $8,190 per high-schooler for 15 days) to teach the risks of a warming planet. In other words, the Times has a business built in part around Pierre-Louis that depends on her being a warning voice on warming.

Those sounding the alarm about climate change do a lot of fretting over what may happen 50 to 100 years from now. Fair enough — or at least it would be if those delivering the warnings were in more of a habit of playing it straight. It would be much easier to credit their predictions of future catastrophes if they were more honest about what is actually, observably, happening right now.


It should be noted that the NY Times has a long history of botching science stories, including but not limited to climate change. Bernie Lewin gives several examples in his book on environmental scares, and of course it was NYT who headlined the global warming claims of Jim Hansen.  When objective historians look back on these fear-mongering days, NY Times will be seen as a leading traitor against the public interest.

See Progressively Scaring the World (Lewin book synopsis)

Rise and Fall of CAGW


Land and Sea Temps: April Southern Exposure


With apologies to Paul Revere, this post is on the lookout for cooler weather with an eye on both the Land and the Sea.  UAH has updated their tlt (temperatures in lower troposphere) dataset for April.   Previously I have done posts on their reading of ocean air temps as a prelude to updated records from HADSST3. This month also has a separate graph of land air temps because the comparisons and contrasts are interesting as we contemplate possible cooling in coming months and years.

Presently sea surface temperatures (SST) are the best available indicator of heat content gained or lost from earth’s climate system.  Enthalpy is the thermodynamic term for total heat content in a system, and humidity differences in air parcels affect enthalpy.  Measuring water temperature directly avoids distorted impressions from air measurements.  In addition, ocean covers 71% of the planet surface and thus dominates surface temperature estimates.  Eventually we will likely have reliable means of recording water temperatures at depth.

Recently, Dr. Ole Humlum reported from his research that air temperatures lag 2-3 months behind changes in SST.  He also observed that changes in CO2 atmospheric concentrations lag behind SST by 11-12 months.  This latter point is addressed in a previous post Who to Blame for Rising CO2?

The April update to HadSST3 will hopefully appear later this month (March is yet to be posted).  In the meantime we can look at lower troposphere temperatures (TLT) from UAHv6 which are already posted for April. The temperature record is derived from microwave sounding units (MSU) on board satellites like the one pictured above. This month also involved a change in UAH processing of satellite drift corrections, including dropping one platform which can no longer be corrected. The graphs below are taken from the new and current dataset.

The UAH dataset includes temperature results for air above the oceans, and thus should be most comparable to the SSTs. There is the additional feature that ocean air temps avoid Urban Heat Islands (UHI).  The graph below shows monthly anomalies for ocean temps since January 2015.

Click on image to enlarge.

April ocean air temps rose in all regions, putting them back comparable with January 2019.  NH warming was slight, while stronger warming in SH and the Tropics pulled up the Global average.  The temps this April are warmer than 2018, nearly matching 2017, and of course much lower than 2016.

Land Air Temperatures Tracking Downward in Seesaw Pattern

We sometimes overlook that in climate temperature records, while the oceans are measured directly with SSTs, land temps are measured only indirectly.  The land temperature records at surface stations record air temps at 2 meters above ground.  UAH gives tlt anomalies for air over land separately from ocean air temps.  The graph updated for April is below.

The greater volatility of the Land temperatures was evident earlier, but has calmed down recently. Also the  NH dominates, having twice as much land area as SH.  Note how global peaks mirror NH peaks.  In January 2019 all Land air temps were close but have now diverged.  In April both SH and the Tropics warmed (comparable to ocean temps), but the much larger NH land surface cooled, pulling the Global anomaly down.  The Tropical land air temps could not be more different from a year ago, yet the Global is about the same.

TLTs include mixing above the oceans and probably some influence from nearby more volatile land temps.  Clearly NH and Global land temps have been dropping in a seesaw pattern, now more than 1C lower than the peak in 2016.  TLT measures started the recent cooling later than SSTs from HadSST3, but are now showing the same pattern.  It seems obvious that despite the three El Ninos, their warming has not persisted, and without them it would probably have cooled since 1995.  Of course, the future has not yet been written.


The Poisonous Tree of Climate Change

This post was triggered by noticing an event in April that had escaped my attention.  It seems that serial valve turner Ken Ward was granted a new trial by the Washington State Court of Appeals, and he is allowed to present a “necessity defense.”  This astonishingly bad ruling is reported approvingly by Kelsey Skaggs at Pacific Standard Why the Necessity Defense is Critical to the Climate Struggle. Excerpt below with my bolds.

A climate activist who was convicted after turning off an oil pipeline won the right in April to argue in a new trial that his actions were justified. The Washington State Court of Appeals ruled that Ken Ward will be permitted to explain to a jury that, while he did illegally stop the flow of tar sands oil from Canada into the United States, his action was necessary to slow catastrophic climate change.

The Skaggs article goes on to cloak energy vandalism with the history of civil disobedience against actual mistreatment and harm.  Nowhere is it recognized that the brouhaha over climate change concerns future imaginary harm.  How could lawyers and judges get this so wrong?  It can only happen when an erroneous legal precedent can be cited to spread a poison in the public square.  So I went searching for the tree producing all of this poisonous fruit. The full text of the April 8, 2019, ruling is here.

A paper at Stanford Law School (where else?) provides a good history of the necessity defense as related to climate change activism The Climate Necessity Defense: Proof and Judicial Error in Climate Protest Cases Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

My perusal of the text led me to the section where the merits are presented.

The typical climate necessity argument is straightforward. The ongoing effects of climate change are not only imminent, they are currently occurring; civil disobedience has been proven to contribute to the mitigation of these harms, and our political and legal systems have proven uniquely ill-equipped to deal with the climate crisis, thus creating the necessity of breaking the law to address it. As opposed to many classic political necessity defendants, such as anti-nuclear power protesters, climate activists can point to the existing (rather than speculative) nature of the targeted harm and can make a more compelling case that their protest activity (for example, blocking fossil fuel extraction) actually prevents some quantum of harm produced by global warming. pg.78

What?  On what evidence is such confidence based?  Later on (page 80), comes this:

Second, courts’ focus on the politics of climate change distracts from the scientific issues involved in climate necessity cases. There may well be political disagreement over the realities and effects of climate change, but there is little scientific disagreement, as the Supreme Court has noted.131

131 Massachusetts v. E.P.A., 549 U.S. 497, 499 (2007) (“The harms associated with climate change are serious and well recognized . . . [T]he relevant science and a strong consensus among qualified experts indicate that global warming threatens, inter alia, a precipitate rise in sea levels by the end of the century, severe and irreversible changes to natural ecosystems, a significant reduction in water storage in winter snowpack in mountainous regions with direct and important economic consequences, and an increase in the spread of disease and the ferocity of weather events.”).

The roots of this poisonous tree are found in citing the famous Massachusetts v. E.P.A. (2007) case decided by a 5-4 opinion of Supreme Court justices (consensus rate: 56%).  But let’s see in what context lies that reference and whether it is a quotation from a source or an issue addressed by the court.  The majority opinion was written by Justice Stevens, with dissenting opinions from Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Scalia.  All these documents are available at Massachusetts v. EPA, 549 U.S. 497 (2007)

From the Majority Opinion:

A well-documented rise in global temperatures has coincided with a significant increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Respected scientists believe the two trends are related. For when carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere, it acts like the ceiling of a greenhouse, trapping solar energy and retarding the escape of reflected heat. It is therefore a species—the most important species—of a “greenhouse gas.” Source: National Research Council:

National Research Council 2001 report titled Climate Change: An Analysis of Some Key Questions (NRC Report), which, drawing heavily on the 1995 IPCC report, concluded that “[g]reenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth’s atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise. Temperatures are, in fact, rising.” NRC Report 1.

Calling global warming “the most pressing environmental challenge of our time,”[Footnote 1] a group of States,[Footnote 2] local governments,[Footnote 3] and private organizations,[Footnote 4] alleged in a petition for certiorari that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has abdicated its responsibility under the Clean Air Act to regulate the emissions of four greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide.  Specifically, petitioners asked us to answer two questions concerning the meaning of §202(a)(1) of the Act: whether EPA has the statutory authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new motor vehicles; and if so, whether its stated reasons for refusing to do so are consistent with the statute.

EPA reasoned that climate change had its own “political history”: Congress designed the original Clean Air Act to address local air pollutants rather than a substance that “is fairly consistent in its concentration throughout the world’s atmosphere,” 68 Fed. Reg. 52927 (emphasis added); declined in 1990 to enact proposed amendments to force EPA to set carbon dioxide emission standards for motor vehicles, ibid. (citing H. R. 5966, 101st Cong., 2d Sess. (1990)); and addressed global climate change in other legislation, 68 Fed. Reg. 52927. Because of this political history, and because imposing emission limitations on greenhouse gases would have even greater economic and political repercussions than regulating tobacco, EPA was persuaded that it lacked the power to do so. Id., at 52928. In essence, EPA concluded that climate change was so important that unless Congress spoke with exacting specificity, it could not have meant the agency to address it.

Having reached that conclusion, EPA believed it followed that greenhouse gases cannot be “air pollutants” within the meaning of the Act. See ibid. (“It follows from this conclusion, that [greenhouse gases], as such, are not air pollutants under the [Clean Air Act’s] regulatory provisions …”).

Even assuming that it had authority over greenhouse gases, EPA explained in detail why it would refuse to exercise that authority. The agency began by recognizing that the concentration of greenhouse gases has dramatically increased as a result of human activities, and acknowledged the attendant increase in global surface air temperatures. Id., at 52930. EPA nevertheless gave controlling importance to the NRC Report’s statement that a causal link between the two “ ‘cannot be unequivocally established.’ ” Ibid. (quoting NRC Report 17). Given that residual uncertainty, EPA concluded that regulating greenhouse gas emissions would be unwise. 68 Fed. Reg. 52930.

The harms associated with climate change are serious and well recognized. Indeed, the NRC Report itself—which EPA regards as an “objective and independent assessment of the relevant science,” 68 Fed. Reg. 52930—identifies a number of environmental changes that have already inflicted significant harms, including “the global retreat of mountain glaciers, reduction in snow-cover extent, the earlier spring melting of rivers and lakes, [and] the accelerated rate of rise of sea levels during the 20th century relative to the past few thousand years … .” NRC Report 16.

In sum—at least according to petitioners’ uncontested affidavits—the rise in sea levels associated with global warming has already harmed and will continue to harm Massachusetts. The risk of catastrophic harm, though remote, is nevertheless real. That risk would be reduced to some extent if petitioners received the relief they seek. We therefore hold that petitioners have standing to challenge the EPA’s denial of their rulemaking petition.[Footnote 24]

In short, EPA has offered no reasoned explanation for its refusal to decide whether greenhouse gases cause or contribute to climate change. Its action was therefore “arbitrary, capricious, … or otherwise not in accordance with law.” 42 U. S. C. §7607(d)(9)(A). We need not and do not reach the question whether on remand EPA must make an endangerment finding, or whether policy concerns can inform EPA’s actions in the event that it makes such a finding. Cf. Chevron U. S. A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U. S. 837, 843–844 (1984). We hold only that EPA must ground its reasons for action or inaction in the statute.

My Comment: Note that the citations of scientific proof were uncontested assertions by petitioners.  Note also that the majority did not rule that EPA must make an endangerment finding:  “We hold only that EPA must ground its reasons for action or inaction in the statute.”

From the Minority Dissenting Opinion

It is not at all clear how the Court’s “special solicitude” for Massachusetts plays out in the standing analysis, except as an implicit concession that petitioners cannot establish standing on traditional terms. But the status of Massachusetts as a State cannot compensate for petitioners’ failure to demonstrate injury in fact, causation, and redressability.

When the Court actually applies the three-part test, it focuses, as did the dissent below, see 415 F. 3d 50, 64 (CADC 2005) (opinion of Tatel, J.), on the State’s asserted loss of coastal land as the injury in fact. If petitioners rely on loss of land as the Article III injury, however, they must ground the rest of the standing analysis in that specific injury. That alleged injury must be “concrete and particularized,” Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U. S., at 560, and “distinct and palpable,” Allen, 468 U. S., at 751 (internal quotation marks omitted). Central to this concept of “particularized” injury is the requirement that a plaintiff be affected in a “personal and individual way,” Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U. S., at 560, n. 1, and seek relief that “directly and tangibly benefits him” in a manner distinct from its impact on “the public at large,” id., at 573–574. Without “particularized injury, there can be no confidence of ‘a real need to exercise the power of judicial review’ or that relief can be framed ‘no broader than required by the precise facts to which the court’s ruling would be applied.’ ” Warth v. Seldin, 422 U. S. 490, 508 (1975) (quoting Schlesinger v. Reservists Comm. to Stop the War, 418 U. S. 208, 221–222 (1974)).

The very concept of global warming seems inconsistent with this particularization requirement. Global warming is a phenomenon “harmful to humanity at large,” 415 F. 3d, at 60 (Sentelle, J., dissenting in part and concurring in judgment), and the redress petitioners seek is focused no more on them than on the public generally—it is literally to change the atmosphere around the world.

If petitioners’ particularized injury is loss of coastal land, it is also that injury that must be “actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical,” Defenders of Wildlife, supra, at 560 (internal quotation marks omitted), “real and immediate,” Los Angeles v. Lyons, 461 U. S. 95, 102 (1983) (internal quotation marks omitted), and “certainly impending,” Whitmore v. Arkansas, 495 U. S. 149, 158 (1990) (internal quotation marks omitted).

As to “actual” injury, the Court observes that “global sea levels rose somewhere between 10 and 20 centimeters over the 20th century as a result of global warming” and that “[t]hese rising seas have already begun to swallow Massachusetts’ coastal land.” Ante, at 19. But none of petitioners’ declarations supports that connection. One declaration states that “a rise in sea level due to climate change is occurring on the coast of Massachusetts, in the metropolitan Boston area,” but there is no elaboration. Petitioners’ Standing Appendix in No. 03–1361, etc. (CADC), p. 196 (Stdg. App.). And the declarant goes on to identify a “significan[t]” non-global-warming cause of Boston’s rising sea level: land subsidence. Id., at 197; see also id., at 216. Thus, aside from a single conclusory statement, there is nothing in petitioners’ 43 standing declarations and accompanying exhibits to support an inference of actual loss of Massachusetts coastal land from 20th century global sea level increases. It is pure conjecture.

The Court ignores the complexities of global warming, and does so by now disregarding the “particularized” injury it relied on in step one, and using the dire nature of global warming itself as a bootstrap for finding causation and redressability.

Petitioners are never able to trace their alleged injuries back through this complex web to the fractional amount of global emissions that might have been limited with EPA standards. In light of the bit-part domestic new motor vehicle greenhouse gas emissions have played in what petitioners describe as a 150-year global phenomenon, and the myriad additional factors bearing on petitioners’ alleged injury—the loss of Massachusetts coastal land—the connection is far too speculative to establish causation.

From Justice Scalia’s Dissenting Opinion

Even on the Court’s own terms, however, the same conclusion follows. As mentioned above, the Court gives EPA the option of determining that the science is too uncertain to allow it to form a “judgment” as to whether greenhouse gases endanger public welfare. Attached to this option (on what basis is unclear) is an essay requirement: “If,” the Court says, “the scientific uncertainty is so profound that it precludes EPA from making a reasoned judgment as to whether greenhouse gases contribute to global warming, EPA must say so.” Ante, at 31. But EPA has said precisely that—and at great length, based on information contained in a 2001 report by the National Research Council (NRC) entitled Climate Change Science:

“As the NRC noted in its report, concentrations of [greenhouse gases (GHGs)] are increasing in the atmosphere as a result of human activities (pp. 9–12). It also noted that ‘[a] diverse array of evidence points to a warming of global surface air temperatures’ (p. 16). The report goes on to state, however, that ‘[b]ecause of the large and still uncertain level of natural variability inherent in the climate record and the uncertainties in the time histories of the various forcing agents (and particularly aerosols), a [causal] linkage between the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the observed climate changes during the 20th century cannot be unequivocally established. The fact that the magnitude of the observed warming is large in comparison to natural variability as simulated in climate models is suggestive of such a linkage, but it does not constitute proof of one because the model simulations could be deficient in natural variability on the decadal to century time scale’ (p. 17).

“The NRC also observed that ‘there is considerable uncertainty in current understanding of how the climate system varies naturally and reacts to emissions of [GHGs] and aerosols’ (p. 1). As a result of that uncertainty, the NRC cautioned that ‘current estimate of the magnitude of future warming should be regarded as tentative and subject to future adjustments (either upward or downward).’ Id. It further advised that ‘[r]educing the wide range of uncertainty inherent in current model predictions of global climate change will require major advances in understanding and modeling of both (1) the factors that determine atmospheric concentrations of [GHGs] and aerosols and (2) the so-called “feedbacks” that determine the sensitivity of the climate system to a prescribed increase in [GHGs].’ Id.

“The science of climate change is extraordinarily complex and still evolving. Although there have been substantial advances in climate change science, there continue to be important uncertainties in our understanding of the factors that may affect future climate change and how it should be addressed. As the NRC explained, predicting future climate change necessarily involves a complex web of economic and physical factors including: Our ability to predict future global anthropogenic emissions of GHGs and aerosols; the fate of these emissions once they enter the atmosphere (e.g., what percentage are absorbed by vegetation or are taken up by the oceans); the impact of those emissions that remain in the atmosphere on the radiative properties of the atmosphere; changes in critically important climate feedbacks (e.g., changes in cloud cover and ocean circulation); changes in temperature characteristics (e.g., average temperatures, shifts in daytime and evening temperatures); changes in other climatic parameters (e.g., shifts in precipitation, storms); and ultimately the impact of such changes on human health and welfare (e.g., increases or decreases in agricultural productivity, human health impacts). The NRC noted, in particular, that ‘[t]he understanding of the relationships between weather/climate and human health is in its infancy and therefore the health consequences of climate change are poorly understood’ (p. 20). Substantial scientific uncertainties limit our ability to assess each of these factors and to separate out those changes resulting from natural variability from those that are directly the result of increases in anthropogenic GHGs.

“Reducing the wide range of uncertainty inherent in current model predictions will require major advances in understanding and modeling of the factors that determine atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases and aerosols, and the processes that determine the sensitivity of the climate system.” 68 Fed. Reg. 52930.

I simply cannot conceive of what else the Court would like EPA to say.


Justice Scalia lays the axe to the roots of this poisonous tree.  Even the scientific source document relied on by the majority admits that claims of man made warming are conjecture without certain evidence.  This case does not prove CAGW despite it being repeatedly cited as though it did.


Taking the sea level rise projected by Sea Change Boston, and through the magic of CAI (Computer-Aided Imagining), we can compare to tidal gauge observations at Boston:



Climate Extrasensory Perception

A recent post Climate Hearsay featured an article by Ross McKitrick noting how climatists rely on charts and graphs to alarm people about temperature changes too small for them to notice otherwise.  For example, NOAA each month presents temperature measurements globally and broken down in various ways.  To illustrate McKitrick’s point, let’s look at the results for Quarter 1 of 2019, January through March.  Source: Global Climate Report

So the chart informs us that for this 3 month period, the whole world had its third warmest year out of the last 140 years!  2016 was a full 0.27℃ hotter on average over those 90 days.  Well, maybe not, because the error range is given as +/- 0.15℃.  So the difference this year from the record year 2016 might have been only a few 0.01℃, and no way you could have noticed that.  In fact where I live in Montreal, it didn’t seem like a warm year at all.

McKitrick also makes the point that claiming a country like Canada warmed more than twice the global average proves nothing.  In a cooling period, any place on land will cool faster than the global surface which is 71% ocean.  Same thing goes for warming: land temps change faster. For example, consider NOAA’s first quarter report on the major continents.

Surprise, surprise: North American temperatures ranked 38th out of 110 years, more than 2℃ cooler than 2016.  That’s more like what I experienced, though many days were much colder.  And browse the list of other land places: it was not that warm anywhere except for Oceania, with the land mass mostly in Australia.


Global warming/climate change is one of those everywhere, elsewhere phenomena.  Taking masses of temperatures and averaging them into a GMT (Global Mean Temperature Anomaly) is an abstraction, not anyone’s reality.  And in addition, minute changes in that abstraction are too small for anyone to sense.  Yet, modern civilization is presumed to be in crisis over 1.5℃ of additional warming, which we apparently already got in Canada and we are much better for it.

Some people worry Global Warming is changing how fast the Earth spins. Have you noticed?


Mike Hulme is a leading voice striking a rational balance between concern about the planet and careful deliberation over policy choices.  I have posted several of his articles, for example on extreme weather attribution and on attempts to link armed conflicts with climate change.  Pertinent to this post, Hulme has spoken out on the obsession with global temperature anomalies: See Obsessing Over Global Temperatures

Global temperature does not cause anything to happen. It has no material agency. It is an abstract proxy for the aggregated accumulation of heat in the surface boundary layer of the planet. It is far removed from revealing the physical realities of meteorological hazards occurring in particular places. And forecasts of global temperature threshold exceedance are even further removed from actionable early warning information upon which disaster risk management systems can work.

Global temperature offers the ultimate view of the planet—and of meteorological hazard—from nowhere.

And he has warned about the emergency rhetoric now on full display in the streets of major cities.  See Against Emergency Countdown

But as we argued a few years ago, declaring a climate emergency invokes a state of exception that carries many inherent risks: the suspension of normal governance, the use of coercive rhetoric, calls for ‘desperate measures’, shallow thinking and deliberation, and even militarization. To declare an emergency becomes an act of high moral and political significance, as it replaces the framework of ordinary politics with one of extraordinary politics.

In contrast, a little less rhetorical heat will allow for more cool-headed policy development. What is needed is clear-headed pragmatism, but without the Sword of Damocles hanging over these heads. Climate Pragmatism calls for accelerating technology innovation, including nuclear energy, for tightening local air quality standards, for sector-, regional- and local-level interventions to alter development trajectories and for major investments in improving female literacy. Not desperate measures called forth by the unstable politics of a state of emergency, but right and sensible things to do. And it is never too late to do the right thing.


Climate Hearsay

In a legal proceeding, a witness can only testify to what he or she personally experienced. Anything reported to them by others is dismissed as “hearsay”, not evidence by direct observation, but rather an opinion offered by someone else.

In the current public commotion over global warming, almost all the discourse is composed of hearsay.  Ross McKitrick explains that the alleged changes in temperatures are so small that no one can possibly notice. Thus, their concern over global warming can only come from repeating hearsay in the form of charts and graphs published by people with an axe to grind. His article in the Financial Post is Hold the panic: Canada just warmed 1.7 degrees and … thrived. Excerpts below in italics with my bolds.

A recent report, commissioned by Environment and Climate Change Canada (also known as the federal Department of the Environment), sparked a feverish bout of media coverage. Much of it keyed off the headline statement that Canada warmed “twice as fast” as the entire planet since 1948. If that is self-evidently a bad thing, what to make of the finding that the Canada’s Atlantic region warmed twice as fast as the Prairies? Or that Canadian winters warmed twice as fast as summers?

Saying Canada warmed twice as fast as the whole planet doesn’t prove anything

I’ll bet you didn’t know that the Maritimes warmed twice as fast as the Prairies. But now that I’ve told you, you might tell yourself it makes sense based on what you’ve seen or heard — that’s called confirmation bias. In fact, I was lying. It’s the other way around. The Prairies warmed almost three times faster than the Maritimes.

Would you have known either way? One of the psychological effects of a report like this, and the attendant media hype, is that it puts ideas in peoples’ heads. Tell everyone over and over that the climate is changing, and soon they will see proof of change everywhere. Rain, snow, wind, floods or dry spells; it will all seem to eerily confirm the theory, even though we have always had these things.

Most of what people are noticing, of course, are just natural weather events. Underneath, there are slow trends, both natural and (likely) human-caused. But they are small and hard to separate out without careful statistical analysis. A few years ago, climatologist Lennart Bengtsson remarked:

The warming we have had over the last 100 years is so small that if we didn’t have meteorologists and climatologists to measure it we wouldn’t have noticed it at all.

And so we get reports with charts and graphs to tell us about the changes we didn’t notice. Remember last summer when the media hyped a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warning that warming 1.5 degrees Celsius (compared to preindustrial times) was a disaster threshold we must avoid crossing at all costs? Now we learn that Canada warmed 1.7 degrees Celsius since 1948. Far from leaving the country a smoking ruin, we got wealthier and healthier, our population soared, and life improved by almost any measure of welfare you can imagine. If only every so-called catastrophe was like this.

We deal with lots of changes over time. Go back to Bengtsson’s thought experiment. Today’s 80-year-olds entered their teens in 1950. Ask them what changes they experienced over their lives and they will have plenty to say. Then ask if, where they live, the fall warmed more than spring did. Without peeking at the answer, most will have no idea. Yet, according to the federal government’s latest report, depending on the province, one likely warmed twice as fast as the other. Which one?

If you can’t tell without looking it up, that’s the point.

Alarming news headlines are always part of the ritual (though you’d have thought journalists would be a bit jaded by now, after all the hyperventilating Only-Ten-Years-Left blockbuster claims over the past 30 years). Saying Canada warmed twice as fast as the whole planet doesn’t prove anything. Pretty much any large country warmed faster than the global average, because countries are on land. Oceans cover 70 per cent of the Earth, and the way the system works, during a warming trend the land warms faster than the oceans. So the scary headline only confirms that we are on land.

The best antidote, if you find yourself alarmed by the press coverage, is to turn to chapter four of the Department of the Environment’s report and start reading. The section on the observed changes in 1948 is factual, data-focused and decidedly non-alarmist. But there are some points I would quibble about: 2016 was a strong El Niño year, so the end point of the data is artificially high.

Some of the report’s bright-red heat maps would probably look different if they stopped in, say, 2014. And most of the report’s comparisons start in 1948 to maximize data availability, but this boosts the warming rate compared to starting in the 1930s, which was a hot decade. When the authors talk about attributing changes to greenhouse gases versus natural variability, they don’t explain the deep uncertainties in such calculations. And they make projections about the century ahead without discussing how well — or how poorly — their models can long-term forecast.

If you want to learn about changes to the Canadian climate, read the report. But if you need to look at the report to know what changes you lived through, that tells you how much — or rather, how little — they mattered to you at the time.

Ross McKitrick is a professor of economics at the University of Guelph and senior fellow at the Fraser Institute.

Postscript:  No one under 20 years old has experienced a trend of warming temperatures.  Yet they are in the streets instead of classrooms demanding action (anything) to stop something they have never known.  Think about it.

Warmists Epic History Fail

Geologist Gregory Whitestone provides a climate history lesson for warmists who skipped history classes protesting against global warming.  His article at Town Hall is Ocasio-Cortez’s Climatology Lacks Historical Context. Excerpts in italics with my bolds. H/T Climate Depot.

When Sam Cooke sang “Don’t know much about history” in 1960 he could not have had U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in mind, but only because she lives a half century later.

Whatever Ocasio-Cortez got from history classes during her time at Boston University, it wasn’t an appreciation of historical context because it is sorely lacking in her assertions about climate and its effect on humankind. She and others promoting the Green New Deal have the facts exactly backwards when they claim that warming temperatures are an existential threat to humanity.

Ocasio-Cortez recently warned in a House Oversight Committee hearing that the United States would have “blood on our hands” if legislation to tackle climate change was not passed. In questioning former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, she alleged that “denial or even delaying in that action could cost us American life.”

Is that the case? Has increasing temperature been associated with negative impacts on the human condition? Common sense would seem to dictate that higher temperatures would lead to more drought and then to famine and ultimately to loss of life.

However, the story is different upon checking several thousands of years of extensive documentation covering the most recent warming trends to see how humans fared with temperatures like those predicted to occur by 2050 or 2100.

As it turns out, there is a great correlation between the rise and fall of temperature and the rise and fall of civilization, and the human experience is not the apocalypse you are being told to expect. Very consistently, throughout the last 3,500 years, humanity has prospered and thrived during warming periods, while the intervening colder periods witnessed crop failure, famine and mass depopulation. In fact, before climate science became politicized in the late 20th century, the warm eras were known as “Climate Optima” because both people and the Earth’s ecosystems benefited.

The last three warming trends corresponded with large advances in culture, science and technology. The Minoan (Bronze Age), Roman (Iron Age) and Medieval (High Middle Ages) periods were all much warmer than our current temperature and all benefited greatly from the rising temperature. Likely the most significant factor that allowed advances in civilization was a plentiful supply of food. Crops flourished and allowed time for the citizens of each culture to think, to dream and to invent.

Lucas van Valckenborch painted a cold winter landscape set near Antwerp, Belgium, in 1575, when Europe was in the midst of the Little Ice Age. Städel/Wikimedia Commons

Contrary to what we are being told by modern prophets of climate doom, it was the intervening cold that was devastating and led to the fall of empires and the collapse of civilizations. With names like the Greek Dark Ages, the Dark Ages and the Little Ice Age, these cold periods’ accompanying crop failure, famine, and mass depopulation were horrific for people.

The most recent and best documented cold period was the Little Ice Age (1250 – 1850 AD) which brought severe hardship, primarily in the northern latitudes. The combination of bitterly cold winters and cool, wet summers led to poor harvests, hunger and widespread death. Half the population of Iceland perished, and as much as one-third of humankind was decimated.

The worst cold of the Little Ice Age occurred in the late 17th century during a time known as the Maunder Minimum, which is linked to inactivity of the Sun. Based on the Central England Temperature record (the longest thermometer-based record) the depths of the cold were reached in the year 1695. For the next 40 years temperatures rose quickly and at several times the rate of warming measured in the 20th century.

The warming that began in the late 17th century continued for the next 300-plus years, ushering in an era of advancement unseen during any other period in humanity’s existence. It is what author W. Cleon Skousen called the “5,000 Year Leap” — five millennia of advances in communication, transportation, energy and exploration, and a doubling of the average length of human life, all condensed into less than 200 years. A myriad of factors were responsible, but it is certainly not clear that this progress would have occurred had Earth still been mired in the frigid temperatures of the Little Ice Age.

Last year, while Scott Pruitt was still the administrator of the EPA, he posed the question of how anyone could know what the ideal temperature of the Earth should be. Well known climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann of Penn State responded to Pruitt’s question by stating that the ideal temperature would be that which pre-dated the burning of fossil fuels. That temperature would put us squarely in the middle of the Little Ice Age’s devastating cold and history tells us that it turned out quite poorly.

History tells us that warming is very, very good, while cold is very, very bad.

Perhaps both Ocasio-Cortez and Mann should be labeled as “history deniers” for ignoring the true relationship between temperature and the human condition.

Footnote:  The obsession with a slight rise in average temperatures in the last 100 years is all the more remarkable for taking that warming totally out of context.
Any warming is good, even this small amount seen in the context of a year in the life of a typical American.  Moreover, the details of the statistics reveal that the rise is the result of cold months being warmer, while hotter months have cooled very slightly.  False Alarm.

Postscript (old soviet joke):  During soviet Russia era a professor addressed his history class, “I have good news and bad news about your final exam.  The good news is that all the questions are the same as last year.  The bad news:  Some of the answers are different.”

March Cools Seas More Than Land Warms


With apologies to Paul Revere, this post is on the lookout for cooler weather with an eye on both the Land and the Sea.  UAH has updated their tlt (temperatures in lower troposphere) dataset for March.   Previously I have done posts on their reading of ocean air temps as a prelude to updated records from HADSST3. This month also has a separate graph of land air temps because the comparisons and contrasts are interesting as we contemplate possible cooling in coming months and years.

Presently sea surface temperatures (SST) are the best available indicator of heat content gained or lost from earth’s climate system.  Enthalpy is the thermodynamic term for total heat content in a system, and humidity differences in air parcels affect enthalpy.  Measuring water temperature directly avoids distorted impressions from air measurements.  In addition, ocean covers 71% of the planet surface and thus dominates surface temperature estimates.  Eventually we will likely have reliable means of recording water temperatures at depth.

Recently, Dr. Ole Humlum reported from his research that air temperatures lag 2-3 months behind changes in SST.  He also observed that changes in CO2 atmospheric concentrations lag behind SST by 11-12 months.  This latter point is addressed in a previous post Who to Blame for Rising CO2?

The March update to HadSST3 will appear later this month, but in the meantime we can look at lower troposphere temperatures (TLT) from UAHv6 which are already posted for March. The temperature record is derived from microwave sounding units (MSU) on board satellites like the one pictured above. This month also involved a change in UAH processing of satellite drift corrections, including dropping one platform which can no longer be corrected. The graphs below are taken from the new and current dataset.

The UAH dataset includes temperature results for air above the oceans, and thus should be most comparable to the SSTs. There is the additional feature that ocean air temps avoid Urban Heat Islands (UHI).  The graph below shows monthly anomalies for ocean temps since January 2015.

Open image in new tab to enlarge.

The anomalies over the entire ocean dropped to the same value, 0.11C  in August.  Warming in previous months was erased, and September added very little warming back. In October and November NH and the Tropics rose, joined by SH.  In December 2018 all regions cooled resulting in a global drop of nearly 0.1C. The upward bump in January in SH was reversed in February.  Despite some February warming in both NH and the Tropics, the Global anomaly cooled. Now in March the cooling appears in all regions resulting in a global decline in SST anomaly of 01C since 01/2019. Except for the Tropics, the ocean SSTs match those of 2015.

Land Air Temperatures Tracking Downward in Seesaw Pattern

We sometimes overlook that in climate temperature records, while the oceans are measured directly with SSTs, land temps are measured only indirectly.  The land temperature records at surface stations record air temps at 2 meters above ground.  UAH gives tlt anomalies for air over land separately from ocean air temps.  The graph updated for March is below.

The greater volatility of the Land temperatures was evident earlier, but has calmed down recently. Also the  NH dominates, having twice as much land area as SH.  Note how global peaks mirror NH peaks.  In November air over NH land Global and surfaces bottomed.despite the Tropics.  By January  all regions had almost the same anomaly. Now in March an upward bump in NH has pulled the Global anomaly up, and both are comparable to early 2015.  SH and the Tropics air over land are currently matching other regions, in contrast to starting 2015 much cooler.

TLTs include mixing above the oceans and probably some influence from nearby more volatile land temps.  Clearly NH and Global land temps have been dropping in a seesaw pattern, now more than 1C lower than the peak in 2016.  TLT measures started the recent cooling later than SSTs from HadSST3, but are now showing the same pattern.  It seems obvious that despite the three El Ninos, their warming has not persisted, and without them it would probably have cooled since 1995.  Of course, the future has not yet been written.