The very definition of stasisRichard Treadgold | January 19, 2011
Temperatures dishonestly twisted
stasis: Latin; to stand; inactivity.
There is a simple trick by which the recent non-rising temperature record is pretended everywhere to be soaring dangerously.
A merry wee post at Treehugger put me on to this handy table of figures from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) State of the Climate report for 2010. The figures come from the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) and show the top ten average global temperatures since 1997. I started thinking about them.
Notice that the table shows your (US) tax money at work — public scientists toiling for the good of their fellow citizens, finding never-ending practical uses for the torrent of objective science pouring from publicly-funded institutions, laboratories and universities. A process which no doubt repeats itself in progressive democracies around the world.
There are other records, from UAH, RSS and Hadley, among others, all showing slightly different amounts of warming and different years in the top ten, but any of them would illustrate the process I want to talk about. The actual temperature doesn’t really matter.
First, let’s see what Treehugger had to say about these figures. This gives us the flavour of the message that’s understood and propagated by the mainstream media. Of course, the message is misleading and alarmist:
This useful chart from NOAA should demonstrate one startling thing above all: The 10 hottest years ever recorded have all taken place after 1997. As in 10 of the last 12 years have been the hottest on record. And if that doesn’t seem to stir any concern — let’s just look at a sampling of the extreme weather events brought on by a hotter, wetter climate last year:
There were devastating floods in Pakistan, severe deluges in Australia, and crippling heatwaves in Russia — all caused tragic suffering, loss of life, and major damage to industry. And while it would be foolish to blame any one of those events specifically on climate change, suffice to say that the conditions of a warmer world make such catastrophes more apt to occur.
And with 19 countries breaking temperature records last year, we can see without too much trouble how such warm, wet conditions are becoming more commonplace in more parts of the world, for longer periods of time. With that in mind, it’s becoming increasingly foolish to play little political games or attack Al Gore or scream ‘Climate Gate’ — climate change is already changing the world as we know it. And not for the better.
We can admire their audacity on three counts:
- Openly abandoning objectivity by declaring their intention to “stir concern”.
- Asserting it would be “foolish” to blame any weather event on global warming, having just blamed three weather events on global warming (“brought on by a hotter, wetter climate”).
- Claiming warm, wet conditions are becoming more common in more places for longer periods just because temperatures went up.
I sorted the NCDC figures into date order and graphed them. Of course, there are years missing, so this is not a valid time series, and the graph just helps to visualise the numbers. The linear trend is there to confirm these top 10 temperatures have no trend. Oh, that’s right — no SIGNIFICANT trend!
First, they vary by less than 0.1 °C. That is minuscule! It should destroy any idea of “soaring” temperatures. Let’s put 0.1 °C into perspective: temperatures rise and fall more than that every day. During a moderate Auckland summer’s day recently, the temperature has varied between about 15 °C overnight and 25 °C during the day — 10 degrees. A daily experience.
The unaided human body cannot detect a change of one tenth of a degree and such an increase is totally obscured by natural temperature changes.
Second, the record temperatures are neither rising nor falling. Nobody can claim a trend in these “top temperatures”.
Severe quality problems
To see a more complete picture of global temperature, below is the Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS) dataset. This is the Dr James (strident, law-breaking, activist “father of global warming”) Hansen dataset. The Goddard Institute is of course a subsidiary of NASA (the space scientists), who have launched many satellites that fly around the Earth and study it.
Why GISS scientists refuse to use (except for the oceans) the surface temperatures their very own satellites detect and prefer instead to rely on sub-standard land-based weather stations, I don’t know.
I’m not addressing the severe quality problems reported with the GISS surface temperature record, and I won’t even mention their practice of assigning temperatures from one station to areas many hundreds of kilometres distant, such as in the polar regions, and concluding from those spurious, non-detected temperatures that there has been strong warming. No, I won’t mention that at all.
Here is the GISS record of modern global temperatures since about 1995.
There are several peaks in the graph. Since 1998 the temperature has neither risen nor fallen, because last year was tied with 1998 for top temperature. It’s the same now as it was 12 years ago!
With the temperature flickering up and down (nobody knows why) and remaining near the top of the range, you’re going to see several years of high temperatures EVEN IF THEY’RE NOT RISING!
Even if the temperatures had been FALLING in the last few years, they would STILL produce several years of high temperatures!
So here’s the trick: ignore the trend of the temperatures and simply highlight how many years have produced temperatures near the top. Simple!
Everyone hears that “ten of the hottest years ever recorded occurred this century”. Ooh! That sounds impressive, the scientists must be on to something there!
But it’s a charade, because the temperatures provide the very definition of stasis: they have moved up and down since the record high in 1998, but the net result has been no movement at all.
The statements about the “ten hottest years” are strictly true, so nobody can be accused of playing loose with the truth — but they give a false indication of reality.
When temperatures are not going up, it’s a deception to say they are the highest ever recorded — a deception resorted to by those desperate to show warming; such desperation as will be experienced only in the absence of warming.
UPDATE 22 JAN 2011
David Winter criticised me for not explaining why temperatures have been elevated, and of course he’s right. Having pointed out the extraordinary 1998 and 2010 El Ninos in the previous post, Record warming caused by El Nino, not us, I forgot to mention them in this one.
The role of El Nino in both years of record high global average temperature is widely acknowledged. Neither record year is due to any warming trend.
Unknowingly, I have echoed Dr Richard Lindzen’s views on ignoring the temperature trend. In A Case Against Precipitous Climate Action posted at the Global Warming Policy Foundation on 15 January, Lindzen says:
Climate alarmists respond that some of the hottest years on record have occurred during the past decade. Given that we are in a relatively warm period, this is not surprising, but it says nothing about trends.
Far more concise than I, but the same theme. He expresses a memorable conclusion:
However, for more serious leaders, the need to courageously resist hysteria is clear. Wasting resources on symbolically fighting ever present climate change is no substitute for prudence. Nor is the assumption that the earth’s climate reached a point of perfection in the middle of the twentieth century a sign of intelligence.