A BBC News piece (published on the 1st of December) informs us about the “record-breaking global temperatures for the year to date”. This is a belated response to an announcement in September made by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for the year 2014.
As many people know, exactly the same claim was made for the year 1998 (as well as for years after). It was repeatedly claimed that 1998 was the “warmest year of the millennium”. No, not since 1880 (“when records began”): of “the millennium”. However, some say it was 1934 (in terms of the 20th century); others says otherwise.
For example, there's a smug website (called 'Sceptical Science:Getting sceptical about global warming scepticism') which disputes the 1934 claim. (His own claims are disputed in the comments section.) One assertion is that the data of 1934 only applied to the United States.
Clearly there's a market here for another website entitled: 'Sceptical Science: Getting sceptical about scepticism about global-warming scepticism'. Indeed many of the sceptical arguments against global-warming scepticism have themselves been - to use an academic cliché - “debunked”. (In philosophy, there's been a long and healthy tradition of scepticism directed towards scepticism; which, when you think about it, is a backhanded compliment to scepticism.)
So let's face facts here: almost all claims in the global-warming show (both pro and con) are disputed.
Anyway, similar claims have been made about various years in the 20th century; though not necessarily that they were the warmest of the century (or of the millennium).
In general terms, it was in fact the case that global temperatures rose in the 1980s. Indeed in the 1990s they rose even more to reach a peak in the aforementioned year of 1998. However, even between 1980 and 2000 global temperatures only rose by a few tenths of a degree. And such a thing has happened countless times before in the earth's history.
Indeed we should place all that within even larger parameters.
The Little Cooling period of 1940 to 1975, for example.
And, on a larger scale, there was the Mediaeval Warm Period which, at times, was warmer than the 1980s and 1990s.
What's more, the vast majority of studies (at least according to a controversial meta-study of 2003 by Dr Willie Soon and Dr Sallie Baliunas) accepted that earlier centuries had been warmer than the 20th century.
There are two further points about the 2014 claim to bear in mind.
- Temperatures in the 20th century only rose, on average, by 0.6 degrees. (Changes will need to be made for the last fourteen years.) Now is that rise of 0.6 degrees in and of itself a danger to the planet and mankind?
- There have been many previous centuries in which there were similar rises in global temperatures. Perhaps there have been countless centuries within which temperatures rose more than the average 0.6 degrees of the 20th century.
What lies at the heart of most of this global-warming hullabaloo is a reliance on what has happened since 1980 (or, even more so, since 1998). This situation is summed up by the environmental analyst, ecologist and conservationist Peter Taylor. In 2009 he wrote:
"The period 1980-2005, a mere 25 years, is now the sole 'signal' for human agency [causing global warming] and the identification of this signal relies entirely upon ability of computer simulations to separate natural cycles from the effect of extra greenhouse gases.”
The Last 17 Years
How does the proclamation about 2014 being the hottest year since 1880 tie in with the often-repeated claim - as originally of March 2014 - that there's been no global warming for seventeen-and-a-half years (or for 210 months)?
Of course it could be that these claims are wrong and the NOAA's claim is correct. Or, alternatively, it could be that NOAA's claim is wrong and these claims are correct.
As Peter Ferrara states:
“.... the record of satellite measurements of global atmospheric temperatures now shows no warming for at least 17 years and 5 months, from September, 1996 to January, 2014, as shown on the accompanying graphic. That is surely 17 years and 6 months now, accounting for February.”
Now just as I'm not entirely bowled over by NOAA's recent claim, so I'm not entirely bowled over by Peter Ferrara's claims either. And the reason for that appears to be simple.
Ferrara statements seem to be based on RSS satellite records (RSS: Remote Sensing Systems). The claim of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is based on, surely, “oceanic and atmospheric” records or findings. (Then again, the NOAA also uses satellite recordings.) And here again the sceptics about global-warming scepticism have disputed satellite recordings; just as sceptics about global warming have disputed some of the recordings/findings which further the anthropogenic global warming cause.
Why “since 1880”?
NOAA claims that the average global temperature - between January and October 2014 - was the hottest since records began in 1880.
That reference to “since records began in 1880” can give people a misleading impression.
There is a vast amount of evidence about global temperatures which occurred before 1880. In fact they go back hundreds of thousands of years. And much of this evidence has worked against the AGW theory.
So there's a distinction to be made here between:
i) The records of temperatures which occurred in situ (or at the time). And
ii) The other ways and means of establishing the temperatures of the past (some of which date back 800,000 of years).
Scientists are Human
Remember the following:
i) Scientists are human beings.
ii) Most adult human beings have strong political and ideological views.
iii) Therefore it is likely that many scientists have strong political and ideological (i.e., non-scientific) views.
iv) Consequently, at least some of those scientists who work for the IPCC – as well as other government- and UN-run organisations - will also have strong political and ideological views which may/will taint their findings as well as skew what it is they choose to research. (I could just as easily apply this to organisations which argue against anthropogenic global warming.)
In addition, simply because someone's a scientist (or even a scientist who has a direct speciality in this general area), it doesn't follow that such a person will have direct access to the unadulterated truth on anthropogenic global warming (or even to a small aspect of it). After all, such a scientist will be a specialist in only one scientific discipline. The thing is, the general field of global warming (or climate change) requires numerous scientific disciplines and no single scientist is an expert in all such disciplines (or even in two or more of them).
How does the average person decide on all these factors and facts relating to global warming without doing a hell of a lot of thinking and even a lot of hard work? (My bet is that nearly all believers don't do that much work at all – they simply believe.)
So I'm willing to admit that I may have made some factual and logical mistakes in this piece. Nonetheless, that doesn't make me feel too bad because even the scientists and writers who've spent nearly all their adult lives studying and writing about this issue have done exactly the same thing. (Notable examples include Dr Michael Mann, Al Gore, IPC, James E. Hansen, James Lovelock, Professor Sir DavidKing, Timeand many others.)
I'm also willing to admit that global-warming scepticism does have a (possible) downside.
The downside is that if such scepticism were widely endorsed by the powers that be, then such people would quite probably call a halt to most – or even all- the actions which are now being taken to stop (or reverse) man-made climate change.
And therein lies the heart of the problem.
Believers strongly hold the view that AGW scepticism simply cannot be accepted (or even allowed) precisely because – they believe - such a halt on action against climate change will have very serious repercussions for both the planet and mankind.
Thus even if warmists accept (if only to themselves) that climate-change scepticism contains at least some truth, the fact that it it may also be largely false means that it's a dangerous thing to take seriously (or even to allow). And that's why politicians and activists have done their level best to denigrate and even silence global-warming sceptics.
And just as Soviet Communists believed that the Gulag, Show Trials, “class liquidations”, etc. were necessary for X, Y and Z; so warmists believe that their own political actions and words (to silence global-warming heresy) are equally necessary in order to bring about something which is even more important than world communism: “saving the planet”.
The thing is, the believers may be wrong. Not only wrong about AGW; but also about the need to adopt Stalinist measures in order to silence the sceptics.
1) Surely it was the case that in the year 1934 very few countries worldwide would have been carrying systematic surveys of the weather. So even if the data was just about the US, how would we now know that it didn't also apply to many other countries or even globally?
2) As Christopher Moncktonputs it:
“Seventeen and a half years. Not a flicker of global warming. The RSS satellite record, the first of the five global-temperature datasets to report its February value, shows a zero trend for an impressive 210 months.”
3) You can ask the question whether a single institution (in this case the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) can make such a massive claim entirely on its own. More correctly, even if it can indeed make such a claim, can a single institution be trusted with the complete truth on such a large issue as global climate change?
What should be borne in mind here is that similar institutions have been shown not only to make false claims: they've also been shown to be institutionally biased (in political or other ways) and even corrupt. (This is certainly true of the IPCC.)
4) In 2009, the UK's Met Office, for example, claimed that we were heading for “a barbecue summer”. In fact the UK suffered an extremely wet and cold (for that time of year) July and August . In addition, at that time at least, the Met Office relied heavily on now largely discredited – or at least heavily questioned - computer models.