Global Warming/Climate Change

Cold Burn

Yes, the extreme cold in the UK right now really could be a result of global warming.

by George Monbiot: journalist, author, academic and environmental and political activist, United Kingdom

There were two silent calls, followed by a message left on my answerphone. She had a soft, gentle voice and a mid-Wales accent. “You are a liar Mr Monbiot. You and James Hansen and all your lying colleagues. I’m going to make you pay back the money my son gave to your causes. It’s minus 18 degrees and my pipes have frozen. You liar. Is this your global warming?”. She’s not going to like the answer, and nor are you. It may be yes.

There is now strong evidence to suggest that the unusually cold winters of the past two years in the UK are the result of heating elsewhere. With the help of the severe weather analyst John Mason and the Climate Science Rapid Response Team(1), I’ve been through as much of the scientific literature as I can lay hands on. (Please also see John Mason’s article, which explains the issue in more detail(2)). Here’s what seems to be happening.

The global temperature maps published by NASA present a striking picture(3). Last month’s shows a deep blue splodge over Iceland, Spitsbergen, Scandanavia and the UK, and another over the western US and eastern Pacific. Temperatures in these regions were between 0.5 and 4 degrees colder than the November average from 1951 and 1980. But on either side of these cool blue pools are raging fires of orange, red and maroon: the temperatures in western Greenland, northern Canada and Siberia were between two and ten degrees higher than usual(4). NASA’s Arctic oscillations map for December 3-10 shows that parts of Baffin Island and central Greenland were 15 degrees warmer than the average for 2002 to 2009(5). There was a similar pattern last winter(6). These anomalies appear to be connected.

The weather we get in UK winters, for example, is strongly linked to the contrasting pressure between the Icelandic Low and the Azores High. When there’s a big pressure difference, the winds come in from the south-west, bringing mild, damp weather from the Atlantic. When there’s a smaller gradient, air is often able to flow down from the Arctic. High pressure in the icy north last winter, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(NOAA), blocked the usual pattern and “allowed cold air from the Arctic to penetrate all the way into Europe, eastern China, and Washington DC”(7). Another US agency, NASA, reports that the same thing is happening this winter(8).

Sea ice in the Arctic has two main effects on the weather. Because it’s white, it bounces back heat from the sun, preventing it from entering the sea. It also creates a barrier between the water and the atmosphere, reducing the amount of heat that escapes from the sea into the air. In the autumns of 2009 and 2010, the coverage of Arctic sea ice was much lower than the long-term average: the second smallest, last month, of any recorded November(9). The open sea, being darker, absorbed more heat from the sun in the warmer, light months. As it remained clear for longer than usual, it also bled more heat into the Arctic atmosphere. This caused higher air pressures, reducing the gradient between the Iceland Low and the Azores High.

So why wasn’t this predicted by climate scientists? Actually it was, and we missed it. Obsessed by possible changes to ocean circulation (the Gulf Stream grinding to a halt), we overlooked the effects on atmospheric circulation. A link between summer sea ice in the Arctic and winter temperatures in the northern hemisphere was first proposed in 1914(10). Close mapping of the relationship dates back to 1990, and has been strengthened by detailed modelling since 2006(11,12,13,14,15,16).

Will this become the pattern? It’s not yet clear. Vladimir Petoukhov of the Potsdam Institute says that the effects of shrinking sea ice “could triple the probability of cold winter extremes in Europe and northern Asia.”(17) James Hansen of NASA counters that 7 of the past 10 European winters were warmer than average(18). There are plenty of other variables: we can’t predict the depth of British winters solely by the extent of sea ice.

I can already hear the howls of execration: now you’re claiming that this cooling is the result of warming! Well yes, it could be. A global warming trend doesn’t mean that every region becomes warmer, every month. That’s what averages are for: they put local events in context. The denial of manmade climate change has mutated first into a denial of science in general, now into a denial of basic arithmetic. If it’s snowing in Britain, a thousand websites and quite a few newspapers tell us, the planet can’t be warming.

According to NASA’s datasets, the world has just experienced the warmest January-November since the global record began, 131 years ago(19). 2010 looks likely to be either the hottest or the equal hottest year. This November was the warmest on record(20).

Sod all that, my correspondents insist: just look out of the window. No explanation of the numbers, no description of the North Atlantic Oscillation or the Arctic Dipole, no reminder of current temperatures in other parts of the world, can compete with the observation than there’s a foot of snow outside. We are simple, earthy creatures, governed by our senses. What we see and taste and feel overrides analysis. The cold has reason in a deathly grip.


  7. J. Overland, M. Wang, and J. Walsh, 14th October 2010. Arctic Report Card.
  9. National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) reported on 6 December 2010. ***
  10. HH Hildebrandsson, 1914. Cited by Dagmar Budikova, 2009. Role of Arctic sea ice in global atmospheric circulation: A review. Global and Planetary Change Vol 68, pp 149–163. doi:10.1016/j.gloplacha.2009.04.001
  11. There’s a review of the science until early 2009 at: Dagmar Budikova, 2009. Role of Arctic sea ice in global atmospheric circulation: A review. Global and Planetary Change Vol 68, pp 149–163. doi:10.1016/j.gloplacha.2009.04.001
  12. More recent modelling work is summarised by James Overland and Muyin Wang, 2010. Large-scale atmospheric circulation changes are associated with the recent loss of Arctic sea ice. Tellus Vol 62A, pp1–9. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0870.2009.00421.x
    See also the following recent papers:
  13. Jennifer A. Francis et al, 2009. Winter Northern Hemisphere weather patterns remember summer Arctic sea-ice extent. Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 36, L07503, doi:10.1029/2009GL037274.
  14. Meiji Honda, Jun Inoue and Shozo Yamane, 2009. Influence of low Arctic sea-ice minima on anomalously cold Eurasian winters. Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 36, L08707. doi:10.1029/2008GL037079.
  15. Vladimir Petoukhov and Vladimir* Semenov, 2010. A link between reduced Barents-Kara sea ice and cold winter extremes over northern continents. Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol 115, D21111. doi:10.1029/2009JD013568.
  16. Chunzai Wang, Hailong Liu, Sang-Ki Lee, 2010. The record-breaking cold temperatures during the winter of 2009/2010 in the Northern Hemisphere. Atmospheric Science Letters, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 161–168. doi: 10.1002/asl.278
  18. James Hansen, Reto Ruedy, Makiko Sato and Ken Lo, 13th December 2010. GISS Surface Temperature Analysis: 2010 – Global Temperature and Europe’s Frigid Air.
  19. James Hansen et al, as above.
  20. James Hansen et al, as above.


  1. Splendid article! Here we had down to minus 20 degrees already in the middle of November, while I at that time was driving on summer wheels three years ago. Thank you for figuring out all these data, good to have when people claim climate change is a lie because they are freezing on their nose tip.

  2. Excellent article, and as always well referenced. A perfect example of how important citing our sources is for when we need to follow up on or defend our assertions.

  3. The answer is not in twisted science of climatology, it was right under your nose all the time IMO.

    “It is the character of forests to moderate everything[9]. Forests moderate excessive cold and heat, excessive run-off, excessive pollution. As forests are removed, immpderate extremes arrive.”

    Whichever way I look at it, CAGW is political cover for peak oil, I can’t understand why this is still a minority view.

  4. I, too, am aggravated by the media sounds not only in my own country (Netherlands), but also around Europe, about the cold winter(s) and global warming. Our Met Office even came forward in an interview stressing that cold winters here are NOT a negative indicator against global warming. In the short interview they unfortunately didn’t explain, however, that they might even be a POSITIVE indicator for global warming, as you do here.

    Why is our vision narrowing so much that we can’t even look past the snow on our doorsteps? We even seem to lightly forget the extreme 2 month heat wave, fires and killer smog around Moscow only months earlier.

    I consider such short-sighted messages in the media not only deceitful and neglectful of public responsibility, but also dangerous. The uninformed public might view the arguments presented as compelling and in agreement with their narrow vision of the world. How do we convince them that looking out your window and sticking your finger in the wind is not a good indicator for climate change?

  5. Pete,

    First, it was GW that was considered a myth.

    Then, people with difficulties to stomach that idea had to concede that it’s real and so they retreated to AGW being a myth.

    I take it CAGW is the next step in that game now?!?

  6. Hi Thomas, we’ve been round the block on this but here are my thoughts…

    first GW was considered a myth because they had to contort science in order to back a political platform to explain it, that wasn’t a strong enough message so they raised the stakes to AGW, again the message wasn’t getting through, so every natural weather event under the Sun was falsely associated, occurrence exaggerated, and highlighted as an effect of AGW, wild exaggerations were extrapolated forward in an effort to oversell the message as CAGW, which is obviously a busted flush, so now they call it “climate disruption” so they can blame blizzards and cold records on global warming go figure.

    This explains the origins very well IMO

    I think Geoff Lawton has the best take on Climate Change I’ve ever had the pleasure to hear. I was unsure about joining the Permaculture movement until I saw his excellent PDC presentation on reasons to act. I can wholeheartedly stand behind such a pragmatic view of things. If you are unfamiliar with Geoff’s PDC I can type out the relevant section for you?

    You’re not seriously agreeing with these idiots claiming global cooling is caused by global warming are you? Not much in the literature for THAT one ;)

  7. I haven’t seen Geoff’s PDC or read text on it. Would love to have a copy to peruse. Maybe others looking at this George Monbiot page would too.

  8. Pete,

    “You’re not seriously agreeing with these idiots claiming global cooling is caused by global warming are you?”

    Actually, what “global cooling” do you mean? If I look at infrared satellite measurements, I’d say that if there really are people who talk about “global(!) cooling” of any sorts, I’d like to have some of that stuff they are smoking.

  9. Are my posts being pre-moderated again? What happened to my post directing Jim to where he can preview the first two days of Geoffs PDC?

    Thomas I was being facetious, we’ve been told drought is due to global warming, now floods are due to global warming. We’ve been told warm winters are due to global warming, and now cold winters are blamed on global warming, you can’t have all ways.

    Check this Time magazine cover “Holiday Blizzards – more signs of global warming” compare to the 1977 cover to see why I’m sceptical ;)

    If you really want to see which way the global temps are going you’d look at the SSTs – looks like cooling to me.

    Course some people still think air temps control sea temps, someone was claiming the Arctic Oscillation was man made the other day!

  10. Hi Pete – I’ve looked through the spam comments in case the comment you mentioned ended up there, but it’s not there. So, I don’t know what went wrong there.

  11. Pete,

    Global warming first and foremost makes weather patterns more erratic. It’s about having more energy in the climate system, which gives us more turbulent behaviour. So, we actually see both more severe droughts as stronger high-pressure regions form and stay longer, as well as more severe floods. Remember, saturation water vapour pressure increases by about 7% per Kelvin – it is easy to see why sometimes cloud systems form that bring massively more rain than they did before – while we also have more severe droughts at the same time.

    But of course it’s easy to spin this as “ah those nutters evidently want to have it both ways – clearly, global warming cannot be responsible for ‘opposing’ phenomena.” Well, that’s true in the sense that you won’t simultaneously have more severe droughts and fewer severe droughts. But the opposite of “more droughts” is not “more floods”.

  12. Pete,

    There will be a rise in the absolute number of severe weather events per given time interval (say, floods in Africa per 5-year time span). Also, we can expect the likelihood of severe events to increase.

  13. Cherry pick? Look at the date, it was yesterdays image, i.e. the most up to date data at the time of posting.

    Check this animation, nature in action, beautiful ….

    see where all the warm water ended being bunched up by La Nina, and the consequences floods in Aus, and massive snow in US, i.e. flooding (weather) is pretty much controlled/powered by ocean cycles. How does the Co2 effect the frequency of cycles from 20yrs to 1000yrs?

    “It’s about having more energy in the climate system, which gives us more turbulent behaviour.”

    It is not the total energy that causes “turbulent behaviour” it’s the difference between area’s of different energy level, and this is another area Co2 falls down. Most of the warming is supposed to be at the poles, this would lesson the degree of difference between the equator and the poles, less turbulence as less energy difference, isn’t this this basic thermodynamics?

  14. Pete,

    yes – cherry pick. Or do you claim that a single image made on a single day “totally disproves global warming”?

    Concerning your understanding of thermodynamics, may I ask you to explain in some more detail where specifically the temperature differences that drive weather on this planet come from?

  15. Back to the old nit picking going no-where arguments I see, lets get this straight.

    I said if you want to see where global temps are heading, you’d look at the SST, and supplied a link to that days temps. I did not say it disproved global warming, that’s another one of your strawman arguments.

    You counter this with a link from October!

    Can you explain how a link from October is supposed to help us see where the SSTs are heading? Maybe you wanted to put a warmer October up to compare with the recent one, thereby showing us the global temps are indeed cooling, you proved my point for me, thanks!

    How does this counter my original point that global temps are heading cooler from the SSTs? it doesn’t.

    You’re still going to haver to explain how that is “cherry picking”.

    Where the temp differences come from? As if you don’t know the Earth is spherical so it receives more of the Suns energy at the equator than it does the poles, all that ice at the poles, and a lack of it at the equator is a big clue Thomas ;)

  16. Pete,

    yes indeed, we are back to the point where you try to make a point by linking to some external source, and as soon as someone debunks that, state that you’ve never made such a claim.

    I don’t think there’s much point in trying to continue a “discussion” like that. We’ve been through that over there:

    So, if anyone really is interested in making up their mind about how you distort the discussion, in particular the part about trends in chaotic systems.

  17. Here we go again, this is pure obfuscation, you even link to more examples – where I highlight some hypocrisy in the article and end up chasing you down rabbit holes.

    I said “If you really want to see which way the global temps are going you’d look at the SSTs – looks like cooling to me.

    I supplied a link to that days SSTs to show SSTs are cooling, you “debunk” this with an older link to October SST’s – which proves my point that global temps are cooling now.

    You claim ““It’s about having more energy in the climate system, which gives us more turbulent behaviour.”

    Logic shows this is not the case as it is the difference in energy between geographically separated places which dictates “turbulent behaviour” I can give you an analogy to help you understand this if you refute it?

    you claim “There will be a rise in the absolute number of severe weather events per given time interval (say, floods in Africa per 5-year time span). Also, we can expect the likelihood of severe events to increase.”

    I say ENSO and other ocean cycles of differing length from 20 to 1000yr cycles dictate weather events (like flooding).

    You avoid answering with more obfuscation.

    Are you claiming Co2 controls ENSO, and other ocean cycles like the AO, or NAO? I’d like a reference for that one please if so.

  18. on point…

    Crompton, R. P., R. A. Pielke Jr. and K. J. McAneney, 2011 (forthcoming). Emergence time scales for detection of anthropogenic climate change in US tropical cyclone loss data, Environmental Research Letters V. 6, No. 1.


    Recent reviews have concluded that efforts to date have yet to detect or attribute an anthropogenic climate change influence on Atlantic tropical cyclone (of at least tropical storm strength) behaviour and concomitant damage. However, identification of such influence cannot be ruled out in the future. Using projections of future tropical cyclone activity from a recent prominent study we estimate the time it would take for anthropogenic signals to emerge in a time series of normalized US tropical cyclone losses. Depending on the global climate model(s) underpinning the projection, emergence time scales range between 120 and 550 years, reflecting a large uncertainty. It takes 260 years for an 18-model ensemble-based signal to emerge. Consequently, under the projections examined here, the detection or attribution of an anthropogenic signal in tropical cyclone loss data is extremely unlikely to occur over periods of several decades (and even longer). This caution extends more generally to global weather-related natural disaster losses.

    This study has investigated the impact of the Bender et al [11] Atlantic storm projections on US tropical cyclone economic losses. The emergence time scale of these anthropogenic climate change signals in normalized losses was found to be between 120 and 550 years. The 18-model ensemble-based signal emerges in 260 years.

  19. Thomas, from your link…

    “This research suggests that causal mechanisms such as the frequency, duration and timing of extreme rainfall events are changing. These seasonal changes may be caused by atmospheric circulation anomalies in the Scandinavia pattern or the North Atlantic Oscillation and help to explain recent severe flood events in the European region.”

    As I said,” ENSO and other ocean cycles of differing length from 20 to 1000yr cycles dictate weather events (like flooding).”

    Your link confirms this.

    A review article published in 2010 by the World Meteorological Organization Expert Team on Climate Change Impacts on Tropical Cyclones (Knutson et al.) concluded the following:

    Detection and attribution: “It remains uncertain whether past changes in any tropical cyclone activity (frequency, intensity, rainfall, and so on) exceed the variability expected through natural causes, after accounting for changes over time in observing capabilities.”
    Projections: “It is likely that the global frequency of tropical cyclones will either decrease or remain essentially unchanged owing to greenhouse warming. . .

    you were saying something about questioning ones “point”?

  20. I just came above two new theories for the change in the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), which made it so terrible cold here last year.

    The first one:
    “Examination of deep sea corals reveals that there have been drastic changes to oceanic currents in the western North Atlantic since the 1970s. The influence of the cold water Labrador Current, which is in periodic interchange with the warm Gulf Stream, has been decreasing continually since the 1970s. Occurring at the same time as Global Warming this phenomenon is unique in the past 2000 years.” See:

    The other new theory is about decreasing activity in dark solar spots, which gives less ultraviolet radiation in the upper levels of the atmosphere, which used to be absorbed by the ozone layer, which then heated the atmosphere, something that weakens the winds in the stratosphere and the troposphere, and this way changes the wind patterns of the North Atlantic Oscillation. This theory is from the British space physicists Michael Lockwood by the university of Reading, and is described in the first issue of Illustrert Vitenskap of 2011.

    So now there are three theories of what influences the North Atlantic Oscillation these days, or maybe they all make a combined influence together?

  21. We tend to lose sight of the real argument, which is whether or not our lifestyles are having a negative effect on the environment in which we live. There is no doubt about this. If we don’t stop producing pollutants, and looking after our environment humans will cease to exist. It doesn’t matter if its getting hotter or colder, the fact is that no animal can survive within its own excrement, and we are continually introducing more and more pollution as well as concurrently destroying the features which can filter or clean the atmosphere. Take a fish tank, throw a few fish in, introduce a pollutant, or more fish and take away the means to clean it, you end up with dead fish. Our atmosphere is just a massive fishbowl, we keep playing the game of life we are currently playing we will destroy the environment and everything within it.

  22. The NAO, AO etc. are multi decadal cycles, sometimes in phase sometimes out of phase, the evidence for which goes back well before the industrial revolution. The paper fails to recognise cause and effect, clearly the 20 to 1000+yr ocean cycles are more likely responsible for global warming than a minute increase in a trace gas over 100yrs.

    Recent energy balance of Earth
    R. S. Knox and D. H. Douglass
    Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY

    A recently published estimate of Earth’s global warming trend is 0.63 ± 0.28 W/m2, as calculated from ocean heat content anomaly data spanning 1993–2008. This value is not representative of the recent (2003–2008) warming/cooling rate because of a “flattening” that occurred around 2001–2002. Using only 2003–2008 data from Argo floats, we find
    by four different algorithms that the recent trend ranges from –0.010 to –0.160 W/m2 with a typical error bar of ±0.2 W/m2. These results fail to support the existence of a frequently-cited large positive computed radiative imbalance….

    …In summary, we find that estimates of the recent (2003–2008) OHC rates of change are preponderantly negative. This does not support the existence of either a large positive radiative imbalance or a “missing energy.”

    links to paper here…

    As I said, If you really want to see which way the global temps are going you’d look at the SSTs – looks like cooling to me.

    Deano, as a permaculturist I try not to lose sight of the real priorities we face as farmers, 1)soil erosion 2)Bio-diversityloss/deforestation 3)pollution

    I fail to see how climbing aboard the bandwagon regarding the post normal science of the IPCC alarmism helps in any of those areas.

  23. Pete,

    weather events are not just exclusively driven by the temperature difference between the tropics and the poles. And if you play the weather game at a higher temperature, you are pretty much bound to get more extreme precipitation events, as the differences in the water holding capacity of air over a given temperature interval increase.

    But is there really a point in trying to point this out? Whenever someone brings up an issue that clearly shows how you mis-interpret data and come up with invalid conclusions (such as trying to deduce “global cooling” from a single day’s temperature record – but we’ve been through numerous such issues in earlier discussions), you just claim this to be “nit picking” and “not arguments”.

    Let’s look at this earlier comment of yours in a different discussion:

    You said:
    “I wonder how valid any statistical trend is in a chaotic system.”

    I clearly demonstrated that this is utter bullshit by giving a mathematical example of a chaotic system that clearly has a statistical trend in this reply:

    So, how did you respond to this?

    “it’s a waste of time, a strawman argument, because a) it’s not climate data b) has a trend inserted. It’s not as obvious a strawman as claiming a non posted statement was fraudulent, but it’s close. Oh you can claim innocence etc. but it won’t wash, at the very least it is grandstanding.”

    Your claim was about a purely mathematical issue – that “trends would not make sense in chaotic systems”. This does not have anything to do with any physics (climate or not). So, I gave a simple mathematical counter-example. Now look at your reply. If you fail to comprehend when someone makes a valid point even in a case as clear-cut as this, I can only conclude that your only objective is to keep on polluting this forum with your pseudo-attempts to discuss things. What you actually keep on doing in numerous places is to parrot Fred Singer’s – fraudulent scientist par excellence – bullshit. I think we could well do without that.

  24. Thomas. If you play the weather game you have to actually look at the data. Water temps (OHC) are currently not consistent with warming, I did not “deduce “global cooling” from a single day’s temperature record” it is clearly a 6 yr trend, did you even read the post, never mind the paper?

    “…In summary, we find that estimates of the recent (2003–2008) OHC rates of change are preponderantly negative. This does not support the existence of either a large positive radiative imbalance or a “missing energy.”

    from your reanalysis of a an old throw away comment of mine it is clear you want to run off down the same rabbit hole.

    My claim was about climate models, not what you imagined it to claim, you knew this but still tried to tempt me to chase you off into Thomas land of never ending “obfuscation” and “chasing down rabbit holes” etc.

    You fail to realise that however much you arm wave about validation in your example model, the real IPCC model predictions demonstrably fail to predict the last 10yrs data, by some margin too.

    Anyone who bothers to read that old thread will see my original assessment of grandstanding still stands.

  25. Pete,

    well, that settles the thing then, doesn’t it? Whenever someone clearly shows that you know nothing about the things you write about, you declare this as “obfuscation” and “chasing down rabbit holes”. Of course you can always use this marvelous magic standard defense, no matter what weird claim you were caught making! Congratulations.

  26. This is ridiculous Thomas.

    I have repeatedly addressed this nonsense. Lets try again, in the hope you can drop this and address my points in THIS thread.

    I said (ages ago)..
    “I wonder how valid any statistical trend is in a chaotic system”

    You said “Your claim was about a purely mathematical issue”

    Firstly my “claim” was no such thing (this is your strawman argument again) since I said “I wonder” I am making a statement akin to thinking aloud, the statement is not a definitive statement, it is a query (because there was insufficient evidence available to me) regarding climate models, which may or may not be purely mathematical models.

    You say this is “utter bullshit” that it “demonstrates I know nothing about the things I write about”.

    Do you not wonder about anything? You clearly think you know everything, but still?

    You said “I clearly demonstrated that this is utter bullshit by giving a mathematical example of a chaotic system that clearly has a statistical trend in this reply:”

    Which, considering I did not make any definitive statement, is a STRAWMAN argument.

    All you’ve done in this thread is provide evidence that backed my original points, then arm wave about some old strawman argument about some “claim” I clearly never made, to try to dig yourself out of the hole you dug.

    Either you know nothing about ocean cycles or you are FULL OF “obfuscation” and “chasing down rabbit holes” to avoid the subject.

    I don’t think you are interested in finding out what really happens in our climate system, you seem more concerned about backing the post normal science of the IPCC no matter what. If you are interested, you could learn a lot about ocean cycles from this essay…

  27. Thomas, since you are so keen on addressing everything I wonder about in the hope you can make it look like “know nothing about the things you write about” can you also address this “wonder” of mine from that old post too…

    “I wonder about the poorly understood DTR, which seems to indicate it is night time temps going up rather than daytime temps, i.e. it is getting less cold rather than more warm. This seems to point to the main papers for temp demonstrating UHI, extra cloud cover, or both, without even mentioning Co2.

    For me, there are far too many unknowns, and a lack of evidence to dismiss the null hypothesis as easy as it appears to have been dismissed by Mann, and the IPCC et al. that, and how climate science handles these questions (read what the IPCC says about DTR in AR4, they waffle over it with “a more relevant question”!), this is what sets off the alarm bells in me.

    Based on Sun/ocean cycles, I predict temps will (generally) continue to trend down for the next 20 or so years. Based on CAGW theory how long would temps have to continue a downtrend for you to question CAGW theory?”

  28. Pete,

    “For me, there are far too many unknowns, and a lack of evidence…”

    ah yes, and you accuse *me* of obfuscation. Aaalllright.

    The physics of the radiative cooling mechanisms of the planet that counterbalance solar heat influx is slightly involved, but actually well understood. To a professional physicist, there is not much of a conceptual difference between the mechanism by which earth emits infrared radiation and the mechanism by which a supernova emits neutrino radiation. It’s all about opacities, energy dependent cross sections, and similar things. I am not a climate scientist, but I DO happen to know enough astrophysics at a professional level to see how the key radiation emission mechanisms work. I challenge you to find a posting on this site where I refer to any of the IPCC’s work to explain physics – I don’t, because I do not have to. Guess why? Because I fucking happen to know enough physics at a sufficiently advanced professional level to actually check many claims myself – in particular if they are about fundamental mechanisms.

    The claim that “it’s never been proven that CO2 has any impact on global average temperatures” is from the physics perspective structurally pretty much identical to a claim such as “it’s never been proven that chickens cannot do element transmutations and make Calcium from Potassium” — i.e. we can reason out what’s going on based on quite fundamental principles. Pretty much everybody — even those few who happen to know a little bit about physics from the “it’s all an evil government conspiracy” crowd — does agree that, sans feedbacks, the shift in global average temperature at 2x CO2 would be in the ballpark of a few Kelvins. From the scientific perspective, that much is *quite* certain. Beyond this, the discussion easily becomes tainted by politics, as it is about what should be considered acceptable/unacceptable risks, where the uncertainties (especially about feedbacks) lie, etc. That’s quite a dirty game and I try to keep the discussion away from this as much as possible — for the one simple reason that I consider it highly important to not let politics distort those insights we professional physicists are pretty much sure about. And it’s not that we would be using our professional status as a defense — to those who actually *are* willing to listen carefully, we are happy to explain all sorts of physics. But, alas, we all (in particular those in quantum gravity) also have to live with the experience that quite a few, well, are not.

  29. and outside the hypothetical box in the real world… all the prognostications of the climate alramists cause misery.

    “Snow will be a thing of the past” type prognostications, and hidden forecasts of a cold winter to prepare the political ground for Cancun, left the UK grossly unprepared for the coldest winter for 100 years. weather you think this winter would have been colder if it wasn;t for global warming is irrelevant, the prognostications caused misery in the real world.

    Same goes for the Aus floods, climate scientists have been blaming years of drought on global warming, they fail to tell everyone about the impending monsoon conditions, which btw were pretty obvious from the SOI back in September. Seems the true flood event risk has been covered up for years…

    You would no doubt have us believe the Aus flood has some global warming connection, which would of course be BS.

  30. Pete,

    thanks for clarifying that it’s all about you not being able to take a sober look at physics because you can’t cope with possible implications. That helps a lot.

  31. Whatever rabbit hole you bring up, after everything you’ve said…

    every paper you linked backed my point about ocean cycles dictating weather events.


  32. Pete,

    “every paper you linked backed my point about ocean cycles dictating weather events” – yeah, pretty much the same way one wouldn’t find a paper that does not back the point that wind is made by waving trees.

    The problem here is your spectacular inability to analyze this by taking a look at those fundamental physics principles we are very sure about.

    One can always try to reason against elementary physics principles by bringing up observations from an awkward-to-capture environment that superficially seem to suggest otherwise.

    That’s just like claiming that the idea of conservation of mass would be a sinister conspiracy for there are observations that show that the total mass of a bunch of harvested vegetables decreases on a hot day.

    Oh, I forgot — we actually do know that even many college students do indeed fail to get the point about principle-based scientific reasoning. As is shown e.g. here:

  33. “The problem here is your spectacular inability to analyze this by taking a look at those fundamental physics principles we are very sure about.”

    Bzzzt! wrong answer! Feedbacks are so very poorly understood, any mathematical model therefore lacks integrity, observation shows the real world fails to follow the model predictions, the models are a busted flush. The devastating results of climate prognostications has been grossly unprepared civil infrastructure, these post normal scientists should be made to look at their results again in the face of such epic failures all over the world.

    You have to look at the real world Thomas, the analogy would be knowing the square root of a jam jar, and yet here you are struggling to get the lid off.

    Bonus Question: What happens to precipitation as climate cools?

    You want a hand with that lid?

  34. Pete,

    pretty much everyone agrees that rising temperatures will mean stronger weather extremes – and this includes the occurence of occasional winters with massive snowfall. So – who is putting up a straw man argument here?

  35. “pretty much everyone agrees that rising temperatures will mean stronger weather extremes”

    Lets ignore the armwave of what “everyone agrees” and go look at some Data…

    Global Tropical Cyclone Activity
    Dr. Ryan N. Maue
    “2010 is in the books: Global Tropical Cyclone Accumulated Cyclone Energy [ACE] remains lowest in at least three decades, and expected to decrease even further… For the calendar year 2010, a total of 46 tropical cyclones of tropical storm force developed in the Northern Hemisphere, the fewest since 1977. Of those 46, 26 attained hurricane strength (> 64 knots) and 13 became major hurricanes (> 96 knots). Even with the expected active 2010 North Atlantic hurricane season, which currently accounts on average for about 19% of global annual hurricane output, the rest of the global tropics has been historically quiet. This work may be cited as Maue (2009) or Maue and Hart (2011).

    Overall, since 1979:
    **Global Tropical Cyclone ACE shows no upward trend.
    **Northern Hemisphere TC ACE shows no upward trend.
    **Southern Hemisphere TC ACE shows no upward trend.
    **North Atlantic TC ACE has doubled since 1995, exactly compensated by a halving of Eastern Pacific ACE. It appears that in the context of global and NH ACE, the NATL increases are at the expense of the other basins, or simply within the common climate framework.
    **Global TCs of Tropical Storm force show no upward trend in frequency.
    **Global TCs of Hurricane Force + show no upward trend in frequency.

    WMO: “. . . we cannot at this time conclusively identify anthropogenic signals in past tropical cyclone data.”

    Inconvenient hurricane facts – Dr. Adam Lea, of University College London

    Global Tropical Cyclone activity is at 33-year lows

    Global Warming = more hurricanes | Still not happening

    NOAA: More tropical storms counted due to better observational tools, wider reporting. Greenhouse warming not involved.

    Increased hurricanes to global warming link: blown away

    NOAA: Hurricane frequency and global warming NOT the cause of increased destruction”

    bullet points linked here

    Thomas, maybe you would like to define “weather extremes” if you don’t mean storms & hurricanes?

  36. Pete,

    As I said, rising temperatures will lead to more extreme precipitation events – but also at the same time to more droughts. A rough ballpark figure can be obtained by considering the temperature dependency of the saturation water vapour pressure, which goes up by about 7% per Kelvin. Now, real behaviour may be somewhat different, as there are other processes going on as well – clouds may rain off at a somewhat different altitude, say. But one naturally would not expect the actual effect to be off by a factor 2 — so anything between +3.5%/K and +14%/K should not be too surprising.

    Not that this would matter in this discussion, considering that you demonstrably show no respect whatsoever for any established physical principle if it might tell us something that has implications you actually don’t like. I think that’s a fairly consistent pattern here.

  37. If “the temperature dependency of the saturation water vapour pressure, which goes up by about 7% per Kelvin” is the sole reason for your claim, why do you expect more droughts?

    As a sailor, I’ve got to say the worse “stronger weather extremes” I’ve experienced have been during winter.

    I would imagine, from observation, it is not the total potential “saturation” which effects the weather, but the difference in pressure/temp/saturation between separate areas. If both areas have the same minuscule “higher potential” I can’t see how it makes any difference to the weather.

    If we look at OHC, we see a six year decline (global cooling), the extreme weather over the last 6 years seems to have been worse than the previous six years, OK I’ve not done a conclusive study it’s anecdotal based on headlines I’ve seen but this does raise the question of how we quantify the null hypothesis for this claim…

    “rising temps = stronger weather extremes”

    Is there a global register of flood and drought events? We could compare known cooling periods to warming periods, are there any papers spring to mind Thomas?

    How can we quantify this claim, how can we test it, and come back in 5/10/30 yrs time and know one way or the other?

    To me the Big La Nina causing all that flooding, extreme winter for the N.H. etc. after a 6 year cooling period, seems to go against the claim though. You probably claim this is during a warming period or something though?

  38. Pete,

    stronger lows will mean we will have more severe precipitation events, but we will also occasionally see stronger highs staying longer, hence more droughts.

    Ad differentials – of course they drive the weather. But suppose you take a rubber ball and shine a light on it so that it heats up. The hottest spot will be closest to the light source, the coldest spot is opposite.

    What would happen if you gave the rubber ball a way to quickly get rid of its thermal energy – e.g. by immersing it in water? Evidently, it would cool. What would happen to the differentials? Now, vice versa, what would happen to the differentials if you painted it so that it could emit longwave radiation less effectively, hence heated up? Go figure.

    There indeed are scientific statistics about the frequency of floods and droughts, and regardless of what they actually do say now or ever will say in the future, one thing I am fairly certain about by now is that YOU will never encounter any problem finding some abstruse excuse to convince yourself that you do not have to draw a conclusion from them you could not stand.

    Given your widely visible disregard for fundamental science whenever it would suggest an interpretation you could not cope with, that is.

    But at least, the discussion gives others a good idea about the deeper nature of the actual problem (the mental equivalent of Zaphod Beeblebrox’ “Peril Sensitive Sunglasses”) that got us all into this quite dangerous situation.

  39. How would we differentiate between floods/drought caused by ocean cycles, and ‘stronger’ floods/drought caused by your torture of science? Clearly the current global flood/drought is due to global cooling, OHC has been falling for 6 years (after flat lining for a few yrs before that), clearly cooling = worse weather than warming, it’s all over the historical record too.

    Seems to me, from observational records, that major global flood/drought phenomena are more common, and stronger, during a cooling period (some say ENSO is wholly responsible). I accept warmer air hold more potential to hold moisture, but I can’t see how that effects weather until it cools again, hence the cooling part of the cycle causes the phenomena you claim is caused by a minute increase in Co2, evidenced by the current global weather malaise.

    If you torture the IPCC CAGW theory, by claiming cold records and harsh winters are evidence of the IPCC global warming theory, you still can’t find evidence that cannot be accounted for by natural cycles, therefore there is no evidence.

    OHC is trending down, all the indicators point to a cooler few decades, are you denying this?

    I am pretty sure cloud albedo at the tropics & ocean cycles are enough to account for all the temp phenomena in the record. It seems changes in the cloud bands drive the ocean cycles, correlation with Sun cycles and these cloud bands hint at an external driver for which science has yet to conclude. The correlation is a better correlation than CO2 to warming, Co2 lags temp in the historical record, indicating it’s not even a driver, and since the correlation for Co2 is the only reason for the whole IPCC CAGW theory, I still have my doubts.

    Maybe you can come up with a theory how Co2 changes the equatorial cloud bands in cyclical fashion?

    An equatorial cloud cover change of 1% seems to account for up to 6 times the energy associated with ALL the extra Co2 (depending on which numbers you choose). If you eyeball the equatorial cloud graph, it looks like a 2% change over the “warming period”.

    Ocean cycles account for the warming since 1977.

    “The IPCC prediction of global temperatures, 1° F warmer by 2011 and 2° F by 2038 (Fig. 1), stand little chance of being correct. NASA’s imagery showing that the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) has shifted to its cool phase is right on schedule as predicted by past climate and PDO changes (Easterbrook, 2001, 2006, 2007). The PDO typically lasts 25-30 years and assures North America of cool, wetter climates during its cool phases and warmer, drier climates during its warm phases. The establishment of the cool PDO, together with similar cooling of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), virtually assures several decades of global cooling and the end of the past 30-year warm phase. It also means that the IPCC predictions of catastrophic global warming this century were highly inaccurate.”

    The switch of PDO cool mode to warm mode in 1977 initiated several decades of global warming. The PDO has now switched from its warm mode (where it had been since 1977) into its cool mode….”

    So you want to claim Co2 is now going to be responsible for all the effects of the ocean cycle switch? And this is science?

    Looks like dogma to me, not science.

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