Skeptical Science on the “16 Years” nonsense

January 10, 2013

If you’ve been unfortunate enough recently to be in earshot of Fox News,  talk radio, seen a tattered copy of the once great Wall Street Journal, or even if you had an uncomfortable holiday dinner with Aunt Teabag and Uncle Dittohead, you probably have seen/heard the meme du jour in climate denial circles.

“There’s been no warming in 16 years.”

uhh, Deniers, Australia called and they’d like some clarification. But never mind.

John Cook and the Skeptical Science team have come up with a brilliant, and short, video response that should bring this conversation to a quick conclusion. Be sure to bookmark the post at skepsci.

The video above perfectly complements the “escalator” diagram that also effectively illustrates the art of cherry picking – see below.

33 Responses to “Skeptical Science on the “16 Years” nonsense”

  1. […] If you’ve been unfortunate enough recently to be in earshot of Fox News, talk radio, seen a tattered copy of the once great Wall Street Journal, or even if you had an uncomfortable holiday d…  […]

  2. omnologos Says:

    China might like to know too.

    Anyway this is a perfect example of what’s wrong with SkS’ warpath approach. Their argument is obviously flawed but they can’t won’t would die rather than listen anything or anybody who would explain it to them.

    So we’re left with 16 years of no warmING, perhaps 20 if the Met Office is right for once, but much effort is put into pretend analysis trying to demonstrate the opposite.

    • rayduray Says:

      Either you are a very clever satirist or you are suffering from a severe case of Dunning-Kruger Effect:

      I’m beginning to favor the former. Surely no one could be a dumb as you pretend to be. 🙂

    • mrsircharles Says:

      Moron = moron

      Renewable energy in the People’s Republic of China

      BTW, where do you take your 20 years of no warming from? Your sauna? Maybe you should consider your electricity supplier then. Solar and wind are more sustainable 🙂

    • andrewfez Says:

      I didn’t watch the second video, but the first video is backed up by (or inspired by) a paper by Foster and Rahmstorf 2011:

    • MorinMoss Says:

      How do you justify saying “16 years of no warming”?
      And explain the flaws in SkS’ reasoning – you have an audience right here.

    • johnsilvester01 Says:

      If the argument is so obviously flawed, it should be easy to point out what the flaw is. As this approach was taken by Foster and Rahmstorf 2011, to remove the natural fluctuations.

      So is the obvious flaw in Foster’s and Rahmstorf’s approach, SkS’s application of the approach, or is it you just don’t like what the analysis reveals?

      Saying something is flawed without being able to show where the flaw is, is not very convincing.

      • omnologos Says:

        John – if I posted about “John Silvester thinks cows can fly” without you ever having said so, my argument would look obviously flawed to you too.

        Furthermore, once anybody states that 16 years are not long enough, any further discussion should start from “how long is long enough” and “how short is meaningful enough”, not a graph saying “look if I take it this long I can come up with a warming signal”.

        IOW if not 16 why 160 and not 1600 or 16000/

        • johnsilvester01 Says:


          Flying cows and pigs for that matter is not relevent to this discusion. However, if someone were to make that statment I think it would be quite easy to show the flaw in such a statement.

          So please tell me what what the flaw is with the argument presented in this post.

          The post argues that 16 years is too short to meet some statistical significance level. So what is the flaw with this argument.

          As to how long is long enough, 30 yrs, as we are discussing climate, not weather.

          • omnologos Says:

            I shall repeat myself

            1. Nobody I know has ever made what the SkS video says it’s the way skeptics see global warming. So the claim that the video shows the way skeptics see global warming, is a fake claim

            2. Cook doesn’t make the case for 30 years. Why not? Because even 30 years might not mean much. Say, if temps baselined even for 50 years, still we could build a graph starting in the 1850s and clearly showing global warming.

            I am afraid as long as the focus is on how to demonstrate global warming instead of how to falsify it, we will always run into baseless arguments that cannot be logically answered to, just as the arbitrary choices made by SkS for their graphs can’t. I

    • Yes, I can understand why omnologos would hate an approach that uses statistical analysis and simple language to explain why denier arguments are wrong.

      So we’re left with 16 years of continued global warming, but much effort is put into denying reality and pretending the opposite.

      • omnologos Says:

        The “how skeptics view” section is completely fabricated. I cannot remember any skeptic making such an argument, and in any case there is no organization of skeptics to whom to attribute views. The video, in this respect, is a lie, compounded by the simple truth that even the stones know by now graphs and their meanings depend on starting points and how data is averaged.


        There has been no statistically significant increase in world temps for 16 years. That’s a fact. The Met Office doesn’t expect any such increase for at least 4 years. That’s another fact.

        You can always and very democratically argue that 16 years isn’t enough, or that warming will resume later, or that this stuff happens, or whatever else. But to change a fact into “nonsense”, that’s a denial outright.

    • toby52 Says:

      Sounds like the sort of thing an infallible Pope would say.

      Funny, Phil Jones and the Met Office were “crooks and liars” during the “Climategate” faux-scandal debacle. Now they are the sole repository of absolute truth.

    • MorinMoss Says:

      This is a reply to your comment further down about New Scientist joining the nonsense crowd although you didn’t bother to explain what that meant.

      Perhaps you didn’t read Fred Pearce’s Aug 2008 article “Climate Change: The Next Ten Years” – see alternate link below.

      If you had, it would have been clear to you that scientific discussion on this have been going on for years – I’m speaking about practising, dedicated climate scientists arguing about what the impact of complex cycles might be.

  3. John Cook Says:

    Thanks for the repost, Peter.

    Kevin C deserves the credit for this video – he conceived it, wrote it (with lots of SkS review feedback from the other SkS authors) and Daniel Bailey did a great job with the voice over.

  4. rayduray Says:

    Democracy NOW! headline today:

    “Australia on Fire: Record-Shattering Heat, Wildfires Engulf World’s Largest Exporter of Coal”

    • MorinMoss Says:

      Have you seen the photos Chris Hadfield took of the brush fires from the space station? Unbelievable.

      • rayduray Says:


        Thanks for the spacy view of wispy smoke. And let me share this set of photos from Jordan:

        As a newly certified Lord Monckton acolyte, I have to say to you that, on average, the weather in Australia and Jordan is perfect! See how much fun science can be? Whee!

        • MorinMoss Says:

          I first saw those images of the Syrian refugee camp a few hours ago on TV.

          War is Hell.

          • rayduray Says:

            WAY OFF TOPIC

            Re: “I first saw those images of the Syrian refugee camp a few hours ago on TV.”

            Really? Which channel?

            Re: “War is Hell.”

            I take a more cynical view. War is a racket.


            The Ba’ath Party of Syria was a reasonably benign answer to the disparate sects, cults, religions and other interests in Syria. Alas, the Ba’ath Party was one of the last parties on the Left that held itself apart from the neo-colonial aspirations of the elite planners in Wall Street, the City of London, Washington and Paris (the old colonial master of Syria). So the attack on Syria’s stability was inevitable as the capitalist juggernaut continues to roll across the planet replacing the old Orwellian vision of the future being a jackboot on the face of humanity with something far more sinister. Now the jackboot has been replaced with surrogate fundamentalist jihadi marauders working on behalf of their capitalist masters creating mayhem out of decent societies for sake of profit and power for the financial elite. Sacramento, Springfield and Surrey should take note. What the elites are doing to Syria is what the elites intend to do everywhere that any shred of decency and democracy remains.

  5. […] we have the following short video from the fine folks at Skeptical Science to explain what is wrong with the […]

  6. […] on The Guardian, New York Times Dot Earth, Climate Progress, Scholars and Rogues, Planet 3.0, Climate Crocks, Earth the Operators Manual, DeSmogBlog, Carbon Brief, Open Mind, Hot Topic, New Anthropocene, The […]

  7. omnologos Says:

    I have just learned from James Hansen that instead of “pause” we should use “standstill”. Can’t imagine the scrambling at SkS to show that the two words are really really dissimilar.

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