2016 – Tough Year Shaping up for Deniers

March 2, 2016

The point is that we are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield.
George Orwell

“I’ve always cautioned fellow skeptics that it’s dangerous to claim no warming,” Spencer said in a phone conversation. “There has been warming. The question is how much warming there’s been and how does that compare to what’s expected and what’s predicted.” – Roy Spencer in the Washington Post

Above, excerpted remarks from well known “climate skeptic” Pat Michaels, PhD, of the Cato Institute – from his talk at the Heartland Institute’s 2008 climate denial conference.
Heartland is, of course, a well known fossil fuel funded “think” tank. (full remarks here)
In light of recent developments, Michaels remarks have resonance. Worth your minute and a half.

Eric Holthaus in Slate:

Our planet’s preliminary February temperature data are in, and it’s now abundantly clear: Global warming is going into overdrive.


There are dozens of global temperature datasets, and usually I (and my climate journalist colleagues) wait until the official ones are released about the middle of the following month to announce a record-warm month at the global level. But this month’s data is so extraordinary that there’s no need to wait: February obliterated the all-time global temperature record set just last month.

Using unofficial data and adjusting for different base-line temperatures, it appears that February 2016 was likely somewhere between 1.15 and 1.4 degrees warmer than the long-term average, and about 0.2 degrees above last month—good enough for the most above-average month ever measured. (Since the globe had already warmed by about +0.45 degrees above pre-industrial levels during the 1981-2010 base-line meteorologists commonly use, that amount has been added to the data released today.)

Keep in mind that it took from the dawn of the industrial age until last October to reach the first 1.0 degree Celsius, and we’ve come as much as an extra 0.4 degrees further in just the last five months. Even accounting for the margin of error associated with these preliminary datasets, that means it’s virtually certain that February handily beat the record set just last month for the most anomalously warm month ever recorded. That’s stunning.

The data for February is so overwhelming that even prominent climate change skeptics have already embraced the new record. Writing on his blog, former NASA scientist Roy Spencer said that according to satellite records—the dataset of choice by climate skeptics for a variety of reasons—February 2016 featured “whopping” temperature anomalies especially in the Arctic. Spurred by disbelief, Spencer also checked his data with others released today and said the overlap is “about as good as it gets.” Speaking with the Washington Post, Spencer said the February data proves “there has been warming. The question is how much warming there’s been.”


The chart below shows the annual average lower troposphere temperature to 2015, with the February anomaly shown as a line at the top.

Figure 1 | Lower troposphere temperature changes from 1979 to 2015. The chart shows the annual average temperature anomaly with the anomaly for February 2016. Data sources: UAH and Roy Spencer’s blog

This next chart is for the month of February only, from February 1979 to February 2016:

Figure 2 | Lower troposphere temperature changes from 1979 to 2015 for February only. Data sources:UAH and Roy Spencer’s blog

Jason Samenow in the Washington Post:

In January, the University of Alabama at Huntsville’s news release on the latest temperature trends implied 2016 has a good chance to pass 1998 as the warmest year in the satellite record. “In addition to a major El Niño Pacific Ocean warming event, 2016 has 17 years of warming to raise the base temperature from which the El Niño begins,” it said.

Spencer said the warming observed in the satellite record is due to both human activities and natural causes, but the relative contributions of each is uncertain. His view on this issue is somewhat different from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and U.S. National Academy of Sciences, which have concluded almost all of the recent warming is human-caused.

22 Responses to “2016 – Tough Year Shaping up for Deniers”

  1. Heartland does not deny climate in any sense of the word, and you-all continually undermine your position with that talking point.

    But jeez, if what Dr Spencer says is any kind of surprise to you, it is then a clear indication you-all have not been paying close attention to him and other skeptics.

    Persist in unsupportable talking points about skeptics denying climate, warming, or human influence on climate if it makes you feel better, along with your perpetual insinuations that industry donations of any amount were packed with demands to put out lies meeting industry guidelines, but when folks try to independently corroborate your claims, all you face is a world of hurt when they do. And it will be the toughest year of all for you guys.

    As ever, I’m a positive thinker, not actually advocating your political suicide, but instead inviting you to do your own due diligence about your claims, particularly the bit about industry corruption. I submit some of you don’t dare do so because it imperils all you believe in. But that’s a negative thought, instead, embrace the freedom it will give you once you free yourself from the shackles of non-critical thinking. Remember, it mattes not one whit what you believe, it only matters what you can prove.

    • I should also add, if Dr Michaels’ remarks were any surprise to you, it is a bigger indication that ‘yall really have no solid grip on what skeptic scientists say. Want more? William Gray, circa 2000, NY Times: “I don’t think we’re arguing over whether there’s any global warming, the question is, ‘What is the cause of it?'” http://www.nytimes.com/2000/02/29/science/global-warming-the-contrarian-view.html

      • bobinchiclana Says:

        I think our knowledge has moved on in the 16 years!

      • lerpo Says:

        “I don’t think we’re arguing over whether there’s any global warming, the question is, ‘What is the cause of it?’”

        Duh. 1896 is calling. They have your answer: http://articles.adsabs.harvard.edu//full/1897PASP….9…14A/0000014.000.html

      • ubrew12 Says:

        “the question is, ‘What is the cause of it?’ ” You could try the elephant in the room but, nah, too easy. What do you think is the cause of it, Russell? While you’re explaining the warming of the lower troposphere, please include in your explanation the concomitant cooling of the lower stratosphere in the last half-century.

      • otter17 Says:

        Russell Cook:

        Folks in denial can’t even keep the stories straight. Here is a quote from a Mr. Bates just yesterday coming to these comments to spread his views that the world is not warming.

        You guys really ought to get your stories straight, rather than try the confusion approach with the public. Try participating in the scientific method and see if your claims can stand up to scrutiny among the real scientists if you feel that strongly about your hypothesis. Until then, stop coming here to spread your personal view that the path of high risk (continued GHG concentration increase) should be taken based on the hypotheses of a handful of researchers.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      everyone reread Orwell above. Then read Russell here.

    • Sir Charles Says:

      Nature | Editorial

      Heart of the matter

      Despite criticizing climate scientists for being overconfident about their data, models and theories, the Heartland Institute proclaims a conspicuous confidence in single studies and grand interpretations….makes many bold assertions that are often questionable or misleading…. Many climate sceptics seem to review scientific data and studies not as scientists but as attorneys, magnifying doubts and treating incomplete explanations as falsehoods rather than signs of progress towards the truth. … The Heartland Institute and its ilk are not trying to build a theory of anything. They have set the bar much lower, and are happy muddying the waters.

      Also => http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Heartland_Institute

    • Sir Charles Says:

      Mark Hoofnagle (brother of Chris Hoofnagle) has described denialism as “the employment of rhetorical tactics to give the appearance of argument or legitimate debate, when in actuality there is none”. It is a process that operates by employing one or more of the following five tactics in order to maintain the appearance of legitimate controversy:

      1) Conspiracy theories — Dismissing the data or observation by suggesting opponents are involved in “a conspiracy to suppress the truth”.
      2) Cherry picking — Selecting an anomalous critical paper supporting their idea, or using outdated, flawed, and discredited papers in order to make their opponents look as though they base their ideas on weak research.
      3) False experts — Paying an expert in the field, or another field, to lend supporting evidence or credibility.
      4) Moving the goalpost — Dismissing evidence presented in response to a specific claim by continually demanding some other (often unfulfillable) piece of evidence.
      5) Other logical fallacies — Usually one or more of false analogy, appeal to consequences, straw man, or red herring.

      Tara Smith of the University of Iowa also stated that moving goalposts, conspiracy theories, and cherry-picking evidence are general characteristics of denialist arguments, but went on to note that these groups spend the “majority of their efforts critiquing the mainstream theory” in an apparent belief that if they manage to discredit the mainstream view, their own “unproven ideas will fill the void”.

      In 2009 author Michael Specter defined group denialism as “when an entire segment of society, often struggling with the trauma of change, turns away from reality in favor of a more comfortable lie”.

      => https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denialism


      Climate change denial, or global warming denial, involves denial, dismissal, or unwarranted doubt about the scientific consensus on the rate and extent of global warming, or about the extent to which it is caused by humans, its impacts on nature and human society, or the potential for human actions to reduce these impacts. Deniers often prefer the term climate change skepticism, though the two terms form an overlapping range of views, and generally have the same characteristics; both reject, to a greater or lesser extent, scientific opinion on climate change. Climate change denial can also be implicit, when individuals or social groups accept the science but divert their attention to less difficult topics rather than take action. Several social science studies have analyzed these positions as forms of denialism.

      In the global warming controversy, campaigning to undermine public trust in climate science has been described as a “denial machine” of industrial, political and ideological interests, supported by conservative media and skeptical bloggers in manufacturing uncertainty about global warming. In the public debate, phrases such as climate skepticism have frequently been used with the same meaning as climate denialism. The labels are contested: those actively challenging climate science commonly describe themselves as “skeptics”, but many do not comply with scientific skepticism and, regardless of evidence, continue to deny the validity of human caused global warming.

      Although there is a scientific consensus that human activity is the primary driver of climate change, the politics of global warming has been impacted by climate change denial, hindering efforts to prevent climate change and adapt to the warming climate. Typically, public debate on climate change denial may have the appearance of legitimate scientific discourse, but does not conform to scientific principles.

      Organised campaigning to undermine public trust in climate science is associated with conservative economic policies and backed by industrial interests opposed to the regulation of CO2 emissions. Climate change denial has been associated with the fossil fuels lobby, the Koch brothers, industry advocates and libertarian think tanks, often in the United States. Between 2002 and 2010, nearly $120 million (£77 million) was anonymously donated via the Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund to more than 100 organisations seeking to undermine the public perception of the science on climate change. In 2013 the Center for Media and Democracy reported that the State Policy Network (SPN), an umbrella group of 64 U.S. think tanks, had been lobbying on behalf of major corporations and conservative donors to oppose climate change regulation.

      Investigative journalists have revealed internal documents showing that since the late 1970s, oil companies were aware that burning oil and gas could cause climate change and global warming. Despite this evidence, oil companies organized a climate change denial campaign to disseminate public disinformation for several decades, leading experts to compare this strategy to the organized denial of the hazards of tobacco smoking by tobacco companies.

      => https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change_denial

      Double check!

      • The issue has muddled so badly. Public is not sure who they are listening to ! When every one of the Republican Presidential Candudates denies Human activity as a cause of Climate change , is it the Politics, is it the Money from Industry or is it just the Religious believes that are coming in the way of these Candudates denying Science ?! Is this view a reflection of their Constituents or are they manipulating their Constituents to please their Big Donors ?! On the other hand, the Democratic Candidates are solidly behind the Science of Climate Change & are willing to do some thing to slow it down & hopefully reverse it……

    • paulie200 Says:

      “We’ve always been at war with Eastasia”

      I could have sworn I recently watched hours of a hearing in which Christy and Curry testified and endorsed Sen Ted Cruz’s assertion that Global Warming was over. Aside those two darlings of Heartland were two other, marginally closer, associates of that fine “scientific” organization; Mr. William Happer and Mr. Mark Styne, those two being keynote speakers for a 2015 Heartland conference for Climate Skeptics.* They also agreed with Sen. Cruz, emphatically, global warming has ended. Full stop.

      * http://arstechnica.com/science/2015/12/senate-science-committee-hearing-challenges-dogma-of-climate-science/

      And here’s a good piece on what Heartland et al are doing in the face of utterly losing the science and public opinion debate:


    • Russell – could you please revise your post so that it’s in English? You start out with “Heartland does not deny climate in any sense of the word,” and go down from there.

  2. And now RSS is also showing more of an upward trend with a revision to their data set to account for problems with diurnal drift: https://tamino.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/new-dataset-from-rss-end-of-the-satellite-pause/

  3. Where is that first graph sourced from? I don’t see it in Eric’s Slate article. (Your image link is https://climatecrock.files.wordpress.com/2016/03/0216_temp.jpg)

    Thanks in advance, Peter (or others).

  4. vierotchka Says:

    With regard to the top paragraph in italics, I believe it is called cognitive dissonance.

  5. kelvinsdemon Says:

    There is a huge difference between a skeptic and a person with an ingrained bias against the possibility. A five-year-old in Kansas has good reason to doubt that the world isn’t flat.
    The same child at the zoo might well notice on her own a sort of family resemblance between apes and humans.
    I myself have looked at the evidence that
    1/ burning carbon that was fossilised over 60 million years is likely to be warming the planet,
    2/ the proposition that it can be stopped by using solar panels, sola heat concentrators, wind gigamills, and biofuels.

    I am not _skeptical_ about either of these.
    I am entirely convinced that the first is true, and the second is useless.

    But nuclear energy is not only safer and far less environmentally offensive than fossil carbon, it is also slightly more dependable than fossil, and of course infinitely more dispatchable than anything dependent upon today’s, yesterday’s, or even last year’s sunshine.
    But beyond that, it is actually _renewable_, because although fissile isotopes are amazingly scarce in Nature — 0.72% of natural uranium — they can be manufactured, AND the USA has pioneered TWO ways to do it.

  6. pinroot Says:

    I like the way the UAH graph calls out the spike in early 1998 as being caused by an El Niño. Why not the same for February 2016? It’s almost like no one wants to mention that fact.

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