How Are Climate Denier’s Predictions Doing?

December 19, 2017

Graham Readfern in Guardian:

Climate-science deniers love to fling around accusations that climate change models are massively over-egging the global warming pudding and should not be trusted (climate scientist Zeke Hausfather has a great technical explainer on this).

While many pseudo-sceptics are quick with an unfounded criticism, it’s rare for them to put their own alchemy to the test by making firm projections about what’s to come.

But sometimes they do and the results are often spectacularly and comically bad. Let’s have a look at a few.


The $10,000 bet

In 2005, two Russian solar physicists, Galina Mashnich and Vladimir Bashkirtsev, accepted a $10,000 bet with the British climate modeller James Annan that will be concluded in a couple of weeks.

At the time, Annan had been looking around for sceptics willing to put money behind their predictive prowess.

He bet the two Russians $10,000 that the six years between 2012 and 2017 would be warmer than the six years between 1998 and 2003.

Temperature data from the US National Climatic Data Centre – since renamed the National Centres for Environmental Information – would be used.

Annan thought human-caused global warming would keep pushing temperatures higher. The Russian pair thought solar activity would drop away and this effect would be enough to cause global temperatures to fall.

With only one month of data to go, you don’t need a maths degree to see who is rubbing their hands.

So far, only two years between 1998 and 2003 rank in the top 10 warmest years, compared with at least five years between 2012 and 2017.

Annan told me: “Yes I am confident of winning the bet, even the threatened eruption of Agung couldn’t matter … even if it had happened earlier this year. With only a few weeks to go, there is no chance of sufficient cooling for me to lose.”

In 2011, a group of Australian and New Zealand “sceptics” predicted that temperatures were about to plummet. The year 2011, they said, would likely be “the coolest year globally since 1956 or even earlier”.

Largely ignoring the role of increasing levels of greenhouse gases, the group, led by Australian John McLean, thought instead that the cycle of warming El Niño and cooling La Niña weather patterns would be enough to explain what would happen that year. This natural cycle had entered its cooler phase in late 2010.

You might have guessed it, but the group was wildly wrong.


For the globe to be as cool as 1956, the temperatures would have to have been about 0.15C below the 20th century average. Instead, they were about 0.5C above the 20th century average.

According to data from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2011 tied as the 11th warmest year on record. At the time, 2011 ranked as the warmest La Niña year on record.

I could go on. And on.
But, Spoiler –

6 Responses to “How Are Climate Denier’s Predictions Doing?”

  1. rabiddoomsayer Says:

    The deniers absolute unwillingness to bet on climate outcomes is proof enough for me that they well know the truth. Putting profit above the welfare of humanity and perhaps even the existence of humanity.

  2. mboli Says:

    Didn’t Joe Bastardi famously make some bet with Bill Nye? Or maybe they were just challenging each other but didn’t actually come up with an agreed bet?

  3. Phil Scadden Says:

    Not mention the kiwithinker climate bet.

  4. mbrysonb Says:

    There’s no escaping the truth, but there sure is a lot of denying it…

  5. ubrew12 Says:

    Predictions are for the unwashed masses. The perfectly saved and perfectly rich have no use for something with ‘possibly’ attached to it.

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