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Cluster’s last stand

Posted By JoNova On August 22, 2009 @ 12:01 am In Global Warming | Comments Disabled

One of the signs of a change in the slope of temperatures is the change in the slope of PR descriptions.

After chanting “The hottest year ever recorded” the message became the “second hottest year on record”, and after that, four of the five hottest years ever; and now, eight of the ten hottest years.

Look out for “12 of the hottest 15 years ever”... it’s coming.

It’s time to knock this on the head. It’s true, but meaningless. It appeals to that prehistoric part of our brains and “gets” to people in the same way that rising stock markets do. For example back in October 2007 we could have said that the top 8 of 10 record Dow Jones results were set that month (and look what that did for the Dow?)


1. Analyzing trends is a lousy form of analysis. It tells you nothing about what happens next. When we don’t understand what drives the climate, analyzing the technicals of “trend-lines” is up there with reading tea-leaves. We don’t know what caused the Little Ice Age; so we don’t know if that mystery cooling factor stopped, or if another unknown warming factor kicked in; or both unexplained forces worked in concert with a silent friend. It sounds quasi-scientific but so does astrology. Look! The night-hunter ate the saucepan. Join the dots. Find your own climate change star sign.

2. “Recorded” history is overrated. It only applies “since 1850″. That’s not long. Take your pick on longer scales: it was warmer 1000 years ago, 5000 years ago, 130,000 years ago, and …. before 5 million years ago; it was hotter for most of the history of the earth. More accurately, we could say, “it’s five of the ten hottest years recorded since humanity discovered thermometers, installed them, and recorded the details in multiple locations around the earth.” Catchy.

3. Yes. It’s got warmer. So? The world has been getting warmer for 200-300 years. Sea levels have been rising, glaciers melting, and “records” have been set decade after decade. And all this started long before Napoleon took 4000-gas-guzzling armored tanks to Russia (or not). He must’ve been disappointed that the Ford Model T’s he’d ordered would not arrive for 103 years. Yet the world was warming.

Ultimately, analyzing the technicals of stock trends is fraught with problems, but doing this on climate trends is inane. What are we relying on—meterological psychology: the greed and fear of clouds?

See Climate Bull or Bear? for a real poke at technical analysis of the climate.

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