A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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The Warmest Year Antidotes

What do you say when the Big PR bell is rung? You know the litany: “2010 was the warmest since measuring began, and the previous decade was also the warmest decade on record.” (eg The AGE)

Sure, and the world has been warming for 300 years, long before the industrial revolution. The trend hasn’t changed as our emissions rose. No one knows exactly why it started rising back then, but it wasn’t CO2. Sure and 150 years of “records” is not long. It was warmer 1000 years ago, 2000 years ago, 5000 years ago and 130,000 years ago. In fact its been warmer for most of the last 10,000 years than it is today, and it’s been warmer for most of the last 500 million years. Only people who think CO2 matters keep repeating that it’s warmed from 1850 to now without pointing out the bigger perspective. Sure, and the records have been set with thermometers like this one (next to concrete and exhaust vents — see below).  There probably weren’t too many car parks or air conditioners in 1880 either. Not to mention the non-random adjustments, and that mystery about how 75% of thermometers are ignored.

Nothing about the [...]

The BOM & CSIRO report: It’s what they don’t say that matters

Ken Stewart has scanned the trend maps at BOM (Bureau of Meteorology), and his point is spot on. As soon as I saw the neat joint six page advertising pamphlet for the climate-theory-backed-by-bankers, I wondered what happened to the first 60 years of last century, and Ken found it. Did the BOM forget they have hundreds of data points from back then? Did they forget to use their own Website, where you can pick-a-trend, any-trend, and choose the one with err…more convenient results? Or is it the case that their collective mission is not necessarily to provide Australians with the most complete and appropriate information available, but with what the bureaucracy needs them to know? And what they need them to know, apparently, is the carefully censored version of the truth that will keep government ministers happy (Let us tax them more!), keep department heads smiling (Let the climate cash cow continue!), and last, but not least, help staff feel good (We’re sure we’re helping the environment!).

Why censor half their own data?

The trend map page works exquisitely well (I am happy to praise the BOM Web site team). Compare these two trend maps:

Australian Rainfall Trends 1960-2009

The [...]

The big picture: 65 million years of temperature swings

Greenland Interglacial Temperatures – last 10,000 years. Are we headed for an ice age? (See below for more detail.)

David Lappi is a geologist from Alaska who has sent in a set of beautiful graphs–including an especially prosaic one of the last 10,000 years in Greenland–that he put together himself (and which I’ve copied here at the top).

If you wonder where today’s temperature fits in with the grand scheme of time on Earth since the dinosaurs were wiped out, here’s the history. We start with the whole 65 million years, then zoom in, and zoom in again to the last 12,000 from both ends of the world. What’s obvious is that in terms of homo sapiens history, things are warm now (because we’re not in an ice age). But, in terms of homo sapiens civilization, things are cooler than usual, and appear to be cooling.

Then again, since T-rex & Co. vanished, it’s been one long slide down the thermometer, and our current “record heatwave” is far cooler than normal. The dinosaurs would have scoffed at us: “What? You think this is warm?”

With so much volatility in the graphs, anyone could play “pick a trend” and depending [...]