Doomed Planet

Truth and Climate Change

A group of friends and I often discuss climate change. One of our number sends me information suggesting the world is about to cool.  It’s apparently cold in Europe this northern winter. An ice age cometh? Maybe but, if so, I need it to happen soon. I haven’t twenty or thirty years to hang about.

I hope the planet does measurably cool in the next few years; though without cooling so much as to cause famines. I want the alarmists, The Greens and the ABC, among others, to suffer embarrassment, not for the world’s vulnerable to suffer. For there is no doubt that even a mini-ice age would cause devastation for communities dependent on agriculture. Ice can kill as surely as fire.

As Robert Frost so well put it in his poem Fire and Ice:

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in Ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Frost lived in New England and knew about the ravages of cold weather.

By the way, I got carried away a tad. Of course, neither The Greens, the ABC nor their fellow travellers are nearly self-reflective enough to suffer embarrassment. They will ‘cleverly’ explain away a cooling climate in a way which is bound to satisfy the dolts in their thrall.

The friend I referred to above recently sent me a piece by Dr Roy Spencer. Most will have heard of him. He is a climate sceptic – so called. He is also a research scientist at the University of Alabama, where he works with fellow skeptic Dr John Christy. Both are prominent in the measurement of lower-troposphere temperatures by way of a NASA satellite. Monthly measurements go back to December 1978; UAH 6.0 is the latest version. I like satellite measures. They are immune from heat-island effects and from any tampering with (i.e., lowering of) historical temperatures.

The piece by Spencer basically argues that insufficient allowance has been made for population densities, and their heat-island effects, in adjusting land temperatures. He argues that this has resulted in a material overestimate of temperature rises in the United States over the last fifty years and notes that he would “not be surprised” if this had happened elsewhere too.

Now I’m a fan of the Doc but I also favour consistency. There is so much misinformation, tendentiousness, idiocy, and straight-out mendacity in the climate debate, that is hard to discover the truth. Conservatives must try to keep to the whole truth, so far as they are able, else slip over to the dark side occupied by the Left.

I plotted UAH 6.0 against HadCRUT — monthly combined land and sea temperature records compiled by the Hadley Centre of the UK Met Office and the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia. The period was from December 1978 to January 2021. I put a least squares line through both series.

Both showed temperatures rising. HadCRUT at the rate of 1.7 degrees per hundred years; UAH at a rate of 1.4 degrees per hundred years. On this basis, HadCRUT is overestimating the rise in temperatures. The difference isn’t trivial. However, neither is the difference of an amount which remotely supports Spencer’s title: “Could Recent US Warming Trends be Largely Spurious?

I believe that the climate-change saga has gone so far that nothing can be done to reverse course. The money, the vested interest, the politics have become so invested in catastrophic climate change that no evidence, no cooling, nothing will make a difference. At the same time integrity matters. Or at least it should to those of us on the conservative side of the political divide.

Spencer can’t run his satellite gig and then not try to square this measure with his analysis of land temperatures. He didn’t try. At best, this sows confusion; when everything to do with climate is already confused enough.

The evidence from satellite data is clear. The global temperature has risen markedly since the end of 1978. Can we at least agree about that before legitimately debating what caused it and what it might mean in the larger scheme of things?

  • Peter OBrien

    The other aspect which we don’t hear much about these days is the missing hot spot in the (I think upper troposphere but don’t hold me to that) predicted by the models (and, I think, fundamental to the CAGW theory) but unnoticed by squillions of weather balloons. Jo Nova has written extensively on this.

  • Ian MacKenzie

    Tim Flannery, the worst prognosticator of all time, is still going strong. If the billions wasted on unused desalination plants based on his predictions about dam levels haven’t destroyed his credibility with those in power, then its hard to imagine what will.
    Ten years ago or more, when the ABC allowed comments on their opinion pieces, I suggested that, if climate science was settled, shouldn’t the very large climate allocation in federal and university science budgets be redirected into science that wasn’t yet settled? Apart from a lot of bluster, I didn’t get a answer. PM Tony Abbott tried to save that money by defunding the Climate Commission, but Turnbull and other “renewables” troughers in the Liberals soon put a stop to him.

  • Doubting Thomas

    The current pandemic is just the latest thing that demonstrates that there are scientific problems far more urgent and deserving of research funding and resources than the entirely futile CAGW debate. Just about every doom-laden prediction of the cognoscenti has proven to be hopelessly wrong, yet the gullible seem to be impervious to reason. The whole debate is founded on logically fallacious post hoc ergo propter hoc arguments.
    Just because the average temperature may have risen a barely perceptible 1.? degrees since 1978 doesn’t signify anything other than that single fact.
    It doesn’t imply causation, consequence or point to any “problem” that can reasonably justify the universal panic that as been generated by rogues and gullible idiots. It certainly is never going to be reversed by any rational democratic process.


    Put The Greens, ABC and fellow travellers on Snowflake Island with no food. How long before they start looking like hamburger to each other? That’s a reality show I’d like to watch.

  • ianl

    >”The global temperature has risen markedly since the end of 1978″

    Cherry picked, Peter Smith. Doesn’t surprise me.

    Roman Warm Period 250BC – 400AD
    Medieval Warm Period 950AD-1250AD
    Little Ice Age 16th-19th Centuries

    Yes, those periods too are cherry picked. That’s the point.
    Cherry picking requires explanation for the existence of the cherry that is picked as against one that isn’t picked.

    Atmospheric CO2 concentrations do not correlate with known climatic variations. Parts of Glacial Periods have higher CO2 concentrations than the warm bits outside the Glacials, including today’s modest 420ppm.

    So the sleight of hand in insisting that we agree that some period is different from another before we “discuss” anything is a simplistic straw man, meant to poison the well.

    I do expect no change in direction though. It’s all just too hard.

  • lbloveday

    “The piece by Spencer basically argues that insufficient allowance has been made for population densities, and their heat-island effects, in adjusting land temperatures. He argues that this has resulted in a material overestimate of temperature rises in the United States over the last fifty years and notes that he would “not be surprised” if this had happened elsewhere too.”
    30+ years ago I lived for 2 years in a Java city Bandung, high elevation,. 28max/18min “every” day, ideal. Recently visited – population up from 2 million to 5 (Ok, the figures are dubious, but large areas of forestation have been cleared for housing), shopping malls with vast asphalt parking areas have sprung up, toll roads built, the wealthier have replaced their scooters with cars…..
    The average Max has increased to 31-32; anyone who thinks that is due to the Greens'”climate change”or that they can, or should, stop the advance in inhabitants of Bandung attaining a higher standard of living is …

  • Peter Smith

    ianl, the data isn’t cherry picked. December 1978 is the start of the satellite record. Of course, I agree, too much should not be made of just 40 or so years of data.
    lbloveday, there is, of course, a heat island effect. At question is whether those putting together land temperature data have sufficiently accounted for it. Spencer argues that they haven’t. The data from satellites supports that argument but not to the extent that Spencer claims. And my point is that in reaching his conclusion he should have consulted and brought into play his own satellite data. He didn’t. And that, in my view, is remiss. Our side brings to bear the whole truth so far as we are able. That separates us from those on the other side who deal shamelessly in lies when it suits their purpose.

  • Anthony

    I will wager, regardless, that largely, the cessation of international air traffic during the lockdowns of 2020-2021, thanks to COVID-19, have contributed to significant global cooling. If one recalls during the shut-down of air traffic over the US continent during the aftermath of 9-11 (the Twin Towers attack) – temperatures fell by up to one (1) degree celcius across the continent, consequently.

  • Harry Lee

    …that’s the end of the last ice age. And really, climate research, properly conducted, would also draw on evidence that precedes the last ice age.

  • Peter Marriott

    I think there’s more than one source using satellite measuring isn’t there, and they differ, which suggests it’s not that definitive, and in 78 the complicated, abstract measuring method was still very much a work in progress I believe, as I would suggest it probably still is, hence the differences, and surely there must be a margin of error. Heat island effect is plainly obvious even to the layman, I have three measuring devices and they all record different temps. and the heat island effect must rise and therefore must eventually reach even the satellites I would have thought. I’m a sceptic and have a shelf full of scientific data to pretty well confirm that in my view it’s the right position to be in and I think Dr. Spencer is a good honest scientist…as is retired Atmospheric Physicist, Professor, Dr. Garth Paltridge and I seem to remember him writing that the climate is so chaotic it is, and always will be, impossible to have a so called ‘world temp’. It’s simply always going to be varying and different and this would include the satellites I would suggest, particularly when you read just how it’s all done. On the cover of Dr. Partridge’s little book ‘The Climate Caper”‘ there’s a copy of Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s painting “‘The Blind Leading the Blind’ which I think covers it nicely, and positions me right back to my sceptical common sense one, which I still think is the right one, satellites, platinum resistance thermometers and definitely carbon dioxide not withstanding.

  • young bill

    I don’t think you are being fair to Roy Spencer. UAH and HadCRUT are global data sets; this analysis is US land only and looks at 1973 -2011. His fig. 3 is the killer – look at the “adjustments” to the various data sets.

    Note the question mark in the article title: “Could Recent U.S. Warming Trends be Largely Spurious?” He is arguing that UHI is currently underestimated, that’s all.

  • Alistair

    Last I did any reading of Roy Spencer’s work, his main skeptic argument was that cloud cover change was the likely driver of observed temperature rises, linked with ocean current oscillations. He regards this as internal variability but evidence might point to links with sun activity. The problem of urban heat island contamination of land data is an additional observation of his, I think. (Wife)

  • pgang

    Useful facts that ‘they’ don’t tell you: If every single speck of ice on the planet melted, the global mean sea level would rise 320mm. Or 1 foot.
    So global warming / global cooling: who cares. We wake up each morning and there is weather outside.

  • Francois Stallbom

    Climate is cyclical, not linear. It always changes. Next 20 – 50 years grand solar minimum.

  • Lewis P Buckingham

    ‘The piece by Spencer basically argues that insufficient allowance has been made for population densities, and their heat-island effects, in adjusting land temperatures.’
    Rightly so.
    The rot started to show some years ago causing me to doubt my faith in global climate science.
    Just click on the graphs showing raw data and adjusted data.
    The problem of adjustment spreads from US data to global data.
    We have it here in Australia.
    The US cleaned up their act some years ago to some degree by removing stations from asphalt, incinerators and down wind from jet engines on airport tarmacs.
    ‘The evidence from satellite data is clear. The global temperature has risen markedly since the end of 1978. Can we at least agree about that’
    Well, no.
    The adjustments cool the past and warm the present.
    The corrections on GISS for the global land ocean temperature anomaly and that for the USA look similar.
    Scroll down in the above, seminal, article.
    Hence the relevance of the US data.
    A lot of the data is manufactured from adjustment.
    The problem for the CO2 warmists is held in the answer to the null hypotheses.
    Simply stated..
    There is no difference between Global Average Surface Temperature [GASTA] after the Little Ice Age and what is occurring after the rise of anthropogenic atmospheric CO2.
    The geologists say there is nothing unusual about the present warming.
    Those who are worried about CO2 need to disprove the null hypotheses.
    We all need verifiable data.
    Since Raw data does not look very alarming, why should we be alarmed?

  • Peter Smith

    Sorry LPB, but if we can’t rely on the UAH data Spencer and Christy should tell us. They haven’t, so far as I know. Therefore, I assume they believe their data to be an accurate measure of the extent of warming. Surely you are not suggesting that they artificially ‘cooled’ the early data and ‘warmed’ the later data. That would be bizarre in view of their stance on global warming.

  • Lewis P Buckingham

    Spencer corrects for errors in satellite observation by comparing satellite with empirical weather balloon temperature readings.
    His data is verifiable.
    He thinks other data should be also, such as UHI affected data.
    I referred to GISS.
    The reference is above.

  • Andrewurban

    As Dr Judith Curry has said: the IPCC “oversimplifies the characterization of uncertainty by substituting ‘expert judgment’ for a thorough understanding of uncertainty. They look at ‘evidence for’ and ‘evidence against’ (but somehow neglect a lot of the ‘evidence against’), and completely neglect to acknowledge ignorance. The bottom line is that the climate system is too complex with myriad uncertainties for simple reductionist approaches to understanding and managing uncertainty to be useful.”
    And as Welsh born mathematician and philosopher Bertrand Russell said:
    “The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way.”

  • PeterPetrum

    “The evidence from satellite data is clear. The global temperature has risen markedly since the end of 1978. Can we at least agree about that”

    The problem with that is that 1978 was towards the end of a cooling period so this starting point, as is so often the case, is misleading. As Tony Heller has pointed out many times, the late 1930’s all over the world, were the warmest years in the last century and significantly warmer than now, both in the US and here. One of the reasons the BOM start our “official” records from 1910, another cool spell.

  • Davidovich

    As far as criticism of Dr Roy Spencer is concerned in this article, I am with ‘young bill’ who correctly points out that Spencer is talking solely about urban heat island effects in the US only and how these effects are distorting temperature records there. The global satellite data relates to the whole world and UHI effects may contribute to some or many of those readings but that is not what Spencer is talking about.

  • lhackett01

    Perhaps one of the trees in the forest that might be relevant to climate change is the flipping of the Earth’s magnetic field.
    The rate of reversals in the Earth’s magnetic field has varied widely over time. 72 million years ago (Ma), the field reversed 5 times in a million years. … No fewer than 51 reversals occurred in a 12-million-year period, centering on 15 million years ago. (Wikipaedia) The last time was 42 Ma, and some scientists wonder if we may be due for another.
    The magnetic field weakens over hundreds of years before the switch. This leaves the Earth exposed to cosmic winds that destroy the ozone layer and cause immense climate changes and variability.
    Is anyone keeping an eye on this tree, or is the fog of CO2 blinding us?

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