Skeptic Wins Global Warming Bet


Bet the climate or the economy, your pick.

In 2008, Research Institute for Global Change climate modeller James Annan and David Whitehouse, an astrophysicist who is a scientific advisor with the Global Warming Policy Foundation in Britain bet a £100 that, using the HadCrut3 data set, there would be no new global temperature record set by 2011. The HadCrut3 data set is put together by the Hadley Centre's Climatic Research Centre in Britain. The bet was made at the instigation of the BBC radio program "More or Less." The result? 

Whitehouse has won. 

Over at the GWPF website, Whitehouse offers his view on global temperature trends and his take on the bet: 

Back in 2007 many commentators, activists and scientists … said the halt in global temperatures wasn't real. It is interesting that the Climategate emails showed that the certainty some scientists expressed about this issue in public was not mirrored in private. Indeed, one intemperate activist, determined to shoot my New Statesman article down but unable to muster the simple statistics required to tackle the statistical properties of only 30 data points, asked the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit and the Met Office, to provide reasons why I was wrong, which they couldn't.

What was true in 2007 is even more so in 2012. Since 2007 the reality of the temperature standstill has been accepted and many explanations offered for it, more than can possibly be true! We have seen predictions that half of the years between 2009 and 2014 would be HadCrut3 records (a prediction that now can't possibly come to pass) which was later modified to half of the years between 2010 and 2015 (likewise.) The Met Office predict that 2012 -16 will be on average 0.54 deg C above the HadCrut3 baseline level, and 2017 -2021 some 0.76 deg C higher. Temperatures must go up, and quickly.

So how long must this standstill go on until bigger questions are asked about the rate of global warming? When asked if he would be worried if there was no increase in the next five years James Annan would only say it would only indicate a lower rate of warming! Some say that 15 years is the period for serious questions.

In a now famous (though even at the time obvious) interview in 2010 Prof Phil Jones of the University of East Anglia confirmed that there was no statistically significant warming since 1995. There was an upward trend, but it was statistically insignificant, which in scientific parlance equates to no trend at all. In 2011 Prof Jones told the BBC that due to the inclusion of the warmish 2010 there was now a statistically significant increase between 1995 and 2010. Since 2011 was cool it doesn't take complicated statistics to show that the post 1995 trend by that method of calculation is now back to insignificant, though I don't expect the BBC to update its story.

The lesson is that for the recent warming spell, the one that begins about 1980, the years of standstill now exceed those with a year-on-year increase. It is the standstill, not the increase, that is now this warm period's defining characteristic.

Unfortunately, the polarization in the climate change debate makes the partisan shenanigans in the U.S. Congress look like a kumbaya campfire singing circle at a girl's summer camp.

In December, Grant Foster, proprietor the global warming proponent blog, Open Mind, and Stefan Rahmstorf from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research published a new analysis in Environmental Research Letters that asserts that there has been no "standstill" in global temperatures. In their article they claimed to have teased a steady global warming temperature rise from five different temperature data sets by accounting for the noise of El Ninos, solar variations, and volcanic eruptions. After making their adjustments to the data, the two find that 2009 and 2010 are the two warmest years on record. Go here for Foster's explanation. 

In addition, the World Meteorological Organization issued in December a provisional statement which declared:

Global temperatures in 2011 have not been as warm as the record-setting values seen in 2010 but have likely been warmer than any previous strong La Niña year …. 

La Nina years occur when the eastern Pacific Ocean cools substantially and thus affects the global average temperature.  

As background, in December University of Alabama in Huntsville climate researchers John Christy and Roy Spencer after analyzing 33 years of their satellite temperature data report

While Earth's climate has warmed in the last 33 years, the climb has been irregular. There was little or no warming for the first 19 years of satellite data.  Clear net warming did not occur until the El Niño Pacific Ocean "warming event of the century" in late 1997.  Since that upward jump, there has been little or no additional warming.

"Part of the upward trend is due to low temperatures early in the satellite record caused by a pair of major volcanic eruptions," Christy said. "Because those eruptions pull temperatures down in the first part of the record, they tilt the trend upward later in the record."

Christy and other UAHuntsville scientists have calculated the cooling effect caused by the eruptions of Mexico's El Chichon volcano in 1982 and the Mt. Pinatubo volcano in the Philippines in 1991. When that cooling is subtracted, the long-term warming effect is reduced to 0.09 C (0.16° F) per decade, well below computer model estimates of how much global warming should have occurred. 

Interestingly, the Foster and Rahmstorf analysis finds that global warming has increased at almost twice the rate (0.16 C per decade) that Christy and Spencer report. 

NEXT: A. Barton Hinkle on the Diversity of the GOP Candidates

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. The EPA is winning the war on warming!

    1. Come on, this one needed a +1 from somebody.

      1. So Brett L set up a sockpuppet to +1 himself.

        1. I’ve been too busy arguing with robc on various threads. Also, anon is someone else’s puppet.

  2. Remind me again, what melts ice?

    1. Damned if we know.

    2. Remind me again, how many ecotours have been trapped in the “open” NW Passage? I can think of 3 in the last 2 years off the top of my head.

    3. Nome Alaska is on the phone. They would like to hear more about this open NW passage.

      1. Dude, that’s weather. When it’s warm then it’s climate. When it’s cold it’s weather. Get it right. Sheesh.

      2. Sides, it’s only like 23 feet. Of freaking snow.

        Holy shit, I can’t comprehend that much snow.

        1. snow? what’s that?

        2. That’s Cordoba and Valdez with 30′ of snow. Nome is getting fuel delivered with the help of an icebreaker because storms prevented the delivery earlier in the season and it is not accessible by road.

      3. tell nome to call the alaskan coast guard commander who’s bitching he doesnt have the ships to patrol all the open waters.

        1. A government official asking for a bigger budget? Well that’s certainly rock solid proof.

        2. This just in: service commander needs more resources. News at 11.

    4. Oh for fuck’s sake. It’s either open or it isn’t. We aren’t going to figure that out here.

      1. Does this suggest a libertarian cruise?

        1. Yeah. New York to Alaska by the NW passage would be pretty cool.

    5. Jack Daniels?

    6. Remind me again, what melts ice?

      Oscillation of sea currents, underwater vulcanism, and jet stream evolution.

      By the way what is keeping the ice in Antarctica so very cold?

      1. Ice melts a lot faster when it isn’t covered by snow, I remember that.

        But wait, wasn’t “climate change” supposed to result in increased snowfall?

        Why, yes, yes it was:…..94,00.html

  3. Another article about religious fanatics arguing about how many angels can fit onto the head of a pin. How long are you going to keep this up, Ron?

    1. Some day Ghia will punish man for his wicked ways. You just wait.

      1. Karmann Ghia will punish us?

        1. Would that be Carmen Ghia?


        2. Are the bomb, party poopah!

      2. I think you mean Gaia.

    2. Until said fanatics shut the hell up about global warming.

      1. It’s no longer Global Warming, it’s Global Climate Change.

        Human industrial activity must have an effect because it must. The climate is changing, therefore human industrial activity must be the cause.

        When you use your conclusion as the premise of your argument, you will win every time!

        1. Circular logic is awesome like that.

        2. and the AGW crowd accuses the skeptics of being anti-science. How about a nice slice of irony?

          1. The real irony is that science is -built- on skepticism.

            1. But, but, but… Consensus!
              Yeah, those stupid deniers are ignoring that there is a consensus!
              Did you hear?
              Voting is the new scientific method!

              1. B+ Tony spoof there, but you forgot to change your name.

                1. I didn’t forget anything. I was having a sargasm. Oh that felt good. I’m seeing stars.

    3. E: As long as it takes.

      1. Shouldn’t you just stop? As their theories continue to flame out, they’re going to do everything possible to quietly act like they never thought these retarded things in the first place.

        It’s admirable if you want to keep exposing them, but it won’t matter. Paul Ehrlich still gets work, after all.

        1. I disagree. Sure, Ehrlich still gets work, but this does matter and will matter until it finally filters through the die hards. It’s like antibiotics: if you don’t finish the course, it may flare back up again.

          1. ^^THIS^^

            AGW is still a die hard religion. Even when the priests stop preaching, the flock will still be like those mormons on bikes with their white shirt and tie.

            Since you can never expect the scientific community to come and say “Global warming was a bad theory propagated by our desire for more and more of your money to fund our research so that our jobs will remain both relevant and intact”, those who believe it will never die.

        2. Paul Ehrlich still gets work, after all.

          True, he does. Earlier this year I told him, “And I want two coats of wax on the Rover, Paul, two coats…”

  4. You hit another one out of the park, Ron, but where’s your tilde for “la Ni?a”?

    1. I think the author of that article should think a good long time about what the phrase “solve climate” means.

      1. Solve climate

        The Moon people solved their climate why can’t we?

  5. Once again we learn climatoligists have yet to build a ‘model’ worthy of the name.

    1. “This model is awesome, it continues to get my grant proposals funded!”

      1. Good point. I guess it depnds on what the point of the model is. If it’s to accurately predict reality, big fail. If it’s to get grant funding, big success.

        I guess this is why I’m an engineer. At the end of the day, things have to work or you’ve failed.

        1. A good friend of mine who has a ChemE PhD had an epic argument with an oceanographer the other night that you might appreciate. The other guy was going on and on about the importance of diffusion in his work, and the cheme says, “there’s no possible way diffusion plays any significant role at those length scales.” Which led to an epic rant from the french oceanographer about his qualifications AND how arrogant cowboy americans are ignorant assholes. The o’grapher wasn’t actually talking about diffusion as it is taught in transport classes, he was talking about transport. Just too ignorant of the wide, wide world outside his field that developed the equations he uses to understand the difference.

          1. Oh yeah, the French definitely aren’t arrogant, ignorant assholes.

  6. OT: Austrian economics doesn’t work, see? Austria losing credit rating!…..abdc0.html

    1. Does anon think Austrian economics is the economic policy of the Austrian government!?


      1. No, it was sarcasm.

        1. LOL again, then!

          ; )

  7. Reporting on both sides every side of the debate, given the latest data, makes Ron Bailey awesome.

    Changing our opinions on the whole debate–given the latest data–makes us awesome. That’s what science is all about–formulating opinions based on the data and changing those beliefs, when merited, as new data becomes available.

    There’s one thing we can always be consistent on, though, which is that whether AGW is a big problem or just a small problem–or no problem at all–the solutions are the same: innovation and economic growth.

    I think that’s why Bailey gets it from all sides. People assume that if you believe AGW is a problem, then you support a take on public policy that’s hostile to innovation and economic growth. Likewise, from the other side of the equation, if you believe innovation and economic growth are the solution, people assume you don’t really think AGW is a problem.

    Y’all know I’d just as soon use AGW as an excuse to get rid of the income tax, but if it turns out that the left can’t use AGW as an excuse to give the government a bigger role in managing the economy, then that won’t be such a bad thing either.

    1. I keep scratching my head at the level of hubris involved in believing that govt policy can affect climate. Only a hyper-committed leftist can reach such a conclusion with a straight face.

      1. I think there’s something to the suggestion that the wealthier people become, the more of their resources they’re willing to commit to combat climate change. See the people paying premiums (above the savings in gas prices) to buy hybrid cars as an example.

        The wealthier people get in China, the more they’re willing to spend on their environment, too. So, if that’s the case, then there’s something to the suggestion that economic growth is a climate change issue. That if government policy retards economic growth, it may actually be a negative for the climate.

        Likewise, I think there’s something to the suggestion that if AGW is still a big problem, then innovation is going to be absolutely crucial to solving it. There’s a whole world of things that need to be invented from better solar to better ultracapacitors, etc. We need to find new ways to make those technologies cheaper too, and so any government policy that discourages innovation is likewise a climate change issue.

        Beyond that, you know, taxation tends to top out at a certain percentage of GDP. What you tax, be it income or something else, doesn’t really change the percentage of GDP you take in taxes much. But taxing different things can discourage economic growth and change people’s behavior in terms of what they consume. Especially when we’re talking about sales taxes.

        Anything that effects price signals is going to have an impact on the consumption of whatever’s being taxed. So, I’m clear on the argument that taxing carbon intensive products (instead of income or something else) might not be enough to solve whatever AGW problem there is, but let’s not pretend that taxing carbon intensive products wouldn’t result in less carbon being thrown into the atmosphere than would be the case otherwise.

        1. but even if more affluent folks are willing to “commit” to battling climate change, the hubris that policy can accomplish this remains. This sounds like a different word for tithing. I submit that slowing economic growth is a fundamental goal of the rapid environmental left. If they were around 100 years ago, they would be seeking subsidies and bailouts for the horse and buggy industry, and railing against the automobile.

          I will stipulate that more people with more stuff results in more pollution and that this result is not a good thing. On the other hand, technological advancement has always led to improvements and greater efficiencies in the original product.

          1. I submit that slowing economic growth is a fundamental goal of the rapid environmental left.

            I think you’re right about that.

            The line shouldn’t really be between people who believe AGW is a big problem and people who don’t; it should be between people who see economic growth as the cause of the problem and people who don’t.

            The way to address that, of course, is to educate people about how economic growth works. Climate change denial is generally counterproductive with those people. And if AGW really is a problem, if people think all the free market capitalists have to offer as a solution is climate change denial, that’ll put us in the same category with creationists and Birthers.

            I will stipulate that more people with more stuff results in more pollution and that this result is not a good thing.

            I think that’s true up to a point, but there’s an inflection point beyond which that may not be true anymore. It’s almost like a Malthusian sort of model we’re working off there when we assume that more people will necessarily mean the release of more carbon.

            Even so, population growth isn’t a big problem in developed countries with strong economies. Women generally have fewer children when child mortality rates drop–because they can afford access to healthcare and sanitation–and when they gain more opportunities to be productive outside of a family.

            World population is expected to peak, but it could increase by a big chunk before we get there. That being said, economic growth is once again part of the solution to population growth. As economies grow, especially in the developing world, women have fewer children.

            This has happened across cultures.

            If people don’t know that economic growth is crucial to address real environmental concerns, then it’s up to us to tell them.

        2. I think there’s something to the suggestion that the wealthier people become, the more of their resources they’re willing to commit to combat climate change. See the people paying premiums (above the savings in gas prices) to buy hybrid cars as an example.


          Oh come on. They buy hybrids to self-identify as members of a self-appointed, morally superior intelligensia. It’s moral vanity, nothing more, and not a whole lot different from an Obama bumper sticker.

          1. It is about moral superiority for a lot of them–and what’s wrong with that?

            If it becomes fashionable to willingly spend your money to save the environment, because of feelings of moral superiority or any other reason, then that’s a whole lot better than the government imposing solutions on the rest of us.

            Point is that people buy things and pay more for certain things–because they care. Why they care is beside the point here. People go to Whole Foods and pay an arm and a leg for produce that doesn’t harm the environment as much, too. You’re not gonna find a lot of poor people who willingly make those choices, and that’s my point.

            Wealthy people have more discretionary income. People with more discretionary income spend money on things they care about. I don’t care why they care about saving the environment; I just care that they’re willingly doing stuff that makes a difference–and that the government isn’t trying to impose some blanket solution on the rest of us.

            If there were more people with more discretionary income, I dare say more of them would willingly make choices that make a difference for the environment. I’m certainly not gonna look down my nose at somebody who’s making the environmentally sensitive choice–of their own free will and at no cost to me–just because they’re only doing it to feel morally superior.

            Hell, that’s the way early adopter environmentalism works in Libertopia. That’s the free market solution. I’m not here to criticize the capitalist solution. Remember, just because somebody is concerned about environmental issues, doesn’t mean he’s a damn socialist.

            We libertarians need to break that assumption/connection in the general public’s mind.

    2. I pretty much believe its getting warmer….except when its getting colder.
      When new data comes along, I change my mind and think that its getting colder except when its getting warmer.

      Of course, due to the occilating ocilaters run by ocelots, there are a number of confounding variables….but my main point is that it is settled…

  8. I did not know that about the eruptions pulling down the temps on the early part of our monthly temp update.

    I’m eagerly awaiting the model that produces a warming trend where the standstill years exceed the warming years.

    1. “This eruption was the largest disturbance of the stratosphere since the eruption of Krakatau in 1883 (but ten times larger than Mount St. Helens in 1980). The aerosol cloud spread around the earth in two weeks and covered the planet within a year. During 1992 and 1993, the Ozone hole over Antarctica reached an unprecedented size.

      The cloud over the earth reduced global temperatures. In 1992 and 1993, the average temperature in the Northern Hemisphere was reduced 0.5 to 0.6?C and the entire planet was cooled 0.4 to 0.5?C. The maximum reduction in global temperature occurred in August 1992 with a reduction of 0.73?C. The eruption is believed to have influenced such events as 1993 floods along the Mississippi river and the drought in the Sahel region of Africa. The United States experienced its third coldest and third wettest summer in 77 years during 1992.”

      1. Hmmmm. Krakatau happened in 1883. That’s about when all the surface instrumental records start, the charts with the “global temperature” plotted by year. Hmmmm.

    2. I did not know that about the eruptions pulling down the temps on the early part of our monthly temp update.

      I’d like to know if climate scientists’ models are factoring in surface vulcanism and, if so, how they are calculating both the rate and intensity of future eruptions. Considering the impact they seem to have it would be silly to ignore it as a component but, considering that it’s both tough to model and produces effects that run counter to the consensus, I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t.

  9. Imagine if we took a tenth of the money and effort that has been spent masturbating over the AGW issue over the last ten years and had spent it instead on eradicating malaria or improving sanitation in third world nations so they were able to suffer less?

    In ten years, over ten million people have died from malaria, a disease which no longer exists in most first world nations. Meanwhile, we have -as Epi put it- religious fanatics arguing about how many angels can fit onto the head of a pin.

    It’s disgusting.

    1. Better yet, imagine people were allowed to keep that money instead of having it seized.

    2. Your idealism is like salt on my wounded and cynical soul.

    3. I agree. These creeps who are wasting who knows how many millions of dollars on this garbage should be forced to spend two weeks camped out on the streets of Port-au-Prince with the starving Haitian children for every week they spend in one of those swanky four star Durban hotels flushing our money down the toilet.

      1. The Haitian earthquake was caused by global warming. Why do you want Haiti to have more devastating earthquakes like the last one?

        1. Broken window theory. That’s why.

    4. malaria had already been eradicated. Remember DDT? Then came the great enviro scare about the alleged evils of this pesticide. Result? We go from malaria having been wiped out to movie folks asking us to send in $10 for mosquito nets.

      1. “I’d rather die from MALARIA than … prevent wildlife from eating my crops?”


      2. Why isn’t the East Coast of the US all malarial again then?

        1. We sent it to Africa. Kinda like AIDS. Because we’re racist. Try to keep up!


        2. DDT was cheap. We can afford the more expensive alternatives. Africans can’t.

    5. In my view, all the time and money I’ve spent on masterbation has been well, well, worth it. Except when I try to masterbate to AGW, which I find oddly non-erotic…

    6. Imagine if we took a tenth of the money and effort that has been spent masturbating over the AGW issue over the last ten years and had spent it instead on eradicating malaria or improving sanitation in third world nations so they were able to suffer less?

      Those things tend to have tangible results. Climate Change on the other hand, is like high speed rail… but for climate!

  10. I instinctively distrust anyone who names their blog about a subject like climate change “Open Mind.” IME, those who declare themselves so terrifically open-minded are usually the exact opposite. See also: “the reality-based community.”

    1. It’s like a Quality Inn, they had to name it that to trick you because it is most definitely not quality.

  11. When that cooling is subtracted

    It really shouldn’t be. Volcanoes are a natural part of the climate cycle.

    1. Volcanoes are a natural part of climate, however, there is no good evidence that they are cyclical. They may just be random. Thus, Christy and Spencer are trying to remove what may be two random, outlying occurances from the dataset to look for a trend. El Nino/La Nina are definitely cyclical, so they stay in. You can disagree, but that’s what they are looking for — trying to remove random biases from their dataset.

      1. But, random biases are random, so they average out over time.

        Leave them in, and wait until you have 10000 years of datapoints before drawing conclusions.

        1. My biases are non-random. The only good volcano is a dead volcano…

          1. Psh, volcanoes make new islands in which we can establish our libertarian paradise!

        2. Maybe. The analysis was done both ways, so why fight over it. 0.14C/decade above current average with them in, 0.09/decade with them out. It does illustrate the problem with using a running average as a basis.

  12. Unfortunately, the polarization in the climate change debate makes the partisan shenanigans in the U.S. Congress look like a kumbaya campfire singing circle at a girl’s summer camp.

    You’ve never seen Heathers.

    Of course, I’ve never seen Heathers either, but I heard it’s about girls who fight amongst themselves.

    1. I love my dead gay son.

  13. These cool particles keep us nice and cool, as long as, we keep the eco-systems pristine. Here comes the next big LIE

    Criegee Intermediates, Mysterious Molecules, may help cool the planet

  14. Who would want a hat made out of crud?

  15. The lesson is that for the recent warming spell, the one that begins about 1980, the years of standstill now exceed those with a year-on-year increase. It is the standstill, not the increase, that is now this warm period’s defining characteristic.

    That “WHOOSH” sound we just heard was that lesson flying right over the head of both the AGW priesthood and their flock of rabid followers. Despite the evidence now rapidly turning against them, they’ll still yell “GLOBAL CATASTROPHE!!1one11!!!” and “DENIER!!!1111!!!!!” to anyone who subscribes to the actual science rather than the narrative.

  16. Well, we can probably put a fork in the whole catastrophic AGW foofaraw.

    Which makes me wonder: What pretext will the totalitarians come up with next?

    Since AGW was a smokescreen for tranzi control of the economy, I’m stuck. Sure, the crypto-Marxists would love to do a straight class warfare/inequality thing, but that’s too obvious to be a good pretext.

    If they wait around for currency/fiscal collapse to try to get their supra-national jackboots on, well, that’s kinda like foreclosing on the barn after the horses have left.

    Any ideas?

  17. Life is short,We always need passions!
    SeekCasual*COM, a place for people who wanna start a short-term relationship.And also for finding soul mates.Over 160000 honest members with real photos and detailed profiles.Sign up free and have a try!Nothing to lose!

  18. See the following post on Wattsupwiththat which argues that Foster and Rahmstorf incorrectly assume that the adjusted warming trend is due to anthropogenic activity; instead, the warming is argued to be caused by El Nino events.…..more-54763

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.