RealClimate logo

Technical Note: Sorry for the recent unanticipated down-time, we had to perform some necessary updates. Please let us know if you have any problems.

2008 temperature summaries and spin

Filed under: — gavin @ 16 December 2008 - (Italian)

The great thing about complex data is that one can basically come up with any number of headlines describing it – all of which can be literally true – but that give very different impressions. Thus we are sure that you will soon read that 2008 was warmer than any year in the 20th Century (with the exception of 1998), that is was the coolest year this century (starting from 2001), and that 7 or 8 of the 9 warmest years have occurred since 2000. There will undoubtedly also be a number of claims made that aren’t true; 2008 is not the coolest year this decade (that was 2000), global warming hasn’t ‘stopped’, CO2 continues to be a greenhouse gas, and such variability is indeed predicted by climate models. Today’s post is therefore dedicated to cutting through the hype and looking at the bigger picture.

As is usual, today marks the release of the ‘meteorological year’ averages for the surface temperature records (GISTEMP, HadCRU, NCDC). This time period runs from December last year through to the end of November this year and is so-called because of the fact that it is easier to dice into seasons than the calendar year. That is, the met year consists of the average of the DJF (winter), MAM (spring), JJA (summer) and SON (autumn) periods (using the standard shorthand for the month names). This makes a little more sense than including the JF from one winter and the D from another as you do in the calendar year calculation. But since the correlation between the D-N and J-D averages is very high (r=0.997), it makes little practical difference. Annual numbers are a little more useful than monthly anomalies for determining long term trends, but are still quite noisy.

The bottom line: In the GISTEMP, HadCRU and NCDC analyses D-N 2008 were at 0.43, 0.42 and 0.47ºC above the 1951-1980 baseline (respectively). In GISTEMP both October and November came in quite warm (0.58ºC), the former edging up slightly on last month’s estimate as more data came in. This puts 2008 at #9 (or #8) in the yearly rankings, but given the uncertainty in the estimates, the real ranking could be anywhere between #6 or #15. More robustly, the most recent 5-year averages are all significantly higher than any in the last century. The last decade is by far the warmest decade globally in the record. These big picture conclusions are the same if you look at any of the data sets, though the actual numbers are slightly different (relating principally to the data extrapolation – particularly in the Arctic).

So what to make of the latest year’s data? First off, we expect that there will be oscillations in the global mean temperature. No climate model has ever shown a year-on-year increase in temperatures because of the currently expected amount of global warming. A big factor in those oscillations is ENSO – whether there is a a warm El Niño event, or a cool La Niña event makes an appreciable difference in the global mean anomalies – about 0.1 to 0.2ºC for significant events. There was a significant La Niña at the beginning of this year (and that is fully included in the D-N annual mean), and that undoubtedly played a role in this year’s relative coolness. It’s worth pointing out that 2000 also had a similarly sized La Niña but was notably cooler than this last year.

While ENSO is one factor in the annual variability, it is not the only one. There are both other sources of internal variability and external forcings. The other internal variations can be a little difficult to characterise (it isn’t as simple as just a super-position of all the climate acronyms you ever heard of NAO+SAM+PDO+AMO+MJO etc.), but the external (natural) forcings are a little easier. The two main ones are volcanic variability and solar forcing. There have been no climatically significant volcanoes since 1991, and so that is not a factor. However, we are at a solar minimum. The impacts of the solar cycle on the surface temperature record are somewhat disputed, but it might be as large as 0.1ºC from solar min to solar max, with a lag of a year or two. Thus for 2008, one might expect a deviation below trend (the difference between mean solar and solar min, and expecting the impact to not yet be fully felt) of up to 0.05ºC. Not a very big signal, and not one that would shift the rankings significantly.

There were a number of rather overheated claims earlier this year that ‘all the global warming had been erased’ by the La Niña-related anomaly. This was always ridiculous, and now that most of that anomaly has passed, we aren’t holding our breath waiting for the ‘global warming is now back’ headlines from the same sources.

Taking a longer perspective, the 30 year mean trends aren’t greatly affected by a single year (GISTEMP: 1978-2007 0.17+/-0.04ºC/dec; 1979-2008 0.16+/-0.04 – OLS trends, annual data, 95% CI, no correction for auto-correlation; identical for HadCRU); they are still solidly upwards. The match of the Hansen et al 1988 scenario B projections are similarly little affected (GISTEMP 1984-2008 0.19+/-0.05 (LO-index) 0.22+/-0.07 (Met-station index); HansenB 1984-2008 0.25+/-0.05 ºC/dec) – the projections run slightly warmer as one would expect given the slightly greater (~10%) forcing in the projection then occurred in reality. This year’s data then don’t really change our expectations much.

Finally, as we’ve discussed before, what climate models did or did not predict is available for all to see. Despite many cautions about using short-term changes to imply something about the long-term trend, these comparisons will still be made. So just for fun, here is a comparison of the observations with the model projections from 1999 to 2008 using 1999 as a baseline. The answer might be surprising for some:

1999-2008 model and data trends

You can get slightly different pictures if you pick the start year differently, and so this isn’t something profound. Picking any single year as a starting point is somewhat subjective and causes the visual aspect to vary – looking at the trends is more robust. However, this figure does show that in models, as in data, some years will be above trend, and some will be below trend. Anyone who expresses shock at this is either naive or … well, you know.

As for the next few years, our expectations are not much changed. This coming winter is predicted to be ENSO neutral, so on that basis one would expect a warmer year next year than this year (though probably not quite record breaking). Barring any large volcanic eruption, I don’t see any reason for the decadal trends to depart much from the anticipated ~0.2ºC/decade.

Update: Just FYI, the same figure as above baselined to 1990, and 1979.

393 Responses to “2008 temperature summaries and spin”

  1. 251
    dhogaza says:

    And I will certainly admit I don’t have any idea how you take a flux of 6 particles per square cm per second and amplify it into significant warming event.

    I think it’s time to ask him for a guarantee, no? Turnabouts fair …

  2. 252
    Hank Roberts says:

    Rod had trouble with your earlier assertions, Andrew; can you give sources for them and these? It’s always a kindness to later readers to help by saying how to successfully start to look for the information, when you challenge people as to whether they have ‘any idea’ about something.
    “hearings succeed” says ReCaptcha

  3. 253
    OLympus Mons says:

    Hi all,
    can any of you guys give an idea on what would have to happen/could happen in 2009/10 that would make you start to question the role of Co2 in Global warming? Thanks.

  4. 254
    dhogaza says:

    can any of you guys give an idea on what would have to happen/could happen in 2009/10 that would make you start to question the role of Co2 in Global warming?

    A revolution in physics that overturns pretty much everything we know, including the fact that the earth’s not flat?

    There’s no question regarding the role of CO2, per se.

  5. 255
    Matt says:

    The Europeans’ ECMWF model is joining the NOAA CFS model in calling for a La Nina this Dec-Feb now too:

  6. 256
    wmanny says:

    47c “…if it’s a scientist they’ve likely been misquoted and misrepresented.”

    Has Will Happer been misquoted and misreprented this week? This is not a rhetorical question, by the way.

    [Response: Apparently not. But using the Cambrian to imply that anthropogenic CO2 poses no threat is not an argument worthy of a Princeton professor. - gavin]

  7. 257
    Andrew says:

    The National Climate Data Center has a record of Global Temperatures from 1880 to the present:

    Put the above into Excel, construct a graph of yearly averages and then sort. There are 130 years of records and it is obvious that 2008 is among the warmest 10%. In fact, every year since about 1992 has been among the top decile. Mount Pinatubo was the latest climatically significant eruption and it occurred in June 1991.
    So, it is clear that a large volcano can significantly lower average global temperatures.

    Next, look up data on Solar Cycles, such as this:

    or this:

    Notice how difficult it is to correlate any of the the various peaks and troughs to the global temperature record. The reason is that there is too much noise (weather) within the Earths atmosphere.
    So, take a look at the record of the ENSO index:

    Notice again how that last decade is not particularly remarkable for ENSO even though average global temperatures during the period are the highest of any measured decade.

    Finally, take a look at the Mauna Loa CO2 records:

    Put it into Excel. Draw a trend line and the correlation is 0.99 or better. Okay; now do some math and CO2 levels are increasing about 0.37% every year. From physics, we know that greenhouse Gases account for about 18C of warming in the earth atmosphere. First approximation would suggest that if CO2 were the only greenhouse gas, then its rise would amount to about 0.067C. Of course, CO2 is not the only greenhouse gas and actually accounts for between 9 to 26% of the total. This works out to about between 0.006 to 0.017 C/year of warming.

    The 130 year long warming trend is about 0.005C/year. So, on the long term we are observing the lower end of the physical science range and this suggest that there is likely a lot of momentum within the earths climate system.

    On the other hand, the 30 year trend is about 0.016 C/year. This suggest to me that the stable/cooling temperatures of the 1950s to 70s could have been a bow wave of resistance (negative feedbacks) and we are now on a stable warming ramp. Of course, the above ignores CH4 which accounts for some warming too.

  8. 258
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Olympus Mons,
    What it would take is a new model that explained climate better than the current one and
    a)had a CO2 sensitivity lower than 1 degree per doubling; or
    b)had a large negative feedback that somehow kicked in right at the current terrestrial temperature range; or
    c)had a mechanism whereby CO2 suddenly stopped being a greenhouse gas at 280 ppmv

    Need I add that there is zero evidence favoring any of these hopotheses? Indeed, pretty much all the evidence is against it. I emphasize again: There is no “theory of anthropogenic climate change”. There is merely our current understanding of climate, and warming from adding CO2 is an inevitable consequence of that understanding. And since I know you will now contend that understanding is flawed, I will ask in advance that you show how by producing the model alluded to above.

  9. 259
    Hank Roberts says:

    ‘lymp –

    IF for you it’s a clever new question, one you made up yourself, and never heard anyone else ask or answer, that’s reasonable to ask.

    From this end, you’re one of the many, many people. All the rest of them most likely just read it somewhere else and came here to copypaste it in — if that fits you too, read more, please.

    Otherwise it’s just recreational typing for you and a waste of time.

    Pasting your question into Google, or clicking ‘Start Here’ at the top of the page, or clicking the first link under Science in the right sidebar — any of those — would get you a sufficient answer.

    Just try it.

  10. 260
    Andrew says:

    My bad; greenhouse effect on earth is closer to 33C; not 18C

    So, linear approximation of annual temperature rise from CO2 change alone works out to between 0.01 to 0.03 C/yr. This means that warming trend of 0.016 C/yr over last 30 years is medium expectation.

    [Response: You're bad indeed. - gavin]

  11. 261
    Rod B says:

    Hank, after Andrew better defined his assertion (or I better comprehended it) I have no major problems with it.

  12. 262
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Happer

    Don’t buy the spin that he was fired for denying climate change. He was arguing the industry line that the science wasn’t good enough to justify controls on chlorofluorocarbon — in 1993!
    … before the House Energy and Water Development Subcommittee on Appropriations. “I think that there probably has been some exaggeration of the dangers of ozone and global climate change,” he said. “One of the problems with ozone is that we don’t understand how the UV-B is changing at ground level, and what fraction of the ultraviolet light really causes cancer.”
    You know how to find that.

    See also the Nobel Prize award in 1995, and

  13. 263
    wmanny says:


    “But using the Cambrian to imply that anthropogenic CO2 poses no threat is not an argument worthy of a Princeton professor.”

    Fair enough, and it begs another non-rhetorical question: Why should I believe your argument more worthy than the Princeton professor’s? If you feel that is too provocatively phrased, why do you believe the professor would publicly make, in your estimation, such an unintelligent argument?

    [Response: You would have to ask him that. - gavin]

  14. 264
    RichardC says:

    243 David says, “And yet we have scientists who are predicting by 2014 or 2015 the magnetism of the sun will be so low as to produce no sunspots.”

    No, the theory is that sunspots could fade visually, but not actually. This doesn’t mean that the sun’s output would decline, but that the linkage between output and visual appearance would weaken. By the way, the sun is now in a deep minimum and there is nowhere to go but up from here. The sun’s output will *NOT* decline significantly from where it is now regardless of how the solar cycle behaves, and it is almost certain that its output will increase in the near future.

  15. 265
    Hank Roberts says:

    Matt, where’s that come from? I found the but it’s a big site, didn’t find the forecast.

  16. 266
    Sarah McIntee says:

    Nice article. Could someone specifically address the variability issue with data, if possible. I ask this because, theoretically, given a relatively closed system, with heat energy being added, thermal expansion and contraction of gas and water vapor, more wind speed, more shouldn’t this also mean more extreme weather? Otherwise, where is the extra energy going?

    Thanks and happy holidays, y’all

  17. 267
    Jim Cross says:


    We are at solar minimum now (or just beginning to come out of it). This cycle 24 will peak around 2011 or 2012. What David is talking about is the next solar minimum and the next cycle.

    If the prediction comes true, the solar forcing will be less in aggregate in comparison with twentieth century cycles and presumably GCR flux will increase.

    Even though the amount of change might seem small, we can’t really be 100% sure that there is not some mechanism that might amplify even seemingly small changes. And we don’t have really much to compare this to, since, as the link points out, this could be one of the weakest cycles in centuries.

    [Response: .. or not. But either way, that means the actual irradiance difference (or GCR difference or whatever) has to be less than what we see at a true minimum, and thus it is even less likely to be significant in the face of further GHG increases. - gavin]

  18. 268
    Jim Cross says:

    #267 Gavin

    Yeah, I know that what you say is the best scientific assessment as to how it will be.

    The only real problem I have with it is our lack of experience with this sort of minimum. You seem to think the next cycle will on radiative balance no worse (and probably slightly better) than an 11 year minimum. But what if, in fact, there is something qualitatively different about these cycles – maybe something like the sun needing to reboot itself every 200 years or so – where the radiative output is lower than the minimum.

    [Response: Sure that would change things, but what evidence is there? There are any number of improbable speculations one could make, but in the absence of any actual measurable effect, it's just pointless. What if there's a meteor strike? or a nearby super nova? or huge volcano? In any such eventuality all bets are off. - gavin]

  19. 269
    David B. Benson says:

    Sarah McIntee (266) — Yes, Hadley Centre has pointed out that more extreme weather is expected. Note, not just more extreme warmer weather.

    Jim Cross (268) — Somewhere I came across a paper showing that variations in solar irradiance proxies, sunspots and Be10, for other than the sunspot pseudoperiodic ‘cycle’, are best explained as random events. There are no detectable cycles in the sun’s behavior at periods longer than about 11 years.

  20. 270
    Jim Cross says:


    I agree that what I said was a bunch of what-ifs without evidence?

    However, solar cycle 25 isn’t in the same category as meteor strikes or big volcanoes.

    We have the historic record of the Maunder and Dalton minimum associated with colder temperatures. And, correct me if I am wrong, but much of argument against solar influence in those cases is based on arguments similar to the one you are offering that the radiative forcing can’t be much different than the 20th century solar minimum.

  21. 271

    A simple GCR proof would be to study star magnitudes. If GCR generated clouds do exist, they would form constantly, even in air with low RH (60 to 80% for instance), even with air having low mixing ratios. In very cold air the cloud droplet should form, then become an ice crystal, which would in the millions, reduce vertical visibility enough to mask very dim stars. In mid latitudes to the Pole, very cold air above would produce ice crystals constantly, effectively dimming the night sky, and causing a GCR star magnitude threshold. The GCR proponent must prove that there is such a constant, and also, prove that the night sky gets dimmer during solar minima. I have my own evidence through observations, and there is n such thing as a GCR generated dimming, since clear night sky magnitudes vary, and there are times when sky magnitudes are 5.6 or dimmer, even with a substantial RH layer. It is up to the GCR cloud proponent to come up with facts proving , indirectly, by astronomical observations by an astronomer or observatory that there is a constant GCR ice crystal layer. Those who want to prove the non existence of massive GCR ice crystals,
    observe the night sky, look for the dimmest star possible at zenith, and identify its magnitude.
    Beware of the star you choose, red giant light may be dimmed by high ozone in the stratosphere.

  22. 272
    Ray Ladbury says:

    wmanny asks: “Fair enough, and it begs another non-rhetorical question: Why should I believe your argument more worthy than the Princeton professor’s?”

    You are missing the point. Don’t “believe” anyone’s argument. Go with the preponderence of the data. Go with the overwhelming majority of experts. Go with the theory that is based on established physics. That’s what science tells you. Any one scientist can be wrong about anything. However, when they agree that an idea is indispensable or a fact irrefutable, you can usually take it to the bank.

  23. 273
    Hank Roberts says:

    This isn’t the paper you remember, I expect, but it’s relevant, at least showing how hard people have been looking:

  24. 274
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Jim Cross, Have you read Usoskin and Solanki on Grand Solar Minima? They last on the order of decades. The effects of CO2 last centuries. Guess which one will win.
    While the heliodynamo is complex, it will always be more changeable than the geodynamo due to the greater inductance supplied by Earth’s solid inner core. Result: not a lot of structure in the time series of solar activity beyond the very prominent solar cycle. I recommend learning about it. It’s cool physics. It won’t affect the conclusions reached by climate science regarding greenhouse warming.

  25. 275
    tamino says:

    Re: #269 (Jim Cross)

    I don’t think there are enough temperature records for the Maunder minimum to establish the colder temperature which you claim. But there are records during the Dalton minimum, and they contradict your claim of a notable temperature effect of the solar event. Wagner and Zorita, studying the specific issue, state

    Therefore, it can be concluded that in these simulations, solar and the CO2 variability have not contributed in an important way to the formation of a thermal DM, and that volcanic forcing was largely responsible for reduced temperatures in the DM.

    I posted on the topic.

  26. 276
    Phil. Felton says:

    Ray Ladbury Says:
    24 décembre 2008 at 10:18 PM
    wmanny asks: “Fair enough, and it begs another non-rhetorical question: Why should I believe your argument more worthy than the Princeton professor’s?”

    Well there are quite a few Princeton professors who hold the opposite view.

  27. 277
    wmanny says:

    271. Go with the overwhelming majority of experts? Go with the theory that is based on established physics? Darwin didn’t. That does not mean the majority is wrong this time, but it’s something real scientists always keep in mind.

    (Actually, I followed Gavin’s advice. With respect, you should, too, if you want to challenge your own beliefs, by whatever name you wish to call them.)

  28. 278
    Jim Cross says:


    Be clear that I am not disputing the effects of CO2 or denying human generated global warming.

    My argument is more along the lines that solar cycle 25 might push the warming towards the lower end of model projections or perhaps even some flat periods before warming picks up.

  29. 279
    Ray Ladbury says:

    wmanny, I don’t know how to break this to you: You are no Darwin. The way you revolutionize a field is not by barging in with zero understanding of the science and saying, “You’re all wrong. I see with my superior intellect that it must be this way.” You start with a thorough grounding in the science as it exists. Then you look for ways to make it stronger, look for weaknesses and come up with new ideas with greater explanatory power. Darwin was really starting from square one, except for Linnaeus. Climate sciece has a 150 year history. It works. So it’s kind of unlikely somebody who doesn’t understand even the basics is going to contribute much. Learn first.

  30. 280

    276 Phil, Princeton is mostly awesome, where freedom of thought (even faulty) is allowed, take a look at Interesting IR downwelling surge in 2005

    , I’ve seen preceding years and the ice essentially tracked the same way from 2002 to present, early months after station North Pole deployment are therefore comparable. There was a once over impressive heat wave in the spring, I remember it well, sun disks were unbelievably expanded at the same time. It is on my news log on my website.

  31. 281
    Andrew says:

    #278 Jim Cross:

    With regards to the sun and its impact on climate; consider that solar cycle was at a minimum in 1986, just prior to 1987 and 1988 each establishing new average annual high global temperatures.

    Likewise, consider that sunspots and the solar cycle was at a minimun in 1996 with solar irradiance at a slightly lower value than in 1986. 1997 and 1998 ended up establising new highs average annual global temperatures.

    A few years of CO2 increases are more significant for global warming than the solar cycle.

  32. 282
    dhogaza says:

    Go with the overwhelming majority of experts? Go with the theory that is based on established physics? Darwin didn’t.

    There was no extant theory of evolution for Darwin to overturn. He was filling what was in essence a vacuum, a set of observations with no theory to tie them together. And of course Darwin’s Theory of Evolution was *built* on observations, he didn’t build his theory by *denying* observed data or *making sh*t up* (like magic powers for galactic rays).

    Climate science is a very different beast than 19th century biology. It’s a mature field with sound theoretical underpinnings. Science in this state is rarely overturned, and when it is, the outcome isn’t necessarily as radical as climate science denialists preach. Sure, the aether doesn’t exist and electromagnetic radiation propagates through vacuum without any problem whatsoever, and the change in understanding helped revolutionize physics. But the radios and antenna built by people to send waves through the ether didn’t stop working as a result of that revolution. Any revolution of a field as mature as climate science isn’t going to replace CO2 as a warming agent with poof fairies. It’s just not going to happen.

  33. 283
    wmanny says:

    Ray, you are a good guy, obviously and, as it turns out, so am I. I am envious, for example, that you got to “fetid dingo’s kidneys” before I did or ever could. When you are reduced to putting silly words in my mouth, though, it diminishes you.

    Once again, I am not a scientist, much less a Darwin(!), and I read what I can with the time I have. I have slogged through the AGW bible with no superior intellect I am aware of, unless you were referring to Happer’s, and I have grasped what I can given my BSEE background, from which I am decades removed. I am a mere calculus and English teacher, granted an odd mix, and I am fascinated by what I perceive to be a mild case of hubris on the so-called alarmist side of the issue. [Please note the 'so-called'; I don't like the term any more than the other one that... never mind.]

    You would not think much of me if I were to read only RealClimate to get my information and directions to more information. This is a biased site, which for the most part is up front about it, a site that brooks little dissent but which needs to be read by anyone with an interest in determining what is going on.

    When I bring up Prof. Happer, though, to counter the claim that anyone on Inhofe’s list is “likely [to have] been misquoted and misrepresented”, note the reaction, which was, ultimately, “ask him”. Well, I did. What I don’t understand is, why don’t you, and why doesn’t Gavin? Aren’t you curious? When I encounter eminent folks like Happer, and he’s hardly the only one, stepping up to what is arguably an unpopular microphone, I don’t immediately question his motives, and I don’t see what’s so anti-intellectual about asking the question: Why does he need to be dismissed so quickly?

  34. 284
    Nick Gotts says:

    “I have slogged through the AGW bible” – wmanny

    That expression alone makes your bad faith abundantly clear.

  35. 285
    Hank Roberts says:

    > dismissed so quickly?
    Not quickly — since 1993. Do some searching.

    The ozone denial — political, PR-based, industry-driven — seems to have been the last time he was in the news about this. IT’s being spun now as a climate change issue.

    But look at the PR material that was out at the time, and that he’s quoted in. Industry was vehemently denying there was any convincing evidence that there could be some problem developing, long after the science was clear.

    Go to Scholar, find the man’s publications in the journals, follow them forward by reading papers citing them. See if you can find something relevant to global warming. I didn’t. Do the same for ozone papers. You should look for yourself.

    What I found was the standard industry position — no mechanism, no proof of imminent harm to humans, no reason to regulate, more research needed, continue the course, don’t ban chlorofluorocarbons, attack on the poor, condemning millions to starvation, you know.

    Read Crutzen’s speech. Note what he says about a close call.

  36. 286
    Hank Roberts says:

    A bit more for you. This is the issue where Dr. Happer — a Republican appointee who had been held over in his position by the incoming Democratic administration — opposed the new administration’s policy.

    He was wrong then. He took the industry line, that delay was smarter than prompt action, and that physicists’ models of change in the upper atmosphere weren’t enough reason to be concerned about ozone loss — that there wasn’t proof yet that it would cause harm at ground level to humans, so wait, delay.

    There are people _still_ denying at CFCs and ozone depletion are a problem, remember? You can look it up.

    Here’s a recent update on the real science:

    ——-excerpt follows, see link for full story———–

    On Wednesday, December 3, 2003, Prof. Paul Crutzen’s lecture on the subject of ‘The Antarctic Ozone Hole – A Manmade Chemical Instability of the Stratosphere – What should we learn from it?,’ was held at AIT under the auspices of the International Peace Foundation, in partnership with various national organizations, institutions and enterprises in Thailand. It was the second in a series of the Nobel Laureates’ and Eminent Person’s Lectures at AIT following Prof. Jerome Karle’s lecture titled ‘The Role of Science and Technology in Quest for a World at Peace’ on November 26, 2003.

    For those who have missed Prof. Jerome Karle’s lecture, instructions for viewing lectures online, as well as future listings and lecture archives, are at

    In a summary, Prof. Crutzen noted: ‘The discovery of the spring time stratospheric ozone hole by scientists of the British Antarctic Survey was one of the greatest surprises in the history of the atmospheric sciences. It was not predicted and initially unexplained. After intensive research efforts by many international scientific teams it has been clearly demonstrated that the observed rapid ozone depletions are due to catalytic reactions involving chlorine atoms and chlorine oxide molecules, more than 80% of which are produced by the photochemical breakdown of industrial chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) gases.’

    In the lecture, Prof. Crutzen presented the processes that lead to the ozone depletions. ‘Since 1996, by international agreements, the production of CFC products is forbidden in the industrial world. However, despite this laudable measure, it will take some 50 years before the ozone hole will have closed. Some scientists believe that it might take even longer,’ he said. For those who have attended, anyone would agree that he showed that mankind has been very lucky and that things could have been much worse.’

    ——-end excerpt——–

  37. 287
    dhogaza says:

    Gotts has it nailed, the “AGW bible” comment sums up wmanny’s bad faith very clearly.

    Wmanny, comparing science to religion isn’t going to win you any friends in the reality-based community.

    You would not think much of me if I were to read only RealClimate to get my information and directions to more information.

    Actually, you’d win our respect, because it would indicate you’re really interested in learning about the SCIENCE. Blathering away with denialist talking points is how you lose respect around here, not by studying science.

  38. 288
    Hank Roberts says:

    The archive link at AIT isn’t working; I’ve emailed per their error message asking if they can make it available

  39. 289
    Phil. Felton says:

    Just because someone is eminent in one field does not make him an expert in others. Will’s expertise is in Atomic Physics:

    Note that he does not include Princeton’s Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Program or the Princeton Environmental Institute among his interests.

  40. 290
    Ray Ladbury says:

    wmanny, Happer is a condensed matter physicist. Why should I care what he thinks about climate? I see no indication he has given it much deep thought–nor indeed that he has gone out of his way to learn the relevant physics. It’s a bit like asking my plumber for investment advice.

  41. 291
    Nick Gotts says:

    “Darwin was really starting from square one, except for Linnaeus.” – Ray Ladbury@279

    Not really. There was the geological evidence showing that the Earth was at least millions of years old; the evidence for extinction, and for wholesale changes in the biota over time; the work on biological classification which had advanced greatly since Linnaeus (it wasn’t Darwin who recognised that “Darwin’s finches” were all finches); work on the distribution of organisms across the earth; speculations about evolution going back to Lamarck, and Darwin’s own grandfather Erasmus; Malthus’ work on the implications of the tendency of populations to increase geometrically and hence the pressure on resources. Your main point stands, however: Darwin spent a quarter-century after the Beagle vogage both increasing his expertise in geology and biology, and corresponding with his scientific peers about a vast range of subjects touching on evolution. When he eventually published Origin of Species, he synthesised an enormous body of existing knowledge. As ever, the “lone persecuted genius” picture of scientific progress is a gross caricature.

  42. 292
    Ron Taylor says:

    davidgmills and wmanny, you remind me of some students I encountered some years ago in a graduate course in theoretical mechanics. They simply did not understand the prerequisite material, and their strategy was to try to bluff their way through on what they did know, intuition, and gall. The latter led them to take an aggressive stance in challenging the professor. It was, to say the least, a pathetic performance. The professor scorched them. Be thankful you are dealing with such tolerant people here.

  43. 293
    wmanny says:

    OK, Ray, so Happer is dealt with. He’s an ozone apostate [not your point, I know] and a plumber, and of no interest to any readers here but me. I get it.

    Here’s the thing, though: I refuse to make the assumption that Happer has not done his own reading and had his own interactions with folks who know what they are talking about, just as you have, and drawn his own conclusions. See, when you’re down here where I am and unable to make my own a priori determinations, not being in the profession or in any way part of the establishment scientific community, I am interested not only in reading what conclusions Hansen, Schmidt, Holdren, Ladbury and even Mashey have drawn, just to name a few names. I am also interested hearing from Lindzen, Geigengack, Happer, McIntyre and others who are off the reservation. This is how I would characterize my open mind on the issue, though I understand why you believe it should be closed at this point, and I have never doubted your sincerity on that point. But when I am told, repeatedly, that the debate is over, even as it rages, I am not as sanguine as you.

    You will disagree, of course, but I still believe that it would be better tactics in the face of the meaningless but easily exploited decade of temperature flattening, to engage with the skeptics rather than to seek to dismiss out of hand with name-calling and the like. If you believe the truth is on your side, in the form of the preponderance of evidence, what in the world do you have to fear from the Happers of the world?

    [Response: Fear? Nothing. But if you think adding to ignorance and increasing disinformation is a positive benefit to society, or to its ability to make good choices about future directions… well, let’s just say, I don’t. – gavin

  44. 294
    jcbmack says:

    then there is the erroneous reports of the climatologist Dr. William Gray who blames all the warming on the thermohaline circulation and reports that relative humidity is not near constant and that water vapor therefore is a net negative feedback. He has been in the science for 5o years and yet he still wrong. He specializes in hurricanes and yet cannot see the irony of his statements where hurricanes in many regions decrease in incidence, but do in intensity. He attacks Hansen without evidence and utilizes proxy data after he criticizes middle and upper lay troposphere and his analysis of proxy data for paleoclimate.

  45. 295
    dhogaza says:

    You will disagree, of course, but I still believe that it would be better tactics in the face of the meaningless but easily exploited decade of temperature flattening, to engage with the skeptics rather than to seek to dismiss out of hand with name-calling and the like

    Which is why YOU, yes, YOU, should be spending all your time arguing with Flat Earth Society people that their position is untenable.

    Engage with the Skeptics! Don’t do anything useful, just engage with the flat earthers! There’s no calling on earth more noble, after all!

  46. 296
    Hank Roberts says:

    Worth reading, if you’re interested in political science as it studies climate change; mentioning Happer and others:

    Global Environmental Change 18 (2008) 204–219
    Experiences of modernity in the greenhouse: A cultural analysis of a
    physicist ‘‘trio’’ supporting the backlash against global warming

    Myanna Lahsen

    Center for Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Colorado and Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Epaciais (INPE),
    Av. dos Astronautas, 1758, Sa˜o José dos Campos, SP 12227-010 Brazil

    This paper identifies cultural and historical dimensions that structure US climate science politics. It explores why a key subset of
    scientists—the physicist founders and leaders of the influential George C. Marshall Institute—chose to lend their scientific authority to this movement which continues to powerfully shape US climate policy. The paper suggests that these physicists joined the environmental backlash to stem changing tides in science and society, and to defend their preferred understandings of science, modernity, and of themselves as a physicist elite—understandings challenged by on-going transformations encapsulated by the widespread concern about
    human-induced climate change.

    Mainly I post this to suggest further discussion, in the absence of actual climatology science papers by any physicist, does belong in the political science category. The list of people who don’t publish but do opine is quite long, from all areas of politics and policy.

    But they all need to cite their sources in the science journals, if they want credibility. Else it’s all opinion.

  47. 297
    Ron Taylor says:

    wmanny, you said “I am also interested hearing from Lindzen, Geigengack, Happer, McIntyre and others who are off the reservation. This is how I would characterize my open mind on the issue, though I understand why you believe it should be closed at this point, and I have never doubted your sincerity on that point. But when I am told, repeatedly, that the debate is over, even as it rages, I am not as sanguine as you.”

    Where does the debate rage, exactly? Certainly not in the peer reviewed literature. Certainly not in the conclusions of every scientific society in the world. Aha! I got it – the blogsphere. And Fox News. And Senator Inhoff’s office. Come on, even Exxon has tossed in the towel.

    There is nothing wrong with reading the views of the people you cite, as long as you also read the critiques of their positions. You have to do that with an understanding of how science actually works. Otherwise, you will simply buy snake oil.

  48. 298

    Insight is gained not necessarily by following a spokesperson, scientist or a lobbyist. Deep meaning into any science field is gained much further by observation, no theory is proven without observations, to really criticize the mainstream you must look for something which contradicts AGW claims. There are none to my knowledge, even so I continue searching, but unlike Eisenbergs Uncertainty principle, further observations narrow down the inescapable truth, AGW theory is rock solid, once removed
    from tactile senses gained by actual science work, it is easy to be confused by a few scientists most of them lobbyists. Then its a matter of believing one chap against the majority, nothing is gained by pitting one view against another, everything earned by effort in observing validates the mainstream , championed by Gavin, Hansen, Tamino, Hank and Pat to name a few…
    Happy holidays to all

  49. 299
    jcbmack says:


    global warming is a real issue. To what degree it will affect us and how long the world continues to emit so much CO2 and CH4 remains to be seen and the exact climate sensitivity is more elusive, but the range is well evidenced and global warming is more than just evidenced it is certain. Detracting from name calling it is not wise to engage in ignoring the overwhelming data and what we are seeing in the globe. As a non scientist wmanny, and perhaps, though I would not automatically assume, without the thorough background in the mathematics, it is not really possible to analyze the core of the data collections themselves. As you admit, it is not your area of expertise that deals with the totality of such matters. There may not be a 1 or 2 meter rise in sea level on such and such a date or when there is a 3.2 degree warming as opposed to a 3.0 degree warming, however, the warming itself is not only well grounded in physics and well modeled with the mathematics; even the physical chemistry, but the ecological changes are already enormous, Honey bees, no, they changed migration patterns and were largely killed by pesticides, they are not so sensitive, but have you heard about the lemmings? How about aquatic fish and other life? Global warming may be of some benefit in certain regions for some period of time, however, it will continue as it already is now, bring about more chaotic weather patterns, droughts, famine, floods, crop shortages etc… We are actually witnessing it now. I take a different approach than many of my peers, I look at the counter arguments, plays devil’s advocate and patiently post the explanations and data on my own blog, but wmanny it is not wrong the basic conclusions reached by NASA, NOAA, Princeton AOS, Harvard research, and countless others besides the IPCC report. there are negative feedbacks and they do arise from a combination of phase changes, and the already discussed to death weather events, however, they do not permanently stop or negate the trends based upon the composition and properties of the greenhouse gases and the semi closed (or semi open depending on semantics and perspective, it amounts to the same thing) planetary-atmospheric system. If it were completely open we would freeze if it were entirely closed we would burn up! That atmosphere held by the gravitational filed constant is analogous to a cell membrane, it forms a semipermeable barrier. There is an energy budget and warming as a whole as not occurred all that rapidly, if it did then we would be in far more trouble. The trend is clear at this time without any legitimate refutation. If we lower these emissions by a lot and keep below 400-450 ppm CO2 and watch those methane emissions and melting permafrost we can significantly slow the warming in 60-100 years and reduce the risks in the couple of decades, adjusting for the lag phase. At any rate that lung cancer, skin cancer and those malaria outbreaks are not imaginary or in the realm of some imaginary philosophical ideals of forms and substance. And yes as a Biologist I am well aware that there were malaria outbreaks in cold climates like Russia, but it is the summers that enable greater yields in the dormancy phases and it is the humidity that can create more conducive environments to Anopheles mosquitoes. Just pick up “The Microbial World.” We are not saying warming creates diseases or invents droughts and famines. We are also not saying, the vast majority of us anyways, that the world is just going to end at a 3.8 degree temperature increase. We are saying we had better reduce emissions and prepare for the detriments of warming and other changes as a result of the warming. Global dimming is old as is cooling, aerosol transfer and black carbon reflective effects.

  50. 300
    Jim Cross says:


    Andrew, your reasoning is that future solar cycles will be like the ones of the 20th century. That may be, but you might have missed my original post and link:

    You might also look at this link to understand how unusual the sun has been in recent decades and how unlikely it is to be that way in the future:

Switch to our mobile site