NYT’s Revkin pushes global cooling myth (again!) and repeats outright misinformation.

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"NYT’s Revkin pushes global cooling myth (again!) and repeats outright misinformation."

The top climate reporter for the NYT has published what is arguably the worst article of his career, replete with statements that simply are scientifically inaccurate or misleading beyond belief:

The world leaders who met at the United Nations to discuss climate change on Tuesday are faced with an intricate challenge: building momentum for an international climate treaty at a time when global temperatures have been stable for a decade and may even drop in the next few years….

The recent spate of relatively cool years is particularly noticeable because it followed a seesawing from unusually cool temperatures to unusually hot ones in the 1990s, said Vicky Pope of Britain’s climate agency, called the Met Office….

The global average temperature is now only an imperceptible .01 degree Fahrenheit higher than it was in 1999, according to the British meteorology office.

That litany of misinformation and confusion is what you expect from the Swift boat smearer‘s website, not the paper of record.  And sure enough, former Inhofe staffer and general disinformation spreader Marc Morano couldn’t be in more agreement Revkin, running the blaring headline at ClimateDepotted:  “NYT’s Moment of Clarity: UN faces challenge achieving climate treaty ‘when global temps have been stable for a decade and may even drop in next few years’.”

As we’ll see, Revkin owes his readers and the whole world multiple corrections and “explanations,” if not a complete retraction.

Let me try to set the scientific record straight, since the NYT has so confused the matter.  First off, the most shocking thing that Revkin does is quote the Met Office in the same exact sentence he makes his most egregious mistatement:   “The recent spate of relatively cool years.”

Relatively cool?  Relative to what, Andy?  Venus?  Here is the Met Office temperature ranking of the past century and a half on planet Earth (see here):

Global annual ranked HadCRUT2

That’s right, according to the Met Office, there has been a recent spate of relatively very, very hot years.  As the Met Office explains, “over the past decade, most years have remained close to the global average temperature reached in 1998. All the years from 2000 to 2008 have been in the top 14 warmest years on record.”

The interesting question is not why the global temperature has — using the Met Office data — been roughly flat for a few years.  The interesting question is what caused the step change in temperature rise, whereby the decade of the 2000s is going to be the hottest decade in the temperature record, much warmer than the decade of the 1990s, which at the time was the hottest decade on record.  Hint:  Scientists call it global warming.  I’ll come back to this step change, this recent jump in temperatures, in a later post.

Andy’s questionable and uber-misleading assertion — “global temperatures have been stable for a decade” — should at the very least be amended “at record high levels.”

But it’s far from clear the original statement is actually true!  Indeed, you’d never know it from Revkin’s post, which relies exclusively on the temperature record of the leading UK climate change office, but the United States actually produces a global temperature record that paints a very different picture than the Met Office.  But then, that temperature record does not fit into the narrative Revkin is pushing, so it’s no big surprise that he omits any mention of it whatsoever:



The hottest year in NASA’s temperature record was 2005.  So much for Revkin’s assertion “The global average temperature is now only an imperceptible .01 degree Fahrenheit higher than it was in 1999.”  Ah, but in the updated version of the piece, Revkin added “according to the British meteorology office.”

Yet the British meteorology office said in its most recent published analysis of the global temperature record that “the past 10 years has seen only a 0.07 °C increase in global average temperature” — a 0.13 °F increase — more than 10 times the rate of warming Revkin asserts.  And the sentence I just quoted is from the Met Office “paper published in August” that Revkin quotes in the article.  So I have no friggin’ clue where he is getting his numbers from.  No doubt he will explain.

And again, Revkin writes for the New York Times, and “The NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies is located in the Morningside Heights-Columbia University neighborhood of New York City,” not terribly far from the NYT headquarters.

Using NASA’s data, it looks like the climate story of the decade is that the 2000s are on track to be nearly 0.2°C warmer than the 1990s (see “Very warm 2008 makes this the hottest decade in recorded history by far“).  So Revkin’s statement could not be more inaccurate and misleading.  And the temperature jump in the 200s is especially worrisome since the 1990s were only 0.14°C warmer than the 1980s (see datasets here).  Global warming is accelerating, as predicted.

I’ll repeat for the umpteenth time, the NASA GISS data is almost certainly superior to the data from the Met Office aka the Hadley Center data (see “What exactly is polar amplification and why does it matter?“).  Remember, “there are no permanent weather stations in the Arctic Ocean, the place on Earth that has been warming fastest,” as New Scientist explained (see here and here). “The UK’s Hadley Centre record simply excludes this area, whereas the NASA version assumes its surface temperature is the same as that of the nearest land-based stations.” Thus it is almost certainly the case that the planet has warmed up more this decade than NASA says, and especially more than the UK’s Hadley Center says.

If I sound particularly revved up by this piece of Revkin nonsense, it’s partly because we’ve been through this before.  See my March 2008 post, “Media enable denier spin 1: A (sort of) cold January doesn’t mean climate stopped warming,” about a Revkin piece with the headline, “Skeptics on Human Climate Impact Seize on Cold Spell” and the graphic caption “An Unusually Cold Winter” — both of which I criticized and neither of which are as bad as any of Revkin’s own statements quoted above, which he can’t pass off as written by an editor.

But even more, Revkin manages to quote me utterly out of context without even having interviewed me!  He writes:

In a post last week on his blog, Climate Progress, Joseph Romm, a physicist and energy expert affiliated with the liberal Center for American Progress, wrote that statements by climate skeptics about planetary cooling were “nonsense.””We need all the unmuffled warnings we can get given that humans are not like slowly boiling frogs, we are like slowly boiling brainless frogs,” he wrote.

The recent spate of relatively cool years….

Well, I do appreciate getting two links.  But if you’re going to quote from a post saying that statements about planetary cooling are “nonsense,” how about actually quoting me in context and how about quoting some of the data I referred to, rather than this frogs comment, which was published with a link (here), since it is meant to be half humorous, but doesn’t make bloody much sense out of context of my blog.

And to put my comment back into full context, I wrote:

As revealed by the NOAA video above (via Andy Revkin), it is getting hot pretty much everywhere, except of course over the continental United States, a small fraction of the world’s overall landmass inhabited by a large fraction of the world’s deniers, delayers, and disinformers who continue to trumpet the supposedly “cool” weather of the United States as part of their overall planetary cooling nonsense.  And that’s too bad because we need all the unmuffled warnings we can get given that humans are not like slowly boiling frogs, we are like slowly boiling brainless frogs.

That makes a little more sense.

Also, apropos of the boiling frog metaphor, I was talking about the recent NOAA announcement that this was the warmest June-July-August for the oceans on record “” despite the deepest solar minimum in nearly a century. The water is warming, just like with the frog….

I’d call it ironic if not farcical that my post linked to a Revkin blog post on that NOAA announcement — and a video Revkin himself posted titled “hottest summer sea surface since at least 1880″ — and now Revkin links back to my post in a print story that says the planet isn’t warming anymore and might be poised to cool!

And that brings me back to Revkin’s shocking lede:

The world leaders who are meeting at the United Nations to discuss climate change on Tuesday, are faced with an intricate challenge: building momentum for an international climate treaty at a time when global temperatures have been stable for a decade and may even drop in the next few years…

Revkin offers up not a single study to support that assertion, which he has put in the opening sentence of a New York Times story!  In fact, the peer-reviewed literature supports the utter opposite of that statement.

A July GRL study predicted (see “another major study predicts rapid warming over next few years“):

From 2009 to 2014, projected rises in anthropogenic influences and solar irradiance will increase global surface temperature 0.15 ±0.03 °C, at a rate 50% greater than predicted by IPCC.

A 2007 Hadley Center paper in Science: “Improved Surface Temperature Prediction for the Coming Decade from a Global Climate Model” (see “Climate Forecast: Hot “” and then Very Hot“) also concluded:

Our system predicts that internal variability will partially offset the anthropogenic global warming signal for the next few years. However, climate will continue to warm, with at least half of the years after 2009 predicted to exceed the warmest year currently on record.

At least Revkin mentions in his piece that Hadley stands by this analysis, writing recently (here):  “Our decadal forecast predicts an end to this period of relative stability after 2010. We project about half of the years to 2015 to be warmer than the 1998 record.”

Who does Revkin quote?  Just one guy — whose own study doesn’t support Revkin’s assertion!

Dr. Mojib Latif, a prize-winning climate and ocean scientist from the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of Kiel, wrote a paper last year positing that cyclical shifts in the oceans were aligning in a way that could keep the next decade or so relatively cool, even as the heat-trapping gases linked to global warming continue to increase.

That is not what his paper found!  Nor does his paper at all support the view that temperatures “may even drop in the next few years.”  I grant that Latif’s paper was monumentally confusing (perhaps even to him), but after a lot of effort — including direct communication with the lead author (who isn’t Latif) — I did decipher it on this blog (see “Nature article on ‘cooling’ confuses media, deniers: Next decade may see rapid warming“).  I have repeatedly linked back to that post.

The bottom line is that, with the general caveat from the authors that the study as a whole should be viewed in a very preliminary fashion, and should not be used for year-by-year predictions, it is more accurate to say Latif’s Nature study is consistent with the following statements:

  • The “coming decade” (2010 to 2020) is poised to be the warmest on record, globally.
  • The coming decade is poised to see faster temperature rise than any decade since the authors’ calculations began in 1960.
  • The fast warming would likely begin early in the next decade “” similar to th 2007 prediction by the Hadley Center in Science

How can that be?  Well, I’m not going to repeat the entire analysis here, but the simple explanation is that when Revkin uses the phrase “keep the next decade or so relatively cool,” he means the “coming decade,” the 2010s.  Latif’s Nature paper, however, predicts no increase in average temperature of the “next decade” (2005 to 2015) over the previous decade, which, for them, is 2000 to 2010!

So here is their prediction, in green (“Each point represents a ten-year centred mean”):


Red is the actual Hadley data — so you’ll note that their “hindcast” isn’t terribly accurate in the first place.  But in any case, to repeat, as you can see, they are predicting pretty damn rapid warming in the next decade!

Revkin writes:

But Dr. Latif, who gives about 200 talks to the public, business leaders and officials each year, said he had been met with confusion and even anger when he tried to describe this normal variation in climate while at the same time conveying the long-term threat of global warming.

“People understand what I’m saying, but then basically wind up saying, ‘We don’t believe anything,’ ” he said in a telephone interview.

No wonder Latif’s audience are so confused by him.  Even the top climate reporter at the paper of record is confused by him.  Perhaps he should stop giving 200 talks a year!

The key point is that three major peer-reviewed studies are predicting global temperature will rise noticeably over the next several years.  If Revkin knows of one predicting they “may even drop in the next few years,” he needs to let us know because he hasn’t identified it in either his article or his equally flawed new blog post on the subject.

Revkin should retract this entire piece. It is unsalvageably bad, and he has done a great disservice to his readers and the nation by spreading misinformation and confusion that deniers like Morano can trumpet as if it were actually accurate.  I assert that in this piece Revkin simply doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and in any case has not provided a single shred of scientific evidence to back up his assertions.

The 2000s are poised to easily be the hottest decade in the temperature record, significantly beating the 1990s — perhaps by a full 0.2°C, which is actually on the high side of the IPCC predictions.  True the global temperature record isn’t perfect and different ones disagree, but NASA’s is probably the closest to being accurate and all of them probably underestimate recent warming because they don’t do a good job of measuring the temperature at “the place on Earth that has been warming fastest.”

I will be happy to bet anyone [using the Nate Silver rule] that the 2010s will be the hottest decade in the temperature record, more than 0.15°C hotter than the hottest decade so far using the NASA GISS dataset.  Any takers?  Andy?

UPDATE:  Global warming deniers, who are famous for making stuff up and taking things out of context, are trying to spin my proposed wager as a statement of what I actually believe the warming will be in the next decade.  It ain’t.  I was in fact offering a specific wager to call out the various delayers out there — or to see if Revkin himself would be willing to back up his absurd statement that “global temperatures … may even drop in the next few years.”

For the record, climate warming is not a linear phenomenon, it is an accelerating phenomenon, in part because of well-known delays in the equilibration of global temperatures with all the exogenous forcings and in part because of positive, amplifying feedbacks in the carbon cycle — the impact of global dimming is also relevant to the recent and near-term trend line.  So the planet can warm, say, 0.2°C next decade — just as it warmed 0.2°C this decade, using NASA’s data, which is probably the best — and still warm 5°C this century, if we don’t act quickly to reverse emissions trends.  That said, I am expecting the planet to warm more than 0.2°C next decade, particularly if there is not a major volcano.

UPDATE2:  So far, no serious players in the denier-sphere have stepped up to take this bet.  I should make clear that I am, of course, using the the Nate Silver rule:

You are eligible for this challenge if:

1. You live in the United States and provide me with your home address and telephone number (I will provide you with mine) and,
2. You are a regular (at least once weekly) contributor to a political, economics or science blog with an Alexa traffic global ranking of 50,000 or lower.

The reason for the latter requirement is because I want to be able to shame/humiliate you if you back out of the challenge or refuse to pay, as I’d assume you’d do the same with me.

I’ll extend that to Alexa below 100,000.


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55 Responses to NYT’s Revkin pushes global cooling myth (again!) and repeats outright misinformation.

  1. David B. Benson says:

    Oh dear…

  2. George D says:

    Revkin shows the same contempt for science that most science “reporters” betray – seeking to get an exciting story rather than portray the facts, which often don’t provide the drama and conflict that the media want. In this case, saying the same thing that has been said for years and years is boring, so he wants to sex it up again.

    He’ll argue that he didn’t say anything that was technically wrong, of course. However, the piece was misleading, and as the lead reporter on this subject for a major United States “paper of record”, he has a responsibility to portray things correctly.

  3. ZS says:

    For the most part, I respect the work Revkin does for the NYT, so I was especially flabbergasted by this article, from the first sentence on. Even cutting him some (HUGE) slack and momentarily pretending that the global cooling meme deserved half an article, Revkin’s article, to the uninformed reader, appears to put people who believe in global cooling and those who believe in global warming on an even keel, at best. One would never know that the vast majority of climate scientists have thrown their weight behind one over the other.

    As much as misleading and dangerous science journalism bothers me, I don’t normally go so far as to demand an explanation from the author. But in this case, Mr. Revkin needs to explain himself.

  4. PeterW says:

    Have you checked to see if Revkin just acquired a fancy new car or some nice holiday property? Sounds like someone was bought off or his editors were.

    [JR: Not how the media works. Bought off, no. Seriously spun and confused, yes.]

  5. Robert says:

    INTEGRITY FOR SALE! OH My! But this is nothing new for the ‘NYT’s. They have been riding two horses up and down this slippery slope for some time now. Oh, shame on Revkin, he sells his standards cheep! Honor condemns him to wear his crumpled crown for life! We don’t forget!

  6. I read the opening para graph and wanted to pull my hair out.

  7. PeterW says:

    “JR: Not how the media works. Bought off, no. Seriously spun and confused, yes.”

    Hi Joe, maybe you’re right and “journalists” are somehow superior to the scientists and politicians that have be bought off by carbon money, but then again the track record of the MSM seems to suggest they can easily be corrupted by ad revenue. I wouldn’t be so quick to conclude they are that different from the rest of society.

  8. Ivan says:

    Well, I just (21:16 CDT on 22 Sep 2009) peeked at Revkin’s article, and he changed it to “an imperceptible .13 degree” with no acknowledgment of any correction. Why oh why can’t we have a better press corps?

  9. Richard Miller says:

    This is what I posted on the comments at the NYTimes:

    This is an utterly irresponsible article. You have the head of the IPCC saying today that the science makes inaction inexcusable, and Andy can put out a story about how we just have to wait and see in a few years if this global warming is for real. Simply incredible with what is at stake and the challenges we face and the fact we have important interntional meetings in New York this week trying to build momentum for climate change. No wonder we are so far behind the rest of the developed world in recognizing the magnitude of the problem. This is why I do not rely on the news section of the Times (the editorial page is good) for my updates on climate, I go to the Guardian and to scientific journals. This is really outrageous.

  10. Wayne Delbeke says:

    Correction – 0.13 degrees PER DECADE

  11. Pity. He is obviously over-worked, failing to evaluate carefully and rushing content into print. Perhaps, Andy Revkin, you should cut back your work-load. And you might want to watch your reputation.

    Meanwhile the World bank offers a wonderful report…

    Permanent URL for this page: http://go.worldbank.org/SF2VJTALM0
    be sure to read the annotated bibliography where just one entry reads:

    Dispensa, Jaclyn Marissa and Robert J. Brulle 2003. “Media’s Social Construction of Environmental Issues: Focus on Global Warming – A Comparative Study” International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy. 23(10): 74-105.
    In order to address whether the US media present a biased view of global
    warming, the authors examine media coverage of global warming from a content analysis of three countries’ newspaper articles and two international scientific journals in 2000. They compare media presentations in the United States, New Zealand and Finland with the country’s economy, industry and environment.

    Dispensa and Brulle conclude that in the US the fossil fuel industry has a significant impact on the media coverage of global warming in comparison to New Zealand & Finland where it does not. US media portray global warming as controversial whereas media portrayals in Finland and New are on par with presentations commonly found in the international scientific journals.

  12. BBHY says:

    The coolest year of the 2000’s is still warmer than all but one of the 90’s.

    Revkin should talk to a few stock analysts. Any of them will tell you that is a very, very strong bullish trend, not a leveling off. Not even close.

  13. Leif says:

    I hope all write to the NY Times. I did!

  14. paulm says:

    Hardly any of the MSM get it when it comes to GW issue. For some reason they are hell bent on playing down the issues and the consequences. Its the same here in Canada and most other places. Quite bizarre.

    You could say that the MSM is but a reflection of the expectation of society. And it does not want to know about AGW because it means a painful change to their life style.

  15. Robert says:

    PLEASE Google Sinclair’s ‘YouTube/1998 Revisited’ for a great conclusion to all Revkin’s anti-science spin!

    Thank you Joe.

  16. BBHY says:

    Interesting report from the World Bank. I don’t see anything in that report that explains or even acknowledges that the WB is actively promoting coal based power plants in developing countries all around the world.

  17. DavidCOG says:

    Being (very) generous, I can see what Revkin intended – an article that describes the lack of accuracy possible in short-term climate prediction. But the result is a piece that will be easily and gleefully cherry-picked by the Deniers.

    What was he thinking? Does he never read the Denier blogs? Does he not realise how shamelessly they distort and manipulate even the most clear-cut reporting? Give these people a handful of sand and they’ll build a ten-span bridge and sell it back to you.

    In fact, reading further, no cherry-picking is required:

    > A clearer view of whether the recent temperature plateau undermines arguments for dangerous climate change in the long run should come in a few years, as the predictions made by the British climate researchers are tested.

    WTF? Does Revkin really think we need to wait “a few years” to know what is happening? Where is he getting his science? From WattsUpIdidots blog roll? He certainly isn’t getting it from the Met Office document that he refers to: Global temperature slowdown — not an end to climate change.

    Shameful, mind-boggling stuff. If we discount corruption, the only option left is gross incompetence.

  18. DavidCOG says:

    The more you read, the worse it gets:

    > Getting people to care about a climate threat that is decades away…

    Decades away?! It’s happening *now*. Again: where is he getting his science?

    P.S. For anyone uncertain how to respond to “we’re in a cooling trend!” (e.g. Andy Revkin), here’s a copy / paste from my notes that should be digestible for anyone with double-digit IQ:

    – 90% of the excess heat due to higher GHG levels has gone into the oceans, 7% in to melting snow and ice and just 3% into warming the atmosphere – http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn14527-climate-myths-global-warming-stopped-in-1998.html?full=true
    – 2005 hottest year on record – http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/environment/2005_warmest.html
    – 2009 record ocean temperature: http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2009/20090717_juneglobalstats.html + http://en.cop15.dk/news/view+news?newsid=1891
    – The 14 warmest years since 1850 have all occurred since 1990 according to HadCRUT3: http://www.ukcip.org.uk/index.php?id=159&option=com_content&task=view
    – The 10 warmest years all occur within the 12-year period 1997-2008 according to NASA: http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/2008/

  19. Ross Macfarlane says:

    Great work as always, Joe. Being on the west coast, I was late to this party. My first reaction when I saw this ridiculously misleading article was to log on to your site and look for a life raft. Thanks for delivering.

  20. Steven Leibo says:

    Joe: Ever since I read Revkin’s piece yesterday morning I have been waiting anxiously for you to respond. Even someone with only a modest knowledge of recent global temperatures could tell immediately that the piece was deeply flawed but I knew you would provide a much more sophisticated analysis! Thank you.

    [JR: Thanks. Monday turned out to be a very busy day for me — two talks, on top of a talk in Ohio Sunday. Since this global cooling meme is slow to die, even in the face of record ocean warming, I will do some more posts on it in the next week or two.]

  21. George says:

    [b]Andy Revkin, the Judy Miller of science reporting[/b]

    This isn’t Andy’s first piece of inaccurate, sloppy journalism. He focuses on developing a story line, apparently fitting the facts to the theme that he develops before he starts writing. It’s a good approach to writing science fiction but it’s terrible journalism.

    Thanks for the thorough debunking.

    Unfortunately, Andy has many times more readers than independent bloggers. His mangled reporting will stick in the minds of thousands of people that will never see your scientific smack down.

    That’s why we’re in such deep trouble about responding to the threats of global warming and ocean acidification. The public is misinformed.

  22. PeterW says:

    George says: “Unfortunately, Andy has many times more readers than independent bloggers. His mangled reporting will stick in the minds of thousands of people that will never see your scientific smack down.

    That’s why we’re in such deep trouble about responding to the threats of global warming and ocean acidification. The public is misinformed.”

    George you hit the nail on the head!!

  23. Lee says:

    Instead of the stock “what’s the rush” quote from Patrick Michaels, Revkin should have used this quote from him; “You’ve all seen articles saying that global warming stopped in 1998, well with all due respect, that’s being unfair to the data.”

  24. This is no typo. Andy Revkin has put his words into video
    … and it is hard to see how he delivers this lie – I note a slight pause before saying – temperatures “have been flat”

    The NYTimes really is failing in extending into video and a Web presence – they have horrible editorial reign, and poor video supervision. Or perhaps they are responding very successfully to the local pressures in NYC. Making them a very local rag.

    While one newspaper falls apart, another – in Sydney Australia has some nice use of video on the Internet.

  25. Also in today’s NY Times, an editorial saying:

    The hope is these [Copenhagen] talks will produce commitments from each nation that, collectively, would keep temperatures from rising 2 degrees Celsius (or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels. That will require deep cuts in emissions — as much as 80 percent among industrialized nations — by midcentury.

    In reality, it requires at least an 80% cut in emissions in the entire world by 2050, not just from the industrialized nations.

    80% from the industrialized nations is what may be politically feasible at this time. The NY Times is confusing it with what is actually needed by 2050.

  26. The NYTimes is in the business of delivering messages for advertisers – either by paid ads, editorial attitude or content bias. Actually serving the needs of readers and news consumers pays nothing and must be a secondary goal.

    This makes it easy for another, more sensibly run news organization to easily take their market share. The Internet fosters this. The danger for the NYTimes is that its business will then be to nurture an homogenized, bland readership who readily accepts the unremarkable and incorrect news coverage. Maybe that is the point.

  27. steve1953 says:

    On what date would you consider the bet won?

    5 years 7 years

    After the artic ice grows by x amount?

    Notice your fancy little chart has
    2005 hot
    2006 not so hot
    2007 not so so hot
    2008 not so so so hot

    How many years will it take?

    [JR: 2005 hottest year. 2007, tied for second. Hottest year again coming quite soon, possibly 2010.]

  28. Clank25 says:

    Explain again how 2007 was tied for second and 2010 will be the hottest yet. According to the Met Office chart 2007 was cooler than 1998, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006… and 2008 is cooler than 2007. Appears to be an inconvenient trend.

    [JR: You really don’t actually read the posts that you comment on, do you? Typically of you folk. Go elsewhere to sow confusion.]

  29. Another thing Revkin appears to be delusional about is Peak Oil. Via twitter:

    “Reading NYT story on big year for oil finds. No peak in sight, yet… http://j.mp/NoPeak #energy #climate”


  30. JoeD says:

    Also, the 10 warmest years likely really were mostly in the 1930s-1950s. 24 of the state heat records were from the 1930s, 37 from the 1800s to 1960s. Globally all the continental heat records were set in the 1800s and early 1900s. For the US, there were fewer heat records this decade than in any decade since the 1800s.

    Oh, and if it was not for the corrupted data bases, we would be lining up to take you up on your bet. Might do so, if you would accept the RSS and UAH satellite temperatures, which don’t suffer from contamination and manipulation.

    [JR: You really don’t know your science. You mix up U.S. data and global data — and push the UAH data, which was mis-analyzed for over a decade by Spencer and Christy, conveniently supporting their denier positions, until independent folk showed that they had made a bunch of mistakes all in the same direction.]

  31. Andrew says:

    Hey Joe,
    I wrote a blog post that I think explains the “no warming since 1998″ myth pretty well in layman’s terms – it even uses football references (using Peyton Manning’s TD stats to illustrate why you can’t just pick any one year as the basis of a trend).


  32. mike roddy says:

    I’m a regular blogger on Dot Earth, and must admit that you’re right on this one, Joe. Andy does have a tendency to drift into nonsensical controversies, for whatever reason, but I was disappointed that his basic point was so wrong- and so useful to the fossil fuel and timber crowd.

    If you haven’t read my recently published article on logging and CO2 emissions, send me an email and I’ll forward it to you. Turns out that consuming 23% of the globe’s wood products is a big reason why the US is responsible for so many GHG’s.

    My entreaty to Andy to cover this bore no fruit. Maybe it’s better suited for this blog.

  33. James M. Taylor says:

    Joe, according to your beloved IPCC and your alarmists pals, temperatures should rise at least 3 degrees Celsius over the next century. That averages out to 0.3 degrees Celsius per decade. Why are you willing to place money on only HALF that amount of warming? I think this tells us something about how much even the alarmists doubt their own predictions of gloom and doom.

    Also, it is interesting that you specify the James Hansen-doctored GISS temperature compilation, which suspiciously is the extreme outlier among temperature data sets. How about a temperature report that is a little more objective?

    Joe, I will wager whatever amount of money you choose that the 2010’s will be less than 0.3 degrees Celsius warmer than the current decade, according to the objective satellite temperature data.

    Do I have a taker?

    James M. Taylor
    Senior Fellow, Environment Policy
    The Heartland Institute

    [JR: I understand you deniers are stuck in linear thinking, where the future is always exactly like the past, but if you had any familiarity whatsoever with the scientific literature, then you would know that climate warming is not a linear phenomenon, it is an accelerating phenomenon, in part because of well-known delays in the equilibration of global temperatures with all the exogenous forcings and in part because of positive, amplifying feedbacks in the carbon cycle — the impact of global dimming is also relevant to the recent and near-term trend line, for those, unlike you, interested in actual science.

    I was offering a specific wager to call out the various deniers out there, like you — it was not a statement of what I expect will happen over the next decade, as regular readers fully understand. But if we were to apply the linear thinking and literalism that you seem to be stuck in, then your own offer is a stunning admission by a leading global warming denier that you believe there is a 50% chance warming will be 0.3°C or higher in the next decade! Kudos for your late-to-the-game climate realism.

    More seriously, the fact that you would accuse one of the top climate scientists in the world of doctoring data, when his work has been subject to extensive peer review over many many years and you are simply allowed to repeat long-debunked falsehoods again and again, however, makes clear to any independent observer that your words are not to be trusted.]

  34. Deep Climate says:


    I’ve published my take on the Revkin fiasco. It turns out that the three quotes you higlighted have all been changed (albeit the lede only slightly). But it’s still a mess.


    You’re right that the focus should be on the decade-over-decade trend and that the short-term trend discussed by Revkin is really just a contrarian talking point. I point out that the 1999-2008 trend in GISS is 0.19 deg decade rather than the 0.07 deg C for HadCRU cited by Revkin, so short term trends can vary a lot over time or between data sets.

    But decade-over-decade increases are much closer: 0.17C in HadCRU and 0.19C in GISS. Omission of that statistic for HadCRU is unforgiveable (and obviously inclusion of GISS should also be automatic).

    I despair that Revkin does not understand that he’s perpetuating contrarian spin. My conclusion:

    Andy Revkin, wake up. It’s time to start exposing the spin instead of succumbing to it.

    I do have one quibble: the observations in the 2000s are running under the IPCC AR4 projections when baselined to 1980-99. But they are still ahead of TAR projections, which were lower than AR4.


  35. Mark Bahner says:

    When you write about “the NASA GISS dataset”…is this the dataset to which you’re referring?


  36. Deep Climate says:

    #35 Yes, it’s the same analysisreferred to as NASA in Joe’s post. In #34 I just wrote GISS, but in my blog post I refer to it as NASA GISS (Goddard Institute for Space Studies).

  37. Deep Climate says:

    I notice that Revkin’s article was posted on September 21, but ran in print edition of the New York Times on September 23 (on page A6). So it’s possible that Revkin’s corrections of the two most egregious errors pointed out by Romm made it into the print edition.

    The corrections were:

    “The recent spate of relatively cool years is particularly noticeable …”

    “The recent spate of years with stable temperatures is particularly noticeable …”

    “The global average temperature is now only an imperceptible .01 degree Fahrenheit higher than it was in 1999″

    “… now only 0.13 degree Fahrenheit higher than it was in 1999, according to the British meteorology office.”

    Anybody know which of these were printed?

  38. James M. Taylor says:

    Joe, I see that you have declined to publish my follow-up comment. Why is that? Do you not have any answers to my questions….


    [JR: When I’m traveling, my inclination to not post long-it debunked disinformation grows stronger. I just don’t have the time to waste. You repeat tired myths that have been dealt with here and elsewhere. I may address one of your myths in October.]

  39. J Patterson says:

    This afternoon I posted a brief and cogent critique of your article, pointing out the predictive failures of GCMs and the inadequacy of Latif’s rationale for those failures. It was removed without comment.


    [JR: My comment policy and TOS is similar to most other major blogs of this kind. You can easily find it. As regular readers know, because I repeat this point over and over again, I don’t publish long-debunked disinformation. When I’m on travel, I have less time and patience for that sort of thing. I’m back now, so will be able to spend more time spelling things out to commenters.]

  40. Deep Climate says:

    Still no answer at DotEarth about when Revkin corrected the two most obvious errors in this article, or if they made it into print.

    I’ve repeated the original question (and added one) at comment #106 of Revkin’s “cooling” article.


  41. Turboblocke says:

    In 33, James Taylor says “Also, it is interesting that you specify the James Hansen-doctored GISS temperature compilation, which suspiciously is the extreme outlier among temperature data sets. How about a temperature report that is a little more objective?”

    The only people who I’ve heard express the opinion that GISS is an outlier are those that don’t know that it uses earlier baseline years. If you go to the Notes at woodfortrees http://www.woodfortrees.org/notes they show the major indices compared, with an adjustment for the different baselines.


    Can you see any significant divergence between the indices?

  42. Svempa says:

    Hi Joe! I found a reference to your bet on another blog, and I would like to take it. In order not to impoverish you (and possibly your children) I will be satisfied to bet only USD 1000, which also should mean that I leave room for other takers.

    Do you have an escrow account set up? Due to my relatively advanced age (68) and some health issues I would also like to name an arbiter or caretaker, perhaps Anthony Watts of WUWT would be OK? So if I’m not here by 2019 I could be sure that my winnings go to whatever person or charity I will name.

  43. Les Johnson says:

    I take the bet, Joe. 1000 US dollars. No other conditions, other than the loser has to present the money to the loser, wearing a pink dress. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Day, of course.

    We can even use your choice of escrow company.

  44. Svempa says:

    Hi again, Joe! You seem strangely disinterested in making a bet with me, after all it was you who offered the bet in the first place. But I have a wrinkle which may (or not) make you more interested.
    We seem to have at least one thing in common – a great interest in alternative energy. So instead of betting USD 1000 I offer to bet 100 shares (class B) in the emerging wave energy leader Seabased AB. This is a Swedish company, but a joint venture in the USA is underway. The shares are at present valued at SEK 120 which corresponds to approximately USD 17. If you win the bet, receive and sell the shares you will be subject to a capital gains tax, that is why I am willing to bet as many as 100 shares. I also give you two alternatives if you lose the bet: 1) pay USD 1000 or 2) buy 100 shares in Seabased AB in the market and transfer to me or whatever caretaker we can agree on.
    If the Seabased wave energy system is successful it could become the world standard and the share price might then be much higher in ten year’s time. That will give you an extra benefit if you win. On the other hand Seabased may be a totally forgotten company by 2019 and the share price may be near zero, that will make it easier for you if you lose.
    More information about Seabased: http://www.seabased.com . If you are interested but undecided I can also send you a lot more information about the company. It should be mentioned that the former US abassador Woods to Sweden had Seabased AB as his top pick of Swedish “green” companies.

    [JR: Sorry, I am adopting the Nate Silver rule and keep my bets to folks who are “a regular (at least once weekly) contributor to a political, economics or science blog with an Alexa traffic global ranking of 50,000 or lower. The reason for the latter requirement is because I want to be able to shame/humiliate you if you back out of the challenge or refuse to pay, as I’d assume you’d do the same with me.” I will, however, settle for a ranking of 100,000 or lower.]

  45. Les Johnson says:

    Well, I should qualify then, Joe. I am a weekly contributor to WUWT, The Blackboard and Pielke Jr.

    I also occasionally slip through the censor at Real Climate. Your site, though, is a tougher nut to crack.

    Speaking of shame and humiliation, the pink dress would still need to be part of the bet.

    [JR: We try to keep as free from long-debunked disinformation as possible, like RC, but unlike WUWT and Pielke Jr.

    So you accept the terms of the bet?]

  46. Les Johnson says:

    Joe: Disinformation? I quoted only peer reviewed studies in postings on your site.

    I repeat; I accept the terms of your bet. E-mail the escrow details.

    But the pink dress needs to stay….

  47. Tim says:

    hmmm, tell me again, is the Trend since 1998 Cooler ? or Warmer ?

    What was the temp in say 1100’s ?


  48. Tom Fuller says:

    Mr. Romm, I’ll take your bet. Examiner.com is rated by Alexa as site number 151 in the U.S. and number 476 in the world. I post pretty much every day on it. I live in the U.S. and will happily provide you with my address and telephone number if you’ll reciprocate.

    Hubristically yours

    Tom Fuller

    [JR: Well, I’m guessing we can probably dispense with the address and phone numbers, given our respective profiles, though I’m happy to do so. The bet is “the 2010s [2010 to 2019] will be the hottest decade in the temperature record, more than 0.15°C hotter than the hottest decade so far [i.e. the 2000s, from 2000 to 2009] using the NASA GISS dataset.” I am gonna ask, as I have for other bets, that “if two or more volcanic eruptions with the energy level equal to or greater than the 1991 Mount Pinatubo shall occur between now and the end of 2019, then the bet is voided.” Let me know if that’s ok — this is a bet about AGW, not the vagaries of volcanoes. We also didn’t settle on an amount. I have a lot of $1000 bets out there. I’m game at that level or less. Your call.]

  49. Hey Joe:

    Sometime in the “near future” (on a climatological scale?) you should post the specifics of all your bets. I’m thinking, make it public now so that when the wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth starts you’ve got a public record of who, what, when, where, and how much.

    Speaking for myself, I’ve known about the general wager but the above are the first posts I’ve seen of … “individuals” … stepping up to the plate. (Part of the problem in my case is that I seldom follow any thread anywhere beyond 15 or 20 posts.)

  50. Tom Fuller says:

    Mr. Romm,

    No problem. I’ll take it for a grand. What starting point do you propose?

  51. Tom Fuller says:

    Okay, Mr. Romm,

    Now that that’s out of the way, I’d like to challenge you to a comments debate, where we agree on a set of questions and post them to your blog and my editorial space on Examiner.com. Then we answer the questions and continue the discussion in the comments section. If we let our audiences participate we can metaphorically recreate a sense of the running of the bulls in Pamplona. My core proposition is that we each believe that the other is harming chances for effective policy to combat global warming.

    You in?

  52. David Lewis says:

    I remember the day, not the date, that something that this looks like happened in Canada.

    The paper of record, the Toronto Globe and Mail, a paper Ernest Hemmingway once worked for and said of, for publication, that it cares deeply about the truth, decided to put an end to the front page coverage of significant climate change news that had started, for it, after the historic Changing Atmosphere conference of 1988 held in Toronto.

    This was a few years after that. From 1988 until somewhere in the early 1990s, some piece of news re climate would be duly reported, and usually, a brief explanation of what the concern was, was thrown in: i.e. scientists believe that by 2050 global temperatures could rise by 1-4 degrees C.

    Scientists were putting it that way then, and so were reporters. That degree of change in planetary temperature had resulted in change as significant as from an ice age to the present – in Canadian terms, from a country where one mile of ice covered just about the whole thing to a country where you can live on a lot of it, and an unprecedented consensus had developed in the scientific community studying it. Going the other way, global warming on a scale like that, was an alarming prospect to almost every last person in the world who was going over the evidence.

    Kenneth Hare, one of Canada’s leading climatologists of that day said, for publication, that at the Toronto Changing Atmosphere conference a “new awareness was born”. I mean I don’t know about how it was at previous meetings, such as Villach in 1985, but in Toronto the final plenary was unbelieveable. One politician, the chair of Canada’s House Standing Committee on Environment, said, for publication, that the conference was “the most profoundly disturbing environment conference of human history”. You had to be there. What many said about Toronto was that after that, the issue was on the front pages of the world to stay.

    I was one of those doing the disturbing. Canada’s Ambassador to the U.N., Stephen Lewis, (no relation) interrupted the historic final plenary to ask me to stand and be recognized for my contribution.

    Anyway, back to the Globe and Mail. They decided to try to get it off the front pages. It was Canada, after all, some backwater hardly anyone in the world looks at. I say this as a Canadian, deeply ashamed and disturbed at the role my country is playing in the climate debate of today.

    So, one day, the owners, or the editors, issued a command that was duly followed by a reporter. The front page report that day on climate contained the usual explanation, slightly changed. Instead of the climate change is said by scientists to be threatening a 1-4 degree C warming by 2050, the words were “1 degree”. As if some preposterous eggheads somewhere were talking about warming 1 degree, like its 72 degrees out there today, they’re worried about it being 73. After that, the issue drifted off to infrequent and off the front page coverage.

    It was editorial or owner directed commands that reporters accepted. The fix was in back then, this is the kind of thing Hansen is thinking about when he said a while back that he expects to be called one day to testify at the trials for crimes against humanity of the CEOs of the fossil fuel companies responsible for this.

    The scientific case has not changed since the late 1980s – it has become far more precise and detailed, but the basic case is the same. Read the conference statement of the Changing Atmosphere conference – global warming is happening, its already having harmful consequences in many parts of the globe, it is due to human activity, it is an uncontrolled, globally pervasive experiment whose consequences can only be exceeded by global nuclear war, there is nothing more you can say today. The difference today is that it is extremely hard to press the denial case, I mean the North Pole is melting. All the major cities in Australia are building desalination plants. The Chinese and Indians are measuring the glaciers that supply their water as they disappear.

    But here, to his shame, Revkin, who attended that conference in Toronto, as I did, is doing what looks to be what I could not understand when I saw the reporter for the Globe and Mail do it way back then: allowing himself to be a tool for someone else’s interest rather than reporting the truth as he sees it.

    He does not see it the way he is writing.

  53. David Lewis says:

    PS. I note that when you look up Andy’s article online these days, he’s changed it from what you quote, i.e. here’s your quote:

    “The recent spate of relatively cool years is particularly noticeable because it followed a seesawing from unusually cool temperatures to unusually hot ones in the 1990s, said Vicky Pope of Britain’s climate agency, called the Met Office….”


    “The recent spate of years with stable temperatures is particularly noticeable because it followed a seesawing from unusually cool temperatures to unusually hot ones in the 1990s, said Vicky Pope of Britain’s climate agency, called the Met Office.”

    which is so easy to do in this ephemeral electronic world. However, the damage was done when it hit the streets on paper. I wouldn’t have flown of the handle and written my immediately previous piece had I not read the “cool” word. It is this one word that Andy knew when he was allowing his name to be put on the piece containing it he was opening himself up to the kind of rejection I am giving him. May his children roast, or drown in the rising seas, on the planet he has left them.

    Anyway, I will be visiting my local library to get a copy of the NYTimes that contained this article of Andy’s. If I find that he’s actually done this, its proof his John Chancellor award is a perverted joke. Imagine if Jane Meyer, the co-recipient that year for her reporting on aspects of the Iraq War, was caught lying in her more recent reports.

    Andy isn’t the best reporter on climate science working in the US today: he is an example to all budding reporters of how not to report. His conduct shows how reporting has degenerated as the decline in ad revenue due to reduced circulation has forced revaluation of newspaper stock prices. NYTimes reporters, obviously, face pressures they have never experienced before to write things their audience wants to hear, as opposed to the truth as they see it.

    As opposed to when Hemmingway was alive, we can say the NYTimes today could care less about truth, and it is alarming to witness.

    He’s now changed the word “relatively cool”, which he would have known the instant he typed it to be an outright lie, to “with stable temperatures”, which he knows is an accurate, if incomplete, interpretation of some of the present data.

  54. David Lewis says:

    Hey. Here’s my blast of Revkin, posted to Dot Earth.

    “I see Romm blogged his outrage when you wrote:

    \”“The recent spate of relatively cool years is particularly noticeable because it followed a seesawing from unusually COOL temperatures to unusually hot ones in the 1990s, said Vicky Pope of Britain’s climate agency, called the Met Office….”

    So, I googled the article and saw:

    “The recent spate of years with STABLE temperatures is particularly noticeable because it followed a seesawing from unusually cool temperatures to unusually hot ones in the 1990s, said Vicky Pope of Britain’s climate agency, called the Met Office.”

    Now, obviously, Romm isn’t going to fly off the handle like that over something that didn’t actually hit the streets on paper, and when I go to my local library to confirm, I am, no doubt, going to find that this deed was done.

    I ran into your one year anniversary blog and here’s a quote from there:

    \”To my mind, for most of the issues that will shape this century most profoundly, the old model of journalism is no longer a good fit.\”

    No, what we need now is the new model, where you can publish lies, then change what you’ve published for the online record so when people look it up online they won’t find it, so you can try to boost circulation as you cater to the morons who believe humans are not a large enough influence on the planet to be causing all these things the scientists are so alarmed about. What we don’t need, according to you:

    \”That old form is illustrated by the authority conveyed in a printed front page, or Walter Cronkite’s sign-off on the “CBS Evening News”: “And that’s the way it is….”

    No. We don’t need no stinking Walter Cronkite conviction. What we do need is flexibility. Especially here at the NYTimes, where plummeting ad revenue is leading to lower stock prices, which, as everyone knows leads to less employees and lower paychecks. Again, quoting you:

    \”Whether the issue is terrorism or human-caused climate disruption, the reality is that we don’t know precisely “the way it is,” or what lies ahead.\”

    That’s right. And given that we don’t know precisely what is ahead, that leaves an astonishing amount of room for outright lies. Like the word \”cool\”. Like you don’t know that the present decade is higher in temperature than any previous decade in the record of the last centuries. Like you haven’t known that for years. Like you slipped up and used \”cool\”. Like no one told you to do it. Yes, that’s right, the old model of journalism is no longer a \”good fit\”.

    So here you are, bald faced liar that you are, the guy who would know the instant he wrote it that \”cool\” was not exactly the right word to use there, especially for the guy who won the John Chancellor award for what, who knows now, writing for publication that the planet is experiencing some relatively \”cool\” years as opposed to the hottest on record, changing them in this ephemeral electronic world, not having the guts to leave them up there for history, what, do you think you can go to every library that collects the NYTimes and change that, what is this?

    Its time for you to get out of this job and leave it to someone who is a human being who understands that they and their descendants have to live here and there is an historic debate going on that requires reporters to report the truth as they see it, not what some owner or editor has decided the readers want to hear.

  55. There’s a lot of talk about betting on future climate, but I don’t see any stories of checks changing hands. So is there anyone willing to take me up on the following? I am willing to bet $1000 at evens that 2010 will *not* be the hottest year on record. (I put this one up because the UK Meteorological Office thinks it might be, I suppose because we have an El Nino on.) Details negotiable, but have to be settled before 31 December 2009.