Memo to deniers, delayers, and disinformers: When I propose a sucker bet, the only conclusion you can draw is that I’m looking for suckers.

Our story so far:

On September 22, I debunked the global cooling myth for the umpteenth time (see “NYT‘s Revkin pushes global cooling myth (again!) and repeats outright misinformation“).  To see whether the status quo media and the professional Deniers, Delayers, and Disinformers believe the cooling crap they are pushing, I proposed what should be seen as a generous bet (from their unscientific perspective):

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.

Led by Triple D All Star Chip Knappenberger (“Is Joe Romm a ‘Global Lukewarmer’?”) my attempt to call out suckers deniers who insist we are entering a long-term cooling, was somehow turned into a statement of my belief as to what the science says is going to happen on our current emissions path.  What is especially bizarre about that is I have written about 2 million words on the subject, so my views are no mystery at all (see, for instance, “Intro to global warming impacts“).

What is especially laughable is that the deniers, led by Knappenberger, who should know better (well, I guess that’s a contradiction in terms), then ascribe their ignorance of the science to my statement and with an anti-scientific linear extrapolation for what I am supposedly predicting the warming will be this entire century.  That is to say, because I supposedly believe we will only warm 0.15°C next decade (which I don’t), that means I am also asserting we will only warm only on the low-range this century, perhaps only 1.5°C.

That represents such a staggering lack of understanding of the basic science of climate change that it should immediately disqualify anyone who advances it from the debate — including Thomas Fuller, who took my bet!  In fact, as everyone who understands the science knows, the warming is projected to be quite nonlinear, in part because the climate system has feedbacks, and the major ones all appear to be positive (see here).  Also, aerosols (human and volcanic) have “dimmed” or muted the full impact of the anthropogenic greenhouse gases we would have seen so far (to a remarkable degree, see here).

Anyone who bothered to look at the IPCC report, which you would think is the minimum required of someone claiming to be interested in an “intelligent conversation” about the science, would see that.  As the Figure above shows, in the high-end scenarios, like A2, the warming is much slower in the early decades of this century than in the later ones.

Fuller took my bet (see his comment here), but it wasn’t until I saw this inane headline on the Swift Boat smearer’s website (complete with my photo) that I realized just what Fuller did:

Et Tu, Joe Romm? Is … Romm losing confidence in warming predictions? ‘Only willing to bet on 1.5 degree’ temp rise

You just can’t make this stuff up, unless of course you are a Deniers, Delayers, and Disinformers.  Yes, in taking my bet, Fuller wrote:

The funny thing about my wager with Romm is that I believe temperatures will rise by 2 degrees Celsius over this century. If it happens evenly each decade, I lose. What’s even funnier is that Romm believes that temperatures will rise by (I think he has said this) 7 to 9 degrees this century, but he’s only willing to bet on 1.5 degrees. Talk about the courage of your convictions.

[Pause to bang one’s head against the wall repeatedly in a futile hope your eyes are deceiving you.]

Do I criticize Fuller for what “I think he has said” rather than actually taking a few seconds to check his column to see what he actually said? No, Fuller, as I have written many, many, many times, the latest science projects that on our current emissions path, we’ll probably warm about 5°C this century, though the recent Hadley “plausible worst-case scenario” is much higher and can’t be ruled out.  That said, despite the best efforts of your fellow DDD’ers, it looks like a domestic and international climate deal is within reach, so I think we are increasingly likely to avoid 5C this century.

And again, Fuller, it is beyond the pale to claim I’m “only willing to bet on 1.5 degrees.”  Don’t impose you’re misunderstanding of — or refusal to accept — the basic science on me.  The bet was for one decade — who the heck would make a bet for the entire century anyway, Methuselah?  I was trying to find a sucker DDD’er to take my 0.15 C bet for next decade — that’s the only conclusion anyone can draw from my offer.

Query to self:  Should you mock Fuller for not actually understanding the very clear terms of the bet that were laid out, which one of his commenters had to explain to him?  Nah.

But I should and will mock Fuller for posting on my blog and his this:

What I’d like to do is use the bet as a base for starting some kind of intelligenct [sic] conversation–perhaps even with Romm–about getting away from science fiction movies and back to real science. I’m not going to hold my breath, but I will make an honest effort. In fact, I have just issued him this challenge on his weblog:

“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 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.”

Query to self:  Should you mock Fuller for his ironic typo?  Under no circumstances — you yourself make typos all the time that others mock you for and how does that make you feel?

Seriously, Mr. Fuller — and you can call me Dr. Romm — if you are interested in intelligent conversation, you wouldn’t be critiquing me based on a guess as to what you “think” I said, and you wouldn’t have grossly misrepresented what I believe and what my bet means.  This is just a bet, it doesn’t mean I am going to waste time engaging in “debate” with someone whose idea of a debate is to make up stuff about what someone else believes in order to attack it.


If one understands the science, then one understands that there is a very high probability that the next decade will warm more than 0.15 C.  Is that a sure thing?  No.  We could have a super-Pinatubo volcano.  The sun, now in “the deepest solar minimum in nearly a century,” could theoretically hit a 500-year minimum.  We could, I suppose, have multiple major La Ni±as.  But I do expect the next decade will warm 0.25°C compared to the hottest decade on record (i.e. this one), barring one or more really big volcanos.

This certainly isn’t as much of a sucker bet as my big hydrogen bet:

Greg Blencoe wins if hydrogen fuel cell vehicles hit 1% of new sales of the typically-defined car and light truck market in the U.S. during 2015 or any year before. Joseph Romm wins if it is 2016 or any year after.

At least the hydrogen folks don’t go around saying, “Joe Romm believes hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will nearly reach 1% of new sales in 2015.”  Just for the record, though, I don’t.  That is a sucker bet.  It’s questionable whether there will even be a single commercial FCV offered by 2015.  By the way, if Blencoe wants to concede defeat now, I’ll let him cast out for just $800!

Then again, this isn’t my “Of Ice and Men” bet that the Arctic will be 90% ice free by the end of 2020.  I like my chances, obviously, but I think it’s only about 2-to-1.

The 0.15 C is at least 3-to-1.  Sucker bet?  You decide.  Unlike Fuller, I have no desire to “lay off part of my bet” to anyone — though I will donate the money to charity, Orphans International.


25 Responses to Memo to deniers, delayers, and disinformers: When I propose a sucker bet, the only conclusion you can draw is that I’m looking for suckers.

  1. “metaphorically recreate a sense of the running of the bulls”

    In his case, it is more like a running of the bull.

  2. James says:

    Hi Joe, thanks for the excellent website.

    The BBC currently have a ‘global cooling’ nonsense piece on their website, that repeats a lot of points you have debunked many times. However, is there any chance that you could clarify points made by a certain ‘Piers Corbyn’ in the article who talks about solar particles supposedly being more dominant than greenhouse gases. Experience suggests to me that he’s got it wrong; what’s your take on it?

    Keep up the great work

    [JR: On my list!]

  3. caerbannog says:

    Ever so slightly off-topic, but *this* is some scary s**t:

    Direct from the UCLA Climate Change Portal:

    You would have to go back at least 15 million years to find carbon dioxide levels on Earth as high as they are today, a UCLA scientist and colleagues report Oct. 8 in the online edition of the journal Science.

    “The last time carbon dioxide levels were apparently as high as they are today — and were sustained at those levels — global temperatures were 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit higher than they are today, the sea level was approximately 75 to 120 feet higher than today, there was no permanent sea ice cap in the Arctic and very little ice on Antarctica and Greenland,” said the paper’s lead author, Aradhna Tripati, a UCLA assistant professor in the department of Earth and space sciences and the department of atmospheric and oceanic sciences.
    “We are able, for the first time, to accurately reproduce the ice-core record for the last 800,000 years — the record of atmospheric C02 based on measurements of carbon dioxide in gas bubbles in ice,” Tripati said. “This suggests that the technique we are using is valid.

    “We then applied this technique to study the history of carbon dioxide from 800,000 years ago to 20 million years ago,” she said. “We report evidence for a very close coupling between carbon dioxide levels and climate. When there is evidence for the growth of a large ice sheet on Antarctica or on Greenland or the growth of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean, we see evidence for a dramatic change in carbon dioxide levels over the last 20 million years.

    “A slightly shocking finding,” Tripati said, “is that the only time in the last 20 million years that we find evidence for carbon dioxide levels similar to the modern level of 387 parts per million was 15 to 20 million years ago, when the planet was dramatically different.”

    Levels of carbon dioxide have varied only between 180 and 300 parts per million over the last 800,000 years — until recent decades, said Tripati, who is also a member of UCLA’s Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics. It has been known that modern-day levels of carbon dioxide are unprecedented over the last 800,000 years, but the finding that modern levels have not been reached in the last 15 million years is new.

    [JR: This is on my list.]

  4. Tom Fuller says:

    You keep right on talking, Joe. I like people who talk trash before the horses leave the gate. Now, do you want to do that debate?

    [JR: Uhh, I thought I made myself pretty clear here. And the fact that you won’t apologize for and retract your direct misrepresentation of what I have written speaks volumes.]

  5. paulm says:

    Levels of carbon dioxide have varied only between 180 and 300 parts per million over the last 800,000 years — until recent decades.

    This little fact alone points a huge finger at AGW. You don’t need models to highly suspect the human component.

    We have been over 280ppm for around 200yrs and above 300ppm for nearly a century. It’s going to take a miracle to draw down the level below 300ppm any time in the near future. This indicates that we are in for a very large rise in sea level and probably a huge rise over the cenrtries to come.

    The big question now for SLR is what will the profile and rate of the rise be?

  6. Tom Fuller says:

    Actually, I think ‘volumes’ is what comes from you, Joe. I take it that’s a no on the debate thingy, eh?

  7. Joe, you have all my admiration and praise for engaging in this battle – I am stuck wondering if these people are ignorant or evil. But motives are less important than their destructive and harmful message – the equivalent of denying there is a fire in a crowded theater filling with smoke. Tantamount to blocking the exits.

    There are children today who can possibly live to see the year 2100 – their future is robbed by such denialism.

    Excellent graphic…It might be time to extend the dates on our charts to 2150 and 2200…if only to give us the goal of planning that far ahead. The current convention makes 2100 look so much like a terminal date.

    (Just what is the temperature if no one is around to record it?)

  8. TomG says:

    Mr Fuller…
    In paragraph 6 of your article is a direct misrepresentation of what Dr Romm stated.
    In fact it is in direct conflict with your very first paragraph.
    I take it you are not interested in correcting this error?

  9. Scatter says:

    If you want that debate, you should print a correction, no?

  10. MarkB says:

    “If it happens evenly each decade, I lose.”

    Pretty good evidence Fuller doesn’t understand IPCC projections. Perhaps his “2 degree” century-scale prediction is based on extrapolating the average IPCC model run for next decade to the end of the century. Silly. Or perhaps he believes the world will wisely slash emissions to much lower levels.

    Lots of strawmen fallacies being constructed by the denier crowd. Strawmen are usually created when someone has a weak argument.

    Joe, you could lose this bet. The reason why is that while the average GCM shows about 0.2 C warming, many GCM runs show 0.15 C.

  11. MarkB says:

    Tom Fuller (#6),

    Why don’t you address Joe’s comment in #4, rather than cowardly dodging it?

  12. Jeff Green says:

    It appears Tom Fuller would like to be the next Watts Up With That or the next Marc Morano. I would believe that Tom is really only talking to his own audience. SO the “what’s in it for me” scenario, is that Joe would help propel him into a highly recognized denier. Rush Limbaugh might even have him on his show. Could write a book, possible TV circuits, and yes yes even FOX NEWS. Joe you cold give him the chance of a life time. All I’m expecting out of this guy is snarc and recycled denier tripe.

  13. Robert says:

    I’ve got only five words that convey my feelings on all the fine works that Joe is doing,”Yahoo, hit ’em again, harder!
    And to add my 2 cents in reply to #7 Richard, “They are EVIL and probably paid fossil fuel desk jockeys who cringe at Joe’s written truth.” we all would be in a world of hurt if not for a few sharp shooters who won’t hold back! Their minds are poisoned, their eyes are blind and they have no clew as too the harm they cause! Only by calling them out will they return to the dark corners they crawled from!

  14. Lore says:


    Why waste your valuable time with Fuller? From the get-go when he started his blog series he has been seeking to engage the real scientific community. Not to discuss the science as peer-reviewed, rather he seeks to gain some legitimacy in standing toe-to-toe with scientists in promoting the already debunked myths or misconstrued science as foisted by his home boys from WUWT and CA. He’s not looking to win any arguments base on his assertions, he is just looking to be in the “big game“.

    Any request for a debate or attempt by him just to get his name put up somewhere else is in reality a thinly veiled attempt get attention and build up his readership. Obviously taking his lessons from FoxNews and the Limbaugh types. He found a controversial subject where people have a strong set of opinions with chosen sides and pretends to play the devils advocate. While at the same time coddling the chuckleheads in the deniosphere which are easily duped by science gadflies like himself.

    Giving further voice to these amateur science journalists really only encourages them and their deluded readers. I see no reason to take Fuller’s bate and put him on the same footing as yourself.

  15. ccpo says:

    I have a more basic question for Fuller: what the hell do you think needs debating? I believe your real question is, “Joe, will you please come and spank my fat butt for me?”

    The pretense that there *is* a debate of any sort WRT Climate Change is insulting to any and all intelligent and discerning people on the planet.

    Here’s an idea: Why don’t you show us even ONE peer-reviewed scientific paper that has been published AND withstood scrutiny upon publishing? (Oh, and that has to be a legit rag, not a rubber stamp rag.)

    This is a challenge I’ve made all over the internet to many different DDDers and not once gotten an answer to.

    We have the memos. We know the DDDers have lied. We know they continue to. These are FACTS, not suppositions. So, if you wish to be taken seriously, it is incumbent upon you to present science WORTHY of debate.

    Sadly for you, you don’t have any. So let me propose a new bet: Fuller supplies 1 – 5 papers he thinks supports his position and those, in specific, are debated.


  16. MarkB says:

    Lore’s comment (#14) is insightful. There is a large market for global warming denial (as there is for evolution denial, Moon landing denial, Alien abduction stories, etc. to varying degrees) and there are many hacks ready to step up to meet this demand. I personally think this market is starting to become saturated, and Fuller is a bit late to the game.

    There’s a bit of Pielke Jr. strategy with Fuller: pretend to support the science on global warming and take it seriously but proceed to promote denialist material and dubious blog sources while calling mainstream scientists “alarmists”. The strategy is to recast the fringe as legit, objective, and reasonable while sling mud at the thousands of published scientists.

  17. dhogaza says:

    “Joe, you could lose this bet. The reason why is that while the average GCM shows about 0.2 C warming, many GCM runs show 0.15 C.”

    Well, Joe is claiming 3-1 odds, which does acknowledge the fact that he could lose that bet.

    I don’t think he will, though …

  18. Jean-loup says:

    The examiner? Is that not the same people who tried to push for the Mombiot vs. Plimer debate?

    When you cherry-pick you can make nice tarts but careful not to set the oven on too high or you’ll burn the crust. Coal-crusted cherry pie isn’t my idea of a good treat…

  19. pete best says:

    I have studied AGW for around 3 years now and the media at large as well as the deniers denial of the science has taught me a lot about the ery nature of humans and politics. Not all deniers are from the right either, some just do not understand science but know how to spin it!

    If you can spin science then you can spin anything and hence its all a matter of degrees this spinning and we aint talking temperature but telling lies (pork pies as we call em in the UK)

  20. Say what you will about Tom Fuller, he is an expert at Pestle Analysis:

    Whatever the hell that is …

    Good news, though, the 21st century belongs to the United States!

    “So, on the whole, I think this century will belong once again to the Yanks, for good or ill. Not surprising that a Yank should pick his own country, and in a formal Pestle analysis there would be a counterparty picking holes in my analysis. But that’s why we have a comments section here… ”

    Who can argue with that sort of rigorous scientific thinking!

  21. ccpo says:


    Assertion is not proof. Bring the science. And the scientists, for that matter. Latest poll? 97% of climate scientists – yes, climate scientists – think we’re in deep doo-doo.

    Stop lying by assertion and submit your science.


  22. Brian D says:


    Checking back on the Examiner, Thomas Fuller has basically said he’s going to give the money, if he wins, to Steve McIntyre for “climate sanity”.

    I can scarcely believe this!

  23. Did I miss something, or did Fuller redefine the bet?
    “The wager concerns temperatures in 2019–if they are .15 degrees Celsius warmer than 2009, he wins.
    Clearly, you were offering to bet on the 10-year mean, not individual years.

    [JR: The terms of the bet are pretty clear, though the above bet isn’t a bad one, just a tad subject to random fluctuations.]

  24. Andrew Min says:

    Dr. Romm, if you really believe you’re right, why not take up Mr. Fuller on his debate? If you truly are right, you can show the world why he’s wrong.

    [JR: Wrong question. The question is why waste yet more time on him? He isn’t a scientist and he certainly isn’t an expert on climate solutions. He simply isn’t very relevant to the debate.

    He is widely debunked, which should tell you that he puts out a lot of misinformation and disinformation. It is a waste of my time to give him a platform to spread mis- and dis-information and then have to use all my time debunking it.]

  25. Pangolin says:

    Dr. Romm, if I may be of assistance.

    The problem with wrestling in the mud with a pig is that the pig enjoys the exercise. Debating with known liars with no commitment to standards of truth or evidence is wrestling with a pig; you will never come out cleaner once you enter that ring.

    Pointing out the falsehoods of the DDD’s is more than sufficient.