Monday, July 22, 2013

WUWT Misquote of the Week?

Sou | 8:56 PM Go to the first of 5 comments. Add a comment

It could be that Senator Vitter did say this somewhere along the way, I am not about to go through three plus hours of Senate hearings to find out.  However it isn't something that I can find President Obama saying.  It looks to have morphed from "faster than was predicted ten years ago" to "accelerated during the past 10 years".  From WUWT today:

Here is Senator Vitter accurately quoting President Obama (approx 1 hour 53 minutes in):
.. a statement of President Obama in asking for the data, the science behind it and President Obama said quote: "The temperature around the globe is increasing faster than was predicted even ten years ago" ...close quote.
Which seems to have come from this response from President Obama to a question by a journalist, Mark Landler of the New York Times, back in November 2012.  Here is a fuller transcript:
What we do know is the temperature around the globe is increasing faster than was predicted even ten years ago. We do know the ice cap is melting, faster than was predicted even five years ago. We do know there have been extraordinarily, an extraordinarily large number of severe weather events here in North America but also around the globe.  And I am a firm believer that climate change is real, that it's impacted by human behaviour and carbon emissions and as a consequence I think we've got an obligation to future generations to do something about it.

I don't think there was a particular prediction for global surface temperatures for only ten years out.  However here's one thing that's warming way faster than almost anyone anticipated, the Arctic - as evidenced by this chart of the minimum volume of Arctic sea ice each year since 1979:

Data source: PIOMAS
In the IPCC report, AR4, it was reported that climate models (AOGCM's) tended to overestimate sea ice.  In this recent news item, last year's record low Arctic ice extent is referred to as "astonishing".  (That article also discusses the rapid disappearance of northern hemisphere snow this May.)

President Obama has referred on at least one other occasion to a warming faster than anticipated "five or ten years ago".  Here is  another quote in context from a talk given back in May this year (the part in bold):
We still have a situation in which, on the one hand, our energy future is more promising than we’ve ever allowed ourselves to believe.  We will probably be a net exporter of traditional fossil fuels over the next 20 years -- within the next 20 years, probably a net exporter of natural gas in the next three or four years -- something that could not be imagined even five, 10 years ago -- because of the dynamism and technology that America has produced. 
But the flipside is we also know that the climate is warming faster than anybody anticipated five or 10 years ago, and that the future of Bettylu’s grandkids, in part, is going to depend on our willingness to deal with something that we may not be able to see or smell the way you could when the Chicago River was on fire, or at least could have caught on fire, but is in some ways more serious, more fundamental. 
To see how fast the warming was anticipated ten years ago, I refer the reader to the IPCC TAR (Third Assessment Report) from 2001.  Climate scientists as a general rule don't make predictions out for such short periods as five or ten years, with some exceptions.


  1. Yes, when I wrote my post about this I missed that Barack Obama had not actually claimed that global warming had accelerated. Teach me to check things like this carefully. When WUWT tries to rebut what someone has said, one can't assume that the person actually said what WUWT claims they have said.

  2. It appears that every post Watts has written about those senate hearings has involved a misquote or a strawman (e.g. the one about donwnpours morphing into floods). What a sad man.

    Also, what does it say about America that they are still having senate hearings on something that the rest of the world has accepted and is moving onto finding solutions for?

    1. Unfortunately, the deniers still have a lot of friends in the US Congress, most (but not all) in the Republican Party. It's because of the perfect storm of their reliance on fossil fuel money machine (exemplified in the Koch Brothers), their rigid "free-market at all costs" ideology, and they gut-level dislike of all things Obama.

  3. Ah, Sou, c'mon. You know PIOMAS is only a freakin' *model* /sarcasm

    Meanwhile, it is early days yet in the Arctic melt season. But the daily NSIDC extent graphic makes for compelling viewing:


    It looks like 2013 might wind up similar to 2012 come September. 2 years in a row of record minimum sea ice extent? Death spiral, indeed.

    Wishing for this year's minimum extent to exceed that of last year is indeed a morbid sort of wish. But my rationale is that anything that might cause the public at large to finally realise that this isn't all some 'warmista' hoax might be a good thing in the long run, as long as we get the necessary wake up call without too much loss of life or... well, you know. That undefinable thing that somehow holds it all together even though civilisation as a whole is always close to a tipping point of one kind or another.


    1. ETA: 2013's sea ice extent would be below the -2 SD mark as well as 2012's, if the NSIDC hadn't changed their baseline period (as recently as 1st July just past!) from 1979 - 2000 to 1981 - 2010. A distinction that is not too subtly lost on our Willard "explain that baseline thingy to me again" Tony.



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