Friday, November 1, 2013

Gobsmacked! Dumbest article of the day at WUWT

Sou | 1:56 AM Go to the first of 8 comments. Add a comment

Where does Anthony Watts find his cranks**? I don't know who Neil Catto is but he wrote probably one of the silliest, and shortest, articles that WUWT has seen in - oh, maybe several hours!

This is some of what he wrote (archived here):
As part of this presentation I point out that the temperature from 1659 to 2012 has only increased 0.87 Deg C in 353 years, or equivalent to 0.025 Deg C/decade. Considering this is a recovery period from the Little Ice Age it is hardly surprising and just part of natural variation. At this stage I normally get a few “really?” questions.
“The UK MetOffice’s own figures”, I reply.
The other day however was a bit different, someone in the audience asked “so how long will it take to get to the dangerous 2 Degrees C?”
Pause, why hadn’t I worked that one out before? Quick calculation done, 800 years I replied.
“Say again?”
I recalculate, and say “800 years given the current trend”. Gobsmacked audience!

I'm thinking the audience was gobsmacked at the stupidity of Neil's response.  Or maybe that they attended a lecture by someone so silly. Or maybe at him presuming that Central England is the same as the whole world. Or maybe that if he's pretending that has anything to do with global surface temperature trends, he's misrepresenting global warming when he claims that's "equivalent to 0.025 Deg C/decade".

I've discussed the central  England record before, here and here and here and elsewhere.  It's also been pointed out by a knowledgeable reader that the early HadCET data is not reliable, though interesting for historical reasons.  Here is decadal data from the mid-17th century.  I've shaded the "unreliable" time period.  As usual, you can click to see it larger.

Data source: HadCET

Now here is decadal data from 1771 onwards, the time that the record is deemed more reliable.  What you'll see in the animated gif are linear regressions for different periods:- 1771 to the present, 1771 to 1870 and 1871 to the present.  These trend lines are not the same as simply joining a line between two data points like Neil Catto did.

Data source: HadCET

You'll notice that there's not a discernible trend from 1771 to 1870, the R2 is close to zero. After that the temperature starts to go up. And for the past three decades the temperature has been really high with the decadal mean consistently above the twentieth century average.

So let's go back to what Neil Catto wrote.  He said:
the temperature from 1659 to 2012 has only increased 0.87 Deg C in 353 years
The only way he could have jumped to that conclusion was by ignoring all the years in between.  In 1659 the mean temperature is listed as 8.83 degrees and in 2012 the mean temperature is listed as  9.7 degrees.  So that's where he got his "0.87" from.  But if you look at the chart you'll see why that's not an indication of the changes over the period.  (And that's leaving aside the fact that the first 110 years or so of the record is not considered to be reliable.)

What else does Neil Catto claim?  Oh, that's right.  His gobsmacking calculation.  He said it would take 800 years for the temperature to rise 2 degrees "given the current trend".

But which trend is he using?  It's not the current trend.  All he's done is draw a straight line connecting the 1659 data point to the 2012 data point.

In fact, using his methodology I could do another calculation.  The average temperature in 2010 for central England was 8.83 degrees.  In 2012 it was 9.7 degrees.  That's a rise of 0.87 degrees in two years or 0.435 degrees a year.  So at that rate, the temperature would take 4.6 years for the temperature to rise by two degrees.  What does that make it - around July 2016!

Wouldn't you agree that the "trend" from 2010 to 2012 is a lot more "current" than the "trend" from 1659 to 2012 :)

Neil Catto computed a fake trend by arbitrarily picking two years, drawing a line between them and calling it a "current trend".  Here are some more "current trends" for him to think about:

Data source: HadCET

A final word about Central England

Central England is not the entire world.  It's a small area of land in a small island in the North Atlantic Ocean.  That's all.

From WUWT Comments

A few choice comments from the WUWT illiterati (archived here).

Janice Moore grovels in her usual fashion (when she's not mouthing off at people) and says:
October 30, 2013 at 10:47 pm
Hear, hear!
Well done. Thank you for all the time and effort you have dedicated to prevent Envirostalinist tyranny. John Milton would have written a sonnet in your honor, O Valiant Defender of Our Liberties.

Crispin in Waterloo says hopefully:
October 30, 2013 at 11:06 pm
Heh-heh. Well done. And the time will be extended further by 2016. At some point late in my lifetime it may reach the point of ‘never’.

Steve Cords says he's not bothered:
October 30, 2013 at 11:21 pm
One can also ask, “Just what is the right temperature?” or “What is the temperature supposed to be?” Sea levels have risen 5 feet in the last 8,000 years (times and elevations approximate for discussion) and we are suddenly concerned about the last few inches.

Gerry Dorrian says:
October 31, 2013 at 12:38 am
Thank you for this. That this is the met Office’s figures is surely damning!

Peter Miller asks what happened to the conspiracy?:
October 31, 2013 at 1:24 am
I hope someone is hanging on to the original data here, as it sure looks like someone in the Establishment overlooked doing the usual ‘adjustments’.

Tim welham says he thinks there is still a conspiracy:
October 31, 2013 at 1:53 am
Anthony: I believe the CET published figures are ‘adjusted’ before release. Are they any more reliable?

William Astley says it's cooling (excerpt):
October 31, 2013 at 2:06 am
It gets better or worse depending on one’s view of whether lukewarm warming is or is not beneficial. It will take 800 years for the planet to warm 2C assuming 100% of the past warming was due to the increase in atmospheric CO2. Now if Shaviv’s calculation is correct (see attached link for details) and 75% (0.54C ± 0.12C) of the warming in the last 100 years was caused by solar magnetic cycle changes then the planet will cool roughly 0.5C if the very recent grand maximum of solar magnetic cycle activity is followed by a grand minimum. The cooling will last for 80 to 120 years.

Nick luke nitpicks in case an alarmist reads it:
October 31, 2013 at 3:40 am
Just a small quibble…0.87Deg/353years = 0.00246 X 100 = 0.246deg/century. Not 0.025deg/cent. Small typo, I know, but we moan at inaccuracies by the AGW proponents. It makes the difference between your, correct, 800 years and 8000 years…

Kevin Hearle seems to think he is going to live for at least another 637:
October 31, 2013 at 3:42 am
Mmmm so by 2650 we will see all the benefits of increased temperature provided we aren’t falling into a Maunder Minimum or worse which might be worth it to see the shock and horror on the face of Warmists

Chris Wright is oblivious to the fact that Central England had its two hottest years in the entire 353 year record in 2006 and 2011 and says "it's getting consistently colder":
October 31, 2013 at 4:40 am
If you zoom into the CET graph, it shows that the English climate has been rapidly and consistently getting colder since 2000. And it certainly feels colder.

**Cranks is apparently the mot du jour for climate science deniers.


  1. "Where does Anthony Watts find his cranks? "

    I suppose "cranks" refers to both authors and readers.

    1. I don't think enough common characteristics of cranks map onto typical readers sufficiently to call those readers "cranks." But looking at traits described by Dudley or Gardner, many of Watts' authors seem to fit almost perfectly.

      The case here of climate change seems a bit different to the typical situation of a loner crank railing against Einstein, or an enterprising crank selling an energy miracle. By chance, outcomes of a climate crank's outsider inclinations and lack of inhibitions align with far more than the usual number of readers' preferences. For cranks who happen to fixate on climate change it's the golden age, truly.

      Anyway, we struggle with words to describe people writing about climate who are unhinged from facts. Why invent a new word? Crank works just fine. They're climate cranks.

    2. Quite by chance, if you plot the trend line from 1659 to 2012, and multiply by the number of years (353) you get almost the same result - an increase of 0.92 degrees. But I guess he didn't actually do this, as he stated the difference was 0.87, as you say.

      On the subject of recent trends - try this for an exercise. Fill in the last 2 months of 2013 with average temperatures for those months - even a little above, if you like - and then plot the trend for the last 25 years. Not 1986 to 2011, but 1988 to 2013. You may get a shock.

  2. Believe it or not, but Neil Catto is a meteorologist, the director of a company called "weather research", which is kinda the same as the company "weatherology". I recommend you google that last one and take a look around the website. It's entertaining... :-)


  3. Piers "It's the Moon!" Corbyn also claims to provide a weather service. Is it the same company perhaps? Corbyn famously declared that we'd already entered a long-term cooling phase in 2007. Not heard much from him since the Queensland floods, which he blamed on - you've guessed it - the Moon.

    It's just one stream of gibberish after another at WUWT these days. No Loonie Left Behind. I suspect it's no longer Watts's hand on the tiller.

    1. cugel, I once again recommend you google "weatherology". It's not a weather service, and the name perhaps not ironically reminds me of astrology.


    2. "Weatherology - A Unique Life Science". Can't argue with that :)

      More uniqueness : "Our background is a little strange but unique, with years of experience in Meteorology and Sales & Marketing ...".

      I'm glad I made the time.

  4. I'm somewhat surprised that Mr Catto didn't choose a first data point back in the Eocene, when crocodiles basked on the shores of Greenland. If he'd started his 'trendline' back then he could have claimed the world is seriously cooling and we need the additional anthropogenic CO2 to keep us warm.

    On second thoughts this is a rather stupid suggestion that insults Mr Catto's intelligence. I apologise.


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