Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Let's just clear this up once and for all. Last year was HOT!

Sou | 1:51 AM Go to the first of 15 comments. Add a comment

Deniers are busy protesting the hottest year on record. Climate disinformers are trying every trick in their book to persuade the dumb denier that it's not so. The dumb denier doesn't need persuading so it's not clear why professional disinformers bother. Perhaps it's to give them something they believe is half plausible (even though it's not). Or perhaps it's just so they can say "it's true - I read it in black and white at WUWT".

WUWT has had a few protest articles already. The latest is a repeat article from Bob Tisdale (archived here). It's not enough for Bob to bore the pants off readers - he has to do it over and over and over again. He's worried that they might have missed his message the last time because it was just one of many wrong messages in a very, very long, very tedious article, which I've covered already.

This time Bob's kept his words to a minimum (or what Bob Tisdale regards as a minimum) and managed by a miracle to stay on point - although he got the point wrong, as usual. (It must have taken a lot of self-discipline for him to do that.)

Now Bob knows that this year has been recorded as the hottest year on record. He knows that the odds of any other year having been hotter are quite low. Much lower than that this year is the hottest. And yet Bob and other deniers are all in a tizz about whether last year was the hottest or was it 2010 or 2005 and are going for full blown conspiracising - that the guvmint is trying to pull a fast one. Not on this topic they aren't.

Getting the numbers right!

Bob and other deniers try to tell you that there is less than a 50% chance that this year is the hottest on record. That's wrong - or should I say it's misleading. The deniers are misinterpreting the numbers.  The reason they got hold of the wrong end of the stick is because of the table that NASA and the NOAA provided at the time of their media conference:

Source: NOAA

David Sanger explained it here at HotWhopper. So what I've done is what I wish NASA and the NOAA had done, so that the professional and amateur climate disinformers would find it more difficult to misrepresent. Here's a version that might have stopped all the nonsense before it started:

I've done two things. I've shown that the percentages are meant to be compared to one another by putting in the total at 100%. I've also converted the percentages to odds (of a sort). The clear favourite is 2014 - from both NOAA and NASA.

David Sanger explained that the percentages mean that on the NASA scale, out of 100%, the most likely hottest year is 2014, at 38% odds. The next most likely is 2010 at 23% odds. That makes 2014 1.6 times more likely than 2010 to be the hottest year on record.

If you go by the NOAA calculations, then 2014 is at 48% odds on to be the hottest year. The next in the running is 2010 at only 18% odds. That means that 2014 is 2.7 times more likely than 2010 to be the hottest year on record.

It's not just David Sanger's comment - there's a tweet from Gavin Schmidt, Director of GISS at NASA.

That's right. While individual years are close to being the record hot year, It's 1½ to almost three times more likely that 2014 is the hottest year in the record to date, than that the second ranked 2010 is.

This effort to dispute the fact that last year was the hottest on record is as silly as denier efforts trying to dispute the 97% consensus. That is, the fact that 97% of science papers that attribute a reason for global warming, attribute it to human activity - principally the burning of fossil fuel.

The ice age isn't coming, folks

The real story for deniers is that the ice age WUWT has been promising them just isn't anywhere to be found. It doesn't really matter whether this year or 2010 was the hottest, the current record will soon be broken again in any case. What matters is that the world is heating up. That we're causing it. That we can stop it before it gets too bad.

Oh, and if you want to look at decadal temperatures, I did a chart for Judith Curry to counter her "past ten years" of denial. That's the real story. That last year was part of a trend to a hotter world.

If you want to rub salt into deniers' wounds, here's another chart, from Gavin Schmidt this time. It also shows very clearly how much hotter the world is getting:

From the WUWT comments

Poor old johnmarshall thinks a record hot 2014 is a "nail in the coffin" of global warming. He's nuts.
January 19, 2015 at 3:15 am
Thanks Bob, another nail in the coffin of CAGW.

nigelf  is under some illusion that a US denier politician, Ted Cruz, will stop global warming. Sacking scientists won't stop global warming.
January 19, 2015 at 3:16 am
They should realize that the Dem’s won’t be in power forever and when that happens the hammer comes down. With Ted Cruz in charge of NASA’s oversight this might come very swiftly. 

M Courtney believes the lies of disinformers like Bob Tisdale. Like most deniers at WUWT, he's a tendency to embrace paranoid conspiracies. It suits his view of the world. He's no head for numbers and doesn't venture far from the safety of WUWT, for fear he'll be contaminated by facts.
January 19, 2015 at 3:53 am
No, there is less than 50% chance that there is no year likelier to have been hottest than 2014.
And the press release misled people into thinking it was more than 50%. Nick, you are still deceived by that media hype.
Doesn’t the lack of integrity at NASA and NOAA disturb you? 

Jimbo has it completely wrong.  The disinformers have been successful at confusing dumb deniers. It's not hard to do. Tell a denier that coal is plant food and they'll love you forever:
 January 19, 2015 at 5:12 amLet’s put it this way:
GISS is 62% certain that 2014 was NOT the hottest year on the record. It’s called spin Nick Stokes and no one is going to spin me. Politicians, journalists and now climastrologists are engaged in this dark art.

GISS has run the numbers and found that the odds of 2014 being the hottest year on record is about 1.6 times greater than that the next hottest 2010 was.

If you want to see the insular mindset of deniers, how about this comment from BruceC, who couldn't imagine venturing outside the safety of deniersville to realclimate.org.  Too scary.
January 19, 2015 at 5:29 am
May I ask a simple, slightly O/T question?
Is Gavin Schmidt allowed to reply or make a guest post here? Is he barred, or is it just a case of him not wanting to share the stage with his critics like a certain, recent TV interview?
Just asking.

The only reason Anthony Watts would have an article by a climate scientist would be so that he can let his lynch mob loose on them. Deniers enjoy that. It's one of the main reasons they go to WUWT.


  1. Jesus these people are so utterly stupid. How can the chart be so hard to understand? Are they just obtuse?


    1. First disinformers saw an opportunity to implant a false idea in deniers' minds. People don't typically think of probabilities in the way they were presented here. Now that it's implanted it will be hard to shift - deniers' brains are rigid, unable to accommodate new ideas and correct misconceptions.

      The disinformer's job is done, partly made easier because of the way NOAA and NASA presented the data. Hopefully they'll do it differently in future.

  2. My experiences is most deniers don't even read the articles - they scroll thru it once then decide if they will share it to as many groups as they possibly can.

  3. I like the probability curves from Gavin Schmidt.

    I had an exchange about "statistical significance", 2-sigma confidence levels etc on RealClimate and they pointed out the curves are better (at least that was what I think they told me).

    I do find the curves easier to understand.

  4. nigelf: They should realize that the Dem’s won’t be in power forever and when that happens the hammer comes down. With Ted Cruz in charge of NASA’s oversight this might come very swiftly.

    Given the central role of the freedom of expression for the poor suppressed mitigation sceptics, the continuous calls to fight the repressive power of the state by the libertarians and the allergy of the conservatives against the nanny state, I am sure that nigelf must have experience an enormous push back, that almost all denizens responded negatively to his suggestion.


    1. Victor, in deniersville, freedom of expression and freedom of speech means silencing all voices except the voice of unreason. As I've said elsewhere:

      (Deniers) fully endorse unfettered free speech (which is the right of every full-blooded proudly conservative white Aussie male), and will do our best to suppress all stray bleeding heart liberals and feminazis who invade our space, so that you can exercise your right to free speech without fear of contradiction.


    2. Yes, most of what gets passed off as 'libertarianism' - at least the right-wing variant that's one of the few growing exports of the increasingly dysfunctional US - is just a function of the narcissism of people who are really Authoritarians; since they stand at the very pinnacle of Liberty in their romantic self-regard, there's nothing much that ain't justified when it comes to crushing those who might dare to speak out agin' 'em...

      They call to mind Dr. Necessiter in the Man With 2 Brains: "If the murder of twelve innocent people can help save one human life, it will have been worth it. "

  5. Well done Sue. That's a very clear way to put it. You nailed it.

    I'll probably rip this explanation off in blog discussions and pretend I thought of it myself, if that's okay.

    1. Lol - of course. I didn't get the table at first myself. It took David Sanger to get the penny to drop. NOAA confused things by including the irrelevant table of what probabilities mean. Their second table had nothing to do with the one that is included above - it was like a free gift to science disinformers.

    2. It is the uncertainties in each year's measurement (2014,2010,2005 and 1998) that causes them to all be potentially the top real absolute value.
      The probability is an estimate by weighting the uncertainties by their position on the temperature axis. See Gavin Schmidt's chart above.
      Sou has done what bookies do and worked the best odds.
      Deniers have conflated the uncertainties and these probabilities or odds to just throw doubt on the measurements themselves. As someone once said 'forgive them father they know not what they do'. Bert

  6. AGW deniers must look forward to a new record year so they can deny it and get another nail into that damn coffin. And if 2015 isn't quite as warm, there's another nail. So all is good in deniersville.

  7. Roy Spencer is also making a fool of himself by using two different treatments of "margin of error".

    He claims that "2014 wasn’t the warmest within the margin of error".

    "Reports that 2014 was the “hottest” year on record feed the insatiable appetite the public has for definitive, alarming headlines. It doesn’t matter that even in the thermometer record, 2014 wasn’t the warmest within the margin of error. "

    Yet earlier he happily described 2014 as the "3rd warmest" in the UAH satellite record.

    "2014 was Third Warmest Year Since 1979, but Just Barely"
    "2014 was the third warmest year in the 36-year global satellite temperature record, but by such a small margin (0.01 C) as to be statistically similar to other recent years, according to Dr. John Christy, a professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at The University of Alabama in Huntsville. "

    To spell it out - you would expect Spencer to agree with "2014 was the warmest year since 1880, but just barely"

    Instead he claims "2014 wasn’t the warmest within the margin of error"!

    What's up with that bullshit Roy?

    1. OMG he didn't, did he?

      2014 definitely was the warmest on record, within the margin of error.

      His article is appalling, look how he has substituted the word "mildest" for "warmest"! And his usual IPCC bashing, putting his political clap-trap at the top of his article before he even discusses his article, etc.

      He is lying by omission of course. If he was worried about margins of error he should have pointed out the actual value may be have been cooler, but it could have just as easily been warmer.

  8. There appears to be a typo in the table.

    "GISS has run the numbers and found that the odds of 2014 being the hottest year on record is about 1.6 times greater than that the next hottest 2010 was." And the odds in the table show the odds are 1.6 to 1.

    "If you go by the NOAA calculations, then 2014 is at 48% odds on to be the hottest year. The next in the running is 2010 at only 18% odds. That means that 2014 is 2.7 times more likely than 2010 to be the hottest year on record." But the odds in the table show 1.1 to 1, not 2.7 to 1. To borrow a phrase - what's up with that?

    Can the table be corrected? It is otherwise a useful resource.

    1. It's coincidence, Mark. I could have chosen different words, perhaps.

      The odds in the table columns are calculated by this formula:
      odds = (1/prob)-1 for each line item.

      The "times greater" and "times more likely" is just a comparison of two years. For GISS, the comparison is between 2014 and 2010. 2014 is 0.48/0.18 = 2.7 times more likely than 2010 to be the hottest year.

      The odds column in the table is for all the years listed. So the odds for 2014 to be the hottest year out of the years listed in the table, using GISS calculations is (1/0.48)-1=1.1.


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