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El Niño 2016 strikes

NASA, via The Guardian (and other old media) is trumpeting catastrophe again. “February breaks global temperature records by ‘shocking’ amount” says the headline. “We are in a kind of climate emergency now,” says Stefan Rahmstorf, from Germany’s Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research.

On the other hand, towards the end of that article, they mention the El Niño. At Watts Up With That, Bob Tisdale provides some analysis and graphs. I think figure 6 provides the most useful overview, showing up to 0.17 degrees C per decade warming depending on who measures it. I suppose this might just be warming since the little ice age, or man-made but not terribly frightening.

A Guardian commenter wrote: “We spend so much time debating and arguing over things like benefits and the economy. Stories like this end up disregarded. The truth seems terrifying – this is the single biggest crisis facing all of humanity.”

I replied: “It’s either the single biggest crisis facing all of humanity, or an el Nino that fits in nicely with the between 0.12 and 0.17 degrees C per decade warming we’ve seen since satellite measurements began (which is what all this turned out to be back in 1998). Personally I hope the economy does well, because people with the wealth of middle-class westerners can cope better with a bit of bad weather than can subsistence farmers in the kinds of places that don’t have economic freedom.”

20 comments to El Niño 2016 strikes

  • PersonFromPorlock

    Just remember that if it’s colder it’s weather; if it’s warmer, it’s climate.

  • Alisa

    I’m cold 🙁

  • Mal Reynolds

    @PersonFromPorlock That’s always my favourite thing to highlight. Given how any “coldest March in x years” is discounted as being weather and the next “warmest February in x years” is suddenly climate and bulletproof evidence. I also love when “Warmest y month in 30 years” is counted as global warming evidence. What was the reason for that warm month 30 years ago then?

  • CaptDMO

    Meanwhile, NOAA says “Oops,never mind”

  • diogenes

    The moment the source of a scare quote turns out to be Stefan Rahmstorf, then you can safely discount it. He is the most discreditable of a peculiarly unedifying bunch of grant-troughers and scare-mongers who “study” climate science. All the honest and honorable people in the field should have disowned him years ago. Perhaps they regard him as a useful idiot.

  • Brad

    Where I live, for the last 20 years, the winters have been milder and summers cooler. As a kid, we’d have -30*F to 100+*F from winter to summer. If “global warming” brings along -5*F to 90*F instead, I’m all for it. Those of you who live on coasts have a good, long run up to move your houses inland.

  • Joe Wooten

    0.17 Deg C is barely inside the accuracy of the best available temperature instruments.

  • Runcie Balspune

    Perhaps someone with a better grasp of statistics than me could enlighten, but the artificial separation of “month” is meaningless. Once you’ve delineated a wide trend there will always be a time when the score will exceed whatever has gone before within the boundaries of each division, unless it reaches a true maximum. Although long term this will play out, in the world of climate, long term is hundreds if not thousands of years. It is inevitable as time goes on that “record breaking” will happen, just because of simple statistics.

    Lets assume two unusually high temperature days happened on 1st and 31st of January, making that month overall high. If those days were shifted by one then January would be lower and the second day would contribute to February, same statistics, different results. It’s all about where you put those start and end lines, in this case it is the start and end of a calendar month, which is a meaningless construct. It doesn’t matter if you compare with the same timescale in previous years, the same rules apply.

    It should be all about trends but that has a flaw because it is always be determined by your starting point. This fact has been used by the champions of “the pause” to great effect because their critics cannot point out the fallacy as their “evidence” is based on the same manipulation of starting points for their “trend”, denouncing one will expose their own flawed calculations.

    A previous article at WUWT has an interesting graph method, but I doubt this will go anywhere as the entire argument is about presentation of data, right from the days when Gore attempted to show a correlation using bad math and kick this whole sorry enterprise off.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Your answers in that comment thread are very sensible. If people really feel the need to experience a crisis “putting mankind in greater danger than it’s ever known before”, Batman v Superman is on general release from the 25th.

  • Rob Fisher (Surrey)

    To be honest I think the underlying trend is real. Obviously if it is getting warmer then you will constantly be breaking “hottest X” records.

    It does look like we just hit the hottest global average temperature in modern times. I don’t think anyone is disputing that.

    But that’s because it’s the latest el Nino on top of that underlying trend. So this latest news is just trying to make drama out of something expected.

    Worth noting that models predict more warning than we are seeing. And it seems like the only evidence that it’s man made is “we can’t find a better explanation”.

  • Ellen

    I believe in current global warming. (We’re still climbing out of the Little Ice Age.) I’m even willing to go with a bit of “anthropogenic”. But the “catastrophic” sticks in my craw. It’s far easier to freeze to death than it is to cook to death, and a longer growing season is good for most crops. Next thing you know, they’ll be telling me warming will make me go blind, and grow hair on the palms of my hands.

    What, me worry?

  • Julie near Chicago

    Brad, do I guess Dakotas? Here in N. Illinois we used to have -10˚ to 98˚ regularly (back in the 50’s), and occasionally close to -30˚ at least and, yes, up over 100˚.

  • Rob Anzac

    This piece on “records” , which probably applies to any records, might be useful.

  • You’ve got to be a special kind of idiot to get worked up about a temperature change of 0.17 Deg Celcius, which is well below the limits for a rounding error in most calculations.

    CAGW alarmists – do please fuck off or alternately Learn2Science.

  • That we are warming at all is not settled science. The statistics of the current pause are reasonable (and tower over the those of the hockey stick as mount everest over the mariana trench) but a headline (“Warming Resumes” could be plausible to read in a year or in ten years, provided it continued ” – But not by Much, So Far”. Also possible -and it’s hard to assess how much less possible, if at all – is that in 30 years, we’ll be back to the 1970s; “Give us lots of authority and money so we can protect you from the looming anthropogenic ice age”.

    The Mediaeval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age are reasonably well attested in northern hemisphere history as well as in measurements. The warmenists’ attempt to write the former out of existence was arguably their most revealing early act as regards the fundamentally unscientific nature of what they were about.

    A side thought: the mid-1970s ‘looming ice age’ idea transformed into the ‘nuclear winter’ idea by the start of the 1980s- just one more reason to hate Thatcher and Reagan – so it never developed a self-standing constituency. I relate this to the fact that it died as the cold war died. This makes me think that climate science was flowing into politics – and so acquiring that cast of mind – in the cycle before the ‘anthropogenic warming’ idea came along. This is the wisdom of hindsight. When global warming first became popular, it never occurred to me that this subject already had form in politicising itself. Although I could see the warming idea was being oversold, I assumed there was some real science at the bottom of it until end-April 2007, when Pachauri’s claim (that the science was settled and it was time to stop discussing it and start deciding what action to take) rang alarm bells in my mind, so started me doing research. By that summer, I no longer regarded the ‘science’ as even probable.

  • Kevin B

    If you examine the people who generated the political impetus behind the CAGW panic you will find that they are all Club of Rome types, and that global warming, (previously global cooling), resource depletion and all the other environmental panics that they have instigated are all means to their end of population control.

    Maurice Strong at the UN, John Holdren in the US, Crispin Tickle who was Maggie’s advisor, Hans Schellenhuber in Germany, (who recently advised the Pope on Global warming), all these guys are more concerned with limiting, (really reducing), the global population than with warming or cooling or ocean acidification or whatever the current crisis.

    The likes of Anthony Watts do a very good job of showing up the shonky science behind CAGW but while these guys and their colleagues and successors hold sway with the political class, all the proper science in the world will not be sufficient to change the current political direction.

    The misanthropes are in charge and they want you dead or enslaved. For the good of the planet, of course.

  • staghounds

    I wonder what all the people who died last year because they couldn’t get clean water, or because of mosquito borne diseases, or who were killed for politics, woyld consider the biggest crisis facing humanity?

    And I like that choice of words. Biggest crisis facing humanity, not biggest crisis humanity is facing. Put all those proles in the passive voice and give warmer temperature a personality.

  • Rob Fisher (Surrey)

    John Galt: some of these numbers come from satellite measurements, not thermometers. And it’s per decade, not in total. The trend does seem to exist, even if I’m not sure about the validity of drawing straight lines through temperature graphs.

  • lucklucky

    “It does look like we just hit the hottest global average temperature in modern times. I don’t think anyone is disputing that.”

    I dispute that. I dispute we can measure earth temperature.

  • John Galt: some of these numbers come from satellite measurements, not thermometers. And it’s per decade, not in total. The trend does seem to exist, even if I’m not sure about the validity of drawing straight lines through temperature graphs.

    Don’t get me wrong. Denial is not just a river in Africa. I am quite prepared to believe that the Earth is on a general warming trend as that has happened in the past and will happen again in the future. As has massive cooling if both the Ice Ages and Snowball Earth theory have any substance.

    What I am not prepared to accept without a LOT MORE EVIDENCE is that climate change is catastrophic during the next few thousand years or that humans are the prime cause of any climate change that is being exhibited.

    Extraordinary claims require substantial evidence and the manipulated graphs put forward by Mann, Bradley & Hughes in 1999 through to the climate proxies of the IPCC and Hadley “Research” centre are more propaganda than science.

    Over the long run global warming is inevitable, but we’re talking hundreds of millions to billions of years (since the Sun gets 10% hotter every billion years), long after you, I and probably all of humanity are either gone or dead.

    Anyone who believes that the current result proves CAGW is real is a fucking idiot.