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Matt McGrath’s El Nino Scaremongering

October 30, 2017

By Paul Homewood



h/t Joe Public


Matt McGrath is getting worked up about a natural weather event!



Concentrations of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere surged to a record high in 2016, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).


Last year’s increase was 50% higher than the average of the past 10 years.

Researchers say a combination of human activities and the El Niño weather phenomenon drove CO2 to a level not seen in 800,000 years.

Scientists say this risks making global temperature targets largely unattainable.

This year’s greenhouse gas bulletin produced by the WMO is based on measurements taken in 51 countries. Research stations dotted around the globe measure concentrations of warming gases including carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.

The figures published by the WMO are what’s left in the atmosphere after significant amounts are absorbed by the Earth’s "sinks", which include the oceans and the biosphere.

2016 saw average concentrations of CO2 hit 403.3 parts per million, up from 400ppm in 2015.

"It is the largest increase we have ever seen in the 30 years we have had this network," Dr Oksana Tarasova, chief of WMO’s global atmosphere watch programme, told BBC News.

"The largest increase was in the previous El Niño, in 1997-1998, and it was 2.7ppm; and now it is 3.3ppm. It is also 50% higher than the average of the last 10 years."

El Niño impacts the amount of carbon in the atmosphere by causing droughts that limit the uptake of CO2 by plants and trees.

Emissions from human sources have slowed down in the last couple of years according to research, but according to Dr Tarasova, it is the cumulative total in the atmosphere that really matters as CO2 stays aloft and active for centuries.

Over the past 70 years, says the report, the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere is nearly 100 times larger than it was at the end of the last ice age.

Rapidly increasing atmospheric levels of CO2 and other gases have the potential, according to the study, to "initiate unpredictable changes in the climate system… leading to severe ecological and economic disruptions".

The study notes that since 1990 there has been a 40% increase in total radiative forcing. That’s the warming effect on our climate of all greenhouse gases.

"Geological-wise, it is like an injection of a huge amount of heat," said Dr Tarasova.

"The changes will not take 10,000 years, like they used to take before; they will happen fast. We don’t have the knowledge of the system in this state; that is a bit worrisome!"

According to experts, the last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO2 was three to five million years ago, in the mid-Pliocene Epoch. The climate then was 2-3C warmer, and sea levels were 10-20m higher due to the melting of Greenland and the West Antarctic ice sheets.

Other experts in the field of atmospheric research agreed that the WMO findings were a cause for concern.

"The 3ppm CO2 growth rate in 2015 and 2016 is extreme – double the growth rate in the 1990-2000 decade," Prof Euan Nisbet from Royal Holloway University of London, UK, told BBC News.

"It is urgent that we follow the Paris agreement and switch rapidly away from fossil fuels. There are signs this is beginning to happen, but so far the air is not yet recording the change."



There is nothing unusual at all about this increase in CO2. It is a result of a perfectly natural event, El Nino.

In fact, last year the BBC’s Jonathan Amos forecast this exact thing:


A big spike in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels means the greenhouse gas is about to pass a symbolic threshold.

Twenty-sixteen will very likely mark the first time the concentration of CO2, as measured atop Hawaii’s famous Mauna Loa volcano, has been above 400 parts per million for the entire year.

The forecast is from the UK Met Office.

It says carbon dioxide levels have seen a surge in recent months as a result of the El Niño climate phenomenon, which has warmed and dried the tropics.

These conditions not only limit the ability of forests to draw down CO2 from the atmosphere but also trigger huge fires around the globe that inject extra carbon into the air.

This means the instruments at Mauna Loa, which maintain the benchmark record of CO2, are unlikely to see any month in 2016 where the concentration dips below 400ppm (that is, 400 molecules of CO2 for every one million molecules in the atmosphere).

To be clear: the value has no particular significance for the physics of the climate system; it is just a number. But it has resonance because the last time CO2 was regularly above 400ppm was three to five million years ago – before modern humans existed.

"There’s nothing magical about this number," said Prof Richard Betts at the Met Office’s Hadley Centre in Exeter.

"We don’t expect anything suddenly to happen. It’s just an interesting milestone that reminds us of our ongoing influence on the climate system," he told BBC News.

The usual trend seen at the volcano is for the CO2 levels to rise in winter months and then to fall back as the Northern Hemisphere growing season kicks in. Last year most months were above 400 with only three below.

Ordinarily, one expects the carbon dioxide concentration to rise by an average of about 2ppm per year, but the team expects a record rise in 2016 of 3.15ppm, plus or minus 0.53ppm.

The scientists used a seasonal climate model to predict sea-surface temperatures in the Eastern Pacific – where the El Niño shows itself most obviously – and then linked these to a statistical relationship with CO2 to generate a picture of what levels would probably look like across the calendar year.

This gives an average for 2016 of 404.45, with a September low of 401.48 (again with errors of plus or minus 0.53ppm).


The main reason is that warmer seas during El Nino mean that CO2 is outgassed, something that is pretty basic physics, Le Chatelier’s Principle.

Matt McGrath also repeats this howler:


According to experts, the last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO2 was three to five million years ago, in the mid-Pliocene Epoch. The climate then was 2-3C warmer, and sea levels were 10-20m higher due to the melting of Greenland and the West Antarctic ice sheets.


The implication is that higher levels of CO2 led to a warmer climate. In fact, the reverse is true.

Warmer seas meant that more CO2 was outgassed.

If there was any validity to AGW theories, warming would have lead to more CO2 in the atmosphere, which would have led to more warming, which in turn would have raised CO2 levels, which would have increased temperatures further, etc etc.

In other words, runaway warming.

The fact that it did not happen proves that CO2 is not the dominant driver it is made out to be.

  1. Patsy Lacey permalink
    October 30, 2017 10:03 pm

    are these the famous water cooling towers which were the subject of the complaint to the BBC only a few weeks ago?Patsy Lacey

    • October 30, 2017 10:57 pm

      no they are smoke towers, so the BBC has finally make progress.

      • Gerry, England permalink
        October 31, 2017 1:44 pm

        Still looks more like steam than smoke coming out?

      • Tom O permalink
        October 31, 2017 5:31 pm

        Odd, but I have never seen smoke dissipate in that manner, but I sure have seen steam do so.

      • Stuart Brown permalink
        October 31, 2017 7:16 pm

        By the time it’s been through filters, scrubbers etc what comes out of a power station chimney is CO2 and H2O isn’t it? You can’t see the CO2 bit and it just goes off to feed some plants, lest I be mis-understood. The H2O bit is what you’re looking at.

  2. Ian Magness permalink
    October 30, 2017 10:40 pm

    The more I read about ENSO cycles and the profound effect that the relative strengths of the associated El Ninos and La Nina’s have on such weather facets as near-surface temperatures and regional ACEs, the more I am beginning to wonder if climate and weather modelling should just concentrate on ENSO and forget much of the rest, especially CO2 levels. It is dawning on me that if you could predict the strength of El Ninos and La Ninas both in the short term, and also their relative strength in the longer term (which would result in net periods of heat energy release from, or absorption back into, the oceans), you could achieve infinitely more than the combined efforts of thousands of CO2-obsessed climate modellers combined to date. It may not be all about ENSO but its impacts seem far more important to me than CO2.

    • 1saveenergy permalink
      October 30, 2017 11:56 pm

      “It is dawning on me that if you could predict the strength of El Ninos and La Ninas both in the short term, and also their relative strength in the longer term ….”

      Well done for working it out, for more detail read Bob Tisdale

    • Broadlands permalink
      October 31, 2017 12:24 am

      It might be worth recalling that the record high global temperature was in 1998 and it FOLLOWED the record 1997 El-Nino during the 1998 record LOW La-Nina. The heat from the 1997 El-Nino released oceanic CO2? which caused the global temperature???

      That El-Nino has disappeared and ENSO has been in “neutral” mode all 2017. Just this past month it has turned to La-Nina mode. ENSOs are unpredictable.

    • October 31, 2017 11:25 am

      That is such a dangerous idea that The Team deployed a full assault team to counter it:

      Click to access FosteretalCommentJGR10.pdf

    • Gerry, England permalink
      October 31, 2017 1:49 pm

      Heretic! Stone him!

      Funny how the Met O and other warmists always omit the El Nino bit when hyperventilating about record warm years. Seems the eastern USA is seeing temps below freezing and even ‘hard freeze’ some weeks ahead of the average. Strange in a warming world.

      • November 1, 2017 1:59 pm

        I live in northern West Virginia just 8 miles south of the Mason-Dixon Line and have not had a killing frost yet. We have had a warm and dry fall until the past week. However, just to the east in Preston and Tucker Counties which are in the Allegheny Mountain range, there has been snow.

  3. tom0mason permalink
    October 30, 2017 10:52 pm

    Well done volcanoes, oceans, and humans making bread, beer, and burning fuels, and all that CO2 from streams and rivers (see

    Keep up the good work!

    Onwards to 600ppm and beyond…

    • October 31, 2017 2:23 pm

      Actually Tomo, there is!

      We are all a product of our time and ‘our time’ is one of low levels of CO2. If levels rise much higher than 10,000 ppm we are in trouble (not sure about other mammals).

      • November 1, 2017 2:02 pm

        We and other mammals have survived periods with wide temperature and CO2 fluctuations. This means we are “genetically predisposed” and have the ability to roll with the ecological punches. Otherwise, we would not be here to hand-wring over it.

  4. avro607 permalink
    October 30, 2017 11:43 pm

    To Ian above.Read Bob Tisdale”s work on ENSO.He has already done the work.Very good it is too.

  5. avro607 permalink
    October 30, 2017 11:57 pm

    The blatant propaganda by the BBC is sickening as usual.But the important question is to ask why the Govt.allows this blatant breach of mandated impartiality.But as our Socialist Govt. well knows;to control the people,you need to control the media.
    Red Labour,Red Tories,no difference.

  6. 1saveenergy permalink
    October 31, 2017 12:07 am

    BBC 10 o’clock news had a large bit on this never mentioned actual leavels just said ‘unprecedented’ several times & showed pictures of walrus (from blue planet) the new polar bear.

    Ian, I see avro607 got in first,(:-))

  7. tom0mason permalink
    October 31, 2017 12:25 am

    There is no naturally occurring upper limit to CO2 level that life on this planet can not handle. Not that the BBC could ever say that.
    Just remember when all that coal was trees the globe had lots of flourishing life.

    • Dung permalink
      October 31, 2017 2:25 pm

      Actually Tomo, there is!

      We are all a product of our time and ‘our time’ is one of low levels of CO2. If levels rise much higher than 10,000 ppm we are in trouble (not sure about other mammals).

      • tom0mason permalink
        October 31, 2017 3:55 pm

        Your probably correct in saying that 10,000 ppm would cause us many problems.
        However given the current rate of increase in CO2, and discounting any undue extraterrestrial events, I find it difficult to foresee this ever happening. When you get over 1,000 ppm plant life, including mosses, algae [including algae within ice], phytoplanktons and bacteria, etc., would be quite difficult to suppress on a global scale — probably there would be an ‘unprecedented’ explosion in plant life growth. 🙂

    • Dung permalink
      October 31, 2017 2:43 pm

      The use of the word ‘unprecedented’ is totally out of order since for the first 2.5 billion years of its life, the atmosphere of our planet was 100% CO2. There was no Oxygen until about 2 billion years ago.

      • November 1, 2017 2:13 pm

        That is when life in the sea began pumping out O2–stromatolites, for example–a cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) which can be seen today in Shark Bay, Australia. As the atmospheric gases built up (they are now referred to as “greenhouse gases” and presumed evil) and atmosphere which blocked out ultraviolet light, life could survive on land without being fried. That led to a geologically rapid burgeoning of life on land. The plants which formed the coalfields were tree-sized members of the Lycopods (we now have the trailing ground pines) and Equisetums (now small scouring rushes or horse tails). They had no secondary growth (no wood) or seeds, but were spore producing.

  8. John F. Hultquist permalink
    October 31, 2017 12:50 am

    Over the past 70 years, says the report, the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere is nearly 100 times larger than it was at the end of the last ice age.

    Increase? Say it was 0.00033, and now it was 0.033. That’s 100 times larger.
    I am guessing at numbers because I have no idea what the quote is supposed to mean.

    • Graeme No.3 permalink
      October 31, 2017 9:37 am

      Lowest level 170ppm, increase 235ppm (Max) Around a 55% increase if you take the present level vs the minimum. 138% or 1.38 times using the increase vs lowest ice Age level.

  9. Athelstan permalink
    October 31, 2017 1:44 am

    “Record surge of atmospheric CO2 seen in 2016” goes the headline,

    yeah, yeah “record surge” of alarmunist hot air more like.

    On a loop.

    Year on year it is the same old hype………………. anyone would think that there’s a climate gabfest coming up oooh er yeah there is – what a surprise!

    For forks sake, isn’t it always the way of it – preposterous scaremongering and hyerbole to ‘big up’ the UNIPCC guff festival.

    Jobs and livelihoods at stake here and not least, the 5* hotels, free hols. limos, booze ups, more booze ups and virtue signalling ad nauseum – for all delegates.

  10. October 31, 2017 5:22 am

    Reblogged this on Wolsten and commented:
    More dire anti-science from the BBC.

  11. October 31, 2017 6:18 am

    It was very noticeable that when this item first appeared on the BBC news yesterday morning that it was accompanied by a picture of a heavily polluted and smog-shrouded city, probably Beijing. The clear intention of the BBC is to associate in viewers minds the idea that CO2 is responsible for all the pollution that we can see. The BBC is not fit-for-purpose as a responsible public broadcaster.

  12. Stonyground permalink
    October 31, 2017 7:46 am

    So all those windmills and solar panels were a complete waste of money then?

    The good news is that by trumpeting a huge rise in CO2, the alarmists are going to be left trying to explain why it isn’t getting any warmer.

    • Mike Jackson permalink
      October 31, 2017 9:29 am

      “Never apologise; never explain” has always been a workable principle.

      They will just claim that it is getting warmer. Prove it isn’t! With the use of long-term averages as the base and “anomalies” as the data of choice you can (at least in theory) claim “the warmest x ever” on a real-world temperature lower than 10 years ago.

      And assuming that Global Average Temperature is a meaningful metric in the first place which even Hansen admits isn’t the case. “Fantasy”,as oldbrew rightly says below.

      We really must learn to concentrate on the fact that this is nothing to do with science and never was. Any old sciencey-sounding rubbish will do to keep our eyes off the man behind the curtain. This is all about environmental politics and unless we hammer away at that aspect we are fighting the wrong war.

      • Gerry, England permalink
        October 31, 2017 1:52 pm

        When you look at the ‘global’ temperature monitoring points and then factor in the fiddling they do, the global surface datasets are not fit for purpose.

  13. October 31, 2017 8:41 am

    They talk of ‘global temperature targets’ but there isn’t a global temperature, and never will be. It’s all fantasy.

    • October 31, 2017 9:29 am

      This is the same BBC that issued themselves a reprimand for Nigel Lawson being a sceptic. This by the BBC is not even close to being in the realms of realism or scientifically factual. Are they going to issue another reprimand to themselves.

  14. Tim Hammond permalink
    October 31, 2017 9:48 am

    The most stupid claim is surely that going from 400ppm to 403ppm means we now have the highest concentration for 800,000 years. Let’s count the stupid:

    1. How accurate were the measurements 800,000 years ago? We know to within 3ppm?

    2. How did the figure go up and then come down without passing 402ppm and 401ppm? and all the other figures?

    3. How accurate is the current 403ppm figures?

    Presumably then last yea’s level was the highest for 799,999 years or something and the previous year some other massive figure.

    All nonsense without any attempt to understand the claim being made.

  15. Stonyground permalink
    October 31, 2017 10:17 am

    I think that it has reached the stage where, if it were true, the constant warming year after year would actually be noticeable without having to quote the numbers from various temperature records. If the global temperature really had been steadily rising year after year for several decades, by now it would be so obvious that no one could deny it, the winters so mild and the summers so blisteringly hot.

    • CheshireRed permalink
      October 31, 2017 12:30 pm

      Surely the Pause has killed any realistic chance of AGW being correct? Leave aside the theory for second (where there’s constant disagreement) – on observational grounds alone it’s dead, which explains alarmists’ fury.
      In the past 20-30 years apparently we’ve put some 30% of ALL human CO2 emissions into the atmosphere, yet there’s been so little atmospheric warming we’re discussing the concept of a Pause. That kills the ‘instant response’ to increased CO2 and worse still for alarmists it also completely nails the cumulative ‘locked-in’ claim too. If future warming really was
      ‘locked-in’ then why has the previous 70% of human-emitted CO2 from the past 100+ years had essentially zero effect on atmospheric temps these past 20 years? (Also note how alarmists have tried to shift the narrative to include ocean heat content once it was clear atmospheric temps weren’t playing ball)
      As Paul says this kills the ‘runaway warming’ nonsense stone-cold dead. It’s absolutely disgraceful that people who should know better refuse to acknowledge this self-evident reality in order to perpetuate their careers, reputations and earnings.

  16. A C Osborn permalink
    October 31, 2017 11:56 am

    This Comment needs a lot of scrutiny “since 1990 there has been a 40% increase in forcing”.
    CO2 in 1990 was around 356 and is now 403, ie an increase of 47ppm or an increase of about 15%.
    How can that possibly equate to a 40% increase in forcing?

    • Athelstan permalink
      November 1, 2017 7:51 am

      Cos when generation snowflake or diane abbot do the math, any figure/sum/computer generated GIGO is possible and “forcing” such an emotive term – right?

  17. CheshireRed permalink
    October 31, 2017 12:12 pm

    Notice how the BBC, Guardian et al yet again use carefully-worded phrases to present the grimmest picture possible. Actual human emissions have peaked and levelled off these past 2-3 years. So the narrative; ‘record CO2’ isn’t backed up by observed (or claimed…) human emissions, which is the only element we can influence. Awkward!

    • Nordisch-geo-climber permalink
      October 31, 2017 12:19 pm

      When using search engines – as many of the near 6 million who have read Paul’s pages will know – simply add “-BBC” in the search window and eventually that will permeate the system and gain some currency (or gain traction as they say in the City these days), e.g.
      “trace fossils -BBC”

  18. Simon from Ashby permalink
    October 31, 2017 2:07 pm

    This article has caused me to re-read “180 YEARS OF ATMOSPHERIC CO2 GAS ANALYSIS BY CHEMICAL METHODS” by Ernst-Georg Beck.

    I cannot provide a link but a google search will find it.

    This shows that CO2 concentrations vary with natural climate changes; seasonally, diurnally and even with wind direction.

    Measurements show that CO2 concentrations have been higher than 400ppm as recently as the 1940s and above 300ppm for much of the period from 1857 onwards.

    These chemical methods, in spite of being well established measuring techniques used by highly competent scientists, have been discounted because they do not fit the meme. The scientists doing the discounting fell into the classic trap of deciding the result and excluding everything that didn’t fit. Anything that fell outside of 10% of the values provided by ice cores was declared unreliable, which was almost all of it.

    Those that haven’t I recommend a read.

    • HotScot permalink
      October 31, 2017 2:26 pm

      Simon from Ashby

      PDF link here.

      Click to access EE_18-2_Beck.pdf

      • Jack Broughton permalink
        November 1, 2017 9:55 am

        Really interesting paper, that would be immediately dismissed by the believers. I have always had a suspicion that ice-core measurements were not very robust science as CO2 diffuses through ice.

        CO2 is virtually fully transparent to solar radiation and the fiddles to produce feedback and amplification of the radiative forcing function (RFF) are still being regurgitated by the brainwashers: I even saw one claim recently that the RFF is accelerating rapidly, when it is an unmeasurable estimate of atmospheric properties!

      • HotScot permalink
        November 1, 2017 10:33 am

        Jack Broughton

        I understand after double blind peer review and publication it was roundly vilified. Which, of course, it would be.

  19. Wellers permalink
    October 31, 2017 5:31 pm

    You are partially correct in quoting Le Chetalier’s principle, as it can be applied in a wide range of scientific disciplines.
    However it would be more accurate to invoke Henry’s Law that states that the amount of dissolved gas is proportional to its partial pressure in the gas phase. The proportionality factor is called the Henry’s law constant, which usually decreases with temperature in the range 0-40 C. So the solubility of gases typically decreases with increasing temperature.

  20. Tom O permalink
    October 31, 2017 5:36 pm

    A great example of how to shoot yourself in the foot, or some other part of your anatomy –

    “Researchers say a combination of human activities and the El Niño weather phenomenon drove CO2 to a level not seen in 800,000 years.”

    And between then and now was how many ice ages? Are we really suppose to worry with such knowledge being rendered? And what else does that imply? Potentially, that that many ice ages AND more ago, the CO2 was even higher!

  21. Svend Ferdinandsen permalink
    October 31, 2017 6:23 pm

    Has the grow rate raised as they say?
    Mauna Loa:
    1997 1.93
    1998 2.93
    1999 0.93
    2000 1.61
    2001 1.61
    2002 2.50
    2003 2.27
    2004 1.60
    2005 2.54
    2006 1.68
    2007 2.27
    2008 1.57
    2009 2.02
    2010 2.32
    2011 1.92
    2012 2.61
    2013 2.02
    2014 2.17
    2015 3.03
    2016 2.98
    I find many years where the raise is similar large.
    By the way i dont feel or measure any higher temperature, more the opposite.

    • Stuart Brown permalink
      October 31, 2017 7:28 pm


      ‘By the way I dont feel or measure any higher temperature, more the opposite.’

      In the UK at the moment, I feel the same way! I guess you are a bit north of me and would welcome some global warming.

      But, to be fair, though the growth rate looks more linear than exponential, it is still a growth until your numbers go negative.

      • Svend Ferdinandsen permalink
        October 31, 2017 7:54 pm

        I was stunned by the fact that the WMO director was so serious and implied a catastrophe just around the corner just because the content has grown a bit last year..
        From the forcing equation you would get 4K*ln(C/Co). It equals around 0.02K. If you light a candle in your house the temperature could raise more than that, and you would be doomed.
        Look at these figures:
        1998 2.93
        1999 0.93
        The grow dropped to 1/3.
        Or an other year
        2004 1.60
        2005 2.54
        The grow was more than 50%.
        I thaught that WMO would look at weather on a longer timescale than day to day or even year to year.

  22. John of Cloverdale WA permalink
    November 1, 2017 2:20 am

    ‘Early Humans Settled in Britain 800,000 Years Ago’:
    So what’s the big deal on CO2 being over 400 ppm? Did Africa become too hot?
    And at that time, according to that article: “Summers probably averaged 16 to 18 Celsius (61 to 64 Fahrenheit), and winters a frosty zero to — 3.0 Celsius (32 to 26 Fahrenheit)”, at the estuary of the Thames.
    And if the Holocene Climate Optimum was about 2degC warmer and sea levels 2-3 meters higher, how does that correlate to lower CO2 levels than today?
    Maybe I am a bit thick, but I cannot see how CO2 can have much to do with temperature.

  23. Bart permalink
    November 1, 2017 1:48 pm

    From the write-up:

    “Warmer seas meant that more CO2 was outgassed. “

    It isn’t so much the outgassing as it is the reduced uptake. Rising temperatures plug the drain, so to speak. Instead of a one-shot rise, this produces a sustained accumulation, resulting in the rate of change relationship which is readily apparent in the data:

    These data indicate that atmospheric CO2 concentration is overwhelmingly driven by natural, temperature dependent causes. Our inputs cannot proportionately affect the balance by a greater share than our proportionate inputs relative to the natural flows. And, our proportionate inputs are tiny.

    I provided a model that demonstrates how the rate-of-change relationship can come about here.

  24. November 2, 2017 8:03 am

    Thank for this post as I was sure that the BBC report was thier usual bias bollocks and sure enough it is.

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