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How Can So Many Scientists Be So Wrong About The Pause?

December 24, 2018

By Paul Homewood


From GWPF:



Using simple statistics it looked at and dismissed over 200 peer-reviewed papers that analysed the pause and concluded it was a real phenomenon. How did they, and the IPCC, get it all so wrong?

Source: Clive Best

Nobody who keeps an eye on climate research will be at all surprised by this “new” paper. Its conclusions were well aired in April 2018 at a meeting of the European Geophysical Union.

The authors must have been rather frustrated at the time as the paper describing their work had been submitted to the journal Environmental Research Letters over a year earlier, in February 2017 in fact, still had not been published. This was remedied a few days ago when it was finally published — one year and nine months after its submission!

The tone of this paper is established at the start with a quote about the polywater affair. This was a hypothesized polymerized form of water that was the subject of controversy during the late 1960s. By 1970 doubts about its authenticity were being raised and by 1973 it was found to be illusory, being just water with contaminants. Is the global warming ‘pause’ (also known as ‘hiatus’ or ‘slowdown’) a modern analogy to polywater pathological science?

To prove that the authors will have to come up with much harder facts and better arguments than they do. In fact, their approach is not new and is part of a series of papers by the authors, each reaching the same flawed conclusion. But what is truly staggering about this new paper is just how unscientific it is in dismissing the 200 peer-reviewed papers that confirm the empirical reality of a warming pause or slowdown in the early 21st century.

Considering that the paper was only accepted by the journal after one year and a half,  it is quite remarkable that so much sloppiness managed to get through peer review. The authors talk of “short-term trends” in global mean surface temperature “over a decade or two.” A 20-year trend, most of a canonical 30-year climate definition period, is certainly not short-term, especially since the recent era of global warming began in 1979. The authors say that 30 years was chosen as it is considered long enough to smooth out decadal-scale changes. It doesn’t if such changes last for 20 years or more.

The definition of the pause or hiatus is not straightforward, according to them, and they say “mere description of it is not statistical evidence.” This flies in the face not only of those 200 papers they analyse, but the whole tenet of observational science. It is often said that the most important words in science are “that’s interesting,” when something strange is observed. I am sure that if one looks at the HadCRUT4 data set from 1997 to date and notes the El Ninos and La Ninas most scientists would say there was something there. Statistics show there is.

The pause ended due to a severe example of weather not climate, the 2015 super El Nino, after which temperatures are returning to pre-El Nino pause levels. Nowhere in the body of this paper is the El Nino even mentioned!

News reports of this dodgy paper show that some commentators and journalists have once again fallen into the “last paper” trap. One just-published paper very seldom destroys a raft of others, especially since the paper was submitted in February 2017 and since then there have been many new papers confirming the existence of a global warming pause.

Yet the authors still claim that the IPCC got it wrong and all those 200 peer-reviewed papers are also wrong, all having made elementary statistical errors. Not surprisingly, the authors who have a long history of political activism, accuse climate scientists who have published papers on the pause for contributing to inaction on climate policy and giving succour to contrarians (who, let’s not forget, discovered the existence of the warming trend slowdown in the first place).

It is one thing to write a paper that claims that everyone else is wrong; it is entirely different and borders on intimidation to effectively accuse all other scientists of being traitors.


When I point out that the authors of the study include Stephan Lewandosky, Kevin Cowtan and Naomi Oreskes, you will realise why the research is worthless.

  1. Bruce of Newcastle permalink
    December 24, 2018 7:14 pm

    Snow cover extent has been flat for over two decades. Unlike temperature you don’t need to adjust it – just read the number of pixels from a satellite photo.

    I can see no reason why snow cover would not respond to rising temperatures. Since it hasn’t that suggests real temperatures aren’t actually rising on a hemispheric level (since the snow data is for the NH).

    The original data for the above graph can be seen here.

    • dave permalink
      December 24, 2018 8:58 pm

      That is an interesting source. Your reasoning seems cogent, as the measure seems to be a proper “canary in the mine.”

      Not only “no need” to adjust the measure, but no way to adjust it (i.e. fake it).

      One very small – presentational – point. Would it not be more consistent to describe half-a-million sq km as 0.50E+6 rather than as 5.0E+5, since one million is described as 1.0E+6?

      5.0E+5 implies one-hundred thousand sq km is the preferred “big unit”. Keeping the big unit consistently at E+6 (“mega”) makes it proper engineering notation (where the exponent always has to be divisible by 3).

      • Tim Spence permalink
        December 25, 2018 1:06 pm

        you learn something everyday, I was always taught the base number should be between 1 to 9.

      • dave permalink
        December 25, 2018 2:08 pm

        “…base number…1 to 9”

        That is called “standard” scientific notation.

        The advantage of “engineering notation” is that jumps in scale by thousands (10^3) are very natural to the mind – from grams to kilograms to metric tonnes, and so on. The disadvantage is an occasional clumsiness in showing the significant figures in a measurement or approximation.

      • Curious George permalink
        December 25, 2018 7:11 pm

        Should it be half a million, or five hundred thousand? Big endians or little endians?

      • Bruce of Newcastle permalink
        December 25, 2018 8:17 pm

        Apology, Dave, I did the graph in Excel and that is how it came out with the automatic Y axis.

        Having seen the Rutgers snow extent anomaly graph it looked to me that the trend was flat in recent decades, so I downloaded the raw data, recreated the graph and added a standard linear regression line – which is indeed flat as an ice rink from mid 1994.

        You can see examples of the pixellation they use from their monthly variation charts like this one for November.

  2. It doesn't add up... permalink
    December 24, 2018 8:37 pm

    Cowtan lost his Way writing with Lew paper – a 0 risks enterprise. Name ‘e result!

  3. daveR permalink
    December 24, 2018 9:25 pm

    Off-topic but true to typical Beeb form: ‘Greenland ice melting ‘even in winter’.

    ‘A team of Scottish scientists has revealed how the Greenland ice sheet is melting – even in winter. […] Dr Fraser described it as a “perfect storm scenario”.

    He said: “These waves are pushing warm water into the fjord and towards the glacier, causing melting hundreds of metres below the ocean surface.”

    Dr Fraser concentrated his work on the Kangerdlugssuaq fjord which drains one of Greenland’s major glaciers.

    The team used computer simulations because it is difficult to study the system during the extreme Arctic winter. […] Oceanographer Dr Sam Jones has used the model to create animations that accurately replicate the flow of warm water into the fjords and beneath the ice sheet.

    It builds on work by Prof Mark Inall of SAMS whose field studies of the fjord in summertime hinted that the waves could be undermining the ice.

    Greenland’s ice melt is accelerating, with the volume of meltwater reaching unprecedented levels.’

    It’s invariably enlightening to see what ‘notrickszone’ adds to the so-called ‘consensus’ on Greenland melting (loads+ of contrary papers).

    Unprecedented warm water pulses, indeed…

    Best to all.

    • dave permalink
      December 25, 2018 12:08 pm


      “These waves are pushing warm water into the fjord…”

      To make it relevant it would have to be:

      “These waves are pushing [the extra] warm water [caused definitely and indubitably by X degrees of global warming, caused definitely and indubitably by human activity.]”

      OF COURSE, we know that the Greenland climate is not co-operating with the insane ones, because it has snowed so much in recent years. Therefore, OF COURSE they are going to make up gobbledy-gook to pretend that the extra snow is more than negated by ice melting hundreds of meters down in the sea where we – so conveniently – can not actually measure it. But “accurate” computer simulations (is there any other kind, in the rubbish-bin that is their collective mind?) prove it is so, and we do not have to look.

      Some of the Arctic ice does indeed keep melting through the winter. That is because of a current called the Gulf Stream.

      • dave permalink
        December 25, 2018 12:38 pm

        In fact – as so often – the actual paper has precious little to do with global warming. Instead,it merely speculates that a COMPLETELY NATURAL phenomenon may exist in winter as well as in summer:

        As someone who has long had an interest in waves including ‘standing waves’*, it was actually a slightly interesting piece of work. But:

        OF COURSE, for both the ‘scientists’ and the BBC it is only an excuse to start a whisper in the echo chamber, a whisper that they KNOW will be turned into a triumphant lying bray in no time.

        *I tentatively hold the view that some sightings of the Loch Ness monster, and the like in other enclosed waters, are actually a mis-interpretation of ‘seches.’

      • Ben Vorlich permalink
        December 25, 2018 2:10 pm

        I’ve always thought that there was virtually no movement of water in the direction of travel of the wave . The wave is transferring energy. I remember an experiment in first year physics involving a rope a ratchet and a weight and although the the weight was raised the rope remained fixed.

        Water circulation doesn’t require waves although if wind is involved waves may be created on the surface.

      • dave permalink
        December 25, 2018 4:46 pm

        Ben Vorlich is surely right that neither ordinary waves nor seiches would “bring in” warmer water from the (seabed) shelf outside the fjord. And this inflow is all that anybody seems to be actually discussing. We sometimes forget that the water in fjords is deeper than the water outside, and that this geographical fact tends to make for stagnant water inside.

        With a little investigation, I found that the general idea – of occasional winters in which more outside water enters – is bog standard and has, for example, been discussed for the fjords of Spitzbergen.

        “In open water close to the freezing point and under thin ice [sic] there is produced ten times as much sea ice as under thicker ice cover.” So an apparently “good” year of production of sea-ice is actually a “bad” one!

        Whether there is an influx of warm water seems to depend on whether there is mainly frazil ice, and whether the winds are such that this is blown out of the fjord so that there is consequently a pressure urging water to enter. In other words, the whole thing is “weather” not “climate.”

        As with so much nonsense, it can stimulate thought, and one finds interesting stuff, albeit not what the propagandists were hoping to highlight. They do not care because for every non-specialist, like myself and some others, who takes all of thirty minutes to track down the reference and establish at least the broad outline of the issue, there is, I imagine, a thousand who do NOT investigate, and simply swallow the poison.

      • RAH permalink
        December 25, 2018 6:50 pm

        Of course that idea of little or no movement of the water due to waves does not apply when waves crest, be it on a shore or in open water nor when the water is channeled.

      • dave permalink
        December 26, 2018 9:07 am

        Indeed, water surface wave(trains) start to topple over when they “touch bottom,” which is roughly when the depth of the water is comparable to the wavelength. That is why tsunamis are destructive – their wavelength is enormous. At sea you hardly notice the gradual rise and fall of a tsunami wave passing under you, but as it approaches shallow water…Similarly with tides which are simply waves.

        It is a long fjord and just inside the the entrance it is deep. No wave crest produced by wind could carry water a hundred kilometers inland. The issue is how and when the main bulk of the stagnant water body beneath the surface is replaced.

        Surface waves are complicated things. When waves approach a harbour entrance – and the water in the basin is smooth – the effect inside will be of ripples moving out from the entrance as a centre if the gap is small; and there will be a ray continuing on, if the entrance is moderate; and the waves will simply progress if the entrance is large.

        And if it is not a wave train but simply a pulse, produced, say, by dropping a rock at the entrance, the disturbance will go in all directions; away from the entrance as well as towards and into the entrance.

        The very word ‘wave’ is misleading. Really, there is no such ‘thing’ as a wave. You have to say ‘a wave OF [something measurable]’. Examples: “a wave OF starting,” “a wave OF stopping,” “a wave OF high voltage.”

        So with the long range action of the nervous system. Nerves do not transmit electrical currents along themselves. Locally in the axon there is an imbalance in the ions across the membrane. This imbalance disappears, but in such a way that the next locality along (it is uni-directional) becomes imbalanced in its turn. So what “exists” is “a travelling wave OF imbalance.” If there were simply a direct effect from one end of the axon to the other you would not speak of this cause and effect relation as a wave although it would be equivalent.

  4. December 24, 2018 10:50 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  5. Earl Goudie permalink
    December 25, 2018 5:12 am

    You make the error of believing they wanted to get it right!!

  6. Hivemind permalink
    December 25, 2018 7:50 am

    “How Can So Many Scientists Be So Wrong About The Pause?”

    The answer is that they aren’t scientists, they’re activists. With activists, you get what you pay for, which in this case is unrelenting alarmism.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      December 25, 2018 9:47 am

      I think you have missed the point of the headline. The authors of the 200+ papers confirming the pause will be scientists as they are acknowledging the truth. The irony is that even the activist IPCC acknowledged the pause. But of course Loowandosky, Oreskes et al are nothing but activists.

  7. Don B permalink
    December 25, 2018 2:11 pm

    In 2011 a dozen climate scientists were asked the question

     ‘Why, despite steadily accumulating greenhouse gases, did the rise of the planet’s temperature stall for the past decade?”

    They included Kevin Trenberth, Susan Soloman, Jim Hansen, Ben Santer and others. They were not pause deniers, but the varied answers illustrated that the science is not settled.

  8. December 27, 2018 10:39 am

    Reblogged this on ajmarciniak.

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