Y2K Bug Causes Global Cooling

Anthony Watts as generated a huge amount of blogospheric attention with his report on Steve McIntyre’s recalculation of temperature trends. It turns out that the Y2K bug skewed previous data from this decade.

Four of the top 10 years of US CONUS high temperature deviations are now from the 1930s: 1934, 1931, 1938 and 1939, while only 3 of the top 10 are from the last 10 years (1998, 2006, 1999). Several years (2000, 2002, 2003, 2004) fell well down the leaderboard, behind even 1900.

Al Gore Hockey Stick MBH98 Graph DebunkedWhether this pokes any significant holes in global warming theory is well beyond my expertise. Indeed, I rather doubt it. The projections aren’t based, after all, just on data from the last six years. Further, as Michael Asher points out, “the effect of the correction on global temperatures is minor (some 1-2% less warming than originally thought).”

Still, as he continues, “the effect on the US global warming propaganda machine could be huge.” Indeed, it seemingly rips the blade off Al Gore’s “hockey stick.”

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Bithead says:

    The fact is, just about any fact that questions the global warming scenario, pokes some very serious holes in that whole propaganda machine. Which, of course, is why the global warming hucksters cannot brook any questioning of their mantra.

    As the responses to my comments will doubtless indicate…

    All of this raises the logical question if the global warming scare, was caused by a warming of a different kind; an overheating Pentium FPU.

    (see also; I am a Pentium of Borg. You will be approximated)

  2. markm says:

    ..scientific consensus. BLAH BLAH BLAH. Ten years from now we’ll be saying “remember all the hubbub about global warming” just like twenty years ago when we were saying “the sky is falling and the globe is cooling”. Phoey.

  3. markm says:

    oops…Global Warming was just taking a siesta.

    We are back to being doomed…or soon to be.

  4. Dave Schuler says:

    I don’t think we should get ahead of ourselves here. IMO reducing emissions of greenhouse gasses and reducing energy consumption are largely matters of good engineering and everybody should be in favor of them.

    The question is not whether human activity causes heat or produces heat-trapping greenhouse gasses. Those are both, clearly, facts. The questions are whether human activity is overwhelmed by other causes in producing climate change, whether it’s cost effective to oppose climate change, and whether the measures on the table will actually produce the results their proponents claim. Kyoto won’t (especially since the fastest-growing offenders are exempted). Its primary effect is slowing economic growth, anyway, and I think it’s far from clear that slowing economic growth will reduce global warming or increase it.

    The European experience with “cap and trade” hasn’t been particularly enthralling, either.

    We’d get far more bang for the buck simply by ending our subsidies on gas consumption.

  5. M1EK says:

    Global cooling wasn’t in the scientific journals; it was speculation about a long-term NATURAL return to ice age conditions. The repeated mention of it as if it’s remotely similar to global warming is a common tactic of the deniers – but it’s simply untrue.

    If I stop my car on a steep uphill in San Francisco, and release the brake, it starts rolling downhill. If I then give it some gas so it starts rolling uphill, according to some folks, I must have disproven gravity.

  6. madmatt says:

    It is called GLOBAL warming which means looking solely at US temperatures is roughly equivelant to a doctor examining only your foot and diagnosing your cancer correctly

  7. markm says:

    “If I stop my car on a steep uphill in San Francisco, and release the brake, it starts rolling downhill. If I then give it some gas so it starts rolling uphill, according to some folks, I must have disproven gravity.”

    Must be some dim folks.

  8. Stormy70 says:

    How does Gore explain warming on Mars or Neptune?

    Does my SUV, which I have only filled up once this summer, cause this, too?

    Humans cannot predict the weather, which by its nature, is always changing.

  9. Alex Knapp says:

    Yes, no doubt that the Arctic, Antarctic, and Greenland ice sheets are currently experience accelerated melting trends for no reason whatsoever. Can’t be because of increased temperatures, no sir!

  10. markm says:

    “accelerated melting trends for no reason whatsoever. Can’t be because of increased temperatures, no sir!”

    Maybe there is a pressure change thus moving the freezing point…..(high threat of sarcasm)

    I personally don’t deny that there are places that are warming and some are cooling. Hell, we were covered in ice on three occasions before we started burning fossil fuels and it all went all went away. I see nothing other than hype that says it’s not cyclical.

  11. Steve Plunk says:

    So temp data is wrong, the hockey stick model can’t be replicated, US measuring stations are not monitored for accuracy. This is “consensus” science? The debate is over?

    Even today I’m hearing about scientist “tweaking” a computer model because we’ve cooled for the last two years and they needed an explanation for that. In my book “tweaking” is the same as manipulating.

    Those who can’t see the global warming movement as an attempt to modify western values and behavior are naive.

  12. rodney dill says:

    ROTFLMAO

  13. floyd says:

    “”Whether this pokes any significant holes in global warming theory””
    “”””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””
    Not to worry , whether true or not, “global warming” has left the realm of science and entered the realm of dogma.
    The faithful adherents can not be swayed.
    The mantra will continue unaffected by observation or evidence, pro or con.

  14. Hal says:

    Kind of amazing to see the comments here – ignorant as they are – I mean, we’re literally talking about a shift of 0.1 degree. It’d be astounding if such critics (granted, I’m giving them far more respect with that term than they deserve) above put one iota of their scoffing towards – I don’t know – supply side economics, heck even WMDs back in the day. Sadly, skepticism is reserved only for so called liberal ideas.

    Still, WRT Steve Verdon’s consistent assertion that all source code to mathematical models be available or else we’re frozen in place, what McIntyre did is *precisely* how science in this area progresses. No one needed the source code to do this recalculation. What happened was the results were checked in the analog of performing another experiment (i.e. creating one’s own model and doing the calculations) and coming up with a different result.

    Just for future reference, Steve, this is how it’s done. Even bringing up the silliness of “code” and whether it’s available is obscuring the debate. Doing science is hard and takes work – which is, of course, why “code” is valuable and is almost exclusively proprietary.

    So, next time, can we just drop that whole argument and focus on the observables and act like real scientists instead of trying to deal cards from the denialist’s deck?

  15. Hal says:

    Whoops. Off by an order of magnitude. The shift that this makes is 0.01 degree – 1/10 of what I was stating above.

  16. Tano says:

    “Not to worry , whether true or not, “global warming” has left the realm of science and entered the realm of dogma.
    The faithful adherents can not be swayed.
    The mantra will continue unaffected by observation or evidence, pro or con.”

    Unfortunatly Floyd, if you want to make this type of criticism, you need to establish that the same type of criticism doesnt apply to you too.

    It seems blindingly obvious for people like Floyd, and the other GW deniers that post here, or anywhere else, that they:

    have “left the realm of science and entered the realm of dogma.”

    “can not be swayed.”

    and “will continue unaffected by observation or evidence, pro or con.”

    Am I wrong here? Is there any set of evidence that will convince you Floyd? Nothing that you say gives anyone the slightest confidence that your mind is open on this question. Nor is there any sense of that from others in the denial camp.

    So the best that you can hope for is to say that GW supporters are as unscientific and obstinate and dogmatic as you are. Now, granted, that is a pretty damning charge. But still, it just represents playing for a tie. Why not play to win? Why not be the real rationalist with integrity? Concede the points that are well-supported. Focus your criticism on areas that may harbor legitimate questions. Dispense with all the ad hominems and conspiracy theories.

    When I follow this debate I see almost none of this responsible, honest criticism from the denial camp, – just a lot of the ususal Rush-wannable rhetoric. Dont you realize how easy that makes it for everyone to dismiss your points?

  17. Craig says:

    Here is a before and after adjustment graph. You can see the difference for yourself. Sorta.

  18. G.A.Phillips says:

    Global warming or cooling are myths created by the liberal fearmongers to get the populace away from God and under their control, its as simple as that, and if you what to know whats up with the climate, it’s the damn Russians and their weather machine!!!!

  19. Grewgills says:

    I wasn’t able to access McIntyre’s site. I keep getting an “Access forbidden!” message, so perhaps someone who has seen this latest from him can answer a couple of questions for me.
    Has anyone independently verified his work?
    Does he try to argue that this possible shift of ~0.01 C will significantly alter current climate models?
    How is it one can argue that a shift on the order of 0.01 C can “rip the blade off” of the hockey stick?

    Mr. Verdon if your out there, I’m still waiting on the source code and data set for the climate calculations you claimed to have done.

  20. Dave Schuler says:

    As I understand it, Craig, prior to the recalculation as much as 50% of the variation could be attributed to the variations in total solar irradiance so the graphs you’re pointing to may not be quite as dispositive as you seem to think. The recalculation further increases that proportion.

    Note that as I suggested in my comment above I very much believe that we should be pushing for greater efficiencies. That’s just good sense but, unfortunately, we’ve got so many subsidies for so many things these days that the market is very, very distorted.

  21. Tano says:

    Here is the response from the main Global Warming site run by climate scientists:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/08/1934-and-all-that/

  22. Tano says:

    Isnt it interesting how those who want to appear to be oh-so-rational in their skepticism of the findings of thousands of scientists working over many years, tend to be the same people who see a story about an absolutely trivial adjustment to a relatively small data set and then leap to all manner of grand conclusions. Yeah, including you James.

  23. Craig says:

    As I understand it, Craig, prior to the recalculation as much as 50% of the variation could be attributed to the variations in total solar irradiance so the graphs you’re pointing to may not be quite as dispositive as you seem to think.

    This is incorrect on two counts:

    (1) The 50% figure isn’t supported by actual data, and
    (2) The graphs I linked strictly show the effects of the correction on GISS data. They do not show the effects on measurements of global warming, which is what you’re referring to (given that you mention solar radiation).

    GISS is for the U.S. and only for the last 130 years or so. The effect on measured global warming are relatively smaller (the U.S. being a rather small part of the globe and other measurements being not affected by the GISS-specific correction and the last 130 years being only the end of the timeframe for which scientists are confident of measurments of global temperature anomolies).

    The claims by some that this affects the “hockey stick” graph are egregiously wrong both for the reasons above and because the introduction of the error post-dates Mann, et. al.‘s paper by several years.

    There’s an implicit notion in some of the non-scientific discussion of this correction that finding an error in a calculation, no matter how trivial, is sufficient to draw a scientific conclusion. But errors are not conclusions; they’re just errors. To draw a conclusion you have to re-run the experiment with the errors corrected and see if the results differ.

  24. Grewgills says:

    Not Y2K. James you should correct your headline.

    The difference was due to switching between two sources of US temperature data not Y2K.

    the USHCN station records up to 1999 were replaced by a version of USHCN data with further corrections after an adjustment computed by comparing the common 1990-1999 period of the two data sets.

    Props to Craig for the link.

    Still getting “Access forbidden!” message when attempting to go to McIntyre site directly. Is anyone else getting this?

  25. floyd says:

    Tano;
    What have I said that convinced you of what I believe pertaining to global warming? I simply stated the facts as I see them.
    Whether global warming is fact or not is now irrelevant, even opponents in the scientific community are being shouted down by the zealots.
    This does not to say that the zealots are wrong, only that it is clear that they have now become zealots, at the expense of scientific credibility.
    Chicken Little was not convinced by objective fact whether the sky was falling or not. The same is true of politicians. They will after all make the decisions that affect our lives , not the scientists.
    BTW; what have you said that would give “anyone the slightest confidence that your mind is open on this subject”.
    Actually,In the above comments, I have not endorsed or denied the truth of global warming, but surely the world is waiting anxiously for me to do so.[grinz]
    Once convinced, either way,how should my life change to accommodate this revelation?

    Facetious solution;
    Maybe we could all invest in a giant dry-ice factory? It is after all very cold stuff,AND it removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere even more efficiently than trees![grinz]