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Global Warming in Last 15 Years Insignificant, U.K.'s Top Climate Scientist Admits

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February 16, 2010 – Comments (21)

Global Warming in Last 15 Years Insignificant, U.K.'s Top Climate Scientist Admits

The embattled ex-head of the research center at the heart of the Climate-gate scandal dropped a bombshell over the weekend, admitting in an interview with the BBC that there has been no global warming over the past 15 years.

Phil Jones, former head of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia, made a number of eye-popping statements to the BBC's climate reporter on Sunday. Data from CRU, where Jones was the chief scientist, is key evidence behind the claim that the growth of cities (which are warmer than countryside) isn't a factor in global warming and was cited by the U.N.'s climate science body to bolster statements about rapid global warming in recent decades.

Jones's latest statements seemed to contradict the CRU's data.

In response to the question, "do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically significant global warming?", Jones said yes, adding that the average increase of 0.12C per year over that time period "is quite close to the significance level. Achieving statistical significance in scientific terms is much more likely for longer periods, and much less likely for shorter periods."

Jones is nevertheless 100% confident that the climate has warmed, he stated, admitting that the Climate-gate scandal has undermined public confidence in science. The scandal has worn down Jones as well: Since the e-mails emerged -- and were subsequently posted online at www.EastAngliaEmails.com -- Jones has stepped down from his position, been forced to admit that he “misjudged” the handling of requests for information, and even acknowledged contemplating suicide.

Jones also allowed for the possibility that the world as a whole was warmer in medieval times than it is today -- a concession that may also undermine theories that global warming is caused by man.

In addition, Jones admitted that an overall lack of organization, and his poor record keeping and office-tidying skills, had contributed to his reluctance to share data with critics, which he regretted.

"To say when you're the record keeper for the globe's temperature that you're not a good record keeper, well, that's going to come back to haunt you for a long, long time," Pat Michaels.of the Cato Institute, a public-policy think tank, told Fox News.

For more information, see the full interview at BBC News.

21 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On February 16, 2010 at 8:54 AM, devoish (97.40) wrote:

 Please tell Pat Michaels there are many record keepers of the Earths and the Northern Hemisphere's temperature for me. Unfortunately, there didn't used to be. Jones' responsibility was to lead the collecting of those records into one place. What is Pat Michaels job? and who funds whatever his job description is?

Finally why it is you skeptics, just can't offer the entire quote? Word for word, in it's entirety. 

B - Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming

Yes, but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level. The positive trend is quite close to the significance level. Achieving statistical significance in scientific terms is much more likely for longer periods, and much less likely for shorter periods.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8511670.stm 

Anyway, thanks again for sharing.

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#2) On February 16, 2010 at 10:44 AM, ChrisGraley (29.83) wrote:

I copied the entire article.

I'd be happy to quote from the articles that you read if I were  a mind reader.

 

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#3) On February 16, 2010 at 11:56 AM, imobillc (< 20) wrote:

 Fox News.... please give a break

that is the worst source of information one can have  

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#4) On February 16, 2010 at 1:16 PM, Melaschasm (57.08) wrote:

If something is statistically insignificant, it means it is insignificant. 

That is why a poll that shows one candidate up by 0.8% with a margin of error (think statistical signficance) of 2% means that the two politicians are statistically tied.

 

 

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#5) On February 16, 2010 at 3:53 PM, devoish (97.40) wrote:

ChriGrayley,

Why doesn't your article offer the entire quote? ?

Melaschasm,

Being on the edge of statisically significant is different from being a mile away. Especially if it is for a short time period like fifteen years, and so close that one more hot year could make the average increase for the entire time period cross that "statiscally significant" line turning a statiscally insignificant 15 years into a statiscally very significant 16 years.

As always, we shall see.

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#6) On February 16, 2010 at 5:33 PM, ChrisGraley (29.83) wrote:

I'm not sure devoish. You could write the author if you want. Was there something of signifcant importance that you felt was left out? Even the quote you posted seemed to be paraphrased well enough in my article.

Also, it would have to be a hell of a 16th year to make the other 15 significant.

 

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#7) On February 16, 2010 at 7:59 PM, UKIAHED (37.90) wrote:

Jones said yes, adding that the average increase of 0.12C per year over that time period "is quite close to the significance level.

ChrisGraley  wrote:

Was there something of significant importance that you felt was left out?

Yes, I believe that there was.  Maybe a little interpretation for those that did not do the math.  You seem to have accepted that 0.12C per year for the last 15 years is not statistically significant global warming – fine.  Did you realize that  0.12C per year for 15 years is 1.8C - which is an average increase of 3.24F in just the last 15 years.  Your normal 100F summer day 15 years ago in California is now 103.24F.  Your normal 32F snowy winter day in the Sierras is now 35.24F and raining…  Of course I am mixing weather analogies with climate (a no no in climate change debate) – but I hope we all get the point.

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#8) On February 16, 2010 at 11:38 PM, Option1307 (29.95) wrote:

Can I just repeat what was said above b/c it is extremely important and is getting lost in the shuffle...

Melaschasm (91.01) wrote:

If something is statistically insignificant, it means it is insignificant. 

Thus, it doesn't matter how close it was to "being significant", it's still insignificant. This means that the temeprature could have risen by chance alone and not anything else. Review statistics here.

B - Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming

Yes, but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level. The positive trend is quite close to the significance level. Achieving statistical significance in scientific terms is much more likely for longer periods, and much less likely for shorter periods.(bold mine)

C - Do you agree that from January 2002 to the present there has been statistically significant global cooling?

No. This period is even shorter than 1995-2009. The trend this time is negative (-0.12C per decade), but this trend is not statistically significant. (bold mine)

Thus, both trends are irrelevant, they could have happened by chance alone.

 

2nd, UKIAHED

Did you realize that  0.12C per year for 15 years is 1.8C

No, re-read the article again.

B - Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming

Yes, but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level. The positive trend is quite close to the significance level. Achieving statistical significance in scientific terms is much more likely for longer periods, and much less likely for shorter periods. (bold mine)

It's per decade, not year. Just fyi.

 

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#9) On February 16, 2010 at 11:45 PM, Option1307 (29.95) wrote:

While many of the answers are garbage, I'm glad Dr. Jones put forth the effort. Although, it is likely only occuring now b/c he is on a PR "damage control" mission, nonetheless it's a good start. We need many many more of these question/answer sessions, on both sides of the isle, if we ever hope to get more clarity on this important issue.

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#10) On February 17, 2010 at 12:08 AM, UKIAHED (37.90) wrote:

Option1307

2nd, UKIAHED

Did you realize that  0.12C per year for 15 years is 1.8C

No, re-read the article again.

Actually option1307 – I did get that from the first article cited by the blog –

I quote - In response to the question, "do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically significant global warming?", Jones said yes, adding that the average increase of 0.12C per year over that time period "is quite close to the significance level. Achieving statistical significance in scientific terms is much more likely for longer periods, and much less likely for shorter periods."

 

I will, however, concede the point in reference to the BBC article.  I started from the blog and worked backwards – I know better – good catch ;)  One more strike against FOX as a good source of news facts (and quotes)…

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#11) On February 17, 2010 at 12:26 AM, UKIAHED (37.90) wrote:

…And just for fun (and from the BBC article).  We are talking about 0.15C/decade as “statistically significantly”  (1910-1940) whereas 0.12C/decade is not…  Please correct my math if I am incorrect – but we are seriously debating the significance of 0.03C/decade?  That is 0.03/10=0.003C/year – or for those of us in the US – 0.0054F per year…  Really?

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#12) On February 17, 2010 at 8:35 AM, ChrisGraley (29.83) wrote:

What we are actually demonstrating is how clow to being insignificant the entire 0.15C trend actually is.

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#13) On February 17, 2010 at 2:42 PM, Melaschasm (57.08) wrote:

devoish,

You make a very good point.  15 years is meaningless in historical temps.  In fact the 150 years that the AGW alarmists always point to is not a valid time frame. 

Historically global temps change over the course of 1000s of years, if not 10,000s of years.  The pro AGW people are committing statistical fraud when they create charts that only look at the past 150 years. 

What would be reasonable is a comparison of end of the Little Ice Age to the end of the past several little ice ages.  Furthermore, we would need to see a dramatic difference in temp changes since we would have only a limited number of little ice ages to compare to our current results.

I don't need to be a climate expert to be able to recognize statistical fraud, I just need the same skills I use every day at work to analyze statistical data.

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#14) On February 17, 2010 at 9:01 PM, Option1307 (29.95) wrote:

UKIAHED

I will, however, concede the point in reference to the BBC article.

Sorry about the confusion, I realize after I posted that you were referencing the other article.

---------------------------------------

We are talking about 0.15C/decade as “statistically significantly”  (1910-1940) whereas 0.12C/decade is not…  Please correct my math if I am incorrect – but we are seriously debating the significance of 0.03C/decade?  That is 0.03/10=0.003C/year – or for those of us in the US – 0.0054F per year…  Really?

You are slightly miss-reading the article and "science" words can be difficult to understand. Let me try and clear it up.

1) If a result is not significant, it doesn't matter how close to being significant it was. It is essentially an irrelevant data point/trend. You cannot, I repeat, you cannot trust this data result b/c the there is a high likelihood that it arose by chance alone. (meaning, the temperature increase could very easily be attributed to chance, and not other causes like AGW/natural casues). Review statistics if you want more.

   --> Thus, you basically have to ignore results that are not significant. You can't put any weight into the number!

2)The article says and Dr. Jones agrees, that the four previous time periods 1860-1880, 1910-1940, 1975-1998, and 1975-2009 are have similar temperature cahnges per decade. (See table in article)

3)the warming rates for all 4 periods are similar and not statistically significantly different from each other.

This is poorly worded, it should read: The four previous time periods are similar and they are not significantly different from each other.

Thus, all four time periods have essentially identical values and should be considered to be statistically equal. These values are significant and can be relied upon! (see table in article)

-----------------------------------------

4) Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming

Yes, but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level.

--> Again, this result is not significant, so you basically can't use it to draw any conclusions.

-------------------------

but we are seriously debating the significance of 0.03C/decade?

--> This is incorrect b/c of what I showed above. I know you really want to use the  "(0.12C per decade)" number and compare it to the four previous time periods, but you simply cannot do that b/c it is not significant. The absolute values do not matter whatsoever.

-------------------

Wow, I hope that makes sense. Let me know if you're still lost. Yeah, math/stats is fun!

 

 

 

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#15) On February 22, 2010 at 1:38 AM, ajm101 (32.78) wrote:

150 years seems like a pretty valid frame of reference since that was about time time when human beings started burning coal and petroleum for electrification and transportation in earnest.

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#16) On February 22, 2010 at 11:19 AM, JakilaTheHun (99.94) wrote:

He didn't say there wasn't "global warming."  He said that at the 95% significance level, it is not quite significant over a short-time frame for statistical testing purposes.  He also said it was very close to the threshold for meeting 95% significance requirements. 

What this means is that they are about 85% - 90% sure that global warming has occured over the past two decades ... but not 95% sure. 

You might consider enrolling in an elementary statistics course at your local community college to learn more about statistical testing models. There are lots of long-term benefits to quality math and science education. 

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#17) On February 22, 2010 at 11:24 AM, JakilaTheHun (99.94) wrote:

 Historically global temps change over the course of 1000s of years, if not 10,000s of years.  The pro AGW people are committing statistical fraud when they create charts that only look at the past 150 years.

Which is why showing significant increaes in global average temperatures over a 150-year period (that happens to precisely coincide with the Industrial Revolution) is so important.  Global climate cycles don't typically signficicantly alter in 200 years. To show that we have seen significant changes suggests that man-made activity is causing it.

We can stick our head in the sand and defame everyone who has produced evidence that might suggest otherwise, or we can examine the results and find ways to alter our ways of doing things.  

 

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#18) On February 23, 2010 at 4:29 PM, lucas1985 (< 20) wrote:

@JakilaTheHun,
"There are lots of long-term benefits to quality math and science education."
Couldn't agree more. You've noted the profound innumeracy of the climate pseudoskeptics. Also, they love to cherry-pick.
Finally, the lack of statistical significance only happens if you use the HadCRUT temperature data. If you use NASA's GISSTemp (data and code publicly available) you get a statistical valid trend using 1995 as a starting point.

You've also noted the continuous misrepresentations done by the press. As a journalist, I'm deeply ashamed of what some of my colleagues are doing with science in general and climate science in particular.

To those who think that Phil Jones has changed his opinions on AGW/ACC, read the relevant IPCC report (AR4 WGI). He hasn't moved one inch away from the consensus.

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#19) On February 23, 2010 at 6:04 PM, ChrisGraley (29.83) wrote:

Lucas!

Good to see you back!

I was getting a little worried about you. 

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#20) On February 23, 2010 at 6:40 PM, lucas1985 (< 20) wrote:

@ChrisGraley,
"I was getting a little worried about you."
I appreciate your concerns about my well-being. I was enjoying my well-deserved vacations. The past year has been intense.

Let me ask a question: will you stop misrepresenting climate science and climate scientists and learn to do fact-checking?
Then we can move on more difficult topics such as statistical inference and the basic atmospheric physics of the greenhouse effect.

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#21) On February 23, 2010 at 10:02 PM, ChrisGraley (29.83) wrote:

I don't think I've ever represented climate science or climate scientists simply for the reason that I love fact checking! And the czars in charge don't really like that. Jones still to this day won't share his data because he knows what the fact checking will reveal.

I will try to throw a bone however. I'll give you a mulligan IPCC style! I'll give you a do-over!

I'll also give you the chance to define just one non-corrupted truth in climate science. Not tree rings that were just ignored. Not Ice cores that were only partially shifted. Not anything that was smoothed. Not anything from ground based weather stations. Not the 150 years that you are trying to claim is relevant and not the actual 90 years that is regression to the mean that you say isn't relevant. Claim something. Claim something that is actually strong science. Give me an answer other than Jones and Mann saying that we are just too stupid too figure it out.

They've lied.

They have tricks.

I know you worship them, but I expect better than lies or tricks.

I hold you Lucas to a higher standard.

I expect science in this discussion. I'm not warm to the political bantering that you have used before.

Throw just one scientific truth out there that I can't argue with. Just one and I'd be happy to concede.

The real truth is that I wouldn't trust the IPCC to run a Day-care center. Their only concern is to get more grant money by scaring the public.

I would really really love if you would try to put your productive science genes to the test by showing me mathmatically how Carbon forces warming.

I'll warn you, I've seen all the equations from the websites that you copulate to. 

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