Global Cooling Underway

With global temperature data now available for the first three months of 2014, an interesting trend has clearly emerged: global cooling.

No longer is it just a hypothesis.  For the first quarter of each calendar year since 2002, it is effectively a fact at reasonably strong statistical significance.  Here is the data.

That downward trend since 2002 has a p-value of 0.097 (r=-0.48), which is below the p=0.10 (90%) threshold used in many climate science studies for statistical significance, and very close to the standard p=0.05 (95%) threshold generally employed across the physical and biological sciences.  The same level of statistical significance is obtained regardless of whether parametric or non-parametric trend analysis methods are employed.

Some readers may be looking at this plot and thinking that the global climate data since 1880 looks a lot like a cycle, with a stable period (of neither warming nor cooling) of, say, 140 years in length between the approximately 70-year long alternating cool and warm periods.  It certainly has that appearance.  If such is the case, we would expect a return to "normal" January-March global temperatures by 2050, give or take a decade or two.

In the United States, the January-March 2014 temperature was well below the 20th-century average.  There has been no statistically significant trend in January-March temperatures in the contiguous USA since 1980.  None, for 35 years and counting.  The same lack of trend applies for the December-February temperatures.  Depending on how you define winter, either – or both – of these timeframes is considered the wintertime period.

So there has been absolutely no change in wintertime temperatures in the United States since before Reagan was president, and yet the The Guardian is reporting that the latest National Climate Assessment finds climate change to be a "clear and present danger" and that "Americans are noticing changes all around them ... Winters are generally shorter and warmer."

There is no trend – I repeat: no trend – in wintertime temperatures in the United States since 1980.

On an annual basis ending in March, there has been no change in the contiguous U.S. temperature since 1986 (actually, probably since 1985, but we'll give the alarmists the benefit on this).  You get the same result on a calendar-year basis.  That's right: there has been no change in annual temperatures for the United States since Bon Jovi had a number-one hit with "You Give Love a Bad Name," the Bangles were telling us to "Walk Like an Egyptian," Madonna was asking her papa not to preach, and Robert Palmer was "Addicted to Love."

According to Virginia Burkett, the chief scientist for global change at the U.S. Geological Survey, "all areas are getting hotter."  All of them?  So bold, yet so inaccurate.  The entire Ohio Valley climate division has not seen any significant warming on an annual basis since 1896.  The entire U.S. South climate division hasn't warmed since 1907.  Neither has the entire Southeast climate division since 1896.

The National Climate Assessment claims that "summers are longer and hotter."  Hotter summers?  There is no trend in the average June-August temperature (aka summer) in the USA since 1930.  Same lack of trend for July and August average temperatures.

On an annual basis ending in March (allowing us to use the most complete dataset possible), global warming stopped cold in statistical terms during 1997.  And since 2002, the correlation coefficient has – in fact – turned slightly negative.  Very weak evidence for global cooling, but on the balance of probabilities, since 2002, there is more statistical evidence for global cooling than there is for global warming.  Scientists such as Don Easterbrook, a professor emeritus of geology at Western Washington University, have been making similar predictions for global temperatures.

In the Southern Hemisphere, where climate scientists are now apparently warning that the "Antarctic Ice Shelf [is] on [the] brink of unstoppable melt that could raise sea levels for 10,000 years," the annual cooling trend since 2003 is even more probable (r=-0.22, p-value as low as 0.34 using non-parametric approaches).

The poor-quality science reporting on climate change is ubiquitous.  Over at the Daily Kos, we find a plot of "Global Temperature (meteorological stations)."  Given that oceans cover 71 percent of the planet's surface, what possible meaning could a "global temperature" derived only from "meteorological stations" have?  The answer is none.  Any talk of a global temperature must include both land and sea data, and be properly weighted according to station type and location.  And this assumes that the data itself is correct.  Various climate skeptic websites have repeatedly shown that we need to doubt the data itself, not just the analyses.

As the countdown to the proposed climate agreement in 2015 ticks along, expect more of this hysterical nonsense not founded in the underlying data, as well as more concerted and emphatic denials of the global cooling phase we may be entering.  One can only hope that the moderately conservative leaders in Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom will not fall prey to the hysteria, but instead take a principled scientific stand in 2015 and lead the charge to reject any international climate agreements.

Unfortunately, many crony capitalists – including a number in the fossil fuels industry itself – are starting to see greater financial benefits for themselves by going along with the hysteria, rather than fighting for reality.

Perilous times indeed.  The next couple years may not only see the end of America's economic domination on the world stage, passing the torch instead to communist China, but also witness the final death throes of rigorous, objective science in the public interest.

Changes: Corrected typo on 140 years