Why do deniers think the earth is cooling?

Given how obvious the evidence for continued global warming is, how can so many people insist the earth is cooling?  Even some scientists are making this argument (which just proves you don’t need to be all that smart to be a scientist).

For example, in a recent comment on Climate Shifts, Ron Henzel said:

The track record of global warming kool aid pushers isn’t exactly a sterling one. The decade which is now closing was supposed to be the hottest on record, and we all know how that went. Geologist Dr. David Gee, chair of the science committee of the 2008 International Geological Congress and author of 130 plus peer reviewed papers said, “For how many years must the planet cool before we begin to understand that the planet is not warming? For how many years must cooling go on?” (Dr. Gee is currently at Uppsala University in Sweden.)

Ron questions the precautionary principle and the application of it to climate change on his blog (see our post on this here).  Further he suggests that his readers go here for “real information on issues pertaining to climate change”

  1. Climate Depot (a kind of “Drudge Report” for climate issues).
  2. Climate Audit (Steve McIntyre is the man who demonstrated that Al Gore’s infamous “hockey stick” graph was a statistical absurdity.)
  3. Watts Up With That? (one of the best global warming skeptic blogs, edited by former TV meteorologist Anthony Watts).
  4. “U. S. Senate Minority Report: More Than 700 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims Scientists Continue to Debunk ‘Consensus’ in 2008 & 2009″
  5. Cornwall Alliance (a conservative evangelical response to global warming alarmism).

If you are remotely familiar with the AGW debate, you know how fully debunked the wacky claims made on these sites are.

Also see this article by Christopher Booker in the “Hawaii Reporter”, excerpted below:

2008: Another Grim Year for the Global Warmers
By Michael R. Fox Ph.D., 1/2/2009 10:45:23 AM

The year 2008 marked the tenth consecutive year of no global warming. This is not widely reported or known. In fact the Earth has been cooling for the last 6 years.

“Earth has cooled since 1998 in defiance of the predictions by the U.N.-IPCC. … The global temperature for 2007 was the coldest in a decade and the coldest of the millennium … which is why ‘global warming’ is now called ‘climate change.'” – Climatologist Dr. Richard Keen of the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Colorado.

The irrepressible Christopher Booker has noted the large changes in the global warming events during 2008 (http://tinyurl.com/8p7d83).

These include:

  • 1. Global temperatures continue to decline. Booker says “The decline in global temperatures was wholly unpredicted by all those computer models which have been used as the main drivers of the scare. Last winter, as temperatures plummeted, many parts of the world had snowfalls on a scale not seen for decades. This winter, with the whole of Canada and half the US under snow, looks likely to be even worse. After several years flatlining, global temperatures have dropped sharply enough to cancel out much of their net rise in the 20th century.”

So, why do deniers think the earth is cooling when it clearly isn’t?

(1) They base their opinions on proclamations of others, rather than examining factual evidence and making up their own minds.

(2) They fundamentally misunderstand what is being predicted about the earth’s temperature.  Nobody has ever predicted that it will warm every year, with each new year being warmer than the last.  Given all the factors that determine climate and global temperature, that would be an idiotic prediction.  The prediction is that there will be a warming trend of climate, i.e., on average, over long periods of time (decades to centuries) the earth will warm on average (not everywhere to the same degree).

(3) They simply confuse weather and climate (as has been pointed out here and countless other places over and over again).

Whatever the reason, they are lying about the climate record and deceiving the public with statements like these “Earth has cooled since 1998 in defiance of the predictions” “The track record of global warming kool aid pushers isn’t exactly a sterling one. The decade which is now closing was supposed to be the hottest on record, and we all know how that went.”

Compare these lies with the evidence, such as this figure from the WMOs recent report which stated “The decade of the 2000s (2000–2009) was warmer than the decade spanning the 1990s (1990–1999), which in turn was warmer than the 1980s (1980–1989)”:

See some of our many posts on this here, here, here and here.

12 thoughts on “Why do deniers think the earth is cooling?

  1. Hi Steve,

    I’ll have a crack at this one – You mean cite, right?

    That depends on your geological timescale. Be more specific and it’ll be easier to find appropriate references. There are several forcing factors – plate tectonics, solar flux, orbital and oceanic variability and (perhaps, depending on your scale) volcanism.

    A very simple question for you: What is the BIGGEST influence on global climate on ecological (decades to centuries) timescales (since, say, the early 20th century)?


  2. And Steve, the answer (to your in reality, not so simple question) is that in terms of the current debate about anthropogenic global warming, it is completely irrelevant.

  3. More relevant to this post, a VERY simple question for you Steve; can you provide evidence (with references) that the earth has cooled over the last decade or that the last decade was NOT the warmest during the instrument record.

  4. It would be interesting to know exactly how long it was from the time this article was posted to the time “Steve Netwriter” turned up with his Plimer routine. It seems to me that the deniers on blogs around the world are now extremely well organised to respond instantly whenever a factual piece about global warming appears. Nothing must be left undisputed, no thread must be allowed to develop in which those of us concerned about the fate of the planet can exchange information about recent data, without it being disrupted by the same few deniaworld talking points, constantly debunked, and repeated endlessly by an ever-shifting parade of new aliases.

    The graph you show makes it impossible for any rational, unpaid, person to not understand what is going on. They clearly don’t teach graph reading in schools these days.

  5. It took him less than an hour. I think you are onto something David. They appear, make nonfactual points or ask questions irrelevant to the thread, rehash the same old dogs over and over again, then disappear.

    We have repeated the experiment several times with Steve. Asked him to provide simple facts; and unsurprisingly he is mute until he reappears to sidetrack another discussion.

    Ron pulled the same routine. I flip between thinking they are misinformed and thinking they are anarchist trying to wreck the world.

  6. Hi. I’m currently doing an argumentative essay for school in which I have to compare both sides of this argument. Other than what’s cited here, I was wondering if you have any interesting things I should look at with legitimate sources to back up whatever it is you’re suggesting to me.


  7. Gary – good luck with that (there is only one side to “this argument”). The best organised site for refuting denialist memes is http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php where the various propositions are carefully dissected (with references). The site as a whole is worth reading. Also of course there is http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/05/start-here/. Others include http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/ and http://tamino.wordpress.com/.

  8. Hi guys,
    Thanks for your replies.
    Apologies for not replying earlier. I posted on a number of articles on this website, and lost them afterwards. I’ve since found this one by chance, a feel bad about not replying. I’ll try and make up for my transgression by replying with as much detail as I can.

    Hi David,
    It’s been a while, but from memory, I found an article on here, probably via google. I suspect I then happened upon this article by looking around, and it would have been sheer chance that it had been published only 1 hour before I replied.
    I’m sure if you think about this probabilistically, with say 24 new visitors per day, there’s a good chance that someone will reply within 1 hour of publication. That’s the wonder of the internet.

    I’m sorry but I don’t know what a “Plimer routine” is, so I can’t help you with that one.

    I see you use the word “denier”. I’ll return to that later.

    You seem to be implying, I guess based on your observation of timing, that I’m in some sort of organised group, dedicated to posting on “alarmist” sites. I’m not.

    You also seem to be implying my name is an alias. Again it is not. I use this name on the internet. A little research on your part would have revealed this. You could even have clicked on my name, which would have taken you to my website!!!

    I suggest:
    1. You’ve observed.
    2. You’ve developed a theory based on no other information.
    3. You’ve come to a conclusion.

    Unfortunately, only #1 was correct. I hope that helps to remove that false theory from your world view in this case, and clears your thinking for the future. The reason is explained below.

    I get the impression that you are feeling frustrated by people who do not agree with your point of view, and feel “got at” by the number of them. I can understand that.

    I noted with interest this post of yours:

    I fully suspected and expected that some or many of the 450 were not legit.
    However, that was not my point.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told by AGW voices that there are NO qualified skeptics or peer reviewed/published work by them.
    Including right here by RC regulars.

    In truth there is serious work and questions raised by significant work by very qualified skeptics which has been peer reviewed and published.

    It should be at least a bit disturbing for this type of denial to have been perpetrated with such a chorus.

    It’s one thing to engage and refute. But it’s not right to misrepresent as not even existing the counter viewpoints.

    I fully recognize the adversarial environment between the two opposing camps which RC and CA/WUWT represent, but the the perpetual declaration that there is no legitimate rejection of AGW is out of line.

    I find this encouraging, as it seems possible that we could converse intelligently.

    As to your point about the graph, it is not the graph that is important, it is the data and methods used to create it. That is what is disputed by many.


    Hi Jez,
    I find it helpful with any topic to start with the “big picture”, and then drill down. I find this reduces the possibility of seeing what appears to be a trend in the shorter-term, which is in fact part of a longer cycle.

    I was thinking about this graph when asking my question, which cover the past 500 million years:

    That graph was included in the lecture “Cosmic rays and climate” by Jasper Kirkby of CERN, and about which I have written quite a lot here:

    Lecture on Cosmic rays and climate by Physicist Jasper Kirkby of CERN

    Now Jez you ask me a question. I think you misunderstand the situation, so I’ll try and explain it.
    There is a claim that man-made CO2 is a significant factor in global climate, and in particular that it is causing a significant rise in global temperatures. The claim is that this will be detrimental, and action must be taken, action which will affect the people of Earth significantly.

    I think it is reasonable to expect such a claim to be supported by very robust evidence. For all data and methods to be critically scrutinised in a transparent way.

    So, it is not for me to answer questions. I ask questions in order to see if those involved in this extraordinary claim can withstand such scrutiny.

    My question is a starting point. First, can you explain the very long-term changes in Earth climate?
    If you cannot, to my satisfaction, I have to conclude that you cannot then reliably make claims about shorter-term changes, as you are lacking knowledge.

    And this is the crux of the matter. Is, in reality, the science of Earth climate sufficiently well understood for such claims to be made, and for them to be trusted? My research leads me to believe it is not. But I am open to being convinced otherwise.

    Hi John,
    I hope the above answers your first post.

    As to your second post, again it is not for me to provide evidence, the onus is all on those making extraordinary claims.

    As to your third post, I hope my reply to John reveals the error in your thinking in this case.


    On a general point relevant to this thread.
    The title is “Why do deniers think the earth is cooling?”.

    It concerns the word “denier”. It seems to me that good science should involve a dialogue between theorists and those looking for flaws in those theories. The foundation of good science is the elimination of errors, both in data, methods, theories, and conclusions.

    Using the word “denier” is polarising and unhelpful. In case you do not know, antilocution is listed on the Gordon Allport’s Scale of Prejudice. It is described thus:

    Antilocution means a majority group freely make jokes about a minority group. Speech is in terms of negative stereotypes and negative images. This is also called hate speech. It is commonly seen as harmless by the majority. Antilocution itself may not be harmful, but it sets the stage for more severe outlets for prejudice.

    The list from 1 to 5 is this: Antilocution, Avoidance, Discrimination, Physical Attack, Extermination.

    So it is on the slippery slope.
    I read this on RealClimate:

    [b]In terms of non-scientists, I have proposed that there are limits on free speech, and perhaps the public promotion of global warming denial might be classified the same as holocaust denial is in some countries[/b]:


    As far as scientists are concerned, I’m not suggesting a Soviet model. There should be no censorship of any kind. At the same time, gratuitous and flagrantly political publications should be treated as such. We must allow data, evidence and rationality to be the last word. Attempts to subvert the scientific process should be identified and dealt with appropriately. As I mention in the above article, this is not an academic issue (no pun intended), the lives of millions are at stake.

    When using the word “denier”, I wonder whether you appreciate what you are doing.

    My view is that not only has it unnecessarily polarised debate, but when I see anyone use that word, I instantly assume they are beyond reason, and as such, have become bad scientists.

    If you seriously think that all scientists who are skeptical of the significance of man-made CO2 are equal to holocaust deniers, then you have seriously lost the plot. If you simply think they are denying the facts, then you need to revise your world view. Maybe they simply don’t think you know a much as you think you do.

  9. Hi guys,
    Recently, as I’m sure you’ll be aware, but just in case not, Harold ‘Hal’ Lewis Emeritus Prof of Physics Resigns from American Physical Society due to what he described as the “global warming scam”.
    I’ve covered that here: http://neuralnetwriter.cylo42.com/node/3650

    But, more interestingly IMO are the recent articles from Judith Curry. I assume you know who I’m talking about. Just in case not:


    Judith A. Curry is an American climatologist and chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

    Her research interests include hurricanes, remote sensing, atmospheric modeling, polar climates, air-sea interactions, and the use of unmanned aerial vehicles for atmospheric research. She is a member of the National Research Council’s Climate Research Committee.[1]

    Curry is the co-author of Thermodynamics of Atmospheres and Oceans (1999), and co-editor of Encyclopedia of Atmospheric Sciences (2002), as well as over 140 scientific papers. Among her awards is the Henry G. Houghton Research Award from the American Meteorological Society in 1992.


    This is her article that first caught my attention:

    Heresy and the creation of monsters
    October 25, 2010
    by Judith Curry


    The title of the article itself is rather astonishing. The Wikipedia defines heresy as: “Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma.” The definition of dogma is “Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, ideology or any kind of organization: it is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from.” Use of the word “heretic” by Lemonick implies general acceptance by the “insiders” of the IPCC as dogma. If the IPCC is dogma, then count me in as a heretic. The story should not be about me, but about how and why the IPCC became dogma.


    Since then she’s written:

    Decision making under climate uncertainty: Part I by Judith Curry

    Interesting & intelligent articles. The sort of scientific behaviour I like to see. I hope you find them interesting and informative.

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