In the Mail on Sunday last week, David Rose penned an article pointing out the very sharp decline in RSS land only data to October 2016, indicating that ocean surface temperatures might also cool significantly soon and that perhaps scientists and the media over-played the role of man-made global warming in the spike in global temperatures in early 2016 which were precipitated by the natural warming event of El Nino 2015/16. Predictably, he has been vilified for doing so, called a denier, accused of cherry-picking the data to suit his ‘denialist’ agenda etc. etc. All pretty familiar stuff now to those used to observing the spectacle which is warmist kick-back against any who dare to question any aspect of ‘The Science’.
James Delingpole then joined the fray and published at Breitbart, referencing Rose’s article, pointing out the “icy silence” from climate alarmists following the large drop in land temperatures (as measured by RSS satellite but also, as it happens, by GISS and UAH). Warmist fury peaked El Nino-like when the House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space & Technology had the audacity to tweet a link to Delingpole the Denier’s Breitbart article. Cue rants from the Keepers of the True Science of Climate Change and numerous other lesser warmist offendotron minions.
The main objection to Rose’s article is that he ‘cherry-picked’ land only data from the RSS lower troposphere dataset and ignored the oceans (he did not) and that (bizarrely) he cherry-picked two data points and ignored the longer record. The whole point of Rose’s article is that this is exactly what the media and scientactivists were doing when they hyped the El Nino to promote the anthropogenic global warming message! And they did. There is no doubt about that (as we shall see).
Firstly, let’s examine whether Rose’s ‘cherrypick’ of the RSS land only data was indeed a cherrypick. As you can see, UAH shows a very similar drop:
The GISS land only dataset shows a similar large decline:
So obviously, it was not simply Rose cherry-picking the data because the evidence is there : over land, temperatures dropped precipitously from Feb to Oct 2016. As Rose points out, the ocean data has been slower to respond, but it’s reasonable to speculate that, in 2017, the oceans might continue to cool (as they are now, and especially if a strong La Nina kicks in), whereupon the Pause in global warming might re-establish itself in which case the El Nino of 2015/16 will come to be seen as a short term weather event only, contrary to the hype we saw from scientists and the media at its peak. Of course, there is the possibility global temperatures might remain at a new higher level in which case we can say that El Nino has contributed to the long term global warming trend (as in 1998). The fact remains, however, most of the short term increase in temperature that we saw over 2014/15/16 can be attributed to the building super El Nino, not GHG global warming. This was not what scientists and the media were saying when El Nino peaked:
Adam Scaife (Met Office):
The vast majority of the warming is global warming, but the icing on the cake is the big El Niño event”
We think El Niño made only a small contribution (a few hundredths of a degree) to the record global temperatures in 2015.
The forecast for next year is about 0.8C above the 1961-1990 baseline. About 0.2 of that is likely to come from El Niño, hence the 25%
Peter Stott (Met Office):
El Nino will have contributed a “small amount on top” to the global warming of 2015/16.
When the peak did happen, Gavin was like, ‘Wow’ and this was ‘special’:
The Guardian, supported by comments from a number of scientists, concluded that the global warming occurring at the time was “shocking” and that it constituted a “climate emergency”. Which is odd because scientists are now publicly criticising Rose for writing an article which basically points out (correctly) that global warming was being hyped as the main cause of the extreme global temperatures in early 2016, using the current precipitous drop in RSS land temperature to back up his claim. I say ‘scientists’; well, some of them are. Lew also wades in with a critical guest comment:
This article is flawed to perfection. Mr. Rose made the following inadvisable choices:
1. Ignore the surface temperature record and use only satellite data. Satellites do not measure temperature, they measure microwave radiation, which can be related to an estimate of temperature by use of a computer model. The resulting estimate is, however, not only of temperature at the surface of the Earth—which is where we live—but includes temperature at altitudes of thousands of feet—where no one is trying to farm or grow tomatoes.
2. Ignore two-thirds of the satellite record. Most of the Earth is covered in ocean, and global warming is called global warming because it is global—that is, it includes the oceans.
3. Ignore the trend and focus on two data points. A long-standing trick of people who deny the overwhelming scientific consensus regarding climate change is to cherry-pick isolated observations. The only way to support the claim of a 1-degree drop in the satellite record is by comparing February 2016 to October 2016. This drop, however, is merely weather that is superimposed on the long-term climatic trend.
Highly amusing. Psychology professor criticises journalist for misrepresenting climate science!
The whole rebuttal is a disgrace to be honest. It accuses Rose of saying things he did not say and totally misrepresents what he did actually say. As David Rose points out on Twitter, the fact that the Guardian article above was not attacked for supposed inaccuracy by climate scientists but his article has been is a perfect example of the global warming crowd’s double standards:
Update 11 Dec 2016:
David Rose has published again in the Mail on Sunday:
“Now SECOND set of data shows world temperatures have cooled… and spikes were caused by El Nino – NOT by man”
Taken up by the GWPF:
I think it unlikely that there will be anything more than a few muted mutterings on warmist blogs because the simple, undeniable fact of the matter is, the majority of the global warming we saw in 2015/16 is almost definitely attributable to El Nino, with only a minor contribution from the long term trend. The undeniable fact is, climate scientists and the media falsely attributed ‘most’ of the global warming at the time to GHGs. To suggest that they did not is absurd.
The reason why this  is such a warm record year is because of the long-term warming trend, and there is no evidence that that warming trend has slowed, paused, or hiatused at any point in the last few decades,” he told reporters.”
[Gavin Schmidt, Jan 2016]
But should El Niño and climate change be given equal billing?
No, according to Professor Michael Mann, the director of Penn State Earth System Science Centre. He said it was possible to look back over the temperature records and assess the impact of an El Niño on global temperatures.
A number of folks have done this,” he said, “and come to the conclusion it was responsible for less than 0.1C of the anomalous warmth. In other words, we would have set an all-time global temperature record [in 2015] even without any help from El Niño.
Just two examples among many.
The plain truth is that climate scientists leapt on the opportunity to hype the global warming message when El Nino was at or near its peak and, in doing so, they behaved less like scientists and more like political advocates.