When It Gets Colder, it Only Proves Warming Is For Real!

We sure had a good laugh when a couple of warmists got trapped in Antarctic ice that quickly grew so thick that  even the Chinese icebreaker that tried to rescue them got stuck and must now be rescued as well – by what is presumably a bigger icebreaker from the US (yet another icebreaker sent from Australia already had to give up, so this is the third one). We will be watching with interest whether this icebreaker ends up getting stuck as well. If this continues, they can soon establish a new Eskimo village or two on the Antarctic ice shelf. Of course the climate scientists on the the first ship that got stuck should have known that something like this could happen after 17 years (count 'em) of zero warming.

We also worried slightly about the 500,000 people in Canada and the US who suddenly found themselves sitting in the dark after severe snowstorms in the Northeast left them without power. In fact, the US is experiencing the coldest winter weather in decades –  according to recent reports it has become so cold that “even polar bears and penguins were being kept indoors Monday”.


“Anana, the lone polar bear at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, has never grown the thick layer of fat that bears in their native Arctic develop to insulate themselves against winter temperatures that can range as low as -50 degrees F, zoo spokeswoman Sharon Dewar said. So when temperatures plunged well into the negative range in Chicago, Anana stayed in a 40ish-degree habitat, Dewar said.


And at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, both bald eagles and African penguins "who are used to temperate climates" were taken off exhibit until the weather warms up, the facility reported.

Chicago saw a record low of minus 16 (minus 27 C) on Monday. The day's high was minus 11, with a windchill of minus 34. It's part of an Arctic blast that plunged deep into the central United States on Monday, leaving Nashville, Tennessee, 40 degrees colder than Albany, New York; Memphis 20 degrees colder than Anchorage, Alaska; and Atlanta colder than Moscow — Russia or Idaho, take your pick.”


Naturally, many people skeptical of the AGW theory (which increasingly looks like junk science, for unrelated reasons) had a field day with all these sudden outbreaks of bitter cold. However, as we have often pointed out in the past, extreme weather is actually not providing any proof regarding the direction of the larger climate trend. The reason why we have to keep pointing this out is usually that AGW supporters are regularly trotting out extreme weather as 'proof that global warming is real'. Here is Al Gore on this topic in 2011, citing, what else, the alleged 'scientific consensus':


“Observations in the real world make it clear that it's happening now, it's real, it's with us," he said. Failing to take action meant the world would face a catastrophe.

He added that nearly every climate scientist actively publishing on the subject now agreed there was a causal link between carbon emissions and the sharp increase in intense and extreme weather events seen across the globe.

"Every single national academy of science of every major country on earth agrees with the consensus and the one's that don't agree with it do not exist. This is what they say to governments: 'The need for urgent action is now indisputable'.

"The scientists have made a subtle but profound change in the way that they speak about the connection between the climate crisis and the extreme weather events. They used to say you can't connect any extreme weather event to climate because there are multiple factors. Now they've changed. "The environment in which all storms are formed has changed. It's influence is now present according to the leading scientists in all storms, and they speak of relative causation."


(emphasis added)

So let us get this straight: in 2011 (when 'zero warming' was almost 15 years old…), “nearly every climate scientist actively publishing on the subject  agreed there was a causal link between carbon emissions and the sharp increase in intense and extreme weather events seen across the globe.”

So in view of this consensus, we were naturally wondering what climate alarmists are saying to the slew of ships and icebreakers getting stuck of late and the sudden cold snap engulfing the US and other places. After all, when there are 'floods and storms', they allegedly represent clear proof of global warming. So what exactly does extremely cold weather prove, according to this school of thought? Why, it proves of course precisely nothing.  Here is the Guardian on all those ships stuck in the Antarctic:


“In fact, the local weather patterns that brought about the rapid build up of ice that trapped the Academik Shokalskiy tell us very little about global warming. This is weather, not climate.”


That is actually true (there has been a veritable flood of articles informing us that the cold weather means nothing). One is however compelled to wonder if that means that the 'scientific consensus' on extreme weather has changed since 2011. Just asking. We sure don't remember having been apprised of it.

However, it appears that the extreme cold snap in the US does after all prove something. You see, extremely cold weather actually means global warming is more dangerous then we were led to believe. Warming makes the climate not only warmer, but colder as well! So we have now finally arrived at the point where literally, every situation, no matter how incongruous, can be blamed on 'global warming'…err, sorry, we meant to say 'climate change' of course.

Here is Time Magazine informing us of this fact. The author starts out by telling us that extreme weather that does not fit the warming narrative is of course utterly meaningless. Never mind that the UN climate representative from the Philippines regularly breaks out in tears in public when there is a typhoon somewhere, imploring us that we must do something now (like raise all sorts of taxes), or we shall be doomed!


“By tonight, the freeze will reach the East Coast, where temperatures from Florida to Maine are expected to be 30º F to 40º F (16º C to 22º C) degrees below normal, extremes that haven’t been seen in decades. The National Weather Service isn’t kidding when it calls the cold “life-threatening.”

Unsurprisingly, the extreme cold has brought out the climate change skeptics, who point to the freeze and the recent snowstorms and say, essentially, “nyah-nyah.” Now this is where I would usually point to the fact that the occasional cold snap—even one as extreme as much of the U.S. is experiencing now—doesn’t change the overall trajectory of a warming planet. Weather is what happens in the atmosphere day to day; climate is how the atmosphere behaves over long periods of time. Winters in the U.S. have been warming steadily over the past century, and even faster in recent decades, so it would take more than a few sub-zero days to cancel that out.”


Again, we agree completely that a cold snap is no reason for AGW skeptics to come out and claim it proves anything (they are by the way decidedly not 'climate skeptics' – not a single AGW skeptic doubts there is a climate or that it continually changes.That is not the issue at all). However, the above paragraph contains a number of important omissions and exaggerations, such as not mentioning the '17 years and four months of no warming at all' period, failing to mention the medieval warm period (it should be a duty to mention it in every article about climate change, precisely because it casts serious doubt on the AGW theory), and exaggerating the degree of warming in modern times (much of which has apparently been the result of 'adjusting' old measurements). Fear not however, apparently even cold weather can after all be used to prove that there is global warming. The article continues:


“But not only does the cold spell not disprove climate change, it may well be that global warming could be making the occasional bout of extreme cold weather in the U.S. even more likely.”


(emphasis added)

That is of course mighty convenient, because it means that even if one day the whole world were to look like this …




… it would still only prove that 'global warming' is an imminent threat!

(Photo credit: John Turner / British Antarctic Survey)



It should be noted that according to the article, the 'vanishing ice in the Arctic' must be blamed for pushing polar cold fronts southward, but this assertion clashes with the fact that Arctic sea ice has increased by 50% year-over-year. Shouldn't the extremely cold winter have happened at a more convenient moment? Meanwhile, the Antarctic ice sheet has once again increased to a modern-day record this year, which has become a regular occurrence.  There is of course a reason why the semantics on global warming have suddenly changed:



Figure-3Why 'global warming' has become 'climate change' in one striking chart – click to enlarge.



An Utterly Dismal Predictive Record

It also seems to us that it is high time that more attention is paid to the absolutely dismal record of alarmist climate predictions. As far as we can tell not a single alarmist prediction made over the past three decades has come true. Not a one (if anyone can dig one up, we'd be thrilled to hear about it). This seems rather important, since the same alarmists insist that we have to accept a huge slowdown in economic progress, vast additional taxes and a general loss of freedom based on nothing but their predictions. The predictions of the most respected and well-known alarmists have however not just been wrong, they have been exceptionally wrong. A glaring example comes from what is reportedly one of the most influential climate papers ever published, by J. Hansen and collaborators in the Journal of Geophysical Research (1988). The paper's title is ”Global Climate Changes as Forecast by Goddard Institute for Space Studies”.

The conclusion reached in a recent report examining the paper's predictions:


Hansen’s model overestimated the temperature by 1.9°C, which is a whopping 150% wrong.”



hansenTemperature forecast by Hansen’s group from the year 1988. The various scenarios are: 1.5% CO2 increase (blue), constant increase in CO2 emissions (green) and stagnant CO2 emissions (red). In reality, CO2 emissions increased by as much as 2.5%, which would correspond to a scenario above the blue curve. The black curve is the ultimate real-measured temperature (rolling 5-year average). Hansen’s model overestimates the temperature by 1.9° C, which is a whopping 150% wrong. Figure supplemented by Hansen et al. (1988).



So the Hansen model's prediction (in blue) actually assumed a far lower increase in CO2 than actually occurred. We wonder where he would have drawn his 'prediction curve' if he had assumed the 2.5% increase in CO2 emissions that actually took place? In any case, it is clear that these models are essentially worthless, and the premises on which they are based are evidently wrong. One cannot base policies on such balderdash, and yet, this is what is constantly done and demanded. 

Let us also briefly mention here that all sorts of alarmist forecasts about Arctic sea ice have been rather dramatically blown out of the water (the part that didn't freeze over) this year. Mind, we don't even believe that it would be cause for alarm if that hadn't happened. Who cares really? The Vikings once colonized Greenland when it became ice-free during the medieval warm period, and wine was planted in Sweden. As far as we know, zero negative side effects were recorded anywhere due to these events. On the contrary, the warm period initiated a flourishing of life and civilization, just as one would logically expect.

Moreover, the climate hysteria propagated in most mainstream media is utterly shameful. We understand that the news that 'there's nothing to worry about' won't sell papers, but they are furthering a meme that is economically extremely harmful. Here is an article published in the year 2000, when a series of balmy winters was paraded – you guessed it – as proof of global warming. Our children would never see snow again!


“Global warming, the heating of the atmosphere by increased amounts of industrial gases, is now accepted as a reality by the international community. Average temperatures in Britain were nearly 0.6°C higher in the Nineties than in 1960-90, and it is estimated that they will increase by 0.2C every decade over the coming century. Eight of the 10 hottest years on record occurred in the Nineties.

However, the warming is so far manifesting itself more in winters which are less cold than in much hotter summers. According to Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia,within a few years winter snowfall will become "a very rare and exciting event". "Children just aren't going to know what snow is," he said.


It sure seems the 'scientific consensus' got it wrong again. Here is a headline from a few days ago: “Britain now facing worst winter in sixty years warn forecasters”. The article bemoans the expected disruptions to traffic and flights, but notes in closing that at least the children will have fun!



So there you have it: whether the winter weather is warm or bitterly cold, it always proves that global warming will get us (or our children, or our children's children, or take your pick, someone in the far future …). Never mind that not one of the alarmist forecasts made over the years has come true, we are facing a global threat that makes it absolutely necessary to finance a burgeoning global climate bureaucracy and its scientific advisors, stuff money extorted from tax payers into the subsidization of uneconomic 'green energy' schemes, and enrich an entire panoply of authoritarian leftists who have seen their income reduced due to losing their sugar daddy in Moscow in the early 90s.

And that is what the whole hysteria is ultimately about: cold hard cash.



Charts by: Hansen et al., Tim Ball




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15 Responses to “The Inconsistent Narrative of AGW Alarmists”

  • jimmyjames:

    According to the recently defunct Arthur C. Clarke (1999, p. 495), Richard Feynman’s appraisal regarding zero point energy (ZPE) was that a cubic meter of space would have enough energy to boil all the Earth’s oceans.



    Of course Bush/Cheney and their ilk would rather spill blood for oil bucks- than chase that “invisible possibility”

  • Crysangle:

    It would be worth crossing AGW theory with the global energy sector . Whether you consider peak oil , shale overestimation , deep water ‘potential’ , reserve exaggeration etc. as conspiratorial , the facts (as well as might be discerned) are that fossil energy supply is severely limited . The effort to contain and manage competition over energy is quite feasibly part of the backdrop to AGW promotion. As far as the push for energy efficiency is encouraged I don’t think there is too much to complain about (as long as we are offered a free choice), and add to that maybe the question of whether we have the ‘right’ to draw down finite reserves unnecessarily through overuse . You would know there is a lot of criticism around on the erroneous (official) reporting of energy reserves . If we assume at some point there will be a few questions to answer on the topic … how would you manage global energy reserves , the free market being innovative but maybe not to the point of recreating the wealth of energy we currently enjoy in the competitive time-frame that might (or has) appear(ed) ? I have yet to read a proper report of projections on global energy production and use that is accurate (partly because national official data is often kept secret ) … maybe we should start by addressing the whole topic from that angle – by asking for clear independent transparency of global resources, stripped of optimistic returns on possible energy ventures.

    • I have long planned to write a bit on that particular topic – generally I think that the main problem is not really resource scarcity, but the fact that especially in energy, there is a lot of state control (one of the reasons why the data are so poor by the way). Energy as such is actually more of a know-how than a resource problem if we consider Einstein’s famous equation. There is more than enough energy all around us, the question is only how to get at it in an economically viable manner. Anyway, this is something best left to a separate post.

      • JasonEmery:

        Pater–I haven’t posted here in a while, but I don’t believe I have ever seen you mention rising (or falling) sea levels. One would think that a mere handful of sea level measurements, if they mostly point in the same direction, would trump tens of thousands of temperature measurements, which largely average each other out anyway.

        I have no idea if National Geographic is part of any conspiracy theory to push a specific agenda, but they claim that the rise in sea levels is ongoing, and accelerating, including during the recent period of ‘cooling’ you mention. Since there is no new water coming from external sources, and not much geothermal activity in polar regions, I would think rising ocean levels must come from melting glaciers.

        If you sincerely think the planet is cooling, are you disputing the data showing a continuing rise in ocean levels, or are you aware of solid scientific evidence that demonstrates that there is a decade or more lag between atmospheric temperature change reversal and ocean level change reversal?

        My own view is that, to the extent that rising sea levels are a function of human activity such as oil consumption, that activity will soon decline significantly. We reached peak cheap oil ten years ago. Oil production is being sustained at a high level by the mispricing of exploration capital by ZIRP and other financial end game shenanigans.

        • Crysangle:

          Possibly thermal expansion .

          • JasonEmery:

            Crysangle said, “Possibly thermal expansion .”

            Yeah, that is one of the arguments of the global warming crowd. If all the heat isn’t warming the air, it must be going somewhere, like the oceans. Easy to say, impossible to prove. How many ocean water temperature measurements would you have to take, lol? 40,000 per day?

            On the other hand, a few hundred shore measurements and some satellite date will show you whether or not sea level is rising. Keep it simple.

      • Crysangle:

        Asking you how you would manage possible energy scarcity was a bit of a false question maybe , I would think that ideally you would choose to let the free market have say while providing society at large a full map of the state of all resources so that anyone with a little imagination or intelligence might be better able to choose where to devote it . If we widen the parameters of energy management to objectives that might range from absorbing prahna on a mountainside through to turning the planet into one great people farm ready to self propel itself to the next new suitable star, thinking out a precise course becomes slightly complex . I used the term management simply because we have half the worlds population ready to grumble at a mere rise in prices (no doubt partly a reflection of the loss of value of their favoured currency) while refusing to cede consumption , and another half ready to chip away at any ‘spare capacity’ ever made available . Those grumblers happen to be quite heavily armed as well , and not always friendly with each other – about the closest we get in sympathy each time a country is destroyed is a ‘not in my name’ protest and then head home using the invaded countries energy. I find your commentary on Iraq very real and correct – he took friends of mine as hostages , returned a friendly sheikh in a very poor state , ruined our business and left Kuwait at the mercy of a new kind of invasion , others have worse stories to tell no doubt … I still find no sanction in later invading Iraq though , at all . The play of events we now witness was foreseen by those I know before the US launched its first missile … and I personally find it hard to believe that the American administration could be that naive. Egypt is another reflection on how energy wealth buys power and influence , it is not only the lack of economic reform that hampers the country but an overall instability created by a reliance on imports (including food) – the only country interested in supplying more than military aid happens to be in an energy derived surplus , all part of ‘making the show work’.

        I look forward to your viewpoint , it is a vast topic.

  • Ned Baker:

    Atmospheric CO2 is at something like a million year high and rising rapidly. A third of this is absorbed by our oceans causing acidification. Please also write a gleeful, pseudoscientific takedown of that so I can continue mindlessly burning oil. Thanks.

    • bubbly:

      1) Oceans are alkaline with pH over 8 (if you know what that means)

      2) CO2 levels may be relatively high within the time frame of the last 1 million years, but that is a relatively short time frame when compared to the last 500 million years – when CO2 levels have been much higher for most of the time.

    • I should point out that I’m on purpose a bit of a polemicist on the matter. Someone has to balance the alarmists a bit, and since they have the power of the State behind them, their ability to spread propaganda is quite awesome. However, regardless of how rapidly CO2 is rising (from one insignificant amount to another insignificant amount), the climate has stopped warming anyway. In fact, right now we’re freezing our behinds off. :)
      I hold with MIT climatologist Lindzen that all the evidence points to the fact that the alarmists are vastly overstating the earth’s climate sensitivity. Since the Industrial Revolution, temperatures have increased by at most 1 degree Celsius, and remain well below the temperatures seen during the medieval warm period (BEFORE we burned a drop of oil). Hardly a reason to get alarmed. I think they are overstating it because that is what keeps the grant money flowing. And politicians support the meme because it gives them a catch-all reason to raise taxes, serve special interests, and increase economic control. That may be fine for people whose time preferences are marked by the fact that the next election is a few years away at most, but it’s a very bad reason to lower the economy’s ability to create wealth by 10s of trillions over the next few decades.
      As I have written in earlier installments on the topic, it may well be that humanity will one day face a big catastrophe of one kind or another (an asteroid may strike us, a neutron star may cross our path, global cooling may lead to famines, there are endless possibilities). What is the best chance to be able to deal with such a catastrophe? I know of only one way: get as rich as possible as quickly as possible, as that will allow us to expand our know-how and produce the capital goods that will both be required to actually face up to such huge challenges. By contrast, the benefits of vastly impairing economic growth for tackling what is obviously a non-problem seem minuscule.

      • Crysangle:

        Unless the problem is not actually climate change but the means of weaning a sold audience off a certain lifestyle while not having anything better to offer . Also, while we are busy selling the west to emerging markets, we sort of seem to have forgotten that they will then want a part of the existing energy pie. As you and others mention , we are awash in energy , the difficulty is not just harnessing it but also storage – the hydrocarbons are good at that , battery technology is no true competition yet and hydrogen technology does not seem complete either . Sure that mankind will adapt somehow , by efficiency on the journey to new know how if need be , hopefully not by purposefully reducing the population of the planet against its will . A main area to watch is the dependence on hydrocarbons for food production in many countries , if energy prices move beyond the reach of poorer countries that could spell a lot of trouble .

  • No6:

    This meme is running out of steam. Its the next one that worries me.

  • Mark Humphrey:

    I keep bumping into the notion that global warming causes cold winters and snow. The people who buy this don’t think, because they don’t have to; they just watch TV.

    My favorite rejoinder solves the problem, because I don’t have to argue with them. I agree with them and remark that I always hate it when I forget and leave the oven on. Then I’m faced with the chore of chipping out all that damned ice encrusting the oven walls.

  • SavvyGuy:

    I totally agree that scam artists of all stripes have latched on to this climate change myth in order to try and work up a broader sense of public guilt so they can continue their usual extortion racket!

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