Get ready for new fraudulent claims that the Earth is cooling

We know that global warming skeptics like to use the fact that it snows in winter as an argument that global warming is a big hoax, a silly argument that is a perennial favorite, But 2018 was the fourth warmest year since accurate records started being kept. The last four years have been the warmest with the very highest in 2016 and the other two in 2015 and 2017, followed by 2018. That looks bad, no? But not for for global warming skeptics who are willing to misrepresent and distort statistics to turn this new information into an argument against global warming.

The way that this argument works is to take advantage of fluctuations from year to year, just like temperature fluctuates from day to day. Skeptics select a high point as their baseline and then look at a limited range of subsequent years that are lower in value, and then draw a trend line that shows either no warming or even a decline. In the past, they used the unusually warm El Nino year of 1998 as their baseline and limited their trend line to the next 17 years until 2014 to draw a trend line that was largely flat. But that argument got destroyed when in 2016 another El Nino year rocketed past the 1998 level.

global warming data

Watch Ted Cruz try to use this flim-flam in 2015 during a congressional hearing and get nicely corrected by someone with a real knowledge of meteorology

I explained the flaws in Cruz’s argument back in 2015 and predicted then that a new high point would be similarly exploited in the future. We may now see that argument being resurrected with 2016 as the new baseline because then the next two years have seen a drop in average temperatures. And as long as the next few years also do not match the 2016 levels, they can again argue that global warming is not happening!

Remember folks, you heard it here first.


  1. says

    Anecdotally, we don’t get nearly as many sub-20° days in Edmonton as we used to in the winter. Even getting highs of -15° has been surprisingly rare. This past December and January has had several days with freeze/thaw cycles and we’ve had freezing rain which shouldn’t be happening at this time of year. The past several winters have been unusually mild El Nino has had little to nothing to do with it.

  2. jrkrideau says

    @ 2 As I had to teach a generation of social science undergrads, “Plot your data…..”
    Now if we could only get the economists to do the same!

    Climate denialists would be worth their weight in gold in a cherry orchard.

  3. DataWrangler says

    A lot of them were economics students, taking the same courses I had only a few years before. I don’t know what it’s like at other universities, but it always seemed to me that UWO had an inordinate number of its own former students on the payroll.

  4. lanir says

    The cold snap over the next couple days will probably get a mention as well. I live near Chicago and it will be about as cold as it ever gets around here. I expect a lot of armchair “Senator Snowball”s to pop up.

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