My one or two irregular readers may have noticed a lack of recent posts. I've had rather a lot of other things to keep me busy lately, some work-related, some family, some energy/climate-hobby related, some church. One of which is our new wood stove for home heating. It's good to be off oil, but I'm starting to wonder if this was really such a good idea, with all the work it's taking to gather wood now!
I do have a handful of posts I've started work on, including on some complaints I have about at least one chapter in Al Gore's new book, another one on Jevons' Paradox, and another on my imaginary relationship with Douglas Hofstadter... but all of them are still only half-written, still trying to work out my thoughts on some of these issues myself. And there's much more I've thought about wanting to write about - including the huge Copenhagen climate conference going on right now, and before that the stolen climate emails mess - but I'm pretty happy with how it's been covered by others at this point, and really don't have anything specific to say on it myself.
But no, I'm presently just ignoring or procrastinating the meaningful stuff I've been thinking about writing about. Instead how about some fun?
One of the most persistent climate denial memes of the past few years has been that global temperatures hit a peak, and have started falling - that we're currently in a "cooling" trend with "declining" temperatures. Most often they claim the peak was in 1998 (11 years ago now) which was indeed an unusually hot year. This "cooling" meme became immensely popular in early February 2008, when GISS reported their global land-ocean temperature index for January of that year, with a huge drop from the average surface temperature of January 2007 (from the table the change is now listed as a drop from 0.87 to 0.15 degrees C anomaly for that 1 year).
The drop was far less dramatic in the other temperature indexes - all the indexes follow one another quite closely, but month-to-month variations can be quite large. Usually the climate denial folk like to ignore the GISS record, because it actually lists 2005 as the world's hottest year, not 1998 (which comes in third or fourth after 2007 and maybe 2002). But suddenly in February 2008 the NASA-GISS temperature index was all the rage among the climate denial crowd, with shouts of "cooling" and an impending ice age on all the favorite blogs.
Now this is one case where at least a few of the usual crowd actually wrote down some numbers - specifically predictions for the year-end GISS global land+ocean average for 2008. The folks touting cooling surely expected temperatures to drop in 2008 from previous years (and to continue dropping in 2009 and later). What's even better is I put down my guesses too - based on my understanding of the underlying warming trend and some solar variation (but I probably should have put in more of a guess for El Nino behavior too, as that's turning out to be rather important). This was after only one month of 2008 had passed (except for Lucia's number, which came from before January 2008 had been reported). So how did we all do?
The guesses were gathered by Steven Mosher at climateaudit:
My guess was posted here, a little later in the same thread:
Note that every climateaudit poster guessed lower than me. Cooling, remember? And they were particularly eager for the number to be below 0.39C, which would have made 2008 cooler than 1997 as well as 1998 in the GISS record. So how did we all do?
You can find the numbers for yourself in the GISS table - look at the J-D values, or just average the individual months. The year-end 2008 number for global land+ocean temperature anomaly according to GISS was 0.43 C. Slightly above my number, but far closer to mine than to anybody else's. I won, yeah! Except the promised follow-up awards never happened, sigh. Somehow when things don't go the way that group expects, they forget that it ever happened...
By the way, I also posted, in that same comment, my guesses for 2009 through 2012:
For the first 10 months of 2009, GISS global land+ocean temperature average anomaly was 0.56 C. November should be reported soon and will likely be on the warmer side, and December will perhaps move it up a little too. But my number's still incredibly close, guessed 23 months in advance. Still no awards?
Looking at it now, the present El Nino seems likely to boost 2010 temperatures even higher than my guess, so I fully expect my 2010 number to be way low; I have no particularly expectation that the 2011 and 2012 guesses will be any better, but I do know one thing. We're not in a cooling trend. Now when will those so-called skeptics face up to the contrary evidence of their own failed predictions?