2011-06-20 10:28:28Idea for possible blog series: Dodgy Denier Predictions
John Cook


David Jones from the BoM points out on a google group I'm on that David Archibald's 2009 prediction of plummeting 2009 temperatures failed to take place:

This prediction was carried across the denialosphere, including WUWT.

Then in response, Ian Enting suggested:

if anyone does publish/blog about this,  another prediction which I think
failed is Bob Foster of lavoisier group quoting prediction
of ENSO on basis of giant planets. (in senate submission
years ago, but still on Lavoisier site).

my quick eyeballing cf data, indicated "slightly less reliable than random coin tossing"

Which made me think, I wonder if it would be possible to track down past predictions of deniers. The major theme would be that deniers make predictions based on the presupposition that CO2 doesn't cause warming and other factors (sun, natural cycles, etc) do. So the underlying recurring theme would be when you make predictions that contradict our understanding of the science, you go terribly, terribly wrong (and also make them accountable for their dodgy predictions).

It would depend on being able to track down lots of predictions and people willing to do the legwork to write posts.

2011-06-20 16:05:07
Dana Nuccitelli
Yes this is a great idea. I did a post on McLean's ridiculous cooling prediction a few months ago. I think Easterbrook also made an absurd cooling prediction, unless I'm confusing him with Archibald. Only problem is that most deniers shy away from making concrete predictions, so it will be hard to find a lot of examples for this series.
2011-06-20 16:08:21A lot of them made cyclical predictions
John Cook


I remember Bob Carter making such a prediction. You know, where they take a sinusoid curve, extrapolate forward to predict imminent cooling. Carter did this a few years ago so it would be possible to compare.

Of course, Dana, you did the Lindzen prediction from way back in the 1980s - a great example of a dodgy prediction.

2011-06-20 16:14:10
Dana Nuccitelli
True, that one would work, although I had to build a Lindzen prediction since he's never had to cojones to make a predictiion of his own. Hence my comment that it will be difficult to come up with a lot of examples. Deniers like to criticize AGW predictions, but tend not to go on the record themselves. Easier to mask the fact that they're wrong that way.
2011-06-20 16:23:40Well, I guess we don't go ahead with a 'series' unless we've got enough in the bank
John Cook


But a one-off post about Archibald's 2009 prediction is definitely worth doing if anyone wants it - to my knowledge, noone has tackled it so fair game!

2011-06-20 19:49:43
John Mason


Excellent idea - there must be a good number of such flawed predictions out there!

Cheers - John

2011-06-20 23:00:03Taste of their own medicine
James Wight


I’m utterly sick of reading comments like “I’m old enough to remember “Global Cooling”, the population bomb, the hole in the ozone, and any number of other tidings of doom.” This idea would turn the same narrative back on them.

2011-06-20 23:19:10James Wright
John Hartz
John Hartz

I'm old enough to remember how bitterly cold it was in Madison, Wisconsin during the winters of the 1970s. 

2011-06-21 03:27:26
Julian Brimelow

Who is that crackpot in the UK who was very loudly claiming that Europe and or the UK wer egoingt o have the coldest winter on record, and a cold spring too.  A that is not what happened.  Then there is Bastardi, and Goddard's ice predictions of course.

There are loads of examples, including Lindzen's "prediction".

I'm sure we all know why they do this.  It is to keep the idea or possibility that AGW id a hoax real in peoples' minds.  They have to keep the idea alive that we are embarking on global coolng, and with that seed sown people conflate a cold spell or colder winter than typical with global cooling.  It seems like an example of congnitive dissonance to me.

And it is so damn easy to do:  you simply highlight area sof the globe where it is cold (not even unusually cold), you cherry-pick those data sets or those short period sof time that show no wamring or even cooling, you focus on areas that have had more sea ice than usual, or those areas that had a dump of snow.  And the unfortunate part is that each and every day, or month, or year or even decade one can do this, even while the tmeperatures globally continue to rise.

Now be warned, thjey will come back with "failed" IPCC forecasts, or failed predictions of somethign or other...the UK Met office said we were goignt o ahve a BBQ summer, for exmaple.  So one has to address that up front or else the whole exercise could backfire and end up being a long thread of tit for tat.

2011-06-21 04:09:04


The only problem I see is that we need to have claims about (relatively) long term trend or projections, something that goes outside natural variability. Otherwise it's too easy to pick a wrong short term prediction on both sides and the whole thing ends up in a war of wrong short term or even seasonal predictions, as Albatros says.

2011-06-21 04:15:52
Julian Brimelow

Hi Riccardo,

That is correct, you just said what I wanted to say, just more succinctly! :)

That one prediction of children in th UK growing up not knowing what snow is will resurface again though.  Good grief.


2011-06-21 07:06:37
Rob Painting

Alby, have you seen the vid by Potholer 54? (Pete Hadfield). David Viner is correct of course, eventually children in the UK won't experience snowfall, just not yet!

2011-06-21 07:19:58
Dana Nuccitelli

Here is Don Easterbrook in 2008:

Easterbrook cooling

Figure 5. Global temperature projection for the coming century, based on warming/cooling cycles of the past several centuries. ‘A’ projection based on assuming next cool phase will be similar to the 1945-1977 cool phase. ‘B’ projection based on assuming next cool phase will be similar to the 1880-1915 cool phase. The predicted warm cycle from 2030 to 2060 is based on projection of the 1977 to 1998 warm phase and the cooling phase from 2060 to 2090 is based on projection of the 1945 to 1977 cool cycle.

Obviously Easterbrook's Scenario B is a joke, but his Scenario A isn't too far off yet.  It's hard to say which scenario is more true to reality.  He mostly focuses on PDO, but says 1945-1977 is the lesser cool phase, when it probably had the stronger negative PDO than 1880-1915.  So...weaker negative PDO = more cooling?  Except 1880-1915 saw very little cooling.  Easterbrook seems very confused on this.

He also mentions NAO oscillations, glacial fluctuations, and sunspot activity.  Obviously sunspots would probably be in his Scenario B.  NAO has been quite negative too.  And of course glaciers are going downhill fast.

A good post would be to compare PDO, NAO, sunspots, and temperature (and maybe glacier mass, though that's obviously a symptom, not a cause) for 1880-1915, 1945-1977, and 2000-2011.  Unfortunately it looks like PDO data begins in 1900.  But see which is more negative and whether it meets his 'A' or 'B'.  I suspect B, in which case he's very wrong already.

2011-06-21 07:30:59
Dana Nuccitelli

Oh an even better version:

Easterbrook cooling

And Easterbrook and D'Aleo combining on an SPPI paper, Figure 24 here.

2011-06-21 08:28:56
Julian Brimelow

Great example Dana.


I'll have to check out that Hadfield cid...I was speakign from memory so I may have made a bugger up with the timeline.  IMHO, there will be snow in the UK at times in the winter, but they return period will become longer and longer.....anyhoo, better watch the vid before commenting futrther, but I have wasted way too much of my work time today--this could be a full-time job.  Aaargh!

Could someone please tell me why all my posts have the "dead" space at the bottom?  I have cxhecked, no carriage rturns, nothing.

2011-06-23 19:41:11Spencers graph


I don´t know if this is an example of a prediction - but couple of years ago Roy Spencer always showed his data series with a polynomial forth order trendline (I am not good with statistics, but I believe it was pol forth order):

I guess many of you saw this graph and wondered :)


Well - I took the original data, recreated the graph like this:

Anyway, I tested how predictive it was in the past and future and it showed this:

There was an Ice age in the fifties and it will come again in the two thousand and twenties... be aware :)

Remember I am not good with statistics and I don´t know if this is relevant.

P.S. done with excel