George Washington’s winters

by Judith Curry

Frozen rivers, knee-deep snows, sleet, frigid temperatures, and other winter miseries helped shape the story of George Washington’s life.

Mount Vernon, the site of George Washington’s home, has posted an interesting article Washington’s winters.  Excerpts:

The Allegheny River, 1753

With tensions between the French and British over control of the Ohio Valley rapidly rising, a 21-year-old George Washington was sent on a dangerous diplomatic mission into the French-controlled wilderness beyond the Appalachians. After being politely rebuffed, Washington and his travelling companion, Christopher Gist, began the long journey back through the wilderness to Virginia.

On December 29, 1753 the two reached the Allegheny River which was filled with large chunks of floating ice. Gist and Washington built a raft of logs and then tried to maneuver the rough craft through the ice-clogged waters. Almost halfway across the river, Washington was thrown into the icy waters after their raft struck an ice pack. Nearly hypothermic, Washington pulled himself back on the raft with the aid of Gist.

Struggling against the ice and water, numb and exhausted, the two were unable to successfully reach either shore. They decided to abandon the raft and wade through the freezing water to a nearby island, where they spent a miserable night in the severe weather. By morning, the river was frozen solid, and the two battered survivors walked their way to safety.

The Delaware River, 1776

After suffering a series of stinging defeats, Washington’s Continental Army had retreated south of the Delaware River at the onset of winter in 1776. Rather than skulk off to winters quarters, Washington decided to attack an isolated garrison of Hessian troops who were stationed on the far side of the river at Trenton, New Jersey. To surprise the Hessians, Washington ordered a night time crossing on Christmas Day, 1776. The famous crossing was made infinitely worse by the large blocks of ice floating in the river and the terrible nor’easter that pelted his men with snow and sleet. The freezing temperatures and ice-choked river delayed the crossing by several hours, but Washington remained determined to proceed with the attack which led to a complete rout of the Hessian force the following morning at the Battle of Trenton. In assessing the American casualties for this stunning victory, more American men succumbed from the elements than were killed by Hessian bullets.

Valley Forge, 1777-1778

When you think of cold and miserable winters, Valley Forge easily comes to mind. It was here, over the winter of 1777 and 1778, that 11,000 of Washington’s Continental Army faced once of its most trying episodes. While rain, snow, and cold temperatures afflicted the army, the situation was made far worse by the lack of shelter, blankets, winter coats, and even shoes. It has been estimated that a third of Washington’s army at Valley Forge lacked viable footwear. Washington ordered his soldiers to build wooden huts for themselves and then search the countryside for straw to use as bedding. He hoped this would keep them warm since there were not enough blankets for everyone.

Morristown, 1779-1780

Of all the terrible winters that Washington faced during his lifetime, the frozen winter of 1779 and 1780 might have been the worst. While Valley Forge has become synonymous with winter misery during the Revolutionary War, by all historical accounts the winter encampment at Morristown, New Jersey was far worse. Trapped by one of the worst winters on record, Washington’s Continentals lacked food, clothes, and sufficient shelter. To further complicate the situation, the icy roads made it almost impossible to bring regular supplies to the suffering soldiers. The situation grew so dire that several regiments mutinied and Washington despaired for the future of the Revolutionary cause.

In a March 18, 1780 letter to the Marquis de Lafayette, Washington wrote that “The oldest people now living in this Country do not remember so hard a Winter as the one we are now emerging from. In a word, the severity of the frost exceeded anything of the kind that had ever been experienced in this climate before.”

A Final Horseback Ride, 1799

How is it that the man who survived crossing frozen rivers in the wilderness and outlasting terrible winters in the mountains, would ultimately succumb to the winter elements at his Mount Vernon home? On Thursday, December 12, 1799 George Washington mounted his horse and headed out to inspect his estate and farms as was his custom. On this day the weather turned from light snow to hail and then to rain. Returning to the mansion for a dinner, a punctual Washington refused to delay the meal and stayed in his wet clothes. The next morning brought three inches of snow and a sore throat. The sore throat led to a worsening condition that could not be allayed by his attending physicians. After a hard struggle with his inflamed throat, Washington died at between ten and eleven at night on December 14, 1799. After many a close call, winter finally won out over George Washington.

JC reflections

While these reflections on the climate of the late 18th century are anecdotal, this was clearly a cold period globally, as indicated by this figure from the IPCC AR5:


Tony Brown has also written several posts that include this period:

The IPCC defines ‘dangerous climate change’ as 2C warming since pre-industrial times, circa 1750.  The 18th century was one of the coldest centuries in the millennia — and George Washington’s winter experiences don’t sound like much fun.

In my post The Goldilocks Principle, I raised the question of which climate do we want?  I don’t think it is the climate of the 18th century.  One answer is the climate that we are adapted to, which is arguably the present climate.  Or perhaps it was the climate of the 1970’s, before the late 20th century warming,  a period that was relatively benign in terms of extreme weather events (at least in the U.S. and Europe, this can be attributed to the cold phase of the AMO).  Since much of the world’s infrastructure does not predate 1970 (outside of Europe, anyways), it doesn’t make too much sense IMO to go further back to define a reference period.

So my question is this.  Why are we defining ‘dangerous climate change’ with respect to the climate of the 18th century, which was the coldest period in the last millennia, with wicked winters?  Why not use a reference point of 2000 or 1970?  The IPCC doesn’t provide  a convincing explanation for the overall warming between 1750 and 1950; according to climate models, human causes contributed only a very small amount to the global warming to during this period (so presumably this overall warming was caused by natural climate variability).  Co-opting the period between 1750 and 1950 into the AGW argument muddies the scientific and the policy waters.

It would make much more sense — from a scientific perspective, from the perspective of adaptation and engineering, and in the public communication of climate change — to refer to warming relative to a more recent reference period.  Since the emissions reference periods are between 1990 and 2005, this also adds to the argument of citing a more recent reference period for defining ‘dangerous’.

The argument that human caused warming is already ‘dangerous’ — widely made by politicians, the media and some scientists — flies in the face of scientific evidence reported by the IPCC AR5 and SREX.  Extreme weather events were worse earlier in the 20th century, and sea level has been rising for millennia, with recent rates of sea level rise comparable to what was observed in the middle 20th century.

So, is there any chance of redefining ‘dangerous’ climate change in a more logical and sensible way?  In terms of the UNFCCC, I would say no.  In the U.S., a Republican President might possibly shake this up in a more sensible way (but then again . . .)

232 responses to “George Washington’s winters

  1. Studying air trapped inside Greenland ice cores researchers updated and corroborated their previous findings. The Earth has actually been cooling for thousands of years. Temperature changes during the 20th Century were just a tiny blip among many such blips over the years. The last 4000 years includes ups and downs — cooling trends followed by warming trends, etc. — and even a Little Ice Age lasting hundreds of years from before the time of Charles Dickens to when George Washington crossed the Delaware. But, that is what climate change is all about: it changes!

    • “and even a Little Ice Age lasting hundreds of years from before the time of Charles Dickens to when George Washington crossed the Delaware”

      I’m having trouble with that one. Dickens was born 13 years after Washington died.

      • True, Charles Dickens and George Washington share something in common: they both lived during the Little Ice Age, that occurred from about the mid thirteenth century to the 1860s–during which time Dickens wrote ‘A Christmas Carol’ in 1843 and Washington crossed the Delaware, afloat with chunks of ice, in 1776…

      • OK but I still thinks it’s tortured wordsmithing.

        It would be equivalent to saying “from before the time of Star Wars to when Chaplin made Easy Street”.

    • Doug Mackenzie

      Wagathon, your “actually cooling for thousands of years” is in need of intelligent correction. Better check some proxy temps for 12, 10, 8.5 thousand years ago as the ice sheets melted.

      • True, “Annual snow accumulation increased in the early 20th century, rising 30 percent between 1900 and 2010,” according to the latest research coming our to the AGU and that has been going on for 10,000 years.

      • Antarctica has not been losing land ice over the 20th century. Overall, Antarctica has been getting bigger not smaller.

  2. Once again, a great post couched in sweet reasonableness. Let’s hope it draws some attention. It’s so hard to deny the 18th century was much colder in many areas.

    You are one of my intellectual heroes, please keep up the good work.

  3. “…according to climate models, human causes contributed only a very small amount to the global warming to during this period (so presumably this overall warming was caused by natural climate variability). ”

    The cause of this “natural climate variability” should be the point of many theses and dissertations penned by eager, frisky graduate students…and possibly even a few scholarly articles by those with advanced degrees already in hand. However, the current academic social climate tends to drive the herd toward warmer climes.

    Climate of the kind that authors weather will continue to retain its mysteries as long as those who should be looking for answers are instead looking for a crowd to accept them.

  4. Oceans warm, Polar Oceans Thaw, Snowfall increases. This did happen as we came out of the Little Ice Age. Ice is being replenished on Antarctica, Greenland and Mountain Glaciers. Ice builds up and spreads out, dumping ice and ice cold water into the oceans and on land until earth cools.This happens later. Polar oceans freeze and the sun takes away ice every year until earth warms again. It is a natural cycle and we did not cause it. CO2 just makes the green stuff grow better with less water.

    It is warm now because it is supposed to be warm now. It will stay warm about as long as the Roman and Medieval periods stayed warm and then the replenished ice will cool earth into the next little ice age. What has happened will happen again. This is the only modern climate theory that does match with actual data.

    • If you look at the rate of ice increase and temperature in ice core data, The rate of ice replacement is always highest when temperatures are highest. The rate of ice replacement is always lowest when temperatures are lowest.
      Don’t take my word, look for yourself. Ice core data for Greenland and Antarctica both show this. Ice core data for Greenland and Antarctica show that temperatures have been bounded inside the same limits in the SH and NH for ten thousand years. This while solar input decreased in the NH and increased in the SH. The Polar oceans freeze and thaw at the same temperature and provide the thermostats in both hemispheres.

      I would like to hear from all of you. Tell us all if you Agree or Disagree and why.


    Climate change has to be broken down into three questions: ‘Is climate changing and in what direction?’ ‘Are humans influencing climate change, and to what degree?’ And: ‘Are humans able to manage climate change predictably by adjusting one or two factors out of the thousands involved?’ The most fundamental question is: ‘Can humans manipulate climate predictably?’ Or, more scientifically: ‘Will cutting carbon dioxide emissions at the margin produce a linear, predictable change in climate?’ The answer is ‘No’. In so complex a coupled, non-linear, chaotic system as climate, not doing something at the margins is as unpredictable as doing something. This is the cautious science; the rest is dogma. (Philip Stott)

    • In so complex a coupled, non-linear, chaotic system as climate, not doing something at the margins is as unpredictable as doing something.

      A system that cycles in the same bounds in two hemispheres for ten thousand years is not linear, it is cyclic, it is an irregular cycle, the bounds are not chaotic, some of the changes inside the bounds are chaotic, but not the bounds. If you don’t understand the cycle and the bounds, anything you do or don’t do is unpredictable. If you do understand the cycle and the bounds, you will know that earth temperature is regulated and what we do does not matter for the temperature or sea level. We could build a dam and stop warm water from flowing into the Arctic and we could cause a major disruption to the NH. There is nothing we could do to change the SH.

      If CO2 causes warming, and it most likely does, a little, that warming melts the polar oceans sooner and turns up the snowfall rate sooner and limits the upper bound at the same temperature and the same sea level.

      Again, I do want to hear from all the Denizens. Tell me if you agree or that you disagree and why. We must understand natural variability before we can settle the Climate Debate.

      • It is the number of factors that are involved and the interrelatedness of the factors that makes the system, chaotic. “In a system as complex and chaotic as climate, actions with just one factor out of the thousands involved,” which is what Stott says government scientists are doing with their obsession with atmospheric CO2 levels, “may even trigger unexpected consequences. It is vital to remember that, for such a coupled, non-linear, chaotic system, not doing something (i.e., not emitting gases) is as unpredictable as doing something (i.e., emitting gases).

    • I’m going to continue with another drum bang.

      There’s reason to believe that global warming is real but the climate change is largelya false narrative.

      And before the screams, yes, temperature is a metric of climate.

      But the intimated ‘dangers’ of ‘climate change’ are portrayed as change in climatic events. These events occur because of motion of the atmosphere. There is a lack of physics behind the assertions that CO2 or increased global temperature have anything to do with the motions of weather and climate.

      Climate is derived from weather.
      Weather occurs because of motion of the atmosphere.
      Motion of the atmosphere is forced by pressure gradients
      Pressure gradients occur because of temperature gradients.
      And temperature gradients occur because of the polar-deficit-tropical-surplus of net radiance.

      Neither carbon dioxide, nor global average temperature, nor the theorized conditions in which such events will occur, significantly change the fundamental pole-to-equator gradient in net radiance which drives the general circulation.

      There is plenty of natural variation, with, as far as we can estimate, no significant change in the pole-to-equator gradients, reminding us that we can expect extremes.

      Global warming would appear to be real, but I don’t see a physical explanation, and indeed, observations don’t bear out climate change.

      • “Climate is derived from weather.”

        Err Not.

        Climate is determined by geography, over 90%.

        The rest, what’s left over, is weather.

      • “Climate is determined by geography, over 90%.”

        Maybe 97%?

        So now you’re admitting that C02 doesn’t really change the climate.


      • Climate is determined by geography…

        To an extent, that’s true, largely because of mountains.

        Mountains exert a pressure gradient against an oncoming wind ( like blowing the foam across the top of your hot chocolate causes the foam to conform to the edge of your cup and circle back even though you blow it away ).

        But mountains won’t change much with CO2 or temperature either.

        Oceans are a great source of humidity, but they don’t define climate. Consider the Namibian Desert which, according to paleo records, has been in place for 60 million years. Yet it is right upon the ocean’s edge. So too are the Atacama, the Sonoran, and Saudi Arabia.

        These places don’t lack access to rain bringing humidity, but they do lack converging fluid flow which causes the lift necessary for rain.

        But back to may drum, there are some caveats, but the fundamental aspects of climate won’t change with global warming.

      • Climate is determined by geography…

        Maybe Mosher was referring to the climates of the world (e.g,. Mediterranean like in Italy and California). Global warming can change those.

      • Maybe Mosher was referring to the climates of the world (e.g,. Mediterranean like in Italy and California). Global warming can change those.

        Global warming would seem likely to raise temperatures, well, globally,
        ( though since 1979, the Eastern Pacific and Southern Ocean do indicate cooling ).

        So in that regard, fine.

        But the frequency of storms, precipitation, drought, heatwaves, coldwaves, the season of peak precipitation, fire weather, high winds, etc. etc. are determined by the motion of the atmosphere, not by global temperature.

      • “To an extent, that’s true, largely because of mountains.”

        Err no. Latitude, Elevation, then topography– for Land.

      • Curious George

        Steven – I have seen “climate is an average of weather”, and “Climate is the statistics (usually, mean or variability) of weather, usually over a 30-year interval” (Wikipedia). Please tell us what climate is, and how it is not derived from weather. BTW, I am very unhappy with both “definitions” above. 90+% geography, 10-% weather does not make me happy.

      • Climate is determined by geography, over 90%.
        The rest, what’s left over, is weather.

        Wrong Answer. Stay with bookeeping, it’s what you are good at.
        Climate is derived X% by geology and (100-X)% by astronomy.
        Weather is the temporal progression and regression to the Climate mean.

    • ‘Are humans able to manage climate change predictably by adjusting one or two factors out of the thousands involved?’ (Philip Stott)

      I didn’t know there were thousands. Is there a list describing each one?

      • Other factors include the shifting crusts and volcanic eruptions, oscillations of solar activity on multi-Decadal to Centennial and Millennial time scales with variations in gamma radiation and the role of the big planets, Saturn and Jupiter — and a changing North Pole and variations in the magnetosphere, and cosmic rays that bathe the Earth as it dashes through the leftovers of busted stars — like having a galactic gravestone fall on your toe — e.g., high energy protons and electrons colliding with photons, producing electron-positron pairs and muons and more, oh my…

      • How about identifying the other 1,987. He did say “thousands.”

      • How many more of the factors and feedback mechanisms and processes would be known if all we’ve paid had not gone only to those who willingly turn a blind eye to all but a single human-produced gas as the sole cause of climate change –e.g., to dust and reflectivity and vegetation and other gasses that are unaffected by human activity and tectonic activity and Mazzarella’s ‘torque’ and the natural power of swirling vortices… Unfortunately, us folks who are picking up the tab for the development costs of climate models that demonstrate zero predictive capability — GCMs that can never be validated — do not seem to have much say in whether we feel the value of Western academia’s GCMs are worth what they are costing us.

    • Our climate system is a massively complex, chaotic, non-linear, coupled system made up of 5 separate subsytems, each with it’s own set of complexities that no one fully understands, much less grasps the complexity of the interactions between all the subsytems plus the effects of externalities like the sun, gravity, polarity, cosmic rays, and who knows how many unknown unknowns. Atmospheric Co2 concentration is roughly 400 ppm, or .04%. Human contribution of that total is roughly 3%, meaning that burning all those fossil fuels – that have made our lives far richer, healthier, and longer – contribute less than 12 ppm of atmospheric Co2. So, controlling human emissions of Co2 alone is expected to stop the climate from changing, will eliminate all future severe weather events, and allow humanity to exist in a pure – albeit, undefined – climate utopia. And I have ocean front property in Kansas that I will sell you for a good price.

  6. The 1970s were not without problems for Australia, starting with the Bulahdelah Tornado of New Year’s Day 1970. There were storms and floods, but also lots to burn in dry spells because there was so much growth. The mid-70s was truly an unusual period. This map doesn’t show the droughts you always get somewhere in Oz, no matter what the general conditions, but three years in the blue is really extraordinary:

    On the other hand, anything is better than this, our driest year known, coming at the end of the Federation Drought:

    Fortunately, there was nothing much left to burn.

    I haven’t got the slightest problem believing in climate change.

    Bad fires in Tasmania and moist conditions down the eastern mainland right now: they used to call it Australia, now they call it Send-Money. But I figure if the temple priests couldn’t save us from the 1967 Tassie inferno or the 1955 Hunter Floods, they can’t do much for us now.

    • Excellent illustration of regional variations! I have posted this on my twitter. @RogerAPielkeSr

      • Geoff Sherrington

        Caution is urged. The contour textures on the 1901-2 maps of Australia cannot be supported by data sampling density. There were simply too few weather stations. Subject to a check, possibly ony 30 official stations were recording temperatures for the whole of Australia in 1900.
        The N-S discontinuity along the WA border has a fair probability of being caused by different conventions and equipment from State to State. These States combined to form the Commonwealth in 1901, but of course it took significant times to reorganise and harmonise.

      • Geoff Sherrington

        Check done. From BOM technical report number 49 dated 2011
        “There are 1691 Australian sites, with greatly varying periods of record, that have daily temperature data in the Bureau of Meteorology climate database. 761 of these are currently operating. At one end of the scale, 31 sites (16 of which are currently operating) have 100
        years or more of available daily data……”

        This is not a complete answer because there might be more sites that have annual data (as opposed to these, with daily data). So 30-50 sites in 1900 might be a reasonable guess. Even recently, in 2011, there are large site separations. From the same report,
        “Many sites are more than 100 kilometres from their nearest neighbour, with two ACORN-SAT locations (Giles and Rabbit Flat) more than 200 kilometres from their nearest neighbour, and substantial areas in the western and eastern interior have no observations at all.”
        So, as stated before, there seems no good justification for contours with the detail shown, as interpolation for gridding and mapping has to cope with distances that are too great.

      • I tend to agree with you, Geoff. The data is overrated for these early conditions. The severity of the drought of 1901-1902, like the heat of 1896, are best surmised from reports and reactions of involved and observant humans. And if Sid Kidman was almost brought down by ’01-’02, it’s a good bet there was no grazing anywhere worth chasing. (Of course, he was up and running in no time…but you get that with genius.) One old account:

        “The year 1902 was one of appalling drought in eastern Australia. Whenever strong winds blew, desiccated soil was whipped into great dust clouds. On the worst day, Wednesday 12 November, northwesterly gales caused exceptional dust storms to sweep across three states. The winds
        caused considerable damage in their own right…In some towns, “balls of fire” were reported. At Boort in central Victoria they reportedly fell into paddocks and streets, with showers of sparks as they struck the ground.”

        (It’s interesting that there was a huge cattle sell-off at the very same time in the US, when places like Wyoming and Colorado completely ran out of grass when stock levels were very high. The Western Railroad simply couldn’t handle it. Seems 1902 was not a good time to be a cow or the owner of a cow.)

        Checking what old gauges are available, it’s still striking how dry they were in that peak year of the Fed Drought. My region (NSW midcoast) was driest in 1902. So was Brisbane, whose records stretch back to 1840.

        Different story further south. 1888 was Sydney’s driest (though 1902 was second, as I recall), Melbourne and Adelaide were driest in 1967, Hobart driest as recently as 2006. Still, 1902 keeps popping up for driest or very dry over a wide spread.

        Graphs, even with adequate data, can distort. The three year map of the mid-seventies probably conceals fire and drought conditions which occurred in the period. And if there was a flood somewhere in 1901-02, who’d be surprised when the subject is Australian climate?

    • I have really had much time time for annual average rainfall in Australia – 4 years of 20 cm followed by one year of 4 m does make the average of 1 m/year the least bit relevant. As an agricultural researcher, we never took the annual averages to mean anything – it is a shame that the “climate change” people do (or rather did – apparently they are all losing their jobs now).

    • Mosomoso, a great comment. A vivid reminder that climate is at best regional (Oz being a somewhat isolated ‘region’, or as I am also unreliably told, just the westernmost NZ island…).
      Point being that GCMs do not regionally downscale. Essay Last Cup of Coffee gives examples and references. So are useless for regional adaptation planning. You might also like essay PseudoPrecision, where Oz was used as the reason for an apparent slowdown in SLR. Utter nonsense, but you all got the ‘official’ GRACE blame. Something about retained water in the outback. Regards to Down Under from Up Over.

    • Moso +10. What may have been happening at the so-called global level re temps seems irrelevant!

  7. One of the most notable threats from “climate change” is a threat to those who yell about it most loudly. That is, a threat to the politicians and academicians at the tops of government funded hierarchies. Significant climate change *does* require adaptation. That adaptation, in turn, requires greater freedoms of action in society to allow people to adapt by changing their ways of life. Social hierarchies, however, are built to *control* resources, and how they are used, and resist greater freedoms of action for those at the bottom levels of those hierarchies.

    Thus, these people, facing what they see as “chaos”, are staring at what will be greater demands for freedoms of action from those who would normally be sweetly obedient followers. It is natural for them to seek to preserve their status in society by preempting those demands, by the solution of greater controls, and mixing in the panic needed to get people to hand over more power to the tops of the controlling hierarchies, to”save” them.

    Their problem is, it’s not working.

    • The policy of assigning all authority to a central agency to design rules is based on a false conception that there are only a few rules that need to be considered and that only experts know these options and can design optimal policies.

      Our empirical research strongly challenges this assumption. There are thousands of individual rules that can be used to manage resources. No one, including a scientifically trained professional staff, can do a complete analysis of any particular situation….

      Thus, instead of proposing highly centralized governance systems, the best empirical evidence we can bring to bear on the quesiton of building sustainable democratic systems for sustainable resource use is to design polycentric systems.

      A polycentric system has multiple semiautonomous units of governance located at small, regional, national, and now international scales of organization. Some of these governance units may be organized in the private sector while others are organized in the public sector.

      Government is not the only form of governance that humans have devised over the centuries….

      Modern policy analysis needs to catch up with contemporary empirical and theoretical research.

      The two implicit messages contained in much of contemporary public policy analysis are not only inefficient and ineffective, they are dangerous for the long-term sustainability of democratic systems of governance.

      The first message undermines the normative foundations of a free society. It basically says that it is okay to be narrowly self-interested and to wait for externally imposed inducements or sanctions before voluntarily contributing to collective action.

      The second message undermines the positive foundations of a free society by destroying capacity of citizens to experiment with diverse ways of coping with multiple problems and to learn from this experimentation over time. This message basically says that there is one best way of solving all collective-action problems and it is only knowable by experts. Citizens are viewed as having little to contribute to the design of public policies.

      Thus, much of contemporary policy analysis and the policies adopted in many modern democracies crowd out citizenship and voluntary levels of cooperation. They do this by crowding out norms of trust and reciprocity, by crowding out the knowledge of local circumstances, by crowding out the discussion of ethical issues with others who are affected, and by crowding out the experimentation needed to design effective institutions. Crowding out of reciprocity, cooperation, and citizenship is a waste of human and material resources and presents a serious challenge to the sustainability of democratic institutions over time.

      — ELINOR OSTROM, “Politices that Crowd Out Reciprocity and Collective Action, Moral Sentiments and Material Interests

    • Rule by sheer violence comes into play where power is being lost….

      Politically speaking, the point is that loss of power becomes a temptaiton to substitute violence for power — in 1968 during the Democratic convention in Chicago we could watch this process on television — and that violence itself results in impotence. Where violence is no longer backed and restrained by power, the well-known reversal in reckoning with means and ends has taken place. The means, the means of destruction, now determines the end — with the consequence that the end will be the destruction of all power.

      — HANNAH ARENDT, “On Violence”

      Maybe a note of explanation is in order.

      Arendt rejected the notion of power as posited by Mao: “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”

      Or by Stalin: “How many divisions does the Pope of Rome have?”

      Or by any number of political theorists on the right as well. “Should everybody from Right to Left, from Bertrand de Jouvenel to Mao Tse-tung agree on so basic a point in political philosophy as the nature of power?”, Arendt asked.

      Arendt instead argued that “there exists another tradition and another vocabulary no less old and no less time-honored.” This is the democratic tradition:

      When the Athenian city-state called its constitution an isonomy, or the Romans spoke of the civitas as their form of government, they had in mind a concept of power and law whose essence did not rely on the command-obedience relationship…

      It was to these examples that the men of the eighteenth-century revolutions turned when they ransacked the achives of antiquity and consituted a form of government, a republic, where the rule of law, resting on the power of the people, would put an end to the rule of man over man, which they thought was a “government for slaves.”

      Under conditions of representative government the people are supposed to rule those who govern them. All political institutions are manifestations and materializations of power; they petrify and decay as soon as the living power of the people ceases to uphold them. This is what Madison meant when he said “all governments rest on opinion.”

    • “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.” – H.L. Mencken

  8. Quite right Prof. Curry – not only has no one published a detailed rationalization of which climate is optimum for the world, they also have never proven that the often cited 2.0 C rise is demonstrably catastrophic.

    • Some like it hot and some like it cold and some like it in between.
      Some like it always hot and some like it always cold and some like changing seasons. There are places on Earth for all these choices, if people have the desire and means to get there. There are snowbirds who move when the seasons change. The fact that different people prefer different temperatures does indicate that there is no one temperature that is best for all. That is good because we don’t all want to live in only one climate, it would get really difficult. Some crops grow best in cold places and some crops grow best in hot places and different crops in between.

      There is not one temperature that can be controlled and kept the same. We must move or adapt to changing conditions. We must look at past changes to understand future changes. Climate Models have proved themselves useless to forecast even one or two decades ahead. Past data rules.

    • they also have never proven that the often cited 2.0 C rise is demonstrably catastrophic

      The discourse is all the time about what *might* happen, what *could* be dangerous, risks that scientists *suggest*. The very same scientists never suggest something good might happen, or that the change could be beneficial, even when it evidently cannot be only negative.

      When reading emails Mike Mann sent, it is clear that some of the top names (Jones, Briffa, Hansen, Santer…) are basically all in for keeping their tribe winning the public discussion at any price. In a sense they have won, but I suspect the impetus of cagw ideology will stop at some point. It cannot be that we design and implement useless anti-carbon policies that can be factually proven to be totally dysfunctional in mitigation. That kind of stupidity will come to end. But what will come next? Will we have bigger problems at hand, or do we just loose interest on questions set up in the cagw framework?

  9. Wait a minute… cold in the wintertime still?

    Climate stasis! Were doomed!


  10. This might be call “framing fallacy.” Besides this comparison with “pre-Industrial Revolution,” isn’t it also true that IPCC most lately in AR5 show their model comparisons all starting at 1950 which completely masks the cooling period of the mid 1940s – 1970s?? Now add to that cherry picking of temperature data being used and a lot of hyperbole and there you have — a wretched global warming catastrophe right before your eyes.

  11. The red spot on this chart is the control knob that the alarmists are tweaking to control earth temperature and sea level.

    If you are going along with this, good luck, you are going to need more than is possible,

    Water is abundant, it changes state in the polar oceans and turns snowfall on and off as needed, that does control earth temperature and sea level.

  12. There are actually two issues framed by hyour excellent post. Why preindustrial (which could be 1850 as much as 1750 for all practical purposes)? Why 2 degrees C?
    On the former question, I think it is rooted in the green/warmunist mythology that the world was a better place before industrialization (and exploding populations enabled by industrialization including of agriculture, and improved medicine) mucked it up. Washington’s experiences show it wasn’t. Your perspective is much more sensible.

    On the latter question, there are several 2C attributions. Schellnhuber claims to be one, and he admitted he just made the number up. It just had to be low enough, given a Carney ECS 3 high enough, to ‘demand’ the desired actions- destroy industrialization by eliminating fossil fuels. Christine Figueroa, head of UNFCCC, is not shy about that overarching objective. Unfortunately, she does not offer an alternative that can keep the lights on and billions properly fed and sheltered with the modern conveniences we have become accustomed to and billions aspire to also enjoy. Nor do any other warmunists including Obama. Which is why the Chinese have laughed him, her, and Europe off, and have become the industrial manufacturing center for the world, with the world’s highest economic growth rate. At the cost of millions of North American and European manufacturing jobs and a hollowing out of the western middle class. Witness Detroit and Flint in Michigan.

    • Imports of Chinese cars have hollowed out the middle class in Detroit and Flint?

      Damn Khias !

      • Its Kia, from Korea. Check out steel, glass, aluminum, copper, electronics, and the new SF-Oakland bridge (chinese contractor, chinese steel, and chinese design corrosion problems. But what a deal until it falls down.) As for Flint and Detroit, China is now GM’s big growth market. Guess what. Cars built there. Unlike Kias, built there then exported here. You seem more citizen, less scientist, and maybe not all that OK, Max.

      • Max,

        You excel at showing your ass. As Rud has already mentioned, Kia is a Korean manufacturer. To the best of my knowledge there are no Chinese auto manufacturers selling cars in the US.

        And to blame the problems of Detroit and Flint on any overseas auto manufacturer is the sort of simplistic analysis one can expect out of you. You are singlehandedly recreating the stereotype of hick Okie who couldn’t pour piss out of his shoe, even with the instructions written on the heel.

      • rivistan, I know Khia is a Korean car. Perhaps you don’t know paragraphs introduce new thoughts. The thought of Chinese cars reminded me I don’t like Kihas. I’m sorry I confused you.

    • ristvan said:

      Why preindustrial (which could be 1850 as much as 1750 for all practical purposes)?….

      I think it is rooted in the green/warmunist mythology that the world was a better place before industrialization (and exploding populations enabled by industrialization including of agriculture, and improved medicine) mucked it up….

      It just had to be low enough, given a Carney ECS 3 high enough, to ‘demand’ the desired actions- destroy industrialization by eliminating fossil fuels. Christine Figueroa, head of UNFCCC, is not shy about that overarching objective. Unfortunately, she does not offer an alternative that can keep the lights on and billions properly fed and sheltered with the modern conveniences we have become accustomed to and billions aspire to also enjoy….

      Witness Detroit and Flint in Michigan.

      Here’s what Nietzsche had to say on the subject:

      Moral values were the supreme values hitherto: does anyone wish to call that in question?….

      [Hence] the moral problem is more radical than the epistemological.

      Nietzsche first divides the kinds of morality according to his basic distinction between kinds of life — healthy and decadent:

      Every time has, in its measure of power, a measure showing which virtues are permissible, which forbidden. Either it has the virtues of ascending life: then it fundamentally opposes the virtues of decling life. Or it is itself a declining life — then it also needs the virtues of decline; then it hates everything which is justified only out of abundance, out of exuberance of forces.

      Nietzsche says that a healthy morality both expresses and fosters health. It is directed by sound instincts, and its values affirm life.

      Degenerating life naturally prefers opposite values, especially on the negative side: it hates the expression characteristic of abundance.

      Nietzsche says that the psychological center of degeneracy is a feeling of impotent resentment. A decadent is not only unlucky in action, but hypersensitive. Everything wounds him. So he cannot control his emotional response, and the most natural one, in such a condition, is resentment, longing for revene on something — anything. The sufferer instinctively seeks a cause of his suffering — an agent who is to blame, against whom violent emotions may be released.

      The resentment can be directed either inward or outward.

      An example of the first is the ascetic morality centered upon the idea of sin. To a sufferer seeking an object for his resentment the priest replies that all suffering is due to sin. Thereby self-hatred is produced:

      The need of redemption, the essence of all Christian needs…is the most sincere form of expression of decadence; it is the most convinced; most painful assent to it in sublime symbols and practices. The Christian wants to get rid of himself. Le moi est toujours haissable.

      For this purpose he uses the whole pack of wild passions — “anger, fear, lust, revenge, hope, triumph, despair, cruelty” — releasing one, now another in alternate orgies of penitence and salvation.

      Nietzsche illustrates the second type — the type who turns his resentment outward — by anarchists, socialists and communists, who make “society” to blame for their misery, and by Christiany in many of its historical developments.

      They do this most insidiously by a revaluation of values: they slander the manly passions and virtues, health, happiness and enjoyment, self-reliance and power, making them a reproach for the fortunate, while they glorify the opposite qualities, possessed by the weak and decadent. So they achieve a compensatory imagination of moral superiority. But their revenge is not imaginary: they have succeeded in giving the healthy a bad conscience, and in arousing their pity to the point of general disgust with life.

      Then, for the sake of spiritual revenge upon the rival caste, the “Slave Morality” of the decadents identifies the poor, the humble, the lowly, the unfortunate, the sick as the good; and promises eternal damnation to the powerful and noble.

      Thus a general “slave rebellion in morals” is achieved.

      The slave begins by resenting oppression and envying the good fortune of his master. These emotions, redoubled and poisoned by impotence, vent themselves in a distorted conception of the masters, whose qualities, thus conceived, are then called “evil.” “Good” is likewise compensatory: it glorifies what slaves and masters have not — humility, obedience, patience, forgiveness.

      What the Slave Morality parades as a demand for “justice” is really his own will to power; and when a slave class has attained power, it changes to the principles of Master Morality

      • Modern day British conservative Roger Scruton, (Quadrant,
        ‘The Philosophy of Roger Scruton,’ ) describes the May
        Day event in Paris when anarchic leftist students took to
        the streets. Scruton watched transfixed as a violent battle
        between students and police unfolded beneath his attic
        window until abruptly “the plate-glass windows of the
        shops appeared to step back, shudder for a second, and
        then give up the ghost, as the reflections suddenly left
        them and they slid in jagged fragments to the ground”.

        In this moment, at the centre of an archetypal 1960s
        event, it appears that Scruton experienced a sudden
        intuitive insight into the advent of the nihilistic post
        modern era, characterised by the collapse of
        representation, and the fragmentation, violence and
        iconoclasm that Scruton later claimed in A Political
        Philosophy: Arguments for Conservatism (2006),
        provided the context for the conservative philosophical
        response of which he has since propounded.

        Later, Scruton was visited by a friend, who had spent the
        day on the barricades. The May events appealed to her as
        the high point of an anarchic assault on the absurdity of
        bourgeois life. She and her comrades were convinced, “the
        Old Fascist de Gaulle and his regime would be begging for
        mercy” as the student insurrection escalated into a new
        French Revolution. In fact, she was wrong although for a
        few critical months it appeared that the bourgeois world
        they so despised was about to be overthrown But what,
        Scruton asked his visitor, do you propose to put in its
        place? “What vision of France and its culture compels
        you?’ To which she replied with a book, Foucault’s
        ‘Les mots and les choses’ the avant-garde of social
        theory for radicals, despite the fact that Foucault’s
        structural determinism reduced people to ’the status
        of elements in a gigantic system ’ and justified any
        transgression as rebellion against bourgeois power.
        Now treated by former friends as a pariah, Scruton
        went on to explore the law, and discovered the answer
        to Foucault in the common law of England, which he
        saw as proof that there is a real distinction between
        legitimate and illegitimate power, that power can exist
        without oppression, and that authority is a living force
        in human conduct. – beththeserf 36th Edition Serf
        Under _Ground Journal.

      • Curious George

        I see it in much simpler terms. We see a bad system. To correct it, let’s replace it with something else.

        The problem is that “not bad” may not be “good”; most likely, it will be something much worse. The “bad” system is a product of a long evolution.

      • @beththeserf
        But breaking windows creates jobs. Think of how many people are employed repairing the window. I mean, this is the same principle behind tearing down the coal and oil industries and building windmills Green Energy is all about jobs!

        Of course, Bastiat and Hazlitt might disagree….

      • jm, and such a nice kristallnacht sound, smashing glass.

      • jmarshs said:

        I mean, this is the same principle behind tearing down the coal and oil industries and building windmills….

        The environmentalists do indeed believe they are operating in the same tradition that Marx and Schumpeter did, that of “creative destruction.” (for more on the origin and definition of this concept, see Wikipedia, “Creative destruction”).

        The following statement by Eurostar (the European Association of Renewable Energy) serves as a manifesto of creative destruction:

        To unlock the economic and environmental benefits of renewable energy, dismantle the conventional power industry!

        Humanity stands on the threshold of an era of unprecedented opportunities. In the past decades, many innovative new technologies have become available and affordable that can transform our current economies based on polluting fossil fuels into sustainable renewable energy economies. This transformation will provide millions of new jobs. It will halt global warming. It will create a more fair and just world. It will clean our environment and make our lives healthier….

        History provides many examples of technological revolutions that have reshaped the world. However, none have run their course without encountering massive resistance. No change has been brought about in consensus with those on the losing end….

        [M]any of these revolutionary changes needed a political framework or targeted help at their inception in order to develop and showcase the economic and cultural benefits. The list includes railways, electricity grids, the car, shipping and aviation, nuclear power, telecommunications and information technologies…. All these technological revolutions happened because there were front-runners who showed the advantage of the new technology…

        Countries that promoted microelectronics—for example, through government-sponsored research and development—benefited accordingly. Those who held back in order to forestall economic turmoil subsequently fell behind.

        — THE EUROPEAN ASSOCIATION FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY, “In Praise of Creative Destruction”

        However, it should be pointed out that Karl Marx was not the intellectual author of creative destruction. The nihilists were. And its influence extended well beyond Marx.

        As Michael Allen Gillespie explains in Nihilism Before Nietzsche, the nihilists would have a profound influence upon all the intellectual movements which inspired the Russian Revolution:

        Linking Lenin to Nechaev and Tkachev, however, adds little to what we already know with much greater certainty about his connections to the earlier nihilist tradition….

        This connection to nihilism and its Prometheanism remained central to Lenin’s thought and activity… This Promethean element is particularly evident in a Bolshevik pamphlet of 1906 which argued that man is destined to “take possession of the universe and extend his species into distant cosmic regiions, taking over the whole solar system. Human beings will become immortal.”

        However, once the destructive forces were unleashed upon the Russian people, they were not easily contained. Gillespie points to Bakunin as an example of this:

        The constructive side of Bakunin’s anarchism which might have helped counteract the organizational centralism of later socialism was overshadowned by [his] mystical emphasis on the powers of negation.

        As an example of the destructive tendencies which came to dominate Bakunin’s thought, Gillespie goes on to quote Bakunin as follows:

        Let us trust the eternal spirit which destroys and annihilates only because it is the unfathomable and eternally creative source of life. The passion for destruction is a creative passion, too….

        — MICHAEL BAKUNIN, “Reaction in Germany”

        The star of revolution will rise high and independent above Moscow from a sea of blood and fire, and will turn into a lodestar to lead a liberated humanity. You should devote yourselves entirely and unequivocally to the Revolution. You must burn like a flame in order to perform a miracle.

        — MICHAEL BAKUNIN, “Appeal to the Slavs”

      • Thanks Glenn. My interests of late have been how the English and German Reformations took science and mathematics in different directions. Nice links.

  13. Some of the highest recorded US temperatures occurred during the Dust Bowl. In 1936, some states had their hottest summer on record:

    But also in 1936, some of those same states had their coldest winters:

    It reminds us that natural variability of temperatures can be much larger than the assumed global warming. And that for these states, the climate, very incompletely defined as temperature in this instance, was much more extreme in 1936 than it is today.

    Many of the anecdotes of the past involve the extremes of winter or summer but may not necessarily represent temperature over the course of a year either globally or regionally.

    For the 1936 summer, I bumped in to this picture of the Sate Capitol in Lincoln Nebraska:

    “Residents of Lincoln, Nebraska spend the night on the lawn of the state capital on July 25, 1936. The temperature that night never fell below 91°, perhaps the warmest night ever recorded anywhere in the United States outside of the desert Southwest. Photo from the Nebraska State Historical Society.”

    • Excellent examples! I have posted on my twitter @RogerAPielkeSr

    • Duh, hottest years cause open oceans and promote more snowfall.
      look at 1997-1998 and the immediate cooling.

    • Turbulent Eddie said “It reminds us that natural variability of temperatures can be much larger than the assumed global warming.”

      That’s nothing. Even the temperature difference between day and night could be larger than your “assumed global warming.”
      But I’m not sure what you are assuming.

    • lying on the grass at night is not optimal

      • lying on the grass at night is not optimal

        No. But remember, that’s the natural variation.
        Some think reducing CO2 is setting the clock back.
        Well, set it to 1936, and that’s what you get.

        In fact, global warming has made the US less hot during summer!

        (Note 1936)

      • In fact, global warming has made the US less hot during summer!
        Or natural variation has.
        Or both.

      • Geoff Sherrington

        lying is seldom optimal, whether you are on grass or not.

      • Let’s turn the significant surface areas of the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Kansas back to black dirt and see how that works out. Oklahoma red.

      • Geoff Sherrington | February 6, 2016 at 12:41 am |
        lying is seldom optimal, whether you are on grass or not.
        That depends on who you are lying to and why.

      • Let’s turn the significant surface areas of the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Kansas back to black dirt and see how that works out. Oklahoma red.

        Yes, more natural variation. There were no RAOB measurements then, so one can’t know the specific changes of circulation, but surface measurements can tell us that Dust Bowl occurred because of a lack of precipitation. And precipitation occurs because of the motions of the atmosphere which have an infinite array of equally valid arrangements. Humans didn’t have anything to do with it.

        So, remember when you’re saving the climate that’s part of what you’re saving: decadal drought in the US. Perhaps it puts into perspective how natural variation is real and far more adverse for humans than any effects of carbon dioxide.

      • Yes, the great plow-up was natural variation.

      • Yes, the great plow-up was natural variation.

        Why do you think plowing had anything to do with precipitation?

        Precipitation occurs most typically because of the associated low level convergence from cold front passages. Exactly what theory is it that plowing changed these events, which after all, had their origins thousands of kilometers away from the Great Plains?

        There is no room for superstition in this.

      • JCH, “Yes, the great plow-up was natural variation.”

        The great plow up was a negative forcing :) Odd thing, Negative is bad to most folks but good in climate science. Back in the day, that dark albedo and low or no ground cover warmed soil up earlier in the year. Some folks would even spread dark stuff on snow to speed things up to prevent snow mold. The former Soviets did a dang fine job in the 50s.

      • You’re right. Moisture stays trapped in plowed soils. That’s why it never got dusty during, what did they call it… oh yeah, the dust bowl. And it was just my imagination when my hot-air balloon shot straight up whenever I floated over a plowed field. They said hot air rises. What nuts. One year our entire county browned out from drought. Except my Dad’s corn. Green as grass. We did not irrigate.

      • Turn of the century science.

        We may call it Old AGW, one day soon..

      • JCH, “You’re right. Moisture stays trapped in plowed soils. That’s why it never got dusty during, what did they call it… oh yeah, the dust bowl.”

        You know, I seem to recall that there are some crazy contrarians that think land restoration and conservation agricultural practices might help more than killing stuff. I read some study that mentioned that just an extra inch of ground cover dropped soil temperature enough that some butterfly miraculously un-extincted itself.

        Absolutely no proof of that though because past climate has been so stable and so perfect that it has to be that demon coal what done it. Ain’t science amazing?

      • Yes Arch, in the Great Depression desperate farmers plowed to make it rain. The temperature measured just down the road from my father’s ranch is still the state record. From memory, 126F. The soil is black. There was almost no ground cover, and there were huge dunes of dust. And it hit 126F. All because of natural variation. Then the commies DC changed the agricultural practices. We had severe droughts from time to time, and they have never again had the scenes of the Great Depression.

      • The Dust Bowl occurred because of a lack of precipitation.

        Now plowing did expose the top soil to increased loss, which didn’t help fertility, though it’s not clear if the same loss would have occurred with the persistent drought. That’s because the paelo record is full of evidence of similar events before plowing:


        “For decades, it was assumed that dune fields of the Great Plains were last active during the last glacial period and thus are ice-age relics.

        It is now known that most dune fields in the region have been active many times in the past 10,000 years and even within the past 3,000 years. The same is true for many dune fields in the western United States. Thus, dunes in both regions can be active under an essentially modern, interglacial climatic regime.”

        The Dust Bowl was a natural event, and invoking human cause is no better than superstitious cultures of the past which blamed their behavior for angering gods.

      • Have you ever been to the Sand Hills?

      • We had severe droughts from time to time, and they have never again had the scenes of the Great Depression.

        Wanna bet?

        Brownfield Texas, 1953:

        Plowing practices didn’t seem to help.

        I’m begging to think the same evolutionary traits of superstition that motivated past cultures are behind the global warming pathos as well as blaming human activity for climatic events.

      • The Great Depression and the coincidental drought ruined farmers across America. But in Nebraska, many ranchers seemed to get along just fine. Why?

        In fact, during the Depression, Christopher J. Abbot, Sr., a rancher and banker in Hyannis made so much money that he was considered by many to be the richest man in Nebraska. He owned seven ranches and was president of nine banks. In February of 1944, the Sunday Lincoln Journal and Star ran an article about Abbott where he talked about the Sandhills and its unique qualities for raising cattle.

        See any row crops?

      • JCH, droughts, and droughts which caused wind deposits of dust and sand have occurred through out the Great Plains and West numerous times before the Dust Bowl and similarly at least once during the Texas drought of the 1950s since.

        Occam’s razor doesn’t leave any room for believing it was plowing. To persist in imagining otherwise, in spite of this evidence, is superstition.

      • You genuinely are hopeless. Brownfield is by Lubbock. My son went to medical school in Lubbock. At orientation they gave the students a talk about the the dust storms of Lubbock… because the vast majority of USA seldom has them. They’re a regular thing out there.

      • blueice2hotsea

        JCH – “Then the commies DC changed the agricultural practices.”

        Beginning in the 1920’s, the USDA paid farmers not to grow wheat. They could either plant perennials/legumes or leave the ground fallow (plowed shallow and unseeded).

        Sub-soil (deep plowing) is required to return to wheat farming after perennials or legumes have been established. And deep plowing can be damn difficult. That is why most farmers chose the fallow option instead.

        Deep plowing, where it occurred, was due to government subsidies, which therefore according to your theory, must be what caused the Dust Bowl. Commies!

        Currently, corn is the most heavily subsidized U.S. crop and is linked to food-poverty and political unrest in the Middle East. U.S. food policies, what will they come up with next?

        PS iirc your Dad farmed in Missouri which is not in the Great Plains where the Dust Bowl occurred (and the family ranched). Bet sod-bustin’ was a bit easier there.

      • blueice2hotsea


        Perhaps only a coincidence, but during the same period in which the USDA was paying mid-western German wheat farmers (recent immigrant/escapees from the USSR) not to grow wheat, their brothers, sisters and other blood relatives in the Ukraine -“bread basket of the world”- were systematically murdered by Stalin’s government through a program of deliberate starvation. Commies!

      • My ancestors farmed in Missouri starting around 1836. They also had a large ranch in the panhandle of Texas. My Dad owned a ranching operation and did some farming in the Dakotas, and later in Missouri as well. Those were not his main businesses. My wife’s family was among a large group of Germans who were invited by a Russian Czar to farm in Russia, They became very successful and started sending people to set up farms in Canada, and the eventually filtered down into the Dakotas where they owned vast wheat farms. During the Russian Revolution the ones who stayed in Russia were Whites, and the Reds executed large numbers of them. Survivors ended up in Siberia and were thought to have perished there. Many of them ended up surviving it. I’ve met a couple of them who have traveled here. They were very patriotic Russians.

      • At Los Alamos National Lab, we were concerned about root depth in waste dump coverings as these could bring “stuff” to the surface. We were interested in shallow rooting species that would still provide stabilization! Some alfalfa roots have reached 390 meters with an average of 69 meters. [See: “Rooting Depths of Plants on Low-Level Waste Disposal Sites”, Foxx, Tierney, Williams, Sunflowers and corn in my garden have shallow roots that allow them to be easily pulled up.

        The Sandhills sit atop the massive Ogallala Aquifer; thus both temporary and permanent shallow lakes are common in low-lying valleys between the grass-stabilized dunes prevalent in the Sandhills. As the largest and most intricate wetland ecosystem in the United States, the Sandhills contain a large array of plant and animal life.[] The Sandhills may be sand dunes, but hardly a desert. It is unique in that it has not be plowed!!

        Blowout penstemon(unique to this area and one of the first plants to help stabilize dunes) is a stout perennial herb with glabrous, 1 to many glabrous extending from a subterranean caudex surmounting a deep taproot. []

        Deep rooting grass-type species are a key to stability in the Sandhills.

        So, not tilling pasture grazing habitat be good in sandy soils and dunes, while plowing that breaks the top few feet from the rooting system be bad! Being a wetland area sure helps in any case! Growing sweet potatoes, peanut and cotton in sandy soil great where there is sufficient moisture and “condiments”.

    • Warmest summers thaw more ocean and provide more moisture for record winter snowfall.

  14. There is some evidence, pieced together from instruments, diaries etc that the 1760s and 1770s in New England were an era of heavy snowpacks, hence of spring flooding, but also of serious warm-season drought.

    Like George didn’t have enough problems.

  15. Whenever I see the question that Dr. Curry poses, I think of Pope Francis’ GW/CC message about protecting the most vulnerable of the World.

    A Washington Post story today, answers Dr. Curry’s question:

    • It’s funny how angry militant atheists embrace a Pope, as long as he is a leftist spouting the party line.

      Stephen, I believe you to be sincere, just sincerely indoctrinated and misguided.

    • I don’t see how that alarmist garbage answers any question.
      CO2 did not and can not cause earth temperature or sea level to get out of bounds. Earth temperature and sea level are well inside the bounds of the past ten thousand years. Taking away the means of providing energy at a reasonable cost does endanger the most vulnerable of the World.

      • @SS
        Compare and contrast North and South Korea, and then explain how the biggest challenge facing North Koreans is AGW.

    • SS, I was curious, so read your WaPo link. Relies on a DARA assessment. Never heard of them, so looked it up. Spanish humanitarian NGO. Their second climate risk assessment was funded by 30 of the most vulnerable small nations. Curious about how reliable that would be, I looked up the detailed category assessments for Vanuatu and Gambia, because those were the specific WaPo notables.
      Now we all know about Vanuatu. Limate refugees from Vanuatu. The major risks are SLR, increased storms, and threat to tourism. Except the sea level at the capital Port Vila is not rising, because Vanuatu sits onnthe western edge of the Pacific plate and is experiencing slight tectonic uplift. There has been no increase on tropical storms. Tourism is, however, threatened since the new airport and hotels are depleting Vanuatu’s fresh water lens. They will have to go desal, using electricity from imported fossil fuels. The horror of it all.
      Gambia is the smallest country in Africa, essentially following the Gambia
      river for 700 miles inland, surrounded by Senegal. Main threats are SLR and desertification. The first makes no sense, since gambia has almost no coast other than the river estuary. The river is 700 miles long and the headwaters are at 1437 feet. The second makes no sense either, since most of Senegal is south of the Sahel and the Sahel is greening.
      DARA is a vehicle for poor country begging, WaPo did not do a good journalism job, and you have been duped.

      • Hi Rud, Everything I’ve read on GW/CC is that its impacts would be most dramatic in the S. Hemisphere — where there are a lot of poor countries (lacking infrastructure to adapt) . Are you disputing this?

        All I’m saying — To make Dr. Curry’s question a relevant one in the 21st century, the optimal World climate is one that has the least potential to put poor regions under stress.

      • SS:

        Land is supposed to respond faster to climate change and most landmass is in NH.

        And the best way to help poor regions adapt or avoid stress (of any sort) is to help them develop as rapidly as possible. We are developed, therefore we are resilient.

      • Curious George

        SS – “the optimal World climate is one that has the least potential to put poor regions under stress.” What would be that optimum CO2 concentration? I don’t know; you read a lot; your best guess?

      • Stephen, “S. Hemisphere — where there are a lot of poor countries (lacking infrastructure to adapt) ”
        Most of those poor nations would benefit more from agricultural and land use reforms. You could market the heck out of teff, a native grain, and just about heal Ethiopia. The organic, gluten free fanatics would finance the whole effort :)

      • SS, in re your specifics, YES. Where the H did you dredge up southern hemisphere amplification? None of the IPC ARs claim such a thing. And your response does not reply to the specifics of Vanuatu and Gambia, cited specifically here per your link.

      • If you want to help the poor countries develop, help them build clean coal power and help them have low cost abundant energy. Stop teasing them with junk windmills, solar and ethanol.

  16. Excellent post Dr Curry.

    • Mosh

      Thanks for those two links. In the previous thread I asked you a question but don’t think you saw it.

      I have gathered information together for the alps, parts of the US and Britain . From it we can determine temperature via tree line altitudes, moisture ( drought and heavy periods of extended rainfall) and a generalised check of long term moisture and temperature via glacier records. This can be correlatd with instrumental records

      Can you think of any other additional proxies that might usefully be used to produce a broad brush of the climate?


  17. JC said “In my post The Goldilocks Principle, I raised the question of which climate do we want? I don’t think it is the climate of the 18th century. One answer is the climate that we are adapted to, which is arguably the present climate.”

    I don’t think we have a choice of ideal climate. Given natural variation, regulating climate to stay within a very narrow band just doesn’t seem possible, and anyway mankind can adapted to some change. Climate scientist, however, believe our activities (e.g., burning fossil fuels) could cause unacceptable large change, potentially devastating warming, which is within our power to prevent if we so choose.

    Mankind has never seen what a combination of natural warming and man-made warming can do. Do we want to see?
    Will there be time to back out if we don’t like what we see? Curiosity killed the cat.

    • What a curious comment on a science blog,’ Curiosity
      killed the cat.’ I prefer ‘ Look before yer leap.’

      • MAX_OK, Citizen Scientist

        I think you prefer stalling in hope the problem will go away. As Toby Keith says we “need a little less talk and a lot more action.” Looks like Australia agrees.

    • regulating climate to stay within a very narrow band just doesn’t seem possible, unless you look at the data from the past ten thousand years and see that is exactly what natural climate cycles do.

    • Most of the time, when the government is trying to scare us into doing something, the best thing to do is not what the government tells us.

    • Sometime in the distant future will they be burning coal to thwart an ice age or will, by then it be discovered to be a ruse, therefore a useless endeavor. My new motto SAVE THE COAL!

    • We know what the “ideal” climate looks like. It is the climate bounded by the ice ages.

      If we are warming things up a bit it is most likely a good thing, as it keeps us further from the boundaries.

  18. The IPCC doesn’t provide a convincing explanation for the overall warming between 1750 and 1950; according to climate models, human causes contributed only a very small amount to the global warming to during this period (so presumably this overall warming was caused by natural climate variability).

    If one assumes the Marvel, et al., calculations for land use changes to be reasonably accurate (which assumes a net cooling effect from LU changes), it would seem that over 100% of the detected warming from 1750 to 1950 was due to natural variation. Compare Gavin Schmidt’s argument at

  19. 1783-86
    Two successive severe winters. The Thames froze completely in both, almost continuous frost lasted from early to late winter. Snow remained for as long as 4 months. Attributed to an Icelandic volcanic eruption, although details regarding this are slim. Heavy snow also fell early on in both years, with snow falling as early as October. 1784 was a cold year generally. Sleet was recorded near the coast of the Moray Firth in August! Heavy snow fell in the South in October. The year was ranked in the top 10 coldest years recorded in the CET series. 1785 was very dry and cold, with again early snow in October. 1786 had a very dry summer, and was persistently cold from September to November.

  20. “Or perhaps it was the climate of the 1970’s, before the late 20th century warming, a period that was relatively benign in terms of extreme weather events (at least in the U.S. and Europe, this can be attributed to the cold phase of the AMO).”

    Which was dominated by positive North Atlantic and Arctic Oscillation conditions. IPCC models give increasingly positive NAO/AO with increased CO2, that should make for a cold AMO too, but negative NAO/AO increased from the mid 1990’s, giving a warm AMO.
    Solar wind strength fits (inversely) what the AMO has done, CO2 has not.

    “So, is there any chance of redefining ‘dangerous’ climate change in a more logical and sensible way?”

    Forced versus unforced surface warming needs redefining, the former is being conflated with the latter.

  21. “Why are we defining ‘dangerous climate change’ with respect to the climate of the 18th century, which was the coldest period in the last millennia, with wicked winters?”
    It’s just a reference point. Dangerous fever is reckoned to be above 40°C (I think). That is, 40 deg above freezing. That doesn’t mean freezing is a desirable temperature.

    • To adopt your approach (37 C is normal body temp is 40 C is dangerous), what is the “normal” global temp and what is “dangerous” global temp? And why did you select each reference point?

    • “It’s just a reference point.”

      Zero C is a reference point based on the freezing point of fresh water at standard pressure. 100 C is another reference point based on the boiling point of water at standard pressure. The neat thing about these references is that they are fixed. “Pre-industrial” isn’t fixed and “global” temperature anomaly apparently isn’t either.

      To me, this is what happens when you turn Earth Science Majors loose on a physic problem, you end up with fuzzy frames of reference. For example your 2 C reference would be the initial value for not all that stable models trying to determine boundary values. If the 2 C isn’t close to a normal value the models have to go through an initial value problem before they get to the boundary value problem. You could actually spend thirty friggin’ years with this situation and never reduce your level of uncertainty :)

  22. While it is only anecdotal and not average and only covering my little corner of the world, reviewing 150 years of record lows told me to not wonder if there was a period significantly colder than the present. Almost all the winter low records are pre 1890s. Further, they are significantly lower than the normal lows for those winter dates, sometimes 40-50 degrees F under normal.
    There is not the obverse for record high temperatures. They are spread all over the place, not just in the last 50 years.
    I have many doubts about the historical record but this is not one of them.

  23. Thomas Jefferson kept a detailed weather diary for several decades. This excerpt clearly makes reference to climate change compared to what had been observed previously . Reference is also made to winds and cloud, surely big factors that shape the climate


    • Tonyb, your knowledge of history is just awesome. Jefferson’s weather diary! Who woulda thunk? So, does it roughly correlate to CET? In which case, CET is a proven good proxy for at least half of the NH.
      Now, if you can locate a shogun end Edo dynasty Japan equivalent, or a Chinese Qing (Manchu) dynasty equivalent, then you have the NH locked historically for that difficult, coming out of LIA period. Wish I knew how to help you with history research, but beyond my ken.

      • Rud

        There are lots of Chinese and Korean references but there are obvious language difficulties. Those that have been translated do not necessarily cover extended periods that match those in the west.

        I was considering that Europe the US and Britain would be a good proxy and that eastern countries could follow.

        There has been some remarkable new works on Cahokia. It’s an extraordinary city in its own right by the Mississippi but new evidence shows a series of startling droughts and severe flooding, greater than the 2011 episode


      • Building too close to the Mississippi is not a particularly goood idea. Old Man River, he keeps on rollin’.

      • The annuals of the Joseon Dynasty as I have pointed tony at and the source material for that is 288 years of daily records

        “Seungjeongwon Ilgi, recorded by royal secretaries and scribes, provides etymological data, as well as changes in Korean and Chinese writing, the co-use of Chinese and Korean in state documents around the time of the opening of the nation’s ports, the influx of foreign civilization including the Japanese language and government system, and other diverse sources of information (social and cultural value).

        It covers 288 years of weather observation from the 17th to 21st centuries. It also makes possible the accurate comparison of the lunar and the solar date (scientific and statistical value). ”


        “Consequently, the value of the Diaries as a historical source is greatly enhanced if it is read in conjunction with the Sillok. The Diaries also made a careful record of the weather, with entries such as “morning rain, evening clear,” and “morning sunny, afternoon cloudy,” appearing daily for 288 years. Whenever there was rainfall, the amount of precipitation was measured using a rain gauge and carefully recorded. It has been remarked that the weather observations contained in the Diaries could by themselves contribute greatly to an understanding of meteorology from 17th century to the early 20th century.”

        The rain gauge, 측우기, was invented in 1441, by 장영실. Really cool story. 장영실 was a commoner but the king,세종대왕, gave him a government position anyway, over the objections of the nobles, and funded his inventions. Later he was jailed when a sedan ( think palliquin) for the King broke

    • See all my links.

      There is more than Jefferson.

      There is tons of stuff

  24. I would like it 5 degrees warmer, please.
    California is done.
    Colorado just suffered 100,000 immigrants last year, it is sort of done.

    Montana winters? Not something to look forward to. But give us a warm up so we can go ruin it too, please.

  25. Alan Longhurst sent the following figure

    • Battle of the Bulge:

    • Alan Longhurst

      Its remakable how episodic the cold and hot excurisions are in these data and how a cold excursion like that in the 1940s during WW2 in Europe was coincident with heat waves in Alaska – not noted in that figure. Data such as these from the CRUTEM set illustrate the absurdity of trying to say anything useful about anthropogenic climate change on the data for the last 20 years or so, as is often done,

    • Karl-Heinz Dehner

      I think we can be glad that in Europe nowadays we are spared of cold winters like the winter wars 1939 – 1942. Here some reports from those years in local chronicles from lower Austria (in German)
      “Schulchronik Winkl:
      Der Winter 1941/42 brachte Schneefälle und Temperaturen wie sie Generationen keine erlebt haben. Die außergewöhnlichen Schneemassen und die Kälte – es gab Temperaturen bis unter 30 ° – wirkten sich auf Lebensführung, Landwirtschaft, Wirtschaftslage, Verkehr u.s.w. verheerend aus, doch hielt die brave Bevölkerung weiter durch.”

  26. the only empirical evidence of AGW is this correlation

    It is a correlation between cumulative values.
    All correlations between cumulative values are spurious.

  27. By 1800 the first one billion people lived on the planet. By 1900 the population had increased to two billion and today seven billion + people live on earth.
    Yet we are told there is also a growing global obesity problem and as Judith noted, death rates from extreme events are at an all time low. See Lomborg and Dr Goklany’s work etc. Most people today have a much easier and longer life than at any period in history. So what’s the problem with our climate? And what’s the problem with fossil fuels?

    • “So what’s the problem with our climate? And what’s the problem with fossil fuels?”

      For most good greenies and Bill Gates the problem is too many humans.

  28. retrograde-orbit

    You hit the nail on the head ngard!
    It’s like road construction: Is a steep narrow curve dangerous? Some neighborhood activists say “yes”, but the highway administration says “no”. Then an accident happens and somebody dies. Now – gee – the highway administration all of a sudden says “yes” and builds guard rails.
    That’s how we as a society roll. We ignore threats until something happens and then we knee-jerk.

  29. retrograde-orbit

    To go back to JC’s post, the question is not about the frame of reference. Frames of reference are always arbitrary.
    The question is how we define “dangerous”. I feel that unless global warming causes some major disaster we will not consider it “dangerous” – no matter what science tells us. Only after the major disaster we we will change our minds and start doing something significant about it.

    • retro, “Frames of reference are always arbitrary.”

      Not really, picking a good frame of reference is pretty important if you want reasonable answers. For climate change you could pick a dangerous frame of reference if you have some notion what that might be or a “reliable” frame of reference like the satellite era as she recommends if you don’t know.

      Picking a fuzzy frame of reference like pre-industrial which has about +/- 1 C of uncertainty is a great CYA frame. You cannot be proven wrong so nothing will falsify your notions. You just add a tad of “complexity” to cover your backside.

      • retrograde-orbit

        Nonsense. JC did not claim the frame of reference in question was “unreliable” or “fuzzy”. That’s not the issue. You are creating a strawman. JC complained that the frame of reference chosen was not “sensible”. Perhaps but it has no bearing on the question of whether warming is “dangerous”. Because as I said,frames of reference are always arbitrary.

      • retro, “You are creating a strawman.”

        Nope, +/- 1 C uncertainty would be “fuzzy” as in having a large range of uncertainty and there are more uncertainties with “pre-industrial”. There should be a valid frame in there somewhere, but it cannot be accurately specified. You can arbitrarily pick between valid frames of reference but not just arbitrarily pick one because that doesn’t make “sense” i.e. you have to defend your choice somewhere down the line.

        Now if you pick 1981-2010 as a frame you have about +/- 0.15 C of uncertainty and just about everyone would agree that is a valid frame, you not only have more accurate temperature data you also have more accurate forcing data, ocean heat uptake data, sea level data, the whole suite of data is better which validates your choice. You pretty much have an obligation to pick the best frame of reference.

        Now defend your “preindustrial” choice. “Let’s see I have crappy temperature data, crappy CO2 data, crappy sea level data, crappy aerosol data but I likes it!”

  30. Climate shifts are most perceptible in seasonal average temperatures. If the mean shifts by one standard deviation, for a roughly Gaussian distribution a 1/100 probability becomes a 1/10 probability. Because summer temperatures have shifted by a standard deviation, a century record summer of the 20th century becomes a ten-year event now. By 2100 we will have shifted perhaps four more standard deviations, so the temperatures of the top 2.5% of hot summers now goes to the bottom 15% of cold summers in 2100, and the other 85% will be even hotter than anything we have seen up till now. That is what a 3 C shift in the seasonal temperature does.

    • > … Because summer temperatures have shifted by a standard deviation …

      One SD from WHEN, Jiminy Doodlebug ?

      Yet another assertion … yet another rotation of the goal post

    • JIMD

      Where have they shifted by one standard deviation? Citation please

      The CET records over 350 years show little difference in summer temperatures, the main warming has come from milder winters.


    • Hansen’s perception of climate change (climate dice) paper says most areas of the northern hemisphere land have warmed by a standard deviation compared to the 1951-1980 average, just comparing recent decades after 2000 with that baseline. Here for example. The shift is noticeable.

      • That example was the Jun-Jul-Aug temperature for NH land. The units are standard deviations relative to the 1951-1980 baseline.

      • Jim D: Hansen’s perception of climate change (climate dice) paper says most areas of the northern hemisphere land have warmed by a standard deviation compared to the 1951-1980 average, just comparing recent decades after 2000 with that baseline.

        That’s one way to represent the change. Why not take the 2001-2011 distribution as the reference for assessing impact of climate change, since it is among the best that humans have experienced? Prof Curry was not disputing the change, but asking: Why not take the recent past as the standard for comparison, instead of the distant past?

      • The sheer speed of the change is the big deal, not where we happen to be now, which is only a quarter of the way to an unmitigated emission situation. If you like it as it is now, you would want to stop emissions before we add the other three quarters of the change, or to prevent as much of that three quarters as you can. We all can agree on this, I think.

      • Jim D: We all can agree on this, I think.

        What exactly is it that we can all agree on? I proposed the current status, CO2 at 400 ppm and the climate of 2001-2011 as the appropriate standards on which to base comparisons. Is that what you are proposing we can all agree on?

        Thten we can talk about speed of warming: If it is due to CO2 increase, another 2C increase from where we are will take 150 or so years, if it is even possible for atmospheric CO2 to double because of human fossil fuel use. And starting from now, the evidence supports the idea of climate improvement for a few decades.

        but first, what do we agree on about “now”? That is is better than it has been any time since 1780? That is a paraphrase of Prof Curry’s question. “Now” is a standard to use because “now” is best in recent centuries.

      • You make the assumption that 400 ppm is an ideal place to be, which probably implies you don’t want to get up to 700 ppm which is our trajectory without mitigation. As far as policy is concerned, it is where we are going that matters. Which trajectory do you prefer? One that leads to 700 ppm or something rather less that keeps us closer to 400 ppm than 700 ppm, for example. Some say 350 ppm is more ideal because that may also preserve the current sea levels, which they think is an important consideration to add when thinking of where you want to be.

      • Curious George

        Jim, could you please post a link to the source? I am not sure what the graph depicts. Labeled 1951-1980, why does it show 2001-2011? The black line is a normal distribution of what?

      • It is a well known paper.
        The black line is a normal distribution for comparison with the actual distributions.

      • Jim D: You make the assumption that 400 ppm is an ideal place to be,

        No, no, no. I clearly made an inference that NOW is better than 1880 etc,, based on plenty of evidence that has been reviewed here from time to time so that NOW should be the standard for evaluation of future change. If 450, or 500, or 700 turns out to be IDEAL will be revealed if we ever get there.

        Are you denying that NOW is better than 1880?

      • While 350 ppm may be better than 280 ppm, 400 ppm puts sea-level rise as a forefront issue, so it is already downhill from here. Greenland’s ice sheet did not exist the last time CO2 was above 400 ppm, so it is not stable in this climate, which leads to some issues.

      • Jim D: While 350 ppm may be better than 280 ppm, 400 ppm puts sea-level rise as a forefront issue, so it is already downhill from here.

        You are comparing future sea levels (at least, as you expect them to be) to current sea levels, as though NOW were a relevant standard; yet you do not agree in so many words that NOW is better than 1880, or is a relevant standard.

      • The UN would like to stabilize the climate below 450 ppm because they view today’s climate as acceptable in some way. What they don’t want is BAU leading to 700 ppm by 2100. Saying we are fine at 400 ppm is like the guy who says he feels fine as he falls past the 20th floor of a skyscraper. This is the imitation you are doing. It’s the trajectory, not the current instant, that matters.

      • Jim D: Saying we are fine at 400 ppm is like the guy who says he feels fine as he falls past the 20th floor of a skyscraper.

        That’s absurd. We really are better now than in 1880. You just do not want to admit that is so. You are claiming to know what is disputed, namely that we are heading rapidly to disaster.

      • No, 400 ppm is better than 280 ppm, probably, but you clearly missed the point about the trajectory, which is worse, so it depends whether you judge by now or the future. Some live for the present and say heck with the future because I’ve got mine and I feel fine, and that seems to be you. Just am glad you are not involved with planning.

      • blueice2hotsea

        Jim D: “Some live for the present and say heck with the future because I’ve got mine and I feel fine, and that seems to be you”.

        It pains me to point this out. Please avoid using any arguments in which you assume superior moral intelligence to matthewmarler.


      • I am pointing out an apparent blind spot, which is the future and the current trajectory to it. Static evaluation of today’s climate versus 1880 misses the point. The climate conversation is not about today’s climate isolated from its trend. The whole point is the trend.

      • blueice2hotsea

        Jim D

        The global average temperature of 1880 was not that much different than 1980, however, IMO the extra-tropical regional climates have improved rapidly (not much change in the tropical regional in either dept.) Rapid climate improvements are ongoing and yes, all good things must one day come to an end.

        ps. If we are both right about matthewmarler then you have more moral intelligence than me. ouch.

      • It is a hard case to make that sea levels and Greenland are improving, or anything else for that matter, disease, growing conditions, water supply, etc. People are planning for the opposite, in fact.

      • blueice2hotsea

        Greenland – pop. 56,000 – needs to be warmer before they can re-start the MWP butter export business.

        Endemic starvation – some ~80M since 1880 – has really tapered off. I attribute that to improved climate conditions. (Although I don’t rule out a causal relationship with a decrease in despotic “socialist” governments.)

      • Tell that to the Inuits, besides which there are global implications to what happens to Greenland’s glacial mass.

      • blueice2hotsea

        Well, the Inuit are not native to Greenland, arriving some 3 centuries after the Vikings, who btw seemed to coexist with the native (not Inuit) population.

        When the smoke cleared everybody else was dead and gone, most from starvation due poorer climate conditions, but I don’t rule out Inuit history which teaches that fair-haired giants were easily intimidated.

      • blueice2hotsea

        Oops. I meant to agree that yes, melting of Greenland ice has global implications, and not only due to SSL. The pulse of cold freshwater affects ocean chemistry and more as it circulates through the oceans.

    • Jim D: . That is what a 3 C shift in the seasonal temperature does.

      Starting from the 2001-2011 baseline, how soon will a 3C increase in global mean temperature occur, if the increase is due to increasing CO2 in the troposphere? (increased CO2 in the stratosphere produces faster energy radiation to space from the stratosphere, which is why I focused the question on tropospheric CO2.)

      What is a better baseline than 2001-2011? Rephrasing Prof Curry’s question: Why not 2001-2011.

      • How much CO2 do you think we will have by 2100? The unmitigated amount might be in the 700 ppm range. Do you like the sound of 700 ppm, or would you prefer to stop somewhat short of that? Seven hundred ppm gives us 2-3 C extra on top of today’s 1 C rise.

      • Jim D: The unmitigated amount might be in the 700 ppm range.

        That is 100 years from now, which allows for the 50-100 year transition away from fossil fuels that you have advocated before. (at least you mentioned it in a post, and agree that it was reasonable.) Considering that the US constructed 100+ nuclear power plants in 25 years and that a few have failed, there is certainly time for the US to build 200 more nuclear power plants should it decide to.

        Do you agree that, for comparison purposes, 400 ppm is a good amount, and that the current climate is good? You refer to the 1C increase so far, but that has been good, has it not?

  31. The 600-1400 period seems to be a more normal NORMAL — far more so than the low point of the LIA. It is issues like Dr. Curry’s point today that should being discussed by a whole field review team — the Restart Forum — “Why does Climate Science keep comparing surface temps today with those of pre-industrial 1750-1880?” “Why don’t we say that temps today are 0.2°C above the 600-1400 norm?” “What is the ECS if today is compared to 600-1400?”

    • retrograde-orbit

      A dangerous 0.2 degrees if you don’t mind me clarify …

    • You can try to define a normal climate from this. Our climate is the vertical part at the end. Not normal.

      • ha ha (knee slap) JimD you crack me up :)

      • Yes, it’s like vertical is the new normal. What are these people thinking?

      • Jim. if that represents your version of reality, I now fully understand why you say some of the things you do. I’ll stick with the reality that Lamb and others had from previous generations who had no perverse agenda.

        If the voluminous anecdotal material can be discredited about the past, I’m all ears. So far, we only have paleoclimatological work with very
        high levels of uncertainty generated from a system of suspect incentives.

        Watching Richard Burton prance around in a mini-skirt in the movie The Robe would be the skeptics equivalent evidence for the Roman Warm Period to some of the stuff
        warmists are waving around. The artistic skills employed in both are about the same.

      • Still trying to peddle that hokey schtick that Marcott himself has publicly disowned, Jimbo?

        You’ll never learn, will you?

      • The spike as actually HADCRUT4, not Marcott.

      • JimD, “The spike as actually HADCRUT4, not Marcott.”

        lol, never a dull moment, the spike is a data set with short term averaging (high resolution) spliced onto a data set with extremely long term averaging (very low resolution). Replace a bit more of the Marcott et al. chart with higher resolution data and you get a different picture.

      • Jim D | February 6, 2016 at 12:07 pm
        “The spike as actually HADCRUT4, not Marcott.”

        More utter drivel.

      • That only proves the point. Did you mean to plot that?

      • captd, I think you will find that the spike will actually turn into a step as we move forwards into the next century, and the only question is how high that step will get. There are some “skeptics” who believe in a quick return to 20th century conditions, but those are few and far between, and they don’t usually talk in terms of actual physics, so it comes across as more of a wish.

      • JimD, Step, plateau with likely a bit of GHE upward offset, but if you use 2000 years as “preindustrial” it isn’t as impressive as 250 years as “preindustrial”.

        Of course that paleo has 50 year average samples so I should have used a 50 instrumental average.

      • What is your prediction for a 50-year average for 2050-2100? Higher than today by at least a degree, I would say, going by the current long-term warming rate of a degree per 60 years, which is conservative.

      • JimD, It should ride the upper end of the range in orange, +/- 0.3 C but could drift a little higher.

      • So the forcing will triple over its current value and you think the trend will flatten. Hmmm. Doesn’t sound likely, but there you go.

      • JimD, “So the forcing will triple over its current value and you think the trend will flatten. Hmmm. Doesn’t sound likely, but there you go.”

        There is no tripling of forcing, there may be a tripling of anthropogenic CO2e, but more likely a doubling. Water vapor has the majority of the impact and the leveling will mainly be related to water vapor and increased convection. You could call that clouds, albedo whatever you like but they are al related to water vapor and enhanced convection.

        That is the problem when 2/3rds of your projected impact depends on one of your least known variables and a variety of vague assumptions.

      • You can look at your own temperature trajectory as see for yourself how unlikely that is to stop at 0.3 C. If you have negative feedbacks, they sure haven’t kicked in at all yet.

      • JimD, “If you have negative feedbacks, they sure haven’t kicked in at all yet.”

        The “hiatus” or slowdown is a pretty good indication that something has kicked in. Right now we have a fairly predictable El Nino which should have a fairly predictable la nina afterwords and about 20 years more side ways crabbing. If the Stephens et al 2015 paper is right, ocean heat up take has slowed a bit and shifted to just the SH which is another pretty good sign along with pretty stable Antarctic ice mass and the reduction in Greenland loss rate over the past couple of years. There are a few hints out there.

      • The 30-year temperature showed no slowdown. Land temperatures had no slowdown. Ocean heat content had no slow down. Arctic sea ice plummeted during the hiatus. Greenland melt continues, etc.

      • A La Nina is not going to change anything. The return of England’s anomalous wind… that could return the flat, but a simple La Nina… no way.

        So far OHC has continued to go up throughout this El Nino. The sea level rise spike indicates steric sea level rise is ballooning. What is there to recharge?

      • JCH, slowed down doesn’t mean stopped, it means slowed down.

        The northern hemisphere has pretty much stopped, which would be the main cause of the slowed down.

        Deep ocean warming doesn’t add much of anything to surface temperature.

  32. The previous Eemian interglacial was much warmer than our Holocene, with sea levels at least 5 metres higher and therefore more polar ice melt etc. So what happened to the poor polar bears I wonder? Well obviously they’re still here and their numbers have increased four fold since 1960.
    Today we know that UAH satellite data has shown no warming over Antarctica since 1979, so that stuffs up the theory of polar temp amplification.
    Global SLR from NOAA tide gauges show about 1.5mm to 2 mm a year or about 200 mm max per century or about 8 inches. Just the same as the previous century. So where’s their CAGW impact? I’m from OZ and NOAA shows Sydney SLR at just 0.65mm year and Brisbane 0.09 mm a year or about 2.6 inches and 0.36 inches per century. Where’s the Co2 impact?
    Remember SLs on OZ east coast were at least 1.5 metres higher at the end of the NATURAL Holocene climate optimum just 4,000 years ago. See Narabeen man ABC Catalyst.
    We could go through so many of the CAGW icons and we find they are wrong. Droughts ( over OZ) were much worse in the past than today, see the recent Vance and Baker studies. Vance found many periods over the last 1,000 years that were the same as our worst droughts and the 12th century was much drier than anything we’ve experienced over the last 100 years. And Baker found many worse droughts over the last 500 years. Also the Calvo alkenone study found that temps had dropped over southern Australia and consequently that area has been receiving less rainfall for the last 5,000 years. It’s a tad difficult to stop such a cooling trend, but who knows maybe AGW could do the trick?

  33. The optimum temperature will depend on where you are. This year we are having a very nice winter, about 18 to 21 C max, 8 to 12 C min. As far as I can see the world wide temperature could increase say 1 degree more, and that would be optimum. I bet Hungarians would like it a bit warmer too.

    After thinking this over for a few years, sea level change is the only thing we really need to worry about, the other impacts are poppycock, made up, urban legends. And sea level rises slowly. I’m more worried about other issues.

    • David Springer

      For most of earth’s history it has been green from pole to pole with no ice caps. It’s thought the current configuration of the continents restricting tropical waters from circulating to the poles is responsible for the ice age of the past 4 million years. The remains of temperate forests underlie the Antarctic ice sheet and the north pole was sub-tropical with crocodiles and palm trees.

  34. Geoff Sherrington

    One often reads that global temperatures are increasing because we are bouncing back from the abnormal cold of the Little Ice Age.
    There are many things wrong with the assertion, but the one that bothers me most is — what mechanism is causing the bounce-back? Is it an increase in warming, is it a decrease in cooling, is it anthropogenic or natural, is it within the globe or external, etc etc etc.
    So what is the favoured mechanism for the bounce-back?
    Answers to this simple bounce-back assertion will rapidly point to unknown knowns, stressing again our large ignorance of climate and its drivers. While we have this ignorance, we should not really imagine that we can control climate and while we cannot control climate, what is the point in shopping for a ‘best’ climate? The concept becomes like cameras to addicted photographers or shoes to fashion ladies. We must spend a lot of money to get the best, or at least something more thrilling than anyone else in the social set has.

    • While we have this ignorance, we should not really imagine that we can control climate and while we cannot control climate, what is the point in shopping for a ‘best’ climate?
      It is worse than that. Explanations about why the climate is going up, down, or sideways are based on incomplete understanding of physics, not on data.

    • Geoff Sherrington: Answers to this simple bounce-back assertion will rapidly point to unknown knowns,

      You make a good point about the emptiness of the “bounce back” claim. But what is an “unknown known”? It could be something “known” whose relevance to the current discussion is yet to be discerned.

  35. I believe to dimly remember that the 2°C limit has been derived as about the warmest the climate has supposedly got in the holocene, about 5000-6000 years ago. The idea was it might be a good idea to stay below a limit that has proven to be stable and not catastrophic. Maybe because of the tipping point stuff. Beyond that limit anything might happen.

  36. David Springer

    Interesting. I was born and raised about a quarter mile from the banks of the Allegheny river in New York State. I don’t recall ever seeing it completely frozen over but I understand it did so regularly in the first half of the 20th century when it could be cleared for ice skating in the winter.

    • I remember the James River Freezing over in 1958. [] . The bridge is not far from where the river dumps into the Chesterpeak (sic) Bay which is part of the Hampton Roads. Rode across the James River bridge many time to visit relatives. Some other smaller shore freezes, but this was a once in my life-time event. Is this a 100-year event like the 2 100-year floodings of the same rivers with a decade of one another?

      Apparently this 1958 freeze over was not much if I believe other info!
      Millenial Moment: Hampton Roads’ Frozen Rivers
      Although Hampton Roads is far from the Arctic, at least three times extended cold temperatures in January locked ships in ice here and gave residents the opportunity to walk across rivers. These deep freezes occurred in 1780, 1857 and 1918. Lesser ones occurred in the 1950s and 1960s.
      (TJ) Thomas Jefferson, who was governor in 1780, reported that the “York River was frozen over so that people walked across it.” And The Virginia Gazette reported on Jan. 22 that “six loaded wagons went over James River, on the ice, from Warwick to the opposite shore.” (Warwick is/was just above the current bridge location!)

  37. Why not use a reference point of 2000 or 1970?

    I think 2015 is a defensible reference point. I think there is abundant evidence that the climate of 2015 is better for humans and other life than the climate of 1880 or 1780. Corresponding to that I, use the present CO2 concentration (approximately 400) as the reference CO2 concentration. I have mentioned this before, and some of the regular writers disparage those two ideas. If there is a good case to be made that 1980, 1880, or 1780 actually presented a “better” climate, I have not seen it yet.

    It has been warmer than this in the Holocene, without evidence of a higher rate of hot-weather-related disasters.

  38. My GGG Grandfather was in the 2nd North Carolina Regiment of the Continental Line, and spent his first winter in the army at Valley Forge. Lucky guy. In late 1779, all North Carolina regiments were sent to Chrarleston, SC to help defend that city. The regimental records record that on the march to Charleston, they encountered three-foot deep snows. The finally got Charleston the next spring just in time to be surrendered to the British. Pretty much all the North Carolina soldiers were thrown onto British prison ships in Charleston Harbor. Lucky guy, my ggggpa.

  39. blueice2hotsea


    Nobody has specifically mentioned this dataset hosted by NOAA.
    It seems appropriate for temperature of Washington’s era.

    Ljungqvist, 2010 – Northern Hemisphere extra-tropical temperature anomaly reconstruction.

    Interesting decline at end of 20th century.

  40. Harry Twinotter

    An article with a Hockey Stick chart. Well I never.

  41. I am puzzled by the AR5 diagram showing the LIA, in the original post above. Last I knew the AGW position was still that the LIA was regional, not global. In fact this has long been a major research topic. Has that suddenly changed? What does AR5 actually say about this diagram and the LIA?