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« A Miller's tale - Josh 139 | Main | Corruption in the academy »

Annan loses climate bet to sceptic

David Whitehouse has a fascinating article up at GWPF about a bet he made with James Annan in 2007, an idea prompted by a radio show called More or Less.

It was for £100 that, using the HadCrut3 data set, there would be no new record set by 2011. It was made between climatologist James Annan and myself. His work involves analysing climatic data and validating climate models. He accepted enthusiastically as he has a perchant of taking on 'sceptics.' The presenter said that if the global temperature didn’t go up in the next few years, “there would be some explaining to do.”

Later today, January 13th, “More or Less” returns to the bet, which I am pleased to say I won, though I note that this bet, or its conclusion, is not yet mentioned on Annan’s Wikipedia entry despite his other climate bet being discussed.

BH favourite Mark Lynas is mentioned too.

What's not to like?

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Reader Comments (127)

Lets hope he doesn't duck paying up !

Jan 13, 2012 at 10:27 AM | Unregistered Commentermat

"More or Less" is one of the few programmes on BBC Radio 4 that is worth listening to. It doesn't seem to care about pushing the BBC alarmist agenda. Perhaps that's because it deals only in statistics, and there's lies, damn lies and statistics!

Jan 13, 2012 at 10:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

I look forward to seeing this story covered by Richard Black, and by Damian Charrington!

Jan 13, 2012 at 10:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterGary d

I won't hold my breath waiting for any honest acknowledgements from CAGW fanatics.

Of course in scientific terms the bet is insignificant, but the activists would trumpet the news had the outcome been different.

The question arises: are there any honest people on the CAGW bandwagon??

Jan 13, 2012 at 10:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterSkiphil

Re: significance

I do not mean to suggest it is not significant when exaggerated activist memes prove unfounded, only that the CAGW habit of trying to find alarmist trends everywhere is what proves inaccurate.

Jan 13, 2012 at 10:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterSkiphil

I suspect Delingpole will have a scorcher on this!

Jan 13, 2012 at 10:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterIan E

Ah, the dangers of inferring anything at all from short time-series. Annan should have known better. Especially with the towering anomaly of the 1998 El Nino casting its long, long shadow over the last decade.



Jan 13, 2012 at 11:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Ian E - Delingpole recently had this to say:

"One of my resolutions this year is to write as little as possible about global warming. Not only will it make my wife much happier but it will also free me up to talk about more important things such as monetary collapse, hyperinflation and the imminent end of Western civilisation. Oh and also there's hardly much need for my input on climate change any more. That's because, basically, my side has won."

(That's not to say he won't find it hard to break his new year resolution ...)

Jan 13, 2012 at 11:18 AM | Unregistered Commentermatthu

But here is a bet I would happily take - new records for surface air and TLT GAT will be set in the next decade.

Jan 13, 2012 at 11:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

BBD - I have heard that there are a lot of aerosols to blame for the situation they now find themselves in ;-)

Jan 13, 2012 at 11:19 AM | Unregistered Commentermatthu

Oh and also there's hardly much need for my input on climate change any more. That's because, basically, my side has won.

I think I have to go with Ben Goldacre's mildly infamous tweeted assessment of Delingpole.

Jan 13, 2012 at 11:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Here's a bet you could have joined, BBD. (I did.)

Jan 13, 2012 at 11:26 AM | Unregistered Commentermatthu

It may help to have some definitions with regard predicting the climate; perhaps

Short term climate fluctuations are of tens of years

Medium term fluctuations are of hundreds of years

Long term fluctuations are of thousands of years

Very long term fluctuations are of ten and hundreds of thousands of year.

Extemely long term fluctuations arer of millions and hundreds of millions of years.

It is only when you look back at fluctuations on a extremely long term scale you realise that climate behaves in a purely random fashion.

All we can say with certainty is what the climate has been. We can say with less certainty is what the climate might be over the next 10 years, the short term. Betond that is chance.

Jan 13, 2012 at 11:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

"Ah, the dangers of inferring anything at all from short time-series. Annan should have known better. Especially with the towering anomaly of the 1998 El Nino casting its long, long shadow over the last decade."

But as there is a uniform upwards CO2 induced trend still in there the odds would have been on his side. If it was natural variability that lost him this bet then surely putting the same bet on again now would be an almost sure win in a few years time.

Jan 13, 2012 at 11:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

BBD - I think that comment of yours says rather more about you and Goldacre than, Delingpole.

Jan 13, 2012 at 11:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Let's not talk about Delingpole here.

Jan 13, 2012 at 12:02 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

16:30 R4 today, thanks for the heads up Bish.

rofl @BBDs bet offer of "heads or tails" with his two sided coin, cheeky ;¬)

Jan 13, 2012 at 12:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrosty

The bet was one-sided. After all, the warming trend had ended so the next probable step was downwards. Also, the two most basic premises of climate science, the direct thermalisation of GHG-absorbed IR energy and 'back radiation' as a source of extra energy input are both false.

So, the only heating is from indirect thermalisation of scattered IR and the rise in temperature of the earth's surface caused by increased IR impedance of the atmosphere. The latter is of course limited by the concomitant rise in convective heat transport as surface temperature rises.

Jan 13, 2012 at 12:52 PM | Unregistered Commentermydogsgotnonose

@mydogsgotnonose... I loved the "of course" in that :-)

Jan 13, 2012 at 1:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket


Could do with a snappier title, far too technical to have anything to do with climate science.

Jan 13, 2012 at 1:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

It is only when you look back at fluctuations on a extremely long term scale you realise that climate behaves in a purely random fashion.

Climate responds to energetic forcing. This is not 'random' in the sense you imply.

Real-world physics include radiative forcing from CO2. Increase CO2 and you increase RF. That is why I will bet on new records being set in the next decade.

Jan 13, 2012 at 1:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

JC: thank you for your support. I thought 'concomitant' was the best!

And My Lord, how about entitling my piece 'Yet another way to wind up the duty troll'!

Jan 13, 2012 at 1:26 PM | Unregistered Commentermydogsgotnonose

BBD - "Real-world physics include radiative forcing from CO2. Increase CO2 and you increase RF. That is why I will bet on new records being set in the next decade."

The only likely record will be another 10 years of no significant warming, making 25 in all. The models don't work, the simplistic physics of earth being surrounded in glass with one climate driver is just plain wrong.

Jan 13, 2012 at 1:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

mydogsgotnonose, are you proposing that excessive co2 will result in global windiness?

Jan 13, 2012 at 1:46 PM | Unregistered Commentersteveta_uk


There's nothing simplistic about atmospheric physics. Nor did I say that there was only one driver of climate. You are making up your own version of reality again.

Jan 13, 2012 at 2:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

steveta_uk: excessive CO2? Read this;

Present CO2 levels are not high and you have to consider other possibilities from increased Earth surface temperature such as higher thermotranspiration.......

Jan 13, 2012 at 2:07 PM | Unregistered Commentermydogsgotnonose

Real world physics does not include things like "radiative forcing". That is just a term to fool people who don't understand physics.

Jan 13, 2012 at 2:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Philip Bratby

Real world physics does not include things like "radiative forcing".

And solar shortwave radiation incident on the Earth's surface is what, exactly?

Jan 13, 2012 at 2:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

"Real world physics does not include things like "radiative forcing"."

I think it is called a "bone" as in "give the dog a bone"...;-)

Jan 13, 2012 at 3:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket


I think he means that physics understands radiative transfer, not "forcing" as a concept. See entropy and sencond law of thermal dynamics.

Jan 13, 2012 at 3:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

Philip Bratby: 'climate science' is close to physics but subtly different. This leads to many problems, particularly the 'back radiation' issue. The clued up warmists supporting the fraud intelligently claim there is no problem in referring to the Prevost Exchange Energy they measure with radiometers as an energy source because they effectively include it in the upward radiation from the earth's surface.

However, in the models, there is an iterative increase of back radiation by the pseudo positive feedback generated by that assumption of absorption of this imaginary radiation at the surface when in reality, Prevost Exchange Energy is directly offset without being converted to heat.It is best thought of as the coupling between emitter and absorber which controls emissivity and absorptivity according to Kirchhoff's Law.

It would have been far better to have used DWLWR as a measure of the impedance of IR to space, as normal physics would have done. Thus the positive feedback is an artefact of the incorrect physical analysis. There is no positive feedback. They have gone disastrously wrong.

Jan 13, 2012 at 3:10 PM | Unregistered Commentermydogsgotnonose

BBD Solar shortwave radiation incident on the Earth's surface is shortwave radiation incident on the Earth's surface. Nothing more, nothing less.

Jan 13, 2012 at 3:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

aka 'radiative forcing'.

Jan 13, 2012 at 3:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD


Do you remember insisting on pulling the same realclimate trick yourself, provided the straight lines one were drawing encompassed periods greater than 30 years? The one Paul M had to gently point out to about?

Jan 13, 2012 at 3:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub


Quite. Only 'climate science' would invent a term like 'radiative forcing' when they wish to misuse physics.

Jan 13, 2012 at 3:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Jan 13, 2012 at 3:10 PM | mydogsgotnonose

Great post & thank you for that explanation. Does this also apply to Mikloski's work?

Jan 13, 2012 at 3:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Cowper

Philip Bratby: a subject which assumes 100% direct thermalisation of the IR energy absorbed by GHG molecules to N2 and O2, when that is physically impossible [you can't transfer that quantum except to another, unexcited GHG molecule] deserves to be called alchemy......

Jan 13, 2012 at 3:22 PM | Unregistered Commentermydogsgotnonose

I've got a 1-0.53 = 87.5% chance of winning.

-James Annan

What do we call this? Global Warming - The Lost Years?

Jan 13, 2012 at 3:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

Jack Cowper; I'm just groping in the dark and to get to grips with Miskolczi's paper requires better classical physics than I have at hand. However, as a past process engineer with quite a lot of Chem Eng back ground I do have an intuitive grasp of the issues and am prepared to question people until I'm satisfied I know what they mean.

The biggest problem with Miskolczi is that he has assumed 100% thermalisation is correct when in reality the IR is probably scattered.and indirectly thermalised at clouds.He then assumes that what you measure at the TOA is a true optical depth by that absorption.

I suspect it's a bit different, specifically the scattering outside the acceptance angle of the IR from IR that originally came within that angle, also the scattering into that acceptance angle of IR originally travelling in a different direction! I'm still trying to develop this idea, but I suspect you should measure scattered energy at many angles. CERES does so at 16 angles so I await the results or someone more knowledgeable than me.....

In summary, how can you define optical depth in an IR opaque atmosphere when much of the radiation will be absorbed by water and dissolved carbon dioxide the re-emitted spherically. So TOA will differ over clouds compared wit a desert atmosphere.

Jan 13, 2012 at 3:37 PM | Unregistered Commentermydogsgotnonose


"Increase CO2 and you increase RF. "

True, but as I understand it, there are numerous other factors at play and because of the complexity of the system we still don't know exactly how much this relates to increasing temperature. And in the end, isn't the "how much" what we want to know?

Jan 13, 2012 at 3:59 PM | Unregistered Commentertimg56

PS It is possible that Miskolczi's 1.87 optical depth is therefore a much more profound parameter, in effect a direct measure of the water cycle control system which, by producing clouds from warmer areas with water which have higher humidity, automatically limits the greenhouse warming of the tropics of a water planet, distributing the energy laterally to the cold parts!

Jan 13, 2012 at 4:03 PM | Unregistered Commentermydogsgotnonose

WRT references to Miskolczi's long-debunked 2007 paper.

Those who are interested in fact-checking can do so in depth, here.

Jan 13, 2012 at 4:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD


What would anyone take notice of an anonymous blogger debunking someone else's paper? Who defines a debunked paper? All the hockey stick and spaghetti graphs have been debunked. Yes?

Jan 13, 2012 at 4:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby


"That is why I will bet on new records being set in the next decade"

Bet you a pint that temperatures will not rise over the next decade.

Jan 13, 2012 at 4:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

Thanks again, my dogs got no nose. I'll have to read up a lot more to get my head round that but thank you again for taking the time to explain.

To be fair to BBD the SOD is one of the better warmist sites.

Jan 13, 2012 at 4:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Cowper

Philip Bratby

Perhaps if you read the various, detailed analyses of Miskolczi's errors provided at SoD before further comment?

As I have said here before, debunking the Mannean hockey stick has no effect on the atmospheric physics underpinning the 'greenhouse effect' (which is of course a misnomer, so please nobody bother kicking the dead horse).

Jan 13, 2012 at 4:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Why don't you express your erudite opinions on the James Annan bet?

Annan in his poster says, "...but I have found that climate change sceptics are remarkably reluctant to back their proclaimed beliefs by betting against significant climate change."

Here we have the exact opposite.

What are your thoughts on *this* matter?

Jan 13, 2012 at 4:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

Jack Cowper

Indeed it is, but no less controversial, especially reading the comments.

Jan 13, 2012 at 5:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby


I read over at Real Climate about 18 months ago or so that some Scientists are predicting a Global Warming hiatus, where by natural factors such as the PDO would mask the global warming signal. Some were predicting that the warming would start again around 2022 some thought it maybe 2030 - what are your thought on this. I ask as you said earlier about this decade setting new temperature records. I would post a link but my works computer does not allow me to view Real Climate.

Jan 13, 2012 at 5:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Cowper

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