Know Your Opponent – Climate Bet Warmist Believes In The Hockey Stick

The price of bad science.

First off, I want to thank the readers who have joined in on the CLIMATE BET whereby the winnings will be donated to a charity for children in dire need, yet to be decided.

So far us 11 coolists have bet $300 in total that 2011 – 2020 will be cooler than the last decade.

It seems that our warmist opponent “Robhon” has mustered the courage and revealed his name: Rob Honeycutt. I ask myself where could all that cockiness and confidence come from?

Turns out he’s a regular at the warmist blogs, like Skeptical Science. Anyone that spends time with such sources of “information” undoubtedly will develop the beliefs that he now holds. In fact I found a post Honeycutt wrote himself at Skeptical Science called:

Kung fu climate.

He really believes in that hockey stick. I wonder if he really knows what he is getting himself into with this bet – he has committed $5000! I have no reason to doubt that he is serious about it and that he will pay if he loses. But that’s a lotta money. Either you have to be very rich, or cock-sure you’re gonna win.

The next decade is likely going to teach him a lot about climate science. We’ll see how cocky he’ll be in 10 years. It could be that it will get warmer. But if it does, it will not be because of a few molecules more of a trace gas. No, the odds are that it’s going to cool. As we have seen, more and more scientists are expecting cooling. The ocean cycles have reversed, and so the climate has begun to do the same in tow. The sun is sleepy too.

My bet with a similar warmist five years ago

Exactly five years ago I also made a bet with a warmist who also was cock-sure it was going to get warmer. Like Rob, this person was convinced that man was heating up the planet. But I told him it was mostly due to natural causes, and that we’d see cooling in the years ahead. So we bet as follows:

If the average temperature for the next five years (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010) is warmer than the average of 2005, then I lose the bet. But if the average of 2005 is warmer then the next five years, then I win the bet.

The amount: If it cooled, then he would pay me 6 bottles of red, dry wine. If it warmed, then I would have to give him 6 bottles of Scottish whiskey (I like a fair bet).

Back then we did not stipulate which dataset to use to decide the winner. But I think using the average of all four, i.e. UAH MSU, RSS, GISS, and HadCrut, would be the way to go.

I haven’t run through the calculations in detail, but I see a slight downward trend. The 2010 El Nino made it really close, but was not enough in the end. As you can see the 2007/2008 El Nino ruined the warming trend (damn models didn’t see that).

Some people have to learn the hard way. Glass of red wine anyone?


UPDATE: I don’t want to give the impression that Rob Honeycutt is impolite or anything. He has a view and he rightfully asserts it. So far he has been very polite and cordial here. As I mentioned, I’m just impressed by his confidence.

UPDATE  2: The warmist has conceded defeat (2005 was warmer than the 2006-2010 average) and I have  gotten my bottles of wine. I expect a similar outcome in 2021.

38 thoughts on “Know Your Opponent – Climate Bet Warmist Believes In The Hockey Stick”

  1. Nice post by Rob on Skeptical Science.

    Instead of ‘know your opponent’, you might want to suggest that those who are wagering on cooling should ‘know your physics and climate science’. Like Rob, I’m a guest author at Skeptical Science. I actually wrote an article very recently regarding why (i) it’s foolish to be predicting global cooling and (ii) virtually no climate scientists are so foolish. An increasing number of scientists predicting cooling? Of you polled all climate scientists on the planet, you would probably get ten to twenty thousand (depending on how you define ‘climate scientist’) predicting global warming vs. a handfull predicting cooling. Not much justification for wagering money on cooling.

    Rather than repeat the main points from that article, I’ll just link to it, if you don’t mind.

    1. Do you think the climate is going to care how many say it will, and how many say it won’t? There are always just a few who see things first. The rest take a awhile longer.

      1. No of course the climate doesn’t care about the opinions of climate scientists. But the opinions of climate scientists are based on our best understanding of how the climate works.

        That’s why the miniscule number of ‘scientists’ predicting cooling was only half of my article, while the other half discussed the reasons why cooling predictions are foolish from a climate science perspective.

  2. Pierre… I think that last $100 bet was on the warm side. So I think we’re currently standing at:

    Warmer – $5200
    Cooler – $300

    Correct me if I’m wrong.

  3. Pierre… I just checked the data on your previous bet. You definitely won that one. Kind of a silly bet to make on several fronts. Betting one year (a peak year at that) against an average would be a very bad move. Just looking at the UAH data if that person had bet you the average of 2006-2010 would be higher than 2000-2005 here’s what you get:

    2000-’05: 0.228
    2006-’10: 0.272

    You would have lost that bet. But it’s even dicy to bet a 5 year average given the variability of the climate system. Our bet is the average of 2011-2020 will be warmer than 2001-2010 (or cooler depending on your side).

    I still feel very confident about this bet.

    1. Agreed, for example I would not bet that the average temperature for 2011-2015 will be hotter than 2010, because even with a steady warming trend, it’s hard to break records. Records are records for a reason. That’s why although the planet has continued to warm since 1998, there have been few individual years hotter than ’98, and the average has not been hotter than that single year.

      On the other hand, in keeping with Rob’s example, I would probably bet that the average for 2011-2015 will beat the average for 2006-2010. The longer the timeframe, the more confidence we can place in these wagers. 2011-2020 being hotter than 2001-2010 is a safe bet.

      1. The longer the timeframe, the more confidence we can place in these wagers. 2011-2020 being hotter than 2001-2010 is a safe bet.

        It’s a little bit like saying: “The longer term the weather forecast, the more confident we can be about it.” Sorry guys, the planet does cool at times…the warming is not forever.

        1. If we were talking about weather you’d be right. But we aren’t. We’re talking about climate, which by definition, conforms to forcing trends.

          1. The PDO and AMO and the sun are not puny little things that can’t handle the overblown little forcings you guy are all imagining. Be patient, we shall see.

          2. Rob is right, you’ve got it backwards. We’re not talking about weather, we’re talking about climate. The longer the timeframe, the more opportunity the long-term forcings have to dominate the short-term cycles (including PDO and AMO).

            Sure the planet cools at times, but in the long-term, only if the net forcing is negative. Again you’re ignoring physics.

            The CO2 forcing alone is 1.6 W/m^2. That is neither puny nor overblown.

    2. Hi Rob,

      Kind of a silly bet to make on several fronts. Betting one year (a peak year at that) against an average would be a very bad move”

      You’re right. But at the time we didn’t know that it was a peak and that the following years would go down. 2005 was a bit high, and so I imagine it may have emboldened my opponent – sound familiar? :)

      Some people have to learn the hard way…though I am by no means excluding the possibility that you will win the bet. Tell me, who could exclude the possibility of either warming or cooling? Nobody. The fact is that no one really understands the climate system, and I’d be very careful with those who pretend to.
      There are few out there, we all know them, who seem to claim having quite superior knowledge. Us sceptics simply don’t believe that. We are not saying one way or the other…just that the cycles point to cooling right now. We don’t have enough understanding to be sure one way way or the other.

      1. No, actually, I remember quite clearly 2005 being understood to be a peak at that point. At the time it was the warmest year in the instrumental record according to GISS.

        Who could exclude the possibility of warming or cooling? Well, you have to look at the underlying data. If you apply “weather thinking” to this you have no way to predict. You’re betting on chaos turning out a given way and your odds are no better than 50/50. But if you apply climate to this you are looking at the underlying mechanisms that are driving the weather over longer periods of time. We know, with a high level of certainty, what the radiative forcing is for most aspects of the climate. Well mixed GHG’s dominate. Internal variability is still high but over time the dominant forcing will still win the day.

        We have statistically significant warming for the past 40 years. We know it’s warming. We know it’s not solar activity. Too low a forcing. The PDO, AMO, et al are all a function of internal variability. Orbital patterns are all forcing mild cooling. Still, GHG forcing is far greater.

        The odds of me losing this bet are extremely small. If we had 2 or 3 major low latitude volcanic eruptions we might get a cooler decade. Barring that this is pretty much a sure thing. There are tens of thousands of high quality scientific papers to back me up.

        1. “tens of thousands of papers”.
          You have the tendency to argue on the basis of authority. Science does not advance by authority, it advances by showing that the authority is wrong. So I see a giant step forward for climate science coming.

          1. I think if something big were coming out in climate science we would have seen it already. The amount of work that has been put into this issue is quite astounding. There are a lot of great minds working on this.

            Science doesn’t exactly advance by showing authority wrong. New theories rarely prove old theories completely wrong. New theories merely modify and clarify. Relativity did not kill Newtonian physics, it just better explained things.

            You can apply the same to climate. The evidence we currently have is all very solid. There are accepted uncertainties in the mix that need to be better understood. At this point it is highly unlikely that anything is going to come along and overturn the radiative properties of CO2.

          2. The reference to tens of thousands of papers is not an appeal to authority, it’s an appeal to scientific evidence. There’s a big difference. If Rob had said ‘tens of thousands of climate scientists’ opinions’, that would be an appeal to authority. He’s not talking about opinions, he’s talking about empirical evidence.

            Moreover, climate scientists are aware of natural cycles like PDO. There’s a reason the “O” is oscillation – they switch between positive and negative states. Since 1950, PDO has had one positive and one negative cycle, and the planet has warmed more than half a degree Celsius. PDO and other natural oscillations may slightly dampen the anthropogenic warming in the short-term, but they won’t stop it and certainly won’t reverse it. There’s no reason to expect a ‘giant step forward’ on a subject scientists already have a good understanding about.

  4. To add note to your main article, Pierre… I actually spend time on a lot of blogs. SkS is definitely one of the best, IMHO, because I can easily find links to actual scientific papers very easily. The other part I like about SkS is John Cook is a stickler for politeness on his site, so the flame throwing is kept to a bare min.

    I also spend a lot of time on Peter Sinclair’s Youtube account, mostly for just debating people. I also frequent Real Climate, Climate Progress, WUWT, Open Mind, Science of Doom, Climate Etc… NTZ is new for me. I’m also a big fan of Potholer54 on Youtube, journalist Peter Hadfield.

    I tried to post for a while on JoNova’s site but was attacked so fiercely that it literally frightened me. (I’m a pretty polite commenter, overall.) One commenter there said I should have my children taken from me, and that was the end of me and her site.

  5. Here’s a starting point for us. I just calculated the average for both RSS and UAH for 2001 (Jan 2001) to 2010.93 (Dec 2010) using the Woods for Trees site.

    RSS is still missing December 2010 but as it currently stands their combined anomaly is 0.2853 for the past decade.

    We might have a little challenge in that Dr Spencer just announced that he’s changing their baseline to a 30 year baseline and RSS, at least currently, is still on a 20 year baseline. Previously they’d both used the same baseline. We’ll watch that one to make sure we get a fair reading for both sides.
    Reply: Sounds good Rob. We agreed to use RSS and UAH. Hopefully in 2021 there won’t be anyone challenging fairness and accuracy. -PG

  6. Hello Pierre,

    a bit unprecise as so often.
    The bet is six bottles of old Irish Whisky not Scottish Whiskey.
    By the way in Scotland only Whisky is produced not Whiskey.


    1. Hi Heiner!
      You’re right. But as it looks now, that appears not to be an issue. No German wine please – it’s too sweet.
      BTW, Why irish whisky? – I think the Scots produce a better product. The Irish have to mix theirs in their coffee! :).
      See you next week I hope – It’s on Ralf.
      PS: Care to join our latest bet? It’s for charity. We need more people on the coolist side.

      1. Hello Pierre,

        Irish whisky because many years ago me and my wife used to have an
        “Irish Coffee” at sunday afternoon. She used to buy “Tullamore Dew” Irish whisky.
        I found it very good as Irish Coffe or pure.

        See you next week with six bottles of non-German wine.
        (btw. there are lots of excellent German dry red wines).

        I admit contritely that i lost the bet. No data checks necessary.

        The new bet is not very interesting for me. Ten years are such a long time!
        A bet must have a winner and a loser. A win-win bet is not a bet. No thrill.

        ROBHON has missed the chance to become wealthy.

        Reply: Thanks Heiner for being a great sport about it. 2010 made it much more exciting, that’s for sure.
        cockiness: Unfortunately, I don’t think this new bet with Rob Honeycutt will be as exciting. I thnk the coolists will win in a landslide! It could very well be decided already in 2015. /cockiness -PG

  7. There isn’t a steady warming trend quite obviously; it see saws back and forth. ENSO unduly influences the average when only including El Nino (especially satellite which is amplified by oceans). Currently UAH 2001-2010 is neutral to slightly cooling even with El Nino. That is 10 years. End 2011 will be completion of the ENSO cycle, effectively neutralizing any gain/loss in the 30 year trend.

    There is only one index left that is not setting in motion several decades of cooling. That is the AMO. It is now at or near peak. Within 5 years, should it follow past cyclical patterns, it will be on the decline.

    I’ve made a few bets myself and unless one is willing to scrap all natural variation, which includes all the ocean/atmospheric processes and solar influence that affect weather (weather is the summation of climate), calling it a “safe bet” that 2011-2020 will be warmer than 2001-2010 is not all that safe. Comparing a few PPM of CO2 to the enormous workings of the ocean is like pitting a ballerina dancer against a sumo wrestler in a cage match.

    FWIW, the TLT is right where it was in 12/98 and 12/07. It is going to drop further as NOAA has been drastically revising their NINO 3.4 forecast the past 12 months.

    It may be close, but a safe bet it is not.
    Reply: I agree with everything. No one understands the climate to an extent where “safe” bets can be made. I say that it’s 60-40 for cooling. But 60 is 50% more than 40! -PG

    1. What you guys keep doing is fooling yourself with the “few ppms of CO2″ red herring. When you convert everything into forcing, W/m-2, then you start to look at the quantitative effects that are being applied to the climate.

  8. What someone believes or not, is for me quite uninteresting. I think, Pierre, we should take care of the criterion of the bet. See also Lubos Motl’s comment before. For example, the history of ground temperature measurements shows a continuously inclusion and drop out of stations, being far from random. This causes enormous spurious differences and trends. Even if we use satelite measurements, we should be sure that the comparison is done on exactly the same spots on the earth in exactly the same months. No computations, extrapolations or whatever should be allowed. I want a difference between means computed from raw data. A statistical test is perhaps not needed if we agree that a difference of 0.000001 already suffices. Perhaps we should look for a neutral statistician or a small committee as arbiter. I also want decisions in advance about which spots on earth are used. The comparison cannot be done on urban areas only. Just some thoughts. What do you think?
    Reply: Yes, it is not an exact science. But I’d prefer not to get the UN, the NAS and World Court involved in this. We’ll just have to accept that RSS and UAH will be good enough. -PG

      1. UAH and RSS is the best we’ve got. I thing we can rely on them.
        My money is going to charity. And you can also be assured that Rob’s money will do the same. He seems like a nice fellow.

  9. In my previous post the dates should have been 12/98 and 12/07.
    Reply: Fixed!

  10. Now I know what’s going on: Psychologists have discovered that James Hansen and Michael Mann have ESP, which they will announce later. LMAO! ESP…the power to see into the future.
    And lemme guess…liberals will turn out to have this gift by a far greater margin than conservatives, and especially tea partiers.

    This is really geting pretty kooky.

    1. There is a famous part of Carl Jung’s career where, he was so convinced there was a “supernatural” that he spent (I think it was) over a year studying this one girl who was purported to have extra sensory powers. But Jung, as convinced as he was personally, required absolute scientific proof that it was real. He tested and tested and tested the girl to the point where, in the end, she finally just admitted that she made things up.

      Science works. In spite of our biases.

  11. Now, if I were going to place a bet it would be on cooling. As a farmer, though, I’d sure rather have some warming.

    But whoever wins the bet at the end of the day, er decade, we all need to remember that what we have seen so far is nothing outside the bounds of natural variation. A warmer climate proves nothing about AGW.

    1. “The bounds of natural variation” are irrelevant. Every warming or cooling has to have a physical cause. If you’re going to argue the current warming is natural, you have to be able to explain it with a specific physical natural cause. Just waiving your hands and saying “it could hypothetically be natural” doesn’t quite cut it in the science world.

      1. “The bounds of natural variation” are real and therefore totally relevant. The changes that have become evident in recent times have become an inconvenient truth for the alarmists who having once denied that such cycles even existed, now cannot avoid any longer having to accommodate them in their explanations.

        It is true that every warming and cooling has to have identifiable physical causes, and the alarmists can no longer pass the buck on identifying such causes by ignoring the existence of natural variations. Instead they have to demonstrate that they both understand and are able to quantify such forces before they can assign any value to any human influences.
        At present all the alarmists have is a theory and a rising temperature that they say correlates with a rising CO2 level, though only somewhat if they were really truthful about it.. Partial correlation is not enough, cause and effect must be demonstrated, not assumed.
        Even the one measurement that could help substantiate their theories, the heat content of the oceans, relies on the assumption of the “missing heat” being there, but unable to be measured, and having gotten there by some physical means that still cannot be adequately explained by the current understanding of ocean circulation.

        Just waving their hands, or are the waiving their responsibility, and saying hypothetically that the “missing heat” is in the oceans might cut it in their narrow science world, but it doesn’t cut it in the broader real world at all.

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