Thomas misrepresents climate science to claim “global warming is a falling doctrine”

Asserting that “global warming is a falling doctrine,” conservative columnist Cal Thomas falsely claimed the climate change consensus “suffered a severe blow” from recent European winter storms and falsely cited U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) data on summer Arctic ice. Thomas also trumpeted David Rose's questionable January 10 Mail on Sunday article, which purported to report on the research of climate scientist Mojib Latif, but was denounced by Latif for distorting his work.

Thomas falsely claims global warming “suffered a severe blow” from European winter storms

From Thomas' January 14 Washington Examiner column:

The “doctrine” of global warming, now euphemistically called “climate change,” suffered a severe blow last week as much of Europe was buried in record amounts of snow and subfreezing temperatures.

“Experts” who believe in global warming, uh climate change, went on television where they bravely tried to make a distinction between weather, which they said was about what happens today, and climate, which is long term. Most of it fell on deaf -- and cold -- ears as growing numbers disbelieve the “experts,” relying more on their own “lying eyes.”

But winter weather in Europe doesn't tell us about global climate change

While some of Northern Hemisphere is seeing cold winter storms this year, many parts of globe experiencing temperatures “above normal.” In a January 7 blog post, The Christian Science Monitor noted that "[s]ome parts of Northern New Zealand are sweltering in record breaking heat this week. And oddly enough, so are some places in Bulgaria, where a hot spot over the Black Sea has warmed one town to a pleasant 72 degrees. Not bad for a city at the same latitude as Portland, Maine." The Christian Science Monitor also noted, “On Christmas Day, the Australian Weather Bureau reported that Central Pacific Ocean temperatures are now at their warmest in more than a decade. For Australia itself, 2009 was a scorcher, the second hottest year on record after 2005." The U.K. Met Office Hadley Center similarly noted in a January 6 press release that “it is not cold everywhere in the world. North-east America, Canada, North Africa, the Mediterranean, and south-west Asia have all seen temperatures above normal -- in many places by more than 5 C, and in parts of northern Canada, by more than 10°C.”

Met Office: Climate change “has to be looked at in a global context and over longer periods of time.” The Met Office said in its January 6 press release that “current cold weather in the UK is part of the normal regional variations that take place in the winter season. It doesn't tell us anything about climate change, which has to be looked at in a global context and over longer periods of time.”

Globally, 2009 among warmest years on record. A January 5 U.K. Independent article reported: “The Met Office's Barry Gromett said December and January's cold weather was 'within the bounds of natural variability' within a global trend of rising temperatures -- in which 2009 is set to be the fifth warmest year on record.” The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has similarly stated that 2009 “will likely finish as the fourth, fifth, or sixth warmest year on record.” NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) further noted that based on global surface temperature data through November, 2009 is the fourth warmest year on record.

WMO: “2000-2009, The Warmest Decade.” In a December 8, 2009, press release, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reported that "[t]he decade of the 2000s (2000-2009) was warmer than the decade spanning the 1990s (1990-1999), which in turn was warmer than the 1980s (1980-1989)." On December 8, 2009, NOAA also stated that according to a preliminary analysis by the National Climatic Data Center, "[t]he 2000--2009 decade will be the warmest on record, with its average global surface temperature about 0.96 degree F above the 20th century average. This will easily surpass the 1990s value of 0.65 degree F." Bloomberg further reported on December 8, 2009, that "[o]f the 10 hottest years on record, nine occurred in the 2000s, according to the Met Office, which said it expected temperatures to keep rising as a result of greenhouse-gas emissions." The article further noted that "[g]lobal temperatures are expressed by the Met Office as an 'anomaly' from the long-term average. The 2000s were about 0.4 of a degree warmer than the 1961 to 1990 average, eclipsing the record 0.23-degree temperature anomaly of the 1990s, it said."

Thomas falsely cites NSIDC Arctic ice data in claiming global warming is “a falling doctrine”

From Thomas' January 14 column:

Writing Sunday in London's Daily Mail, columnist David Rose analyzed recent scientific data amassed by eminent climate scientists. Rose says that far from a warming planet, “the bitter weather afflicting much of the Northern Hemisphere is only the start of a global trend towards cooler weather that is likely to last for 20 or 30 years.”

Rose cites data from the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center in Colorado, which found that, “Arctic summer sea ice has increased by 409,000 square miles, or 26 percent, since 2007.”

This, he says, challenges “some of the global warming orthodoxy's most deeply cherished beliefs, such as their claim that the North Pole will be free of ice by the summer of 2013.”

In fact, NSIDC reported that 2009 saw third-lowest mark on record for Arctic summer ice extent

NSIDC: “Arctic sea ice extent remains low; 2009 sees third-lowest mark.” Quoting Mail on Sunday writer David Rose's statement that “Arctic summer sea ice has increased by 409,000 square miles, or 26 percent, since 2007,” Thomas misleadingly cited only three years of Arctic ice data. This argument echoes Glenn Beck and, who previously forwarded the false suggestion that Arctic ice “has returned” and “is increasing.” However, the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) reported on October 6, 2009, that 2009 September sea ice extent was “the third lowest since the start of satellite records in 1979”:

At the end of the Arctic summer, more ice cover remained this year than during the previous record-setting low years of 2007 and 2008. However, sea ice has not recovered to previous levels. September sea ice extent was the third lowest since the start of satellite records in 1979, and the past five years have seen the five lowest ice extents in the satellite record.

NSIDC Director and Senior Scientist Mark Serreze said, “It's nice to see a little recovery over the past couple years, but there's no reason to think that we're headed back to conditions seen back in the 1970s. We still expect to see ice-free summers sometime in the next few decades.”

The average ice extent over the month of September, a reference comparison for climate studies, was 5.36 million square kilometers (2.07 million square miles) (Figure 1). This was 1.06 million square kilometers (409,000 square miles) greater than the record low for the month in 2007, and 690,000 square kilometers (266,000 square miles) greater than the second-lowest extent in 2008. However, ice extent was still 1.68 million square kilometers (649,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 September average (Figure 2). Arctic sea ice is now declining at a rate of 11.2 percent per decade, relative to the 1979 to 2000 average (Figure 3).

Thomas forwards Rose's distortion of climate expert's research to suggest global warming is false

From Thomas' January 14 column:

Writing Sunday in London's Daily Mail, columnist David Rose analyzed recent scientific data amassed by eminent climate scientists. Rose says that far from a warming planet, “the bitter weather afflicting much of the Northern Hemisphere is only the start of a global trend towards cooler weather that is likely to last for 20 or 30 years.”

But climate expert cited by Rose repeatedly affirmed “long-term warming trend” and challenged Rose's use of his work

Latif: “Natural climate fluctuations” occur “on top of the long-term warming trend.” Appearing on Russia Today on January 11, Mojib Latif, one of the climate experts named in Rose's article, stated, “I don't think” we will see decades of global cooling, noting, “There are of course natural climate fluctuations which could warm or cool the Earth. However, they ride on top of the long-term warming trend and at best they can offset the warming trend. And so the net result may be a kind of pause of halt of global warming, maybe a slight cooling, but nothing that would constitute a little ice age or an ice age.”

Guardian: Latif “challenges Mail on Sunday's use of his research.” The Guardian reported on January 11 that Latif “has hit out at misleading newspaper reports that linked his research to claims that the current cold weather undermines the scientific case for manmade global warming" and stated of Latif's research, “Despite clarifications from the scientists at the time, who stressed that the research did not challenge the predicted long-term warming trend, the study was widely misreported as signalling a switch from global warming to global cooling.” The Guardian further reported:

Mojib Latif, a climate expert at the Leibniz Institute at Kiel University in Germany, said he “cannot understand” reports that used his research to question the scientific consensus on climate change.

He told the Guardian: “It comes as a surprise to me that people would try to use my statements to try to dispute the nature of global warming. I believe in manmade global warming. I have said that if my name was not Mojib Latif it would be global warming.”

He added: “There is no doubt within the scientific community that we are affecting the climate, that the climate is changing and responding to our emissions of greenhouse gases.”


The Mail on Sunday article said that Latif's research showed that the current cold weather heralds such “a global trend towards cooler weather”.

It said: “The BBC assured viewers that the big chill was was merely short-term 'weather' that had nothing to do with 'climate', which was still warming. The work of Prof Latif and the other scientists refutes that view.”

Not according to Latif. “They are not related at all,” he said. “What we are experiencing now is a weather phenomenon, while we talked about the mean temperature over the next 10 years. You can't compare the two.”

He said the ocean temperature effect was similar to other natural influences on global temperature, such as volcanos, which cool the planet temporarily as ash spewed into the atmosphere reflects sunlight.

“The natural variation occurs side by side with the manmade warming. Sometimes it has a cooling effect and can offset this warming and other times it can accelerate it.” Other scientists have questioned the strength of the ocean effect on overall temperature and disagree that global warming will show the predicted pause.

Latif at U.N. conference: Clear “long-term warming trend” is “manmade.” As Media Matters for America has noted, Latif opened his August 31, 2009, presentation at the U.N. World Climate Conference-3 by stating: “What you see here is just the globally averaged temperature during the 20th century. And you can clearly identify the long-term warming trend, and we all believe that this long-term warming trend is anthropogenic in nature, is manmade.” [U.N. World Climate Conference-3, 8/31/09] Latif also displayed a chart suggesting that any “cooling” in upcoming decades exists within the long-term warming trend. From Latif's World Climate Conference PowerPoint presentation:


Latif: Media mistakenly think of global warming as “a monotonic process,” in which “each year is warmer than the preceding year.” During his presentation, Latif stated: “All right, so, first point: Why decadal prediction? Now, people who know me, at least my German colleagues, know that I do a lot of media work, OK. There is almost no day in the year when I'm not called by some media person, OK. And so, they basically think about global warming as a kind of slowly evolving process and a monotonic process, OK -- so each year is warmer than the preceding year.” He added: “However, we all know there is variability.” [U.N. World Climate Conference -- 3, 8/31/09]