Climate researcher wins bet with climate-change skeptic over warming

January 26, 2015 • 1:40 pm

A climate-change skeptic got pwned. According to the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (my links):

Late 2009, in the run-up to the international climate conference in Copenhagen, PBL climate researcher Bart Strengers had an online discussion with climate sceptic Hans Labohm on the website of the Dutch news station NOS (in Dutch). This discussion, which was later also published as a PBL report, ended in a wager. Strengers wagered that the mean global temperature over the 2010–2014 period would be higher than the mean over 2000 to 2009. Hans Labohm believed there would be no warming and perhaps even a cooling; for example due to reduced solar activity.

The denialist even specified which data should be used: satellite data from the lower 5 km of the atmosphere, collected by the University of Alabama at Huntsville.

Labohm lost. Here are the data from the University of Alabama, with the horizontal gray line at 0.0 representing the mean since 1979, the means for each ten year-period up to 2009 represented by horizontal green lines, and the mean from 2010-2014 (the mean that, according to Labohm, was supposed to be either lower or unchanged. It isn’t. The difference is small—an increase of only 0.1°C—but the 35-year trend is pretty clear as well.
Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 12.38.32 PM

Sadly, the prize was just “a good bottle of wine.” Had it been my bet, I would have been more specific and asked for a bottle of 2005 Chateau Petrus. Never bet something like “a good bottle of wine” unless you know the person you’re betting with is an honest oenophile rather than a guzzler of Two-Buck Chuck.

h/t: Jelger

32 thoughts on “Climate researcher wins bet with climate-change skeptic over warming

  1. From what I’ve read denialests really love using measures that use atmosphere readings instead of ground/sea temp data.
    I think it’s because atmosphere is really open to wide up and downs due to anomalies like el nino?
    Please correct me if I’m way off.

  2. AIUI, it’s now three-buck chuck. Or maybe that’s just what the global price increase establishment wants you to believe. 🙂

  3. The fact that this denialist not only made a testable prediction but specified it and ended up admitting he was wrong places him in a small but rather special minority I think. The evidence suggests not only the he’s almost certainly sincerely mistaken but that he is not the typical crank. He might not even be a textbook “crank” at all: some people are just wrong and stubborn.

    We all know what doubling down looks like. This isn’t it. I’m going to guess that the “good bottle of wine” will at the least be a wine which Labohm himself likes (and given the publicity here it’ll probably be respectable through other criteria, too, since people who bet using wine generally don’t want to lose on two fronts.)

    1. The article only states that Hans Labohm lost the bet. I haven’t read anything that suggests he has paid up yet, let alone recanted his views. He appears to be a typical crank to me.

  4. Global warming is a hoax. If you average the winter temps 2010-2014 and compare them to the average summer temps 2000-2009, you’ll find what appears to be a marked cooling trend. And if you restrict measurements away from the equator, the effect becomes even more pronounced.

    For my wine, you can select any from the exclusive wine club I belong to.

  5. Ha ha! The world IS TOO spiraling into anthropogenic climatic disaster so there! Um … yay?

    I feel like the blogger who said she was really incensed by the Rolling Stone gang rape hoax, only to realize that meant she was disappointed that a woman had not actually been raped.

    We should cheer any victory for the forces of rationalism, but this win is one tiny bucket in an increasingly – and sadly – rising ocean of anti-science bullsh**t.

  6. Ironically, I hear a lot about how global warming is threatening the wine industry. It is like betting a polar bear on an issue about global warming.

    My question is about the Y axis which seems to show measurements were zeroed to the figures of a former year. Since the first ~ 20 years are below the 0 line, does that mean that that interval was cooler, and not warmer?

    1. The zero line is the average temperature for the interval 1981 to 2010. The temperature anomaly for each year is that year’s temperature minus the average for the interval. The temperatures are lower than average for the first half and higher than average for the second half of the interval.

  7. Yes! 2005 Chateau Petrus – though I will probably never have the fortune to taste it, that is what I would bet too. Or possibly 1995 or 2000 Chateau Margaux – both of those I’ve had, and, oh dear god…

    1. I’d opt for the Margaux, personally — 95% Merlot sounds too “even” and not “gravelly” enough for my palate, if that makes any sense.

  8. Article in current New Scientist stating that the Pope will soon publish an encyclical as he has accepted the evidence for climate change. The article ends;’Perhaps we will start to see evidence shaping the Vatican’s views on other issues where scripture holds sway: the role of contraception in tackling population growth, say. One can only pray it will’.

  9. I’ll wager a bottle of unlabelled wine that in a blinded test you can’t distinguish between cheap and expensive wines. 🙂

    1. I can. Unfortunately (cover your eyes, wine lovers) I prefer the cheap wine. Probably due to defective taste buds.

    1. Yes, he is going to pay up. They made some arrangement to drink the bottle over ‘a nice dinner’.

      Labohm is now back to the “it is highly uncertain that there will be global warming because the models are worthless because they cannot even predict the past” line.

      Interestingly Labohm was recently involved in a discussion about risks of climate change – you know one of those initiatives where “reasonable people in the middle” try to find common ground between science oriented people and denialists (probably a waste of time if you ask me). However he was asked to stop participating because he did not want to acknowledge there was ANY risk at all (just because).

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