Bolt’s climate comedy

Any appearance of Andrew Bolt on the ABC’s Insiders programme is bound to result in at least one deranged pronouncement on the conspiracy that is climate change. (This is something of a shame, because on other issues discussed on Insiders he does often approach sanity.)

In the closing comments, Bolt had this contribution to make:

The latest results just in a couple of days ago: the world has… the planet has warm… cooled for the last 8 years to normal levels; the land surface measurements cooled for the last 8 years; and sea levels – good heavens, Penny Wong was wrong in that too – that too has cooled over 5 years.

To put this into some perspective, NASA offers the following global temperature data:

NASA global temperature graph

“Normal levels” indeed. Bolt gave no indication of where his particular data comes from, and a more comprehensive denial of climate reality (complete with what could be a Freudian slip) would be hard to pack into such a small window of time.

Note – Bolt says that sea “levels” have “cooled”. Either cooling or dropping would be a neat trick, since the data shows quite unambiguously that the sea levels are rising, with about half the rise due to thermal expansion. Bolt himself posted a graph on his blog showing the changes to sea levels just days ago, though with the reality-defying annotation “FLAT” (in comic sans, no less) plastered across the last three years (in much the same way you might expect a bright red sign to be cheerfully labelled “blue”). Bolt himself didn’t add the annotation; that honour goes to former meteorologist Anthony Watts. Now, because one must always strive for betterment, Bolt has apparently decided that “FLAT” = “cooling”, and that 3 years = 5 years. He was reading from notes, so if it was a slip-up it was a very well planned one.

Annotated sea level graph

As you can see, the above graph quite handily refutes its own annotation (which was not on the original, just in case you’re wondering). One despairs at the futility of debating people who not only fail to notice such an astoundingly obvious trend, but manage to perceive precisely the opposite of what is staring them in the face.

I was also struck by the time frames Bolt was using. The normal denialist claim is that there has been no warming since 1998. Though that one is easily refuted (in no small part because 1998 recorded a temperature spike due to El Niño), it’s still a stronger case than for the last 8 years. After all, 2001 looks to have recorded some of the coldest temperatures in the last decade (though it’s still in the top 10 warmest years on record).

If I didn’t know better, I’d say that Bolt simply printed off some three-year old (because then 1998 would be 8 years ago) piece of denialist propaganda and regurgitated it on-air as “the latest results”. That’s mere speculation, of course.