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Are we heading into global cooling?

What the science says...

Claims have recently surfaced in the blogosphere that an increasing number of scientists are warning of an imminent global cooling, some even going so far as to call it a "growing consensus". There are two major flaws in these blog articles, (i) there is no scientific basis for claims that the planet will begin to cool in the near future, and (ii) many of the listed scientists are not predicting global cooling.

Climate Myth...

We're heading into cooling

"The climate of this planet oscillates between periods of approximately 30 years of warming followed by approximately 30 years of cooling. Rather than 100 years of unprecedented global warming as predicted by IPCC, the global temperatures have leveled off and we seem to be heading for cooler weather." (Matt Vooro)

In the face of the immense amount of evidence that the anthropogenic warming signal is driving the long-term temperature trend, it's hard to believe that any scientists would be predicting that this trend will suddenly reverse despite ever-increasing human greenhouse gas emissions.  For example, according to NASA GISS, 2009 was tied for the second-hottest year on record, and 2010 will likely be the hottest in the past 130+ years.  The first decade of the 21st century was the hottest decade on record, the evidence is overwhelming that humans are the dominant cause of the warming trend, climate scientists have even quantified the anthropogenic warming, and heat continues to accumulate in the planetary system:

Figure 1: Build-up in total Earth Heat Content since 1950. The data comes from Figure 6b in Murphy 2009. The ocean data was taken from Domingues et al. 2008

With all of this evidence that humans are causing rapid global warming with no end in sight, one has to wonder how on Earth any scientists would suddenly predict imminent global cooling.

Who Are these Scientists Predicting Cooling?

Some of the names on the lists of 'scientists predicting global cooling' have been predicting imminent cooling for years now, like Don Easterbrook, Syun Akasofu, Habibullo Abdussamatov, Joe D'Aleo, and Nicola Scafetta.  Many of these and other names on these lists are not climate scientists, which is no doubt why the claims specify that an increasing number of scientists as opposed to climate scientists are predicting imminent cooling. 

One also has to wonder how long the planet must continue to warm while these individuals predict imminent cooling before they lose credibility.  Don Easterbrook, for example, has predicted that we should see a global cooling of 2 to 5°F (1.1 to 2.8°C)  from 2000 to 2030 based on a shift in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation.  We're now one-third of the way into this supposed cooling period and the planet has warmed approximately 0.1°C.  The accuracy of this prediction is not looking good.

Several other listed scientists have predicted that we should expect global cooling due to solar effects, like Scafetta, Abdussamatov,  Landscheidt, Archibald, and D'Aleo.  However, consider the fact that the longest solar cycle minimum in a nearly century just ended, and as mentioned above, the past two years have been among the hottest in the instrumental temperature record.  Solar activity has been flat for the past 50 years, and yet the planet warmed approximately 0.6°C during that period.  And now we're expected to believe that solar activity is not only going to significantly dampen the anthropogenic warming signal, but cause substantial cooling?  These claims strain credulity.

Perhaps the worst part of these lists of 'scientists predicting global cooling' is that they attribute global cooling predictions to numerous scientists who have not made such claims.  Let's look at some of the names on these lists.

Mojib Latif


Dr. Latif predicted that between 2010 and 2020, the planet would warm approximately 0.4°C, and has said we risk "an unprecedented warming in the history of mankind if no measures are taken to cut global carbon dioxide emissions."

Noel Keenlyside 

Dr. Keenlyside is the lead author on the Latif study referenced above which predicted 0.4°C warming from 2010 to 2020.

Anastasios Tsonis and Kyle Swanson 

Regarding the supposed global cooling prediction in their study, Swanson has written "If this hypothesis is correct, the era of consistent record-breaking global mean temperatures will not resume until roughly 2020....What do our results have to do with Global Warming, i.e., the century-scale response to greenhouse gas emissions? VERY LITTLE, contrary to claims that others have made on our behalf....humanity is poking a complex, nonlinear system with GHG forcing – and that there are no guarantees to how the climate may respond."

Mike Lockwood 

The Lockwood quote supposedly about global cooling simply discusses that decreased solar activity may impact winter weather in Europe, and has nothing to do with global temperatures whatsoever.  Lockwood has performed numerous studies concluding that the Sun is not responsible for a significant amount of the recent global warming, and has not predicted global cooling.

James Overland 

As with Mike Lockwood, the James Overland quote supposedly about global cooling refers to winter weather, in Europe and the USA.  Dr. Overland has neither predicted global cooling, nor disputes anthropogenic global warming.  In fact, in the article linked above, Overland discusses how rapidly the Arctic is warming due to anthropogenic global warming, and that this will cause shifting weather patterns, leading to the snowy and cold winters in Europe and the USA.  Not only is Overland not predicting global cooling in this article, he is explicitly talking about global warming.

There are likely many other examples of supposed global cooling predictions being misattributed to climate scientists  Most of the other 'scientists' on these lists are not climate scientists, but rather meteorologists, engineers, astronomers, etc.  And many of the other  supposed 'global cooling' quotes refer to local weather rather than global temperatures.


There appear to be very few examples of climate scientists predicting imminent global cooling on this list.  Perhaps that's because climate scientists understand that humans are and will continue to be causing rapid global warming for the foreseeable future.  The few scientists who are predicting cooling have generally been doing so for several years, and are going against a very large body of scientific evidence that the planet will continue to warm rapidly.

intermediate rebuttal written by Dana1981

Update July 2015:

Here is a related lecture-video from Denial101x - Making Sense of Climate Science Denial


Additional video from the MOOC

Expert interview with Mike Lockwood


Last updated on 6 July 2015 by pattimer. View Archives

Printable Version  |  Offline PDF Version  |  Link to this page

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Comments 26 to 46 out of 46:

  1. The effects of man's CO2 is wildly exaggerated. The global warming since the mid-1970s to 1999 and for the last century is mostly due to reductions in the rate of global ocean deep-water circulation—or Meridional Overturning Circulation—which has occurred. Global temperatures have followed closely the fluctuations in solar output and ocean circulation cycles, not carbon dioxide trends. This circulation is driven by global ocean salinity variations. CO2 changes play no role in these ocean changes. Scientists now report that the doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide would raise global temperatures a mere 1 degree Celsius. Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have risen by less than 50 percent since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. The contribution of CO2 is minute at best. I don't see abnormal or unnatural global temperature rises as evidenced bu NASA's own data, taking out the corrupting urban stations. No visual upward slant over many previous decades are seen no matter where you click. Just the natural up and down temperature wiggles you would naturally expect. Check it out on this site and see for yourself: What the Stations Say! South Atlantic However, what needs watching is whether the sunspots disappear in around 2015 and we tip from a Dalton to a Maunder like minimum. Also, watch for the buildup of summer snow (or decreasing summer melt). We do need to get rid of the brownish haze I see every time I fly in an airplane. That has to cause some dimming.
    Response: Everybody who replies to this, please do so on the appropriate thread, and on this thread post a short comment linking to your comment on the relevant thread.
  2. My previous post was for NASA's raw temperature data. Shows what their adjustments do to the slant. Another thought: Are regular thermometers in error if atmospheric infrared components increase (8-15 microns)? Yes they are. This may be the essence of time of observation bias, or TOB that is often mentioned when taking temperature readings.
    Response: Anybody who responds to this, please do so on a more appropriate thread, and post a short comment here pointing to that other thread.
  3. Moderator... Can you point me to the "Litany of Completely Baseless Statements" thread so I can reply to Henry Justice? (Sorry, I couldn't help myself.)
    Response: [Daniel Bailey] Try here.
  4. Henry justice, for your own benefit you need to read further on this site. Start here, then look here. After that, look at the list of Skeptical arguments - all yours are covered. If you need to know more, comment on one of the above 'argument' threads. Finally, try to get your information from websites (like this one) that contain facts, figures and rational information - not from dodgy sites like the one you included in your post.
  5. Check out this site: // NOAA/NCDC Annual Global Temperature Change vs CO2 dataset clearly shows the big picture: Rising levels of CO2 have had little, if any at all, impact on annual global temperature changes. The global annual global temperature changes are within normal variability.
    Response: The appropriate thread for this comment *and for all responses* is There’s no correlation between CO2 and temperature.
  6. #30: See comment on thread suggested. Spoiler alert: utter nonsense.
  7. The origin of the myth rebutted by this article may be: Dutch Professor Cees de Jager, a prominent astronomer and solar expert, forcefully asserts that we the world is indeed entering for a long period of very low solar activity. The professor and his colleagues are certain Earth is heading for a "long Grand Minimum" - defined as either a Solar Wolf-Gleissberg or a Maunder Minimum - "not shorter than a century." His 2010 paper, "The forthcoming Grand Minimum of solar activity," outlined the extended period of time that the diminished solar radiation would affect the Earth. The above paragraph is from the article, "Scientists: Sun's approaching 'Grand Cooling" assures new Ice Age" which is spreading like wildfire throughout Climate Denial land. It was posted Feb 18, 2011 on:
  8. Is the data presented in the referenced NOAA/NCDC site wrong? If so, let me know. I am perfectly capable of drawing my own conclusion about what I see. There is no credible evidence that CO2 is causing unprecedented warming. Likewise, the science presented supporting warming trends are not yet conclusive in light of the real raw data that I have seen and the information, rebuttals, and data showing the cooling trends. The peer review process is lacking substantial articles favoring the opposite view and therefore, is not balanced, and maybe not credible at all. I find substantial flaws in a lot of the warming data presented. Sadly, it's like peeling back a good onion only to find it's rotten inside. I too am a scientist. Any fool can see what that a lot of money has been thrown at the warming game. The temperature rise to date does not support the claims made about CO2.
  9. Justice: "The peer review process is lacking substantial articles favoring the opposite view and therefore, is not balanced, and maybe not credible at all. " You're absolutely right, Henry. It's not balanced. There's a reason for that. You might check out the journal Energy & Environment, a journal which is desperately seeking that opposing view you mentioned. Why such a hard time finding it, I wonder . . .
  10. Henry justice, firstly, see muoncounter's reply to you (if you have missed it) over on "Does CO2 always correlate with temperature (and if not, why not?)" Next, your gish-gallop list of the usual so-called skeptical arguments are easily dealt with on these threads : Climategate and the peer-review process Is there a scientific consensus on global warming? Taking the Money for Grant(ed) – Part I Taking the Money for Grant(ed) – Part II (The latter two are from Global Warming : Man or Myth ?. In fact, you would probably get a lot from just starting at this thread : Newcomers, Start Here Finally, your use of a site which contains the following - "intelligentsia ranks of leftists/liberals progressives and socialists", "the 'elites'", "left-liberal climate science", "the left-biased MSM", "the elites' science of stupidity", "liberals-progressives-socialists" - betrays an obvious need for political bias and opinion rather than facts : a sad state of affairs for anyone claiming to be a scientist.
  11. Here's Neil Snyder in the American Thinker arguing for global cooling, using this very article as evidence to bolster his view: The Climate is Changing Alright, But It's Getting Cooler It's the link "Are we heading into global cooling?". Something makes me think he did not really read the entire article ;)
  12. #36, Captain Pithart, that is absolutely brilliant! Though I need to go for a wash after reading all the right-wing claptrap in the comments. It doesn't look as if he or any of his faithful read the linked article...
  13. I feel obliged to point out that while the green box at the top says that "many of the listed scientists are not predicting global cooling," apparently Anastasios Tsonis is not amont them. He said, ""We are already in a cooling trend, which I think will continue for the next 15 years at least. There is no doubt the warming of the 1980s and 1990s has stopped."  Source:


    [PS] Fixed link

  14. jsmith - I hope you dont get your understanding of science from Fox, but yes, Tsonis did say that. What he hasnt done is provided scientific support for his contention. The closest you get is the Tsonis and Swanson 2009 paper does not support any long term change in global warming. You can see the statements, and Swanson's commentary on the 2009 paper here.

  15. I'm new to this site. After a quick read I have two initial observations:

    (a) Evidentally only Climate Scientists are "real" scientists so input from other closely related fields of science e.g. meteorology, astronomy etc. can cheerfully be discounted or ignored 

    (b) I see several exhorations such as "Then prove it: do the analysis, write it up, publish it." but have to ask - since the Science is Settled, why bother?

    Tom S.


    [DB]  Thank you for taking the time to share with us.  Skeptical Science is a user forum wherein the science of climate change can be discussed from the standpoint of the science itself.  Ideology and politics get checked at the keyboard.

    Please take the time to review the Comments Policy and ensure future comments are in full compliance with it.  Thanks for your understanding and compliance in this matter.

    Off-topic snipped.

  16. This site is like Jehovah's Witness.

    cherry picking bits of information and claiming that it is sceptics who do.

    There is alarming amounts of growing evidence which show a downward trend in overall global temperature, coupled with cast amounts of 'unexplained' Antarctic ice increasing.

    yet the singled out comments of scientists who have stated this type of evidence is used as rebuttal.

    Give your head a good shake ffs


    [BL] Please make a bit of effort to avoid inflammatory accusations. Opening and closing your comment this way does not put you in a good light.

    As others have pointed out, you have made specific claims with zero evidence. If you have such evidence, please provide it, or stop making such claims. This is not a site where empty proclamations carry any weight.


  17. Climate Buddha, you should be more specific and provide evidence. 

    Antarctic land based ice has been shown to decrease by multiple studies, threads devoted to this subject can be found on this site. Antarctic sea ice has a lot of variability and, unlike Arctic sea ice, shows only modest trends that are dwarfed by the error bars: For April extent +1.4% per decade +-2.6%, which does not allow to rule out negative trend. In contrast the April Arctic trend is -2.6%/decade +-0.5%: All months in the. Arctic show statistically significant negative trends.


    For global temperatures Gisstemp, HadCrut anb other sources all converge toward an upward trend of 0.18 deg C/decade, even 0.2 in more recent times. Can you present the evidence you alluded to?

  18. ClimateBuddha @41 ,

    your second-to-last sentence doesn't make much sense.   Please be kind enough to correct whatever typo or jumbled thought produced your error.

    PhilippeC @42 , 

    it will be most interesting to see what (if any) evidence our friend ClimateBuddha can come up with.  Unfortunately for denialists & pseudo-skeptics, their cherry tree has few (if any) cherries left that they can pick.

    Philippe, you may be amused to go outside the scientific papers, and visit the Youtuber world ~ where 10 months ago, the science journalist Potholer54 produced a 5-minute video listing more than a dozen failed Global Cooling predictions.  These failed cooling predictions were made in the last 20 years (since 2001) by various scientists and wannabe-scientists.   [video title:  A short chronology of failed 'ice age' predictions]

    No, not the failed Global Cooling predictions of last century.  Just some of the failures of this century.  As always, Potholer54 puts a humorous touch on things.

  19. I am not holding my breath for evidence (been more than 24 hrs already and none surfaced). I am familiar with Potholer, he does have good moments. I got a kick of Real Climate summary of the state of climate bets, especially with the NoTricksZone people. I have challenged people on a couple of occasions for bets on the next decade temp rise and all I got was lame excuses...

  20. I just want to point out the problem with your survey.  It asked if the Earth will enter a cooling period.  I put in yes, then I read the article and the same question popped up.  I again put in yes.  The Earth warms and cools, it doesn't remain constant.  Therefore it is certain that we will enter a cooling period, and equally certain that we will enter a warming period.   

  21. Vivian:

    Your expression of certainty is trivial, and depends entirely on what time period you are talking about. Seconds? Minutes? Hours? Days? Months? Years? Decades?

    For climate we are talking years to decades. And what will happen over the next few decades (depending what humans do in the way of CO2 emissions) is most certainly not an equal likelihood of coolling versus warming. The chances we will enter a cooling period are far smaller than the chances we will see continued warming.

    One way of looking at this is to look at how often we set new record cold temperatures vs. hot temperatures.  Here is a web site that tracks this information for the U.S., displaying results for the past year.

    Spolier alert: it is not a 1:1 ratio.

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