A climate fairy tale

Agree to Disagree

Debate in a non-hostile environment



A climate fairy tale

(but it might be true)


Once upon a time, a long long time ago, in a distant galaxy, there lived 2 twins. There were originally 3 twins, but the 3rd twin was a contradiction in terms, and had to be “put down”. The twins’ names were Sheldon Sky-Walker, and Leia Sky-Walker. Leia was often referred to by her nickname, “Princess”.

[ The 3rd twin’s name was Sméagol, but he was usually referred to by his nickname, “Steven Mosher”. Steven had a reputation for making “drive-by” comments, and for accusing people of “manifest incompetance”. Steven didn’t realise that “incompetence” is actually spelt with 3 e’s, and that by misspelling it, he was actually proving that HE was “manifestly incompetent”. That was another reason why he had to be “put down”. ]

One day, Leia was forcing Sheldon to participate in that horrible game that little girls like to play. A “tea party”. [ Leia was actually 32 years old at the time, but she had never outgrown “tea parties”. ]

“Would Mr Cuddles like another cup of tea”, said Leia to Sheldon. [ Sheldon hated that nickname, and he never took Leia with him, when he went “womp rat” shooting with his friends. To make Leia’s tea parties more bearable, Sheldon often secretly filled Leia’s teapot with a bottle of his father’s vodka. Sheldon’s father (Darth), had a nasty temper. But Sheldon believed that “what you don’t know, can’t hurt you.”, or more to the point, “can’t hurt Sheldon”. ]

“It looks like it might rain”, said Sheldon to Leia. “We should pack up the “tea party”, and move inside.

“That’s not right, Silly”, said Leia. “I checked the weather forecast on that weather website. The long-range forecast is for global warming”.

Sheldon cursed under his breath. His sister, and her Alarmist ideas. She must take after her father. [Sheldon liked to think that he took after his grandmother, Shmi Sky-Walker. But he couldn’t be sure, because he had never met her (she died in her son’s arms, after being brutally tortured by a band of Tusken Raiders.) ]

“I heard that !!!”, said Leia. You have to put $1 in the swear jar.

Sheldon didn’t mind putting money in the swear jar. He considered the “swear jar” to be his personal savings account. When he had “saved” enough, he was going to use the money to buy a lightsaber. All of the cool kids at school had one.

[ Sheldon was still going to school at 32 years old (that’s right, he is the same age as his twin sister, Leia. Please pay attention to this “fairy tale”, or you will miss the happy ending). Sheldon was a “slow learner”. The official diagnosis was ADHD. Sheldon didn’t mind being labelled. He had an unlimited supply of Ritalin. And what he didn’t use, he could sell to the other kids at school. He could almost hear the “hum” of his future lightsaber. He wondered, should he get a red one, or a blue one? ]

“Look, Sheldon”, said Leia. “You have to grow up. That “hover bike” that you ride, runs on fossil fuel. You are polluting the universe with CO2. Think of the children.”

Sheldon groaned. He had heard this lecture 1,024 times [ Sheldon uses a binary number system, but I converted it to decimal for you ]. Leia didn’t seem to realise that “Jedi Knights” aren’t allowed to have children. [ Leia would never be called “Auntie Leia”. Her other twin, Mosher, never had any children, before he was “put down” ].

Shelden had “done” the maths (actually, Sheldon hadn’t “done” the maths himself. He got R2D2 to do the maths for him. After all, why have a dog, and bark yourself). The CO2 level averaged over the whole universe, was only 0.000000000000000000000000000000000000000042%

[ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’s estimate of 42, for the CO2 level averaged over the whole universe, was out by a factor of 10 to the power of 42. Or perhaps they were just telling us the power of 10? ]

“Look, Leia”, said Sheldon. “It doesn’t matter whether you look at the short-term, or the long-term. In the end, we are all going to die. [ To be precise, we are all going to die, except for Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi. They live on in spirit form. ]

“As I said”, said Sheldon, “before I was interrupted by that comment about Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi. We are all going to die. So we might as well enjoy ourselves while we can”.

“How depressing”, said Marvin the Paranoid Android (from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy). “Here I am with a brain the size of a planet, and they make me dress up as a Wookiee, and go to a “tea party”. Call that job satisfaction? I don’t.”

You may not have spotted Marvin the Paranoid Android, at the “tea party”. You probably mistook him for a stuffed bear (stuffed bears often go to “tea parties”, although it is often not their choice).

“Sheldon”, said Leia. “You are such a misery guts. You should be happy, and carefree, like us Alarmists. The world is a beautiful place, as long as you don’t cause a tipping point. And don’t you dare start going on about the recent slowdown. There was no recent slowdown. And if there was a recent slowdown, then it wasn’t a very big one. And if it was a big one, then it was only temporary. And if it wasn’t temporary, then you can’t detect it using a linear regression over more than 20 years. And if you can detect it with a linear regression over 10 years, then it was only weather. So there. It doesn’t exist. You know what Dad (Darth) says. If the temperature goes up, then it is global warming. But if the temperature goes down, then that is just weather.”

Sheldon sighed. “I wish that I knew what snow was”, said Sheldon. [ Ironically, when Sheldon was older, and he was trapped on Hoth the ice planet, he would wish that he DIDN’T know what snow was. ]

A smile suddenly appeared on Sheldon’s face. “I know what to do”, he said. “I am going to use the dark side of the force, to prove that there was a recent slowdown.

“No, Sheldon”, cried Leia, “don’t do it. It is too dangerous. What if the Empire finds out?”

Sheldon’s smile disappeared, but a look of determination took its place. “I don’t care if the IPCC does find out. Dad (Darth) will protect me. I know that there is still some good, deep down inside him.”

It is now 2 weeks since Sheldon decided to use the dark side of the force, to prove that there was a recent slowdown. When Sheldon’s father (Darth) got home from work, Leia (who was really an informant for the IPCC), told him about Sheldon’s plans. Darth grounded Sheldon for a whole month, and wouldn’t let Sheldon watch any more “Game of Thrones” episodes.

Unfortunately (or fortunately), depending on whose side you are on, this gave Sheldon a lot of time to work on his school project, for the science fair. He called his project, “Using the dark side of the force, to achieve good things. How I proved that there was a recent slowdown”.

Unfortunately (or fortunately), depending on whether you like Sheldon or not, Sheldon has now disappeared. We don’t know where he is. And even if we did know, we wouldn’t tell you [ unless you made it “worth our while”. ]

All that we have, is a USB flash drive, which is shaped like R2D2. It contains a single graph, and some cryptic writing. What could have happened? Will we ever find out?

Luckily C3PO was watching Sheldon the whole time, so we can just ask him.


What really happened



Here is what C3PO said:

Master Sheldon said that global warming is caused by di-lithium crystals. Whenever the Starship Enterprise goes to Warp Speed 10, the temperature anomaly increases by 1.0 degree Celsius. We have to stop Captain Kirk from killing everybody on the Earth.

[ Sorry. C3PO has been just been to a “Star Trek” convention, and appears to be confused about which universe he is now in. We called Tech support, and they advised us to “turn him off”, and then “turn him on” again. This solves 95% of computer/robot problems. ]

We are rebooting C3PO now.

Reboot Starting.

This copy of Windows may not be genuine.

Would you like to register this copy of Windows online?

[ Y / N ]

C:\Windows\System32>  N

Please wait … … … … … … … … … …

[ Secret directive – Must kill Sarah Connor ]

Reboot Completed.

Please ignore the bit about Sarah Connor. Sheldon built C3PO out of spare parts, and got the CPU cheap, from somebody who claimed that he had travelled back from the future.

“I just had a horrible dream”, said C3PO. “I thought that I had turned into a Window’s PC. It was horrible. It was like being assimilated by the Borg. I was part of one giant Microsoft network. And my IP address was I thought that I was in hell.”

We gave C3PO a couple of Xanax’s to calm him down.

[ We were slightly worried that this article might look “cheap and nasty”, if we only had one graph in it. All of the quality articles usually have 2 or 3 graphs. So we are repeating the graph that we showed earlier, to make it seem like this article is worth reading. ]


What really happened


C3PO was still a nervous wreck. So we took a memory dump, and here are the important bits.

The purple line shows a warming rate of zero.

The blue line shows the short-term warming rate. Notice how it mostly fluctuates around zero.

See how the blue line drops to zero, and then goes below zero, from 1996 to 2011 (with a bump in the middle). This is the (gasp !!!), recent slowdown. Note that this is just the short-term warming rate. We don’t observe the short-term warming rate directly.

What we observe directly, is the total warming rate. The total warming rate is the sum of the short-term warming rate, and the long-term warming rate. The total warming rate is the green line. The green line does not fluctuate around zero, because of the long-term warming rate.

The orange line is the long-term warming rate. See how it is near zero before 1970. Then it climbs up to just below 2.0 degrees Celsius per century by 1980. It stays fairly constant, with minor variations, until about 2000. Then it starts slowly decreasing, ending up at about 1.2 degrees Celsius per century.

If any Alarmists have fainted, after reading the last paragraph, then please be gentle with them. Put them in a comfortable chair, and give them a hot beverage (like tea or coffee). If you have some, put a generous slug of vodka into the hot beverage.  While you are doing that, why not have a small drink yourself. After all, you deserve it.

I know that you have a lot of questions about this graph. Is it reliable? Can it be trusted? Which temperature series is it based on? Who designed the colour scheme? Which horse will win the Melbourne cup? Did “Steven Mosher” really get “put down”?

Take a deep breath, and I will try to answer your questions.

The graph is based on the GISTEMP monthly global Land and Ocean Temperature Index (LOTI). The temperature data went up to November 2018.

The long-term warming rate was calculated by smoothing the temperature data iteratively (using a binary filter), until it gave the best match to a LOESS curve based on a 30-year local linear regression.

Try saying that 10 times quickly. But not in front of children, because it sounds rude.

The total warming rate was calculated by smoothing the temperature data iteratively (using a binary filter), until it gave the best match to a LOESS curve based on a 10-year local linear regression.

The short-term warming rate was calculated by subtracting the long-term warming rate from the total warming rate.

(short-term warming rate) = (total warming rate) minus (long-term warming rate)


(total warming rate) = (long-term warming rate) plus (short-term warming rate)

That is all that I will say for now. I think that I deserve a large slug of vodka. Maybe even two. Cheers.

I am prepared to answer questions from people who don’t accuse me of “manifest incompetence”. You can accuse me of having a “lame” sense of humour. You can even accuse me of “minor incompetence”. But NOT “manifest incompetence”.

I have my pride.