My Little Canary

I’ve made an infinitesimal contribution to digging the coal mine but have no idea what is going to happen to us all, eventually, in consequence. More extreme weather events and the extinction of up to 200 species of animal and plant each day are suggested responses to our profligate burning of fossils fuels. But many folk bang on about the global temperature not rising at all for the last twenty years. And more are now voicing the opinion that the climate change hoax is the demon spawn of globalists. With sleeping nationalists/populists waking to fight the likes of the Weasel Macron, the physics that determine our planet’s climate may be lost in the fog of battle.

Enter my canary. I’m not long for this earth so it is gratifying that the timeline to human extinction by “runaway greenhouse” or the onset of a Mini Ice Age is so short. Daily temperatures must rise or fall alarmingly if we are to be roasted by 2026 or deep frozen by 2021.

It is one thing to pour scorn on satellites and the elaborate computer models of climatologists, quite another to cast doubt on the humble thermometer. I’m going to put my faith in such instruments in ten locations around the world and accept their output as reliable. My math skills are not great, but they don’t have to be. The only formula I expect to apply to daily maximum temperatures is ‘Average’.

Some of my first choices of weather stations had to be given up because their data didn’t go back to 2008. I replaced them with stations with a long enough history. My final picks don’t pretend to “represent” global coverage.

Northern Hemisphere: Capital Station, Beijing; Chhatrapati Shivaji International, Mumbai; Koltsovo Station, Novosibirsk; Ciampino Station, Rome; Ronald Reagan Washington National.

Southern Hemisphere: Jorge Newbery Aeroparque, Buenos Aires, Cape Town Station (SA); Santos Dumont Station, Rio de Janeiro; Kingsford Smith International, Sydney, Wellington International (NZ).

I’ll continue gathering data from the Whitby station I’ve “followed” for the last ten years.

Here are three sample graphs/histograms for Whitby in November.


Three things can be discerned amid the jumble of lines.

  • The orange 10-year average smoothes out the extreme differences of individual years.
  • 2018 wasn’t the warmest November since 2008.
  • 2018 was warmer than the 10 year average on 21 days out of 30.


This histogram would seem to indicate that the warmest November was in 2011, followed by 2014, 2015 and then 2018.

The top four by the average monthly temperature were:-

2011: 12.43°C

2015: 11.98

2014: 11.2

2009: 11.16

2018 came in fifth at 11.05°C. The coldest November was 2016 (max average 8.34°C). This was a surprise given the sudden decline into snow and ice in 2010, but that November had a warm beginning and middle. And after a very cold start, 2011 clearly heated up to take its top spot (above).

Another way of representing the maximum daily temperature data is to plot how each November average departs from the 10-year average.


Adding the trendline indicates that Novembers from 2008 to 2018 warmed slightly. If you add the departures from the 10-year average of the 4 pink columns to the 6 light blue you get, in this instance, zero. (That’s averages for you.) The rise in November temperature over the 11 years is, therefore, 1°C, the 2018 difference.

The dotty trendline is useful nonetheless. If the trendlines each month rise more steeply over the next year (or two), it would indicate progress towards perhaps significant warming. And if they fall, buy more warm clothing and an extra duvet – and hope the gas and electricity stay on.

I have made a start preparing Beijing in December. Whereas Whitby warmth is up and down between 2008 and 2017 (with six years cooler than average), Beijing’s five warmer than average years are all in the second half of the ten year period.


Note: The Beijing temperatures are in Fahrenheit. The minus 8.4°F in 2012 equates to about 4.4°C below the December 10 year average.

Onward and upward, or maybe downward. Sing, canary, sing.

Prophets of Doom

For a couple of years, I checked climate change blogs every day – until it all became too much to bear. I wasn’t afraid of the future the data were pointing towards. I just became tired of “climate has always changed” butting heads with “but not as quickly as this”. I guess I don’t like conflict much.

Cognitive dissonance can be comforting and it won’t trouble folk on one side of the divide that the pace of “global warming” appears to be quickening. It seems only five minutes ago that Guy McPherson was giving humankind just thirty years to live. Recently he told viewers of a TV station in New Zealand that we have, collectively, only eight years to complete our bucket lists. The “news” freaked the program host into shooting his mouth off at the messenger. The good doctor has heard it all before and took the rudeness on the chin.

Guy McPherson doesn’t make stuff up. Rather, he reads the scientific papers and passes on their conclusions in a form that most people may be able to understand.

There has been a magic figure for a while now – that we can’t afford to allow the average global temperature to rise more than 2ºC above “pre-industrial”, (the middle of the 18th century). It is arguable that we are about to blow through this figure and race to 10 degrees by 2016.  This is the current reckoning by the scientists who contribute to the Arctic News blog, edited by ‘Sam Carana’.

When this information reached the “Kremlin-sponsored” media company RT it was received calmly and passed to viewers respectfully. No rudeness, no histrionics, just an invitation to make of it what you will. The reporters briefly addressed the “what can be done” question but the answer is so clearly “nothing” that I, for one, appreciated the absence of any offers of false hope.

We humans don’t have to accept that we are stuffed but what is left of our lives might be happier and more fulfilled if we did. I remember, as if it were yesterday, Mr. Swain telling his class of ten-year-olds at Stoneferry Junior & Infants a story about a friend of his who lived every day of his life “as if it would be his last”. I failed miserably to follow the example and have wasted most of my days. And producing this blog may not appear a sensible way to spend the short time old age may leave me.

Grief for what we are losing is ever-present now. The white rhino in the room. There is some comfort that Nature Bats Last – but how supportive will the planet be for surviving sentient creatures after we have finished with it?


Today’s Image

The winter hasn’t been so bad but some plants are “behind”. The celandines in Martin’s Ravine are reluctant to flower in their cheery way, and the monster with the gunnera-like leaves is at least a week away from its vigorous state in 2010. I used to think “rhubarb family”, but I noticed today how substantial its stems were. To describe them as “trunks” would not be misleading. Does anyone know what it is? (The largest leaf, in the foreground, is a bit smaller than an adult human hand.)