Scientists bet $10K on the climate. Guess who lost
Climate science decided by gambling! A rather desperate recourse! There are others better qualified than I to comment on all the matters raised in this but I want to point out a couple of basics.
1). OF COURSE climate skeptics declined to predict a specific climate outcome. The whole position of climate agnosticism is that the climate is a multivariate product which CANNOT be reliably predicted. You can only get a prediction right by chance.
2). And the quite glaring fault in Annan's reasoning was that he got his big prediction right because the more recent time period he chose encompassed the biggest El Nino we have seen recently. So the temperature rise was entirely natural, unrelated to anthropogenic global warming.
Had Annan been a real scientist, he would have corrected his data for the influence of El Nino, which would have shown an essentially flat temperature record -- i.e. no global warming. Even the simple step of subtracting the leap caused by the previous El Nino would have shown that.
In my research career, I regularly corrected statistically for lots of extraneous factors before I accepted an observed effect as informative. To make not even an obvious correction is beyond sloppy. It is non-science
UPDATE: Forecaster Kesten Green writes as follows, putting my point 1 more precisely:
In scientific forecasting terms, what you are saying is don’t expect to beat the no naive no-change forecast of global mean temperatures over longer periods, which Scott, Willie, and I proposed in our 2009 paper in IJF “Validity of climate change forecasting for public policy decision making”.
The logical (and policy-relevant) bet on the predictive validity of “dangerous warming” is not “will it be warmer vs will it be colder” or “will the OLS fitted trend go up or down over the period”, but will the monthly or annual errors from a dangerous warming forecast (the 3C/century that the IPCC have been forecasting for the longest time) be smaller than the errors from a no-change forecast. That was the basis of the Climate Bet that Scott challenged Al Gore to take and that we monitor (as if he had taken the bet) at theclimatebet.com. The initial bet was 10 years to end-2017, which we calculated would be easy for no-change to lose given natural variations over the relatively short period. No-change nevertheless won.
It was a bet any climate scientist would take. It was 2005, and James Annan, a climate scientist at the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, had heard enough. Some researchers and conservative thinkers who reject mainstream climate science were arguing that climate models were wrong or that Earth would enter a cooler period after solar flares faded.
So he offered them a bet. The wager was $10,000 that the Earth would continue warming through 2017.
The winner would be decided by comparing global surface temperatures from 1998 to 2003 with those between 2012 to 2017. Annan was confident in the climate models, which showed that it would be warmer. Seven prominent climate contrarians refused to bet. Among them was Richard Lindzen, a physicist associated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has rejected mainstream climate science.
Annan was essentially fighting with one hand behind his back. The comparison started in 1998, an anomalously warm year in the temperature records, partially driven by an El Niño. Still, Annan was confident that his science would outmatch political ideology.
"They didn't believe what they were saying; this was the whole point to the betting," he said. "It has a serious scientific point to it. ... It's one way of making the point that they're playing debating games."
Eventually, Galina Mashnich and Vladimir Bashkirtsev, solar physicists at the Institute of Solar-Terrestrial Physics in Russia, agreed to the wager. This week, Annan declared that the contest was over and that Mashnich and Bashkirtsev had lost. It comes as NASA said this week that 2018 could be the fourth-warmest year on record and the fourth year in a row that is 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit above the 19th-century average.
The researchers won't pay, Annan said. Neither Mashnich nor Bashkirtsev responded to questions from a reporter. Annan said Bashkirtsev wants a new bet. It would raise the stakes to $100,000 and cover another eight-year period.
Annan has declined that offer because he doesn't think the money will ever arrive. Besides, he said, his point has already been proved.
"It was obvious of course that this settlement risk was the biggest uncertainty right from the start," Annan wrote on his blog, announcing the contest's end Monday. "I had hoped they would value their professional reputations as worth rather more to themselves than the sums of money involved. On the other hand a certain amount of intellectual dishonesty seems necessary in order to maintain the denialist mindset."
Annan has won money on previous climate bets. In 2016, he and climate economist Chris Hope won a £2,000 wager against members of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a U.K.-based group that rejects climate science. The winners said 2015 would be warmer than 2008.
He has also lost.
Once, Annan bet that 2010 would break high temperature records. He was off by a year. The five warmest years since records began in the 19th century have all come after 2011, and the 10 warmest years have all come since 1998. Annan said that year, 1998, broke records, and now "we won't see a year that cold again."