World Climate Report (apparently another fossil-fuel-funded lobby group) is a blog run by Cato Institute member Pat Michaels and a couple of others.
Back in December 1998, just as temperatures were coming off the peak of the hottest year on record, WCR offered the following bet:
That 1998’s extremely warm temperatures were largely confined to one calendar year makes the annual record high temperature 1998 has established quite a difficult one to break.
If we were of a betting sort (and there are some nasty rumors going around that we are), we would be willing to wager that the 10-year period beginning in January 1998 and extending through December 2007 will show a statistically significant downward trend in the monthly satellite record of global temperatures.
Surely such a wager should sound interesting to those who think the planetary temperature will increase several tenths of a degree during that period.
No reasonable offers refused...
Chip Knappenburger replied. He admitted that at present, they stood to lose the bet (there is a minscule negative trend from Jan 1998 to April 2005, but certainly not a significant one - note that significant was their qualifier, not mine). He tried to sound bullish about how he expected the MSU temperature to drop in the future....but was not prepared to bet either on the terms of the original wager, or propose a new bet starting from the present. "No reasonable offers refused" indeed. Have they learnt their lesson? Time will tell.
Here I've plotted the MSU data from Jan 1996 to the present (April 2005 at time of writing), together with the overall trend in black starting in Jan 1998 (-0.007 degrees per year) and how this trend has evolved over time (the red lines show trend after 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 full years from Jan 1998). I guess they might have been feeling confident for the first year or two. I included the two previous years to indicate to what exent they cherry-picked their starting point - the first data point is the one at +0.5. Of course it doesn' t matter what bet they offer if they won't honour it!