Statistical analysis of the raw data on Global Warming suffers from two major pitfalls :-
1. You are looking at the combined effects from several causative sources. Unless you have the means to distinguish the various factors, you cannot apply statistical techniques to the data and expect to get anything truly meaningful out. All that can be said, at best, is, “The Globe. Still Warming.”, as the warming trend over a long enough period of time has managed to stand out over the short-term variations.
2. Looking at the data purely by eye, some of the warming or cooling effects are clearly short-term, others longer-term; so picking a range of years/months/seasons at random, or according to some bias, is likely to distort the analysis. This is known as “cherry-picking”. The results of cherry-picking include the fallacious and discredited claim that, “Global Warming stopped in 1998”, or the much more crafty and misleading, “There has been no statistically significant Global Warming since 1998”.
Some researchers are content just to point to the overall effect of the raw data – global temperatures on land and at sea are rising sharply and the charts should be sufficient to understand the basic problem.
However, some people still contest that Global Warming is taking place, or that if it is, it isn’t serious. This then, is the cue to do an in-depth analysis into the known factors in global temperatures, and to attempt to “deduct” obvious short-term warming and cooling features in order to eyeball the underlying trends :-
Over at Science Mag, Richard A. Kerr is trying to tell us not to panic, everything’s going to be OK, really, with a “more balanced message”. The net effect on me, personally, is to be exceptionally, yet rationally, very concerned indeed :-
“Science 6 August 2010: Vol. 329. no. 5992, pp. 620 – 621 : DOI: 10.1126/science.329.5992.620 : NEWS FOCUS : CLIMATE CHANGE: ‘Arctic Armageddon’ Needs More Science, Less Hype : Richard A. Kerr : Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas 25 times [23 times, Richard] more potent than carbon dioxide, and the ongoing global warming driven by carbon dioxide will inevitably force it out of its frozen reservoirs and into the atmosphere to amplify the warming. Such an amplifying feedback may have operated in the past, with devastating effects. If the modern version is anything like past episodes, two scientists warned earlier this year, it could mean that “far from the Arctic, crops could fail and nations crumble.” Yet, with bubbles of methane streaming from the warming Arctic sea floor and deteriorating permafrost, many scientists are trying to send a more balanced message. The threat of global warming amplifying itself by triggering massive methane releases is real and may already be under way, providing plenty of fodder for scary headlines. But what researchers understand about the threat points to a less malevolent, more protracted process.”
Deliberately toning down a warning is something that piques my propaganda radar. This is a prime case of “hiding the incline”…
“Pakistan floods: Climate change experts say global warming could be the cause : The world weather crisis that is causing floods in Pakistan, wildfires in Russia and landslides in China is evidence that global warming predictions are correct, according to climate change experts. : By Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent : Published: 10 Aug 2010 : Almost 14 million people have been affected by the torrential rains in Pakistan, making it a more serious humanitarian disaster than the South Asian tsunami and recent earthquakes in Kashmir and Haiti combined. The disaster was driven by a ‘supercharged jet stream’ that has also caused floods in China and a prolonged heatwave in Russia. It comes after flash floods in France and Eastern Europe killed more than 30 people over the summer. Experts from the United Nations (UN) and universities around the world said the recent “extreme weather events” prove global warming is already happening. Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, vice-president of the body set up by the UN to monitor global warming, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said the ‘dramatic’ weather patterns are consistent with changes in the climate caused by mankind. “These are events which reproduce and intensify in a climate disturbed by greenhouse gas pollution,” he said. “Extreme events are one of the ways in which climatic changes become dramatically visible.”…”
Jaw-droppingly, the BBC have apologised for the contents of a Today Programme. Not the one that caused poor, deceased Dr David Kelly so much embarrassment, God rest his soul. No, the one that featured the breaking of the “Climategate” e-mail scandal :-
The BBC picked the wrong scandal story to run with, it appears.
The real scandal of Climategate is how the scientists’ e-mails were “liberated” from the University of East Anglia, and then annotated to give heavily biased interpretation, then released to the general public via the Internet, and how the Media were taken in.
Certain people at the BBC chose to go with the fake scandal, it seems – the narrative fabricated and dictated to them by Climate Change deniers.
Anyway, now the BBC have made an apology, of sorts. Better late than never, but all the same, it would have been better earlier rather than later.
Thankfully, despite the late apologies, this particular alleged witch-hunt didn’t end with a suspected suicide. Although it did include reports that Professor Phil Jones had, in fact, contemplated suicide; the reporting of which just added to his completely groundless public humiliation at the hands of the Press. Which they should apologise for, in my humble opinion. Just as good (old) George Monbiot had the good grace to offer some regret for :-
“BBC apologises to University of East Anglia for “incorrect” remark”
“The BBC has apologised for an “incorrect” remark made by John Humphrys that UEA researchers had “distorted the debate about global warming to make the threat seem even more serious than they believed it to be”.”
“We need to talk about wind farms…” : By James Delingpole : July 28th, 2010
I know the cure for his error-riddled beliefs ! Send some real live energy engineers to his office to talk to him about their industry.
I’m sure the thought of several serious and strangely bearded, slightly obsessive individuals coming to actually talk to him about wind power might be a cue for him to actually start doing some research.
“The Met Office’s climate change report: between denial and alarm lies reality” : By Tom Chivers, July 30th, 2010
What makes Tom Chivers believe that his opinion is valid ?
I expect he thinks he can do things like judge war crimes, build nuclear power steam turbines or invent a new diabetes vaccine, without any training, without any mastery, and without any knowledge of the history or research literature of the relevant Science.
No, Tom. The reality about Climate Change is that the data evidence is coming in at the high end of the projections of the last few decades, and there is no reason to accept that it’s going to calm down, ease off or go away or into reverse.
Somehow we need to find more courage to be as open, forthright and communicating as Professor Stephen Schneider was.
There’s a neat little linguistic trick that’s been used with much success in ideologically-oriented journalism over the years.
The reader feels he is being clever when he reads a qualifying statement, hinting at doubt or uncertainty, in an article or report about Climate Change, and concludes “I’m smart enough to realise that, because another view has been voiced, the science isn’t as settled as the scientists are claiming”.
And so you get people with absolutely no relevant education or training declaring things like a family friend of mine did last year, “I think Global Warming is not as bad as they are saying it is.”
What did he base his confidence in his own reasoning upon ?
Now, I’ve met Fiona Harvey, and she gives the general impression of being a reasonable woman, with her own mind, smart, knowledgeable and pragmatic.
What she writes about is Environment in general, but she takes in Policy, Politics, Economics and Science, and her output is normally balanced, accurate, and free from interference from propaganda and propagandists. Well-rounded, I’d say. Informative and straight.
So how come she’s writing a Financial Times article with quotations from extreme Climate Change sceptics and deniers ?
This is my second appeal to Dr Judith Curry to come in from the cold, wrap up warm and sit by the fire of rational sanity with her professional colleagues.
While the “Curry Unfavour” saga continues, I have continued reading some history on anti-science propaganda, “Merchants of Doubt”, courtesy of Naomi Oreskes and her pardner-in-grime Erik M. Conway.
It is a lesson in how easily we can forget things, how meddling sceptics, deniers, delayers and obstructers down the decades have influenced the course of public communications on science, and prevented sound policy.
All the same arguments that were used against the science and scientists back in the 1980s, about the research on nuclear winter, acid rain and ozone depletion have been resurrected in the attacks on Climate Change.
Sadly, some of those involved in attacking the process of scientific progress were themselves scientists, some having been instrumental in fighting regulation on smoking by downplaying and warping the conclusions of the medical evidence.
At risk of tumbling after The Guardian newspaper journalists into a deep dark rabbit hole of possible intellectual compromise falls young Tim Holmes, who attended the Guardian’s “some parts of the debate have been edited out for legal reasons” Climategate event on 14th July 2010 :-
What on Earth were The Guardian thinking, inviting Steve McIntyre and Doug Keenan to share a platform with Professors Trevor Davies and Bob Waston at a public meeting ?
Don’t The Guardian know that the general public have had their views so seriously warped by the Climate Change sceptic-deniers that no serious, open discussion/debate would be possible ? All you seem to get from sceptic-deniers is hot-and-cold insults, sniping and over-detailed analysis of minuscule slithers of Science. Their position is rock-solid anti-Science, from my analysis. There is nothing to be gained from talking to them in my opinion.
“19. Judith Curry says: July 25, 2010 at 9:19 pm : …So if any of you have actually read as much as I have on this topic including Montford’s [Bishop Hill] book and the climateaudit threads particularly McIntyre’s most recent post, well then we might have something to talk about. Otherwise, we can just sit back and all be entertained by tribalistic wardances.”
“107. Judith Curry says: 23 July 2010 at 12:44 PM : Once more people have read the [Montford, Bishop Hill] book, and if Montford and McIntyre were welcomed to participate in the discussion, then I would be interested in participating in a more detailed discussion on this.”
Glad to see Professor Phil Jones is back at work and enrolling students for the autumn on the Climate Change MSc postgraduate degree programme at the University of East Anglia (UEA) Climatic Research Unit (CRU) :-
This course would probably be useful for a number of mainstream media journalists to follow. Even if they don’t have an appropriate background in Physics, Chemistry, Geography, Environmental studies or similar, it could be of benefit to ameliorate their world view.
They could learn something from the lectures and coursework – that the Science of Climate Change is a serious and rigorous endeavour – unlike the apparently lax behaviour of their own profession over the last year or so.
Investigative journalism without the “investigation” part appears to be a mishmash of unverifiable facts and unfounded opinions. You need to know who is credible at the very least, and you can’t get that from following the vindictive views of public contrarians.
If you want to understand Climate Change, you need to study the Science, not just read denier-sceptic web logs or talk to Steve McIntyre, Benny Peiser, Marc Morano, Anthony Watts, Doug Keenan, Nigel Lawson or Christopher Monckton, and think that you have thereby become sufficiently informed.
“Climategate”-style attacks on Climate Change Scientists by negatively-motivated commentators are completely unacceptable. Media workers need to learn to identify those whose opinions they cannot trust.
Who could have guessed that my previous post would not be the final word on “The Population Question” ?
As anybody who has ever looked at this question and its surrounding myths will know, there is layer upon layer of mis-fact, swirl around swirl of supposition and conjecture on the topic of human-to-land density in the imaginings of the newspaper-reading populace.
Over the last ten years, I have attended many public meetings centred on the topic of Climate Change. In my experience, at any one event there will usually be (a) the town madhatter (well-loved, but completely batty), (b) a court jester (the only person in the room who finds the court jester witty) and (c) somebody who deliberately asks or poses what I call “the population question”.
The basic premise of this question is – since the world’s population is rising exponentially, we’re not going to be able to prevent Climate Change unless we force the people in Asia or Africa to stop procreating. Why, already, China’s Greenhouse Gas emissions are already larger than America’s ! And on the back of the diagnosis that the population explosion will ruin our chances of Climate stability, the logical conclusion is that it is pointless for people in the Western industrialised countries to reduce their energy and fuel use, as our emissions aren’t very significant compared to those of Asia.
Changes in solar output are still not responsible for observed Global Warming, despite the most keenly heartfelt wishes of Solar Change fantasists – dare I name any ? Nope. They know who they are, and I don’t want them to huff and puff and rail and rant at me for suggesting how absurd their theories are, and linking those theories to their names.
Issues of “libel terror” aside, it really is important to spell out how poor Internet discussion on this matter is : a little knowledge pudding with some juicy mythical sauce topping makes for a tasty treat for a number of web geniuses (or is that “genii” ?), but I’d suggest they need the bitter corrective antacid to their stomach-challenging dessert.
The main question is : who is reviewing Internet coverage of Climate Change Science and the accuracy of the debates that swirl around it ? We all know that the mainstream Media source most of their science from the Internet these days, and that most people only absorb what science they have the limited time to read/watch in the mainstream Media, so the answer to this question is important.
Anti-Science is still feeding on anti-science, and is still partly funded by corporations and companies that have a vested interest in the truth continuing to be muddied.
What do scientists think about the Climate Change Science denial that has blossomed and exploded with the development of the Internet ?
Here’s one answer, in a science article about the recent solar minimum :-
Here, the editorial seeks to establish a position as an arbiter over the Climategate pseudo-scandal, that was only ever a scandal because of Media overreaction to the theft and malicious interpretation of e-mails from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU).
The Guardian takes the position of judge, jury and prison guard, without seeming to be adequately informed on the subject under discussion.
The editorial accuses the University of East Anglia (UEA) of “scientific stupidity” and “excessive secrecy”, which would be laughable if it were not so biased, in my view.