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David Whitehouse Risks Inaccuracy

Dr David Whitehouse has had his personal views on Climate Change Science aired in the Daily Mail this week; yet the newspaper did not seek to offer an article responding to his position, which is somewhat at odds with the general conclusions of mainstream science :-–missing-facts.html

So, in the absence of the Daily Mail permitting a questioning or critiquing of David Whitehouse’s personal views, I shall here attempt to unpack how close he comes to inaccuracy.

1. Global Warming IS Accelerating

David Whitehouse writes : “Pick up almost any popular book written about global warming and, more often than not, it will say things like, ‘as the world gets ever warmer,’ or ‘as global warming accelerates.’ But the reality is not like that.”

But the reality is not the way he writes it as. Here is the data evidence from 21 years of Science :-

“Table 3.2. Linear trends in hemispheric and global land-surface air temperatures, SST (shown in table as HadSST2) and Nighttime Marine Air Temperature (NMAT; shown in table as HadMAT1). Annual averages, with estimates of uncertainties for CRU and HadSST2, were used to estimate trends […]

Temperature Trend (oC per decade)Dataset 1850–20051901–20051979–2005
Land: Northern Hemisphere
CRU (Brohan et al., 2006)0.063 ± 0.0150.089 ± 0.0250.328 ± 0.087
NCDC (Smith and Reynolds, 2005)0.072 ± 0.0260.344 ± 0.096
GISS (Hansen et al., 2001)0.083 ± 0.0250.294 ± 0.074
Lugina et al. (2006)0.079 ± 0.0290.301 ± 0.075
Land: Southern Hemisphere
CRU (Brohan et al., 2006)0.036 ± 0.0240.077 ± 0.0290.134 ± 0.070
NCDC (Smith and Reynolds, 2005)0.057 ± 0.0170.220 ± 0.093
GISS (Hansen et al., 2001)0.056 ± 0.0120.085 ± 0.055
Lugina et al. (2005)0.058 ± 0.0110.091 ± 0.048
Land: Globe
CRU (Brohan et al., 2006)0.054 ± 0.0160.084 ± 0.0210.268 ± 0.069
NCDC (Smith and Reynolds, 2005)0.068 ± 0.0240.315 ± 0.088
GISS (Hansen et al., 2001)0.069 ± 0.0170.188 ± 0.069
Lugina et al. (2005)0.069 ± 0.0200.203 ± 0.058
Ocean: Northern Hemisphere
UKMO HadSST2 (Rayner et al., 2006)0.042 ± 0.0160.071 ± 0.0290.190 ± 0.134
UKMO HadMAT1 (Rayner et al., 2003) from 18610.038 ± 0.0110.065 ± 0.0200.186 ± 0.060
Ocean: Southern Hemisphere
UKMO HadSST2 (Rayner et al., 2006)0.036 ± 0.0130.068 ± 0.0150.089 ± 0.041
UKMO HadMAT1 (Rayner et al., 2003) from 18610.040 ± 0.0120.069 ± 0.0110.092 ± 0.050
Ocean: Globe
UKMO HadSST2 (Rayner et al., 2006)0.038 ± 0.0110.067 ± 0.0150.133 ± 0.047
UKMO HadMAT1 (Rayner et al., 2003) from 18610.039 ± 0.0100.067 ± 0.0130.135 ± 0.044

As you can see, Global Warming is accelerating. For each successive time slice, the rate of increase of temperature increases.

2. The average for 1961 – 1990 was NOT the all-time historical average

David Whitehouse writes confusingly, in my view, about the “average” :-

“They show that the Victorian Age (specifically between 1850 – 1910) was cold, about 0.5 deg C below the 1961 – 90 average, or about a degree colder than today.”

“Between 1940 – 1980 there was little change. For reasons we don’t fully understand the world’s temperature hovered around average.”

“It was around 1980 that the current warm spell – the one that is causing all the controversy and debate – began. For less than 20 years the world warmed. By 1990 it was 0.2 deg C above average and scientists were not sure if it was significant.”

“The Earth currently stands at a shade less than 0.4 deg above the 1961 – 90 average, i.e. not as high above the average as the Victorian Era was below it.”

The average of temperatures for the period 1961 – 1990 indicate relative stability. However, the average for this period in no way relates to the average of the world’s historical temperature. This could easily confuse the reader, who may conclude from David Whitehouse’s writing that the 1990 temperature was 0.2 degrees Centrigrade above the average for the whole of the history of the Earth.

3. Attributing Global Warming

David Whitehouse writes : “MISSING FAC[E]T 1: The vast majority of the world’s warming in the past century occurred before 1940 and is entirely natural.”

This summary is not equivalent to analysis from the influential and widely contributed IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, Working Group 1, Chapter 9 :-

The report notes that one or other natural factors were most likely dominant in the Global Warming of the early 20th Century. The overall Global Warming from Greenhouse Gases in the period 1850-2001 (averaged to the period 1899-2005) is reported in the Section “ Observed Changes” as 0.76 degrees C plus or minus 0.19 degrees C.

In a research paper referenced by this IPCC chapter, the Global Warming attributable to Greenhouse Gases is modelled as “3. Twentieth-century forcing simulations […] the dominance of the GHGs […] contributes to warming of about plus 0.6 degrees C at the end of the century” :-

The whole situation is complicated by the fact that there were other man-made things up in the air besides Greenhouse Gases. Particles of differing sizes from industrial activities – and yes – burning Fossil Fuels are the “aerosols” mentioned in the research. In some cases, depending on the chemistry, the size of the particles and the height they are in the atmosphere, they can have a global “cooling” effect, deflecting the sun’s rays from warming the Earth.

It is highly likely that the apparent “cooling” between 1940 and somewhere in the 1970s (NOT 1980 as David Whitehouse mistakes) was due in large part to changes in the aerosols in the atmosphere.

4. The world has been warming for MUCH longer than 20 years

David Whitehouse writes “It was around 1980 that the current warm spell – the one that is causing all the controversy and debate – began. For less than 20 years the world warmed […] MISSING FACT 2: The whole question about global warming rests on less than 20 years of the world getting warmer.”

This is factually inaccurate, in my opinion. Just one look at this graph will tell you what actually happened :-

5. The world is NOT cooling

David Whitehouse writes, “Then it seemed to stop warming. For several years it was a controversial suggestion, but it has now become statistically significant.”

Actually, statisticians given the data for Global Warming recently confirmed that the world is still warming :-

6. Global Warming did NOT end in 1998 or 2001

David Whitehouse writes, “Recently, the Journal Science said the pause in global temperatures is real. The UK Met Office Hadley Centre has also confirmed that in the past ten years the HadCRUT3 temperature data shows no increase whatsoever […] There is no upward trend, just a plateau.”

There are other ways to summarise the facts.

According to some data sets, the year 2005 was probably warmer than the spike El Nino year of 1998, and 2007 probably tied with 1998.

The last decade has been the warmest on record.

Global Warming has not “paused”, or rather, it’s way too early to call it. Next year could throw that claim out very easily. And the underlying warming influence from Greenhouse Gases hasn’t disappeared.

What is happening should be obvious : we are experiencing the effects of variability in the Earth system, which is subject to all manner of circulations and cycles and patterns of weather and climate.

7. Time lag

David Whitehouse’s “MISSING FACT”s numbers 4 and 5 are constructed and strained, in my judgement, and take no account of a worrying fact : there is a “thermal inertia” in the Earth system : it takes time for the Globe to heat up in response to the extra Warming “blankets” in the atmosphere.

We have perhaps another 0.6 – 0.8 degrees C already in the pipeline that we haven’t felt yet, but that will inevitably come, even if we stop Carbon Emissions tomorrow.

One reply on “David Whitehouse Risks Inaccuracy”

Miss Abbess,
Use the more accurate and respected HadCrut3 temperature dataset ie the UK Met Office’s own figures, and you will see that all Dr Whitehouse has done is describe the data and he is completely accurate.
The Met Office has said itself that the temperature has paused, go argue with them and not Dr Whitehouse, and go and argue with all the scientists who have published peer-reviewed papers attesting to this scientific fact.
You are being selective and partial with the facts you choose to see and are criticising Dr Whitehouse for what you think he said.
he’s right, you might not like it but he is.

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