Arguing about Global Warming is difficult. Scientific argument should be about examining hypothesis, critically reviewing data, both supporting and contradicting said hypothesis, addressing concerns (scientific concerns) of opponents in the way that satisfies them, developing scientifically irrefutable proof. I can go on.
None of this seems to be happening around Global Warming. Instead, most of the arguments, on both sides, seem to be highly politicized, emphasizing data that supports one point of view and suppressing or ignoring the data that supports the other point of view.
It resembles religious debate more than a scientific one. It comes as no surprise that several people, apparently as frustrated about this as I am, have called Global Warming a religion.
I am biased towards the skeptics in this debate, because it seems to me that falsifications, and arguments appealing to emotions rather than facts, seem to reside more on the side of Global Warming proponents. And the skeptics seem to appeal to scientific facts and proof more. Probably because they have to fight an uphill battle against the government organizations, U.N., Greenpeace and wide variety of environmental activist groups that have a lot to gain from Global Warming becoming “settled science”.
Let’s examine some of the data that makes Global Warming a controversy.
We’ll start with the interview given by Dr Phil Jones to BBC. Dr Jones is the director of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA). Those of you who read liberal press exclusively, have probably missed the scandal around emails from UEA, which exposed some irregular practices around handling weather data. Conservative press made a big deal out of it, and rightly so, but in most of liberal press this story, nicknamed “climategate”, hardly got a passing mention. What you need to know before we dive into dissecting the interview is that CRU data is one of main sources of information on climate change, heavily used in Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007 report. We will talk more about this report later, let’s get back to Dr Jones. He is, of course, among supporters of Global Warming, so asking him questions like Do you believe in Global Warming? is about as silly as analyzing his answers to such questions. We’ll focus on questions that are far more interesting:
Q: Do you agree that according to the global temperature record used by the IPCC, the rates of global warming from 1860-1880, 1910-1940 and 1975-1998 were identical?
This is a very important question. The period 1975-1998 is flagged as the period with major increase in effects of man-made Global Warming
A: … I have also included the trend over the period 1975 to 2009, which has a very similar trend to the period 1975-1998. So, in answer to the question, the warming rates for all 4 periods are similar and not statistically significantly different from each other.
OK, so 1860-1880, 1910-1940, 1975-1998, 1975-2009 – all these periods had similar trend in global temperature change. No recent anomalies due to man-made effects. This bears repeating: no significant recent Global Warming, that would differ in trend or in rate from earlier periods. Remember “hockey stick”? It was a lie. More on that later. This is a very serious concession. Equivalence of modern trend to any previous period was not something that Global Warming proponents previously publicly acknowledged.
Q: Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming?
A: Yes, but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level. The positive trend is quite close to the significance level.
Let’s look at this question in conjunction with the next one
Q: Do you agree that from January 2002 to the present there has been statistically significant global cooling?
A: No. This period is even shorter than 1995-2009. The trend this time is negative (-0.12C per decade), but this trend is not statistically significant.
Of course he wouldn’t agree. That’s a Do you believe in Global Warming? type of question. But note something else – his choice of words. The positive trend is “quite close to significance level”. Nothing of a kind is said about negative trend. BOTH TRENDS ARE IDENTICAL: +0.12C per decade, and -0.12C per decade, respectively. If one is close to significance level, so is the other.
Q: There is a debate over whether the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) was global or not. If it were to be conclusively shown that it was a global phenomenon, would you accept that this would undermine the premise that mean surface atmospheric temperatures during the latter part of the 20th Century were unprecedented?
A: There is much debate over whether the Medieval Warm Period was global in extent or not. The MWP is most clearly expressed in parts of North America, the North Atlantic and Europe and parts of Asia. For it to be global in extent the MWP would need to be seen clearly in more records from the tropical regions and the Southern Hemisphere. There are very few palaeoclimatic records for these latter two regions.
Of course, if the MWP was shown to be global in extent and as warm or warmer than today (based on an equivalent coverage over the NH and SH) then obviously the late-20th century warmth would not be unprecedented. On the other hand, if the MWP was global, but was less warm that today, then current warmth would be unprecedented.
This is also a big thing. Take a look at “battle of the graphs”
The top graph is the famous “hockey stick” – Northern Hemisphere mean temperature change graph, which has been referred to by Al Gore in his famous presentation and film. The hockey stick has since been successfully disputed and proven to be over-dramatised. The bottom graph shows the average temperature in Northern Hemisphere over same time period as the hockey stick, but according to newer research.
See the big bump around 1200? That’s the peak of MWP, which obviously could not have been caused by any man-made activities. Why is MWP not considered global? There is no data for southern hemisphere for that period. Probability that it was global is, actually, pretty high, which is why most Global Warming proponents exhibit great scientific integrity and insist that MWP was purely local. It is also interesting that all historical models built by pro-Global Warming researchers assume that MWP was not global. Why? It shows better numbers to support Global Warming, that’s why. That is not how I was taught to do science.
Q: Do you agree that natural influences could have contributed significantly to the global warming observed from 1975-1998, and, if so, please could you specify each natural influence and express its radiative forcing over the period in Watts per square metre?
A: …Natural influences (from volcanoes and the Sun) over this period could have contributed to the change over this period. Volcanic influences from the two large eruptions (El Chichon in 1982 and Pinatubo in 1991) would exert a negative influence. Solar influence was about flat over this period. Combining only these two natural influences, therefore, we might have expected some cooling over this period.
This is interesting, in that it’s simply not true. Solar activity has been increasing since 19th century, and in the period where it was actually being measured (since late 1970s), it has been increasing by 0.5% per decade.
UPDATE: I seem to have misread the article, it’s .05%, not 0.5%. Other resources show it to be 0.1%. Not flat, as Dr Jones stated, but not as dramatic as I first thought.
This one is priceless, folks:
Q: If you agree that there were similar periods of warming since 1850 to the current period, and that the MWP is under debate, what factors convince you that recent warming has been largely man-made?
A: The fact that we can’t explain the warming from the 1950s by solar and volcanic forcing – see my answer to your question D (Starik: the question above)
Did you get this? They have no explanation for it, therefore it has to be man-made. Where was the last time I heard this kind of argument? About 10 years ago, talking to a religious fanatic, who was trying to convince me that since there are things that modern science cannot explain, the only logical conclusion from that fact is that Jesus is my savior. Tell me again, is Global Warming a science or a religion?
Q: When scientists say “the debate on climate change is over”, what exactly do they mean – and what don’t they mean?
A: It would be supposition on my behalf to know whether all scientists who say the debate is over are saying that for the same reason. I don’t believe the vast majority of climate scientists think this. This is not my view. There is still much that needs to be undertaken to reduce uncertainties, not just for the future, but for the instrumental (and especially the palaeoclimatic) past as well.
This is another first. Remember all the statements we heard from politicians that “science is solid”, “debate is over”, “scientific debate has now closed”? Here is one of the top-of-the-food-chain pro-Global Warming scientists, telling you, that majority of climate scientists, including himself, do not share that opinion. The debate is not over, and the science isn’t settled.
This one is a bit lengthy, but probably most important, read carefully:
Q: Let’s talk about the e-mails now: In the e-mails you refer to a “trick” which your critics say suggests you conspired to trick the public? You also mentioned “hiding the decline” (in temperatures). Why did you say these things?
A: This remark has nothing to do with any “decline” in observed instrumental temperatures. The remark referred to a well-known observation, in a particular set of tree-ring data, that I had used in a figure to represent large-scale summer temperature changes over the last 600 years.
The phrase ‘hide the decline’ was shorthand for providing a composite representation of long-term temperature changes made up of recent instrumental data and earlier tree-ring based evidence, where it was absolutely necessary to remove the incorrect impression given by the tree rings that temperatures between about 1960 and 1999 (when the email was written) were not rising, as our instrumental data clearly showed they were.
This “divergence” is well known in the tree-ring literature and “trick” did not refer to any intention to deceive – but rather “a convenient way of achieving something”, in this case joining the earlier valid part of the tree-ring record with the recent, more reliable instrumental record.
So, this is what happened: the tree ring data, was used as a reliable source for temperature information over last 600 years. However, when the tree ring data from 1960-1999 was compared to actual instrumental measurements, the tree ring data was showing temperature as flat or declining, while the instruments were showing temperature increase. So, the tree ring data for that period was deleted and replaced with instrumental measurements.
OK, is it just me, or do you also get a WTF moment, reading this? If the tree ring data just flat contradicts the instrumental measurements for the same period, what makes us believe the tree ring data for previous 600 years was correct? How do we know there isn’t the same contradiction there? Or, maybe, the problem is with the instrumental measurements and the tree ring data is correct? There are serious reasons to doubt the instrumental measurements.
Ross McKitrick, University of Guelph, Canada:
We concluded, with overwhelming statistical significance, that the IPCC’s climate data are contaminated with surface effects from industrialisation and data quality problems. These add up to a large warming bias.
Take a look at this map. What you see here are the weather stations in the US. These are the stations that provide data on temperatures, later used by the CRU, and IPCC. Blue color marks stations with measurement error of less than one degree. Orange marks stations with measurement error greater than 2 degrees. What color dominates this map? Take a look at the two photos at the bottom of the page, and compare the data trend from correctly placed station, and from a station placed right above the parking lot. Can you guess which one is blue, and which one is orange? More about that in Segment 7 of John Coleman’s Meltdown documentary:
Maybe, we should believe the tree rings that Dr Jones so eagerly discarded to “hide the decline” more than his instrumental measurements?
There’s more. Here’s Dr. Christy, a climatologist, working for NASA, explaining that the surface temperature dataset is not consistent with the data measured from satellites since 1970s, as well as a reference to Argos buoys program detecting cooling of the ocean water temperatures, inconsistent with global warming predictions:
Now let’s talk about our “heroes”, the Nobel Peace Prize recipients for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change, Al Gore and the IPCC:
I already discussed the “hockey stick” lie. Unfortunately, it’s not the only thing that’s wrong with their “settled science”.
Remember this photo:
Al Gore used it to tell a touching story of polar bears plight in global warming, remember?
It’s a lie. Here’s the real story behind this photo:
And here’s what actually is happening to polar bears – their population “may now be near historic highs”
Oh, and speaking of ice, remember the Himalayan glacier that is supposed to melt by 2035? How about by 2350 instead? Or maybe, not at all?
The most glaring mistake in the 2007 report is the claim that Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035, several IPCC authors say. That claim wasn’t based on any peer-reviewed scientific paper, but on a decade-old interview given by an Indian glacier expert. Some within the IPCC suggest the mistake may be a typo traced back to a 1996 U.N.-sponsored study—which also wasn’t peer-reviewed—that said the glaciers would disappear by 2350.
Wait, the IPCC’s report, supposedly all peer-reviewed and representing most solid climate science had claims based on an interview that mixed up dates? Yep. And not just that.
The interview was given by Dr Syed Hasnain, and referred only to glaciers in central and eastern Himalayas. Dr Hasnain has never repeated this claim in a peer-reviewed publication, and since then has commented that his statement was “speculative”. IPCC repeated the original claim, and expanded it to cover entire Himalayan glacier. When a leading Indian glacier expert, Dr Raina, spoke up about absurdity of this date, chairman of IPCC Dr Pachauri (he’s the guy who stood next to Al Gore, receiving the Nobel Prize on behalf of IPCC) dismissed him, and called his statements “voodoo science”. It got to the point that India will now basically ignore IPCC and establishes its own organization to monitor “global warming” effects.
And what is, one may ask, Dr Pachauri’s scientific background that allows him to determine what is or isn’t real science? He has a PhD degree in … Industrial Engineering and Economics … Apparently this qualifies someone to become chairman of U.N. climate research body. That makes me trust IPPCC’s credibility so much more.
One of the most widely quoted and most alarmist passages in the main 2007 report was a warning that, by 2020, global warming could reduce crop yields in some countries in Africa by 50 per cent. Dr Pachauri not only allowed this claim to be included in the short Synthesis Report, of which he was co-editor, but has publicly repeated it many times since.
The origin of this claim was a report written for a Canadian advocacy group by Ali Agoumi, a Moroccan academic who draws part of his current income from advising on how to make applications for “carbon credits”. As his primary sources he cited reports for three North African governments. But none of these remotely supported what he wrote. The nearest any got to providing evidence for his claim was one for the Moroccan government, which said that in serious drought years, cereal yields might be reduced by 50 per cent. The report for the Algerian government, on the other hand, predicted that, on current projections, “agricultural production will more than double by 2020
Watch this interview with Prof Robert Watson, Chief Scientist for the department of the Environment in the U.K., who preceeded Dr Pachauri as chairman of the IPCC. Do you find him reassuring and believable? He begins by saying “the evidence is absolutely solid” and then cannot refer to one bit of untainted evidence:
Notice a pattern yet? IPCC cherry-picked and presented as science non-peer-reviewed speculative opinions, generalizing them even further. In fact, the original drafts of the IPCC report were so bad that one of the reviewers, Dr Andrew Lacis of the NASA Goddard Institute (who was at the time, and maybe still is, pro-Global Warming) had this to say:
There is no scientific merit to be found in the Executive Summary. The presentation sounds like something put together by Greenpeace activists and their legal department. The points being made are made arbitrarily with legal sounding caveats without having established any foundation or basis in fact. The Executive Summary seems to be a political statement that is only designed to annoy greenhouse skeptics. Wasn’t the IPCC Assessment Report intended to be a scientific document that would merit solid backing from the climate science community – instead of forcing many climate scientists into having to agree with greenhouse skeptic criticisms that this is indeed a report with a clear and obvious political agenda. Attribution can not happen until understanding has been clearly demonstrated. Once the facts of climate change have been established and understood, attribution will become self-evident to all. The Executive Summary as it stands is beyond redemption and should simply be deleted.
There’s an interesting documentary by John Coleman, one of the founders of the Weather Channel – Global Warming: The Other Side, and Global Warming: Meltdown. The documentaries are pretty long. If you aren’t willing to spend the time, watch at least Segment 3 (debunking Al Gore’s claims):
and Segment 4, part 1 (explains ridiculous manipulations with weather station data to show more warming: 6000 measurement points for “baseline” were compared with 1500 measurement points, derived by systematic removal of data from colder areas):
Over the past few months I had several half-conversations, half-arguments with my pro-Global Warming friends, some in person, some by email, some in blog comments, of which I want to address the following claims:
- Frequency and severity of both tornadoes and hurricanes has risen sharply since the 50s.
Don’t know about hurricanes, but in regard to tornadoes this is simply not true. Even IPCC doesn’t believe this to be true and states in their report: There is insufficient evidence to determine whether trends exist in small scale phenomena such as tornadoes, hail, lighting, and dust storms. In fact, if we look at statistics for violent tornadoes in the US, they appear to be decreasing since 1950s.
- Little Ice Age was caused by a volcanic eruption (and so was the winter of 1812).
The cause of Little Ice Age has not been established. Volcanic eruptions are one of the hypotheses. Other suspects – lows in solar radiation and ocean current changes. There’s even a theory that Little Ice Age was caused by the decrease in the population as a result of Black Death, and subsequent forestation of large parts of European farmlands. I am surprised that my friends didn’t pick this over volcanic activity. Claiming that Little Ice Age was man-made global cooling would be very much in line with their beliefs. Here’s where it gets funny. I made a mistake in our conversation, and referred to winters of 1812 and 1941 as examples of extreme weather fluctuations that clearly weren’t man-made.My friends chose to ignore the winter of 1941 and attributed winter of 1812 to volcanic activity. With no reference to any supporting evidence, of course. I read up on it a little, and found no evidence that the winter of 1812 was actually any colder than usual :). The only place where it apparently was cold, was in the memoirs of retreating French soldiers, who were not ready for any Russian winter, cold or not. I do not want to think of my friends as people who would invent evidence, but it looks like they were seriously misled in this case.
- I lack even basic understanding of how the weather works.
This was a response to my many references to colder weather last couple of winters in the context of my anti-Global Warming comments. I have responded to that several times, but in the interest of putting everything in one entry, here it is. Folks, you can’t have it both ways. If colder winters are not evidence against Global Warming, then warmer winters in exact same area are not evidence for it, either. And if winters are supposed to be colder in Global Warming (makes no sense, but I’m willing to humor it), then warmer winters in exact same area are evidence against global warming. Consider my references to colder weather as “payback” for all the references to warmer weather done by pro-Global Warming politicians. Watch this. If you choose to whine that weather is not climate and it’s stupid to use weather as evidence, and if you have an ounce of integrity left, call your elected representatives and tell them how stupid you consider them to be. Better yet, vote them out. 2010 sounds like a good year to do it. And cancel your subscriptions to liberal newspapers too, because obviously they have no idea what they are writing about, either.
- And what’s your stake in this anyway? You don’t own a coal-fired power plant, right?
Apart from firmly believing that government intervention in business (which is what the outcome of all Global Warming discussions is – government power-grab for more regulation) is bad, this stuff is going to negatively affect me personally. And if you live in US, it will affect you too. Mostly negatively. Here’s just one example.
In addition to references in the post, I want to give h/t to several sites, on whose posts I built some of my analysis, and without whose material and pointers this post would not be written:
Ace of Spades HQ
Bayou Renaissance Man