Sunday, April 29, 2007

Global warming

America's top hurricane forecaster is at it again:

William Gray said Friday that global ocean currents, not human-produced carbon dioxide, are responsible for global warming, and the Earth may begin to cool on its own in five to 10 years.

Gray, a Colorado State University researcher best known for his annual forecasts of hurricanes along the U.S. Atlantic coast, also said increasing levels of carbon dioxide won't produce more or stronger hurricanes.

He said that over the past 40 years the number of major hurricanes making landfall on the U.S. Atlantic coast has declined even though carbon dioxide levels have risen.

Gray, speaking to a group of Republican state lawmakers, had harsh words for researchers and politicians who say man-made greenhouse gases are responsible for global warming.

"They're blaming it all on humans, which is crazy," he said. "We're not the cause of it."
The UK Met Office don't agree. They sent out a press release on Friday saying:
Records broken as temperatures rise
[...]
The Central England Temperature (CET) is the world's longest running temperature series and dates back to 1659. April 2007 and the 12-month rolling period ending in April 2007 are set to become the warmest since the records began 348 years ago.
[...]
Provisional figure for April 2007: 11.1 °C - beating the previous record of 10.6 °C set in 1865
1865, huh? So April 1865 was warmer than in every year since, until this year? The CET figures can be downloaded, so here are some press releases the Met Office didn't issue:
  • January 2007 cooler than 1834, 1921, 1796 and 1916
  • February 2007 only 47th warmest since records began
  • March 2007 cooler than March 1734 and only 38th warmest
  • 2005 cooler than 1733, 1834, 1921, 2004, 1959, 2003, 1989, 1995, 1997, 2002, 1949, 1999 and 1990
  • 1986, when warming was supposed to be underway, was only 268th warmest since records began.
My point is that while there is a gentle warming trend in their figures, the press releases the Met Office put out are alarmist, and represent a serious distortion of the facts - a distortion by omission. They only seem to release PRs for unusually warm data, giving the impression that's all the data there is.

They also say:
recent rapid warming of the CET is almost certainly due to human influence
But they don't point out that the figures are consistent with the view that we're just coming out of the Little Ice Age.

Whatever the case might be for AGW, these distortions are extraordinary. As Tim Blair keeps pointing out, it's a religion:
Visitors to the Gaia Napa Valley Hotel and Spa won’t find the Gideon Bible in the nightstand drawer. Instead, on the bureau will be a copy of “An Inconvenient Truth,” former Vice President Al Gore’s book about global warming.

9 comments:

Bert Rustle said...

Being a dissident academic is a difficult business.

http://www.canadafreepress.com/2007/global-warming020507.htm

“We are wasting time, energy and trillions of dollars while creating unnecessary fear and consternation over an issue with no scientific justification. For example, Environment Canada brags about spending $3.7 billion in the last five years dealing with climate change almost all on propaganda trying to defend an indefensible scientific position while at the same time closing weather stations and failing to meet legislated pollution targets.”

“No sensible person seeks conflict, especially with governments, but if we don't pursue the truth, we are lost as individuals and as a society.”

“ ... Temperatures declined from 1940 to 1980 and in the early 1970's global cooling became the consensus. This proves that consensus is not a scientific fact. By the 1990's temperatures appeared to have reversed and Global Warming became the consensus.”

“No doubt passive acceptance yields less stress, fewer personal attacks and makes career progress easier. What I have experienced in my personal life during the last years makes me understand why most people choose not to speak out; job security and fear of reprisals. Even in University, where free speech and challenge to prevailing wisdoms are supposedly encouraged, academics remain silent.”

“Sadly, my experience is that universities are the most dogmatic and oppressive places in our society.”

“Personal attacks are difficult and shouldn't occur in a debate in a civilized society. ... They usually indicate a person or group is losing the debate. “

“I think it may be because most people don't understand the scientific method ... Now, any scientist who dares to question the prevailing wisdom is marginalized and called a sceptic, when in fact they are simply being good scientists. This has reached frightening levels with these scientists now being called climate change denier with all the holocaust connotations of that word. The normal scientific method is effectively being thwarted.”

“Until you have challenged the prevailing wisdom you have no idea how nasty people can be.”

I was surprised out how outspoken this academic was, until he signs off as “former climatology professor at the University of Winnipeg”.

The Plump said...

The problem with global warming denial is that it uses a similar pattern to other forms of denial in other disciplines. Elevate a single, academically discredited 'expert' as a contrarian witness, disregard a mass of empirically verifiable research in favour of the single witness, and then present yourself as being 'persecuted' by the 'establishment'; the latter position being shared with conspiracy theorists. In reality, the 'establishment' is merely pointing out that the 'dissident' is wrong.

See:
http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/04/gray-on-agw/

On statistics: Selecting individual years and months which do not conform to a general trend does not disprove that trend.

Peter Risdon said...

There's no obvious parallels for AGW alarmism in other disciplines. Nobody calls for Nuremberg-style tribunals for string theory sceptics, or advocates. Reports, like the IPCC one released today, aren't retrospectively altered to fit political conclusions. As you say, selective mention of years is not representative of a trend, so why is the Met Office guilty of just that?

Regardless of the science, something deeply disturbing is happening, as is evidenced by your reluctance to acknowledge there are differences of opinion within the fields relevant to climate science.

Bert Rustle said...

Peter Risdon wrote: “There's no obvious parallels for AGW alarmism in other disciplines. Nobody calls for Nuremberg-style tribunals for string theory sceptics, or advocates”

There is at least one other discipline where this happens– human intelligence research. There are many parallels to GW. See http://www.udel.edu/educ/gottfredson/reprints/2005suppressingintelligence.pdf

Some section headings are:

Self-Serving Self Censorship
Censorship For The Public Good
Fiction Driven Science and Failed Social Policy

The Plump said...

"As you say, selective mention of years is not representative of a trend, so why is the Met Office guilty of just that?"

For the same reason as you are :-)

Peter Risdon said...

Eh? I said: "there is a gentle warming trend in their figures".

This is so strange. I've read your blog - you're entirely reasonable, even if I disagree with a lot of what you say. But on this particular subject people just seem to take leave of their senses.

Of course there's scientific disagreement. There's scientific disagreement, often vitriolic, about everything. What is it about this subject that turns people into monomaniacs?

Bishop Hill said...

Until the science is replicated, it is entirely unconvincing. And it can't be replicated because so many of them won't release their data.

The Plump said...

The crucial point about scientific method is that there is a process of open research with peer review. This is published in all the major scientific journals and is available for scrutiny.

All the peer-reviewed science points towards significant global warming with one of the major contributors being human produced C02. The RATE of warming is the main concern, sharply above that of coming out of the little ice age. There is not a controversy.

Climate change denial comes from a number of sources but is not supported in peer reviewed literature and is mainly proposed by those with a political, non-scientific perspective (most notably those strange descendants of the Revolutionary Communist Party). I am not a scientist so I have to rely on reputable sources for this but I am against the politicisation of science (Galileo might agree), just as I dislike the politicisation of history to serve a variety of, often malign, causes. I am an empiricist.

Part of the politicisation of climate change is also a left/green exaggeration of effects. This comes about through the misunderstanding of the likelihood of global warming related events. This is the most uncertain part of the science. The response also has an implicitly authoritarian aspect in that it talks of compulsion and rationing often on the basis of the most unlikely of the predictions. Scientists get just as mad about this and Al Gore is a real target of the fury of reputable scientists as well.

This isn't 'monomania' but a defence of empirical method against 'religion', into which category I would put earth-worshipping Greens and climate change deniers, both of whom are not careful enough about the empirical data.

In conclusion, I am glad you read my blog, very happy we disagree amicably on this and other topics, and pleased you find me 'reasonable'. Can I suggest a web site of another of my readers, the scientist and writer Francis Sedgemore. He explores these topics more competently than I ever can. http://skysong.eu/

Peter Risdon said...

"All the peer-reviewed science points towards significant global warming with one of the major contributors being human produced C02."

This is simply untrue. There's enough peer reviewed material published that contradicts this idea for Harvard physicist LuboŇ° Motl to make weekly posts like this one.

"The RATE of warming is the main concern, sharply above that of coming out of the little ice age. There is not a controversy."

And how would we know what rate to expect? This particular rate is the only one we have ever measured. I'm afraid there is a controversy. By the way, this point was made by Carl Wunsch last year; the problem with AGW arguments is that we have no idea what would be happening without human activity, and no way to know it. His point, not mine.

"The response also has an implicitly authoritarian aspect in that it talks of compulsion and rationing often on the basis of the most unlikely of the predictions. Scientists get just as mad about this and Al Gore is a real target of the fury of reputable scientists as well."

Quite.

But this line from your earlier comment worried me: "Elevate a single, academically discredited 'expert' as a contrarian witness". People with differing viewpoints aren't discredited, as Francis Sedgmore seems to agree (I've seen his comments during the spat about global warming between Johann Hari and Scott Burgess).

Calling them discredited is dangerous - it smacks of ad hominem and also of a sort of Stalinist (I'm not accusing you of being a Stalinist) tactic of isolating opponents. These professors from MIT, Harvard and other academic institutions of the first rank just disagree, and they are in no way discredited.