More on Global Warming

January 31, 2012

A fascinating piece recently appeared in the UK Daily Mail:

“Forget global warming — it’s Cycle 25 we need to worry about (and if NASA scientists are right the Thames will be freezing over again): Met Office releases new figures which show no warming in 15 years”

The Met Office itself, Discover magazineThink Progress (and again), Mother Jones, and Newser have responded and criticized the piece.  (I’m not assuming they’re the best criticisms liberals have to offer, but they’re the ones my Internet search turned up.)  I’m no scientist, but I’m trying to sift through and understand what’s going on.  

It appears to me that they’re right that the Mail piece is at least occasionally misleading.  E.g., the text of the article does not support the statement “if NASA scientists are right the Thames will be freezing over again”.  (It does say that “Analysis by experts at NASA and the University of Arizona . . . suggest” that “solar output” “will be a great deal weaker still” than 2011-2012 levels, and says from other sources that “it is also possible that the new solar energy slump could be as deep as . . . between 1645 and 1715 in the coldest part of the ‘Little Ice Age’ when, as well as the Thames frost fairs, the canals of Holland froze solid.”  The Discovery rebuttal argues that that Little Ice Age was a result of many factors, not solar output alone, and that even then it affected only Europe, not the rest of the world.)

On the other hand, as far as I can tell, these rebuttals are pretty misleading, too.  Even the Discovery rebuttal (which seems the most informative) agrees with the others in acting as if the Mail author were doing something patently ridiculous, even dishonest, when he quotes from two Met Office releases but comes to conclusions contrary to theirs.  (Discovery:  “Again, that release states in the first paragraph the exact opposite of what Rose claims: . . . Amazing, isn’t it?”)  Unless I’m getting confused (and impatient) from reading and trying to keep track of all these pieces, that’s not true at all:  The Mail author is straightforward about what the Met Office says, and where it disagrees with his implied thesis.  Where it does, he quotes other sources arguing for his thesis and/or against the Met Office.

All of the rebuttals (except that of the Met Office itself), even the one from Discovery, seem pretty smug and dismissive.  I think that looks extra bad when, as far as I can tell, they’re partly wrong.

Can anyone else shed any light on this or help me sort this out?  Alternatively, does anyone want to assure me that it’s not worth knowing and I’m wasting my time?

Hat tip to Eternity Matters.

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8 Responses to “More on Global Warming”

  1. Snoodickle Says:

    It’s February 1st in Ohio and it’s 60 degrees outside.

    • Tevyeh Says:

      Please tell me you’re not citing this fact as evidence for global warming…then again, that approach would be consistent with your usual approach to data analysis.

      It’s 60 degrees Fahrenheit on 2/1/2012. Hard data. Case closed.

      • Snoodickle Says:

        It beats your usual approach to data analysis, which is to not use data.

      • Snoodickle Says:

        P.S. If you want to present yourself as anything other than Chillingworth’s lackey, you should also point out how he cited an article that used 10 years of no warming as evidence that global warming is not occurring.

  2. Tevyeh Says:

    “It beats your usual approach to data analysis, which is to not use data.”

    I’m all for an empirical approach when a rigorous analysis of reliable data suggests a particular conclusion. When, however, a meaningful signal cannot be extracted from the available data (without the “analyst” resorting to fallacy, disengenuity, or both), you’re correct—I prefer not to “use” it.

    “…you should also point out how he cited an article that used 10 years of no warming as evidence that global warming is not occurring.”

    Touche’. I’ll admit I was was put off by the authors’ citation of ten years’ worth of data as “the most inconvenient fact” faced by the climatology orthoxody. Your observation indicates that you at least somewhat understand my point about misuse or misinterpretation of data—and yet you still seemed to think that the temperature on 2/1/2012 was relevant. (Better than nothing?)

    BTW, if you go back and read the article you’ll see that you misinterpret the authors’ conclusions—nowhere do they assert the absence of long-term warming.

  3. Snoodickle Says:

    Even if they don’t explicitly assert it, you know they desperately want to. In any event, my comment was intended as a shot at that article; I don’t actually view one warm day as conclusive evidence of global warming. Two warm days in a row though? The evidence is piling up.

    • Tevyeh Says:

      Sure, we’ve had two warmer-than-usual days. Consider, however, that yesterday was warmer than today—a clear downward trend.

      I won’t attempt to probe the authors’ “desperate” desires, but they don’t seem inclined to deny the existence of a warming trend. They’re just critical of the folks who are pushing drastic (and likely harmful) policy action.

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