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Thursday, June 22, 2006

I'm not sure about Global Warming, but the "HOT AIR" sure is flowing freely

Wednesday morning the northern hemisphere of our fine planet experienced the summer solstice. Guess what - it's hot. Here in Houston we've had 90 degree weather for a couple months now but that is perfectly normal. I noticed that several cities around the country still had highs in the upper 70's earlier this week but I think the highs in those areas are climbing also.

So what does this mean? - it means that the environmental alarmists are panic-ing.

I don't think that there is any surprise in the timing of the release of Al Gore's film "An Inconvenient Truth". If you want to emphasize the imminent danger created by the Earth getting hot you certainly are not going to release it when the weather is cool. I did find it gratifying to find a couple of articles from Canada posted on Drudge Report and Junk Science in which a large number of climate scientists disagree with the basic tenants and conclusions drawn in the movie. As I discussed in a couple of posts earlier, the general consensus was that it was nothing more than science fiction.

Well now the other shoe drops. Yesterday and today several reports have been published once again stating that global warming is real and that it was been caused by humans. I discuss some of these articles below.

Global warming surpasses natural cycles in fueling 2005 hurricane season (from

"Global warming accounted for around half of the extra hurricane-fueling warmth in the waters of the tropical North Atlantic in 2005, while natural cycles were only a minor factor, according to a new analysis by Kevin Trenberth and Dennis Shea of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). The study will appear in the June 27 issue of Geophysical Research Letters, published by the American Geophysical Union."

According to this article, Drs. Trenberth and Shea analyzed sea surface temperatures since the early 20th century. They compared the temperature data in the 1990's to the overall average from 1901 through 1970. This showed that the increase in hurricanes (number and intensity) was caused by warmer water temperatures. The problem is that they could not tell how much of the warming was caused by the AMO (The Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation) and how much was caused by Global Warming.
"But Trenberth, suspecting that global warming was also playing a role, looked beyond the Atlantic to temperature patterns throughout Earth's tropical and midlatitude waters."

So my understanding of this statement is that when the data doesn't support the predrawn conclusion, expand the data set until it does. When the data from the North Atlantic did not clearly show that global warming was the primary cause, these scientists used data from other areas to create some type of base line. They then subtracted that baseline and said that that was the difference caused by global warming. This is basically the same technique used in economics to remove seasonal affects from product forecasts.

The problem is that the data is not legit. First of all, sea surface water temperature measurements in the first half of the 20th century were taken manually primarily by sticking a thermometer into a bucket of freshly drawn water. There were no controls on location or time stamps. Current temperature measurements are by automated buoys that are stationary and record the temperature at set times each day (typically every 1 minute). So a comparison is dubious at best.

I also question the legitimacy of using data from outside the North Atlantic to draw conclusions about the North Atlantic. Yes global warming should be taking place globally, but the data seems to be centered around North America and Europe, primarily because that is where the most temperature measurement equipment is located. But is there really a measurable effect of global warming in these areas? Anecdotal evidence certainly doesn't support that there is an increase in cyclone formation or intensity in the Pacific for example. Is the use of data from say the Pacific or Indian Ocean relevant for drawing conclusions of the North Atlantic? I have my doubts.

I also find it interesting that the article ends with the standard caveat that this is what we think but just because it doesn't happen doesn't mean we are wrong. Talk about covering both bases.

Earth hottest it's been in 2,000 years (from

The Earth is running a slight fever from greenhouse gases, after
enjoying relatively stable temperatures for 2,000 years. The National Academy of
Sciences, after reconstructing global average surface temperatures for the past
two millennia, said Thursday the data are "additional supporting evidence ...
that human activities are responsible for much of the recent warming."

The National Academy of Sciences is basically rehashing the same story that we've been hearing for years: The temperature rise in the 90's is the worst that there has ever been and humans are causing it. They categorically dismiss the medieval warm spell as insignificant. I also find it interesting that while high methane and CO2 levels were determined to exist in those times, they were caused by volcanoes but the higher CO2 that exists today is from cars so somehow it is more dangerous (?).

I find it interesting that the Earth was able to recover then but the underlying assumption is that this time we will hit a tipping point that will take us over the precipice. Unless we plunge into an Ice Age (and isn't that the Earth recovering on its own)

Here is essentially the same article from CNN and Fox News

Science Panel Backs Study on Warming Climate (Huh????) (from New York Times)

This is an interesting headline until you read the article. The panel's comments include:

  • a statistical method used in the 1999 study was not the best
  • some uncertainties in the work "have been underestimated,"
  • it particularly challenged the authors' conclusion that the
    decade of the 1990's was probably the warmest in a millennium
  • The experts said there was no reliable way to make estimates
    for surface-temperature trends in the first millennium A.D

This is support?!?! I'd hate to read what would have been said if the panel rejected the report.

Additionally, "challenges to the 1999 work by Sen. Inhofe (R-OK) and Rep. Barton (R-TX) citing peer reviewed papers challenging the methods [used]".

The main critiques were done by Stephen McIntyre, a statistician and part-time consultant in Toronto to minerals industries, and Ross McKitrick, an economist at the University of Guelph in Ontario.

They contended that Dr. Mann and his colleagues selected particular statistical methods and sets of data, like a record of rings in bristlecone pine trees, that were most apt to produce a picture of unusual recent warming. They also complained that Dr. Mann refused to share his data and techniques. In an interview, Dr. Mann expressed muted satisfaction with the panel's findings. He said it clearly showed that the 1999 analysis has held up over time. But he complained that the committee seemed to forget about the many caveats that were in the original paper. "Even the title of the paper on which all this has been based is as much about the caveats and uncertainties as it is about the findings," he said.

So basically the report was based on a number of possibly unrelated data sets cited a bunch of "caveats". OK...This is legit as long as it is cited and utilized properly, but this report and similar studies are being used to set public policy and create general panic. And that is just plain WRONG!

I guess the NYT just puts the headline they want and hope we don't actually read the article.

Trackback to The Dumb Ox, Woman Honor Thyself, Michelle Malkin

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