Global Warming Data Sets Reconciled

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has just released a report that looks at the various global temperature data sets and finds that they are now all "consistent" with man-made global warming. The chief cause is the emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide released from the burning of fossil fuels.

Global warming skeptics (and I was definitely one of them) have cited the findings of John Christy and Roy Spencer at the University of Alabama at Huntsville who have produced a temperature series based on satellite measurements since 1979. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the UAH data series saw little or no warming and its findings were bolstered by separate weather balloon data that also found little warming. In the past few years corrections made to the data sets have boosted average global temperatures in both.

NOAA's new report takes a look at all of the data sets and finds that they all point toward a trend of increasing average warmth:

Global-average temperature increased at a rate of about 0.12 degrees C per decade since 1958, and about 0.16 degrees C per decade since 1979. In the tropics, temperature increased at about 0.11 degrees C per decade since 1958, and about 0.13 degrees C per decade since 1979.

However, the question of how high temperatures are likely to go in the future is still open. Christy told the Washington Post that he has "a minimalist interpretation" of the report because Earth is not heating up rapidly at this point. And questions about what policies should be adopted, e.g., cutting emissions, fostering a technological revolution, adapting, or some combination, are now clearly on the table. The next couple of decades are going to be interesting and very contentious.

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  • MP||

    was

    WOW

  • ||

    I think we need disclosure on what emissions cutting companies Mr. Bailey owns stock in, along with what companies he has an interest in that are involved in "fostering a technological revolution".

  • ||

    So, what is your position now, Mr. Bailey?
    And I'm with MP. The "was" definitely caused a double-take.

  • Dave W.||

    After we identify and conquer the issues that lead us to choose the wrong data on the warming in the past, we will be ready to make the important policy choices you mention on a going-forward basis.

    Oh, and here is one for Tim-everyone-knows-Vioxx-don't-kill-quick-except-ninconpoop-jurors Cavanaugh:

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000082&sid=ajng8kkzouKs&refer=canada

  • ||

    Scientist are all liberals. Therefore, we can dismiss anything they say in the course of their work as a left wing concpiracy.

  • ||

    From the NOAA press release...

    One issue does remain however, and that is related to the rates of warming in the tropics. Here, models and theory predict an amplification of surface warming higher in the atmosphere. However, this greater warming aloft is not evident in three of the five observational data sets used in the report. Whether this is a result of uncertainties in the observed data, flaws in climate models, or a combination of these is not yet known. Using the evidence available, the author team favors the first explanation.

    So since the data doesn't support their models, the data is wrong, not the models? Is that what they are saying?

  • ||

    Matt: I believe that they are inclined that way because as new data from the polar and temperate portions of the globle came in and was corrected, they tended to become consistent with the models. The majority of the NOAA panel obviously expects the same thing to happen with tropical temperatures--we'll see if they're right. Still, you ask a great question.

  • ||

    So since the data doesn't support their models, the data is wrong, not the models? Is that what they are saying?

    Matt-

    I haven't read the full report, but I think you should be cautious before you assume that it's simple bias on their part. Press releases give the soundbite version, whereas when I read scientific articles the error analysis is generally more precise. Usually they'll say something like "The known degree of precision in these measurements is [insert number here], while the computational error in our algorithm is [insert smaller number here]. Moreover, the largest discrepancy is found in this part of the data, and it's known that the instruments suffer from systematic problems when measuring under those conditions."

    I'm not saying we should take it on faith that the error is in fact in the data rather than the models, but neither should we leap to any conclusions about dishonesty or sloppiness. My experience reading scientific literature has taught me to understand the difference between the synopsis and the full technical study. Generally, when authors assign the error to some particular source they give detailed reasons. Unless somebody can show me that the full study is lacking a detailed error analysis (or if I get a chance to hunt through the full study) I will refrain from assuming sloppiness.

    Why is it that H&R posters love to assume the worst of science based on press reports? Technical literature is almost always much, much more thorough than press releases, journalists, public relations firms, and spokesmen make us out to be.

  • ||

    So since the data doesn't support their models, the data is wrong, not the models? Is that what they are saying?

    Matt-

    I haven't read the full report, but I think you should be cautious before you assume that it's simple bias on their part. Press releases give the soundbite version, whereas when I read scientific articles the error analysis is generally more precise. Usually they'll say something like "The known degree of precision in these measurements is [insert number here], while the computational error in our algorithm is [insert smaller number here]. Moreover, the largest discrepancy is found in this part of the data, and it's known that the instruments suffer from systematic problems when measuring under those conditions."

    I'm not saying we should take it on faith that the error is in fact in the data rather than the models, but neither should we leap to any conclusions about dishonesty or sloppiness. My experience reading scientific literature has taught me to understand the difference between the synopsis and the full technical study. Generally, when authors assign the error to some particular source they give detailed reasons. Unless somebody can show me that the full study is lacking a detailed error analysis (or if I get a chance to hunt through the full study) I will refrain from assuming sloppiness.

    Why is it that H&R posters love to assume the worst of science based on press reports? Technical literature is almost always much, much more thorough than press releases, journalists, public relations firms, and spokesmen make us out to be.

  • ||

    So since the data doesn't support their models, the data is wrong, not the models? Is that what they are saying?

    Matt-

    I haven't read the full report, but I think you should be cautious before you assume that it's simple bias on their part. Press releases give the soundbite version, whereas when I read scientific articles the error analysis is generally more precise. Usually they'll say something like "The known degree of precision in these measurements is [insert number here], while the computational error in our algorithm is [insert smaller number here]. Moreover, the largest discrepancy is found in this part of the data, and it's known that the instruments suffer from systematic problems when measuring under those conditions."

    I'm not saying we should take it on faith that the error is in fact in the data rather than the models, but neither should we leap to any conclusions about dishonesty or sloppiness. My experience reading scientific literature has taught me to understand the difference between the synopsis and the full technical study. Generally, when authors assign the error to some particular source they give detailed reasons. Unless somebody can show me that the full study is lacking a detailed error analysis (or if I get a chance to hunt through the full study) I will refrain from assuming sloppiness.

    Why is it that H&R posters love to assume the worst of science based on press reports? Technical literature is almost always much, much more thorough than press releases, journalists, public relations firms, and spokesmen make us out to be. There's a big difference between useful skepticism (i.e. keeping an open mind and not making too many assumptions) and stubborn suspicion.

  • ||

    "Specifically, surface data showed substantial
    global-average warming, while early versions of satellite and radiosonde data showed little or no warming above the surface. This significant
    discrepancy no longer exists because errors in the satellite and radiosonde data have been identified and corrected.New data sets have also been developed that do not show such discrepancies."

    New data sets are great, but it still seems odd to go about identifying and correcting errors in old data. I'm only through the abstract so far and this is throwing up red flags. Perhaps it was legit, but why no effort was made to modify the models in question when data didn't reconcile is curious.

    A scientist wedded to a model to the point that seeking errors in data and altering collection methods of subsequent data may very well be to wedded to that model.

  • ||

    I will, however, jump to certain conclusions concerning the server squirrel...

  • ||

    "was"

    Intellectual honesty - how refreshing!

  • ||

    thoreau,

    Why is it that H&R posters love to assume the worst of science based on press reports?

    This seems like an overly broad statement.

  • Thomas Paine's Goiter||

    Great! Another three-sided global warming argument where one side doesn't understand the argument and charges windmills, the other side doesn't admit there is an argument and most of us stand here shaking our heads.

  • ||

    From the New Results and Findings section of the executive summary:

    "This difference between models and observations may arise from errors that are common to all models, from errors in the observational data sets, or from a combination of these factors. The second explanation is favored, but the issue is still open."

    It does not explain why it is favored.

  • ||

    Chewy,

    I think that observational data sets are more probably the cause because of the multitude of types. There's a new book out on the warming of the North Pole (The North Pole Was Here) and the writer explains that it is very difficult to get perfect sets of observational data from floating glaciers and why. Let alone measuring biomass in major forests or seas, effects on myriad species, etc.

    JMJ

  • ||

    I don't think as a whole, Libertarians, have ever denied that global warming isn't happening or that it might be man made. Opinion on the subject has always been mixed, because it is a scientific issue and not an idiological issue. I for one have always maintained that it has happned.

    Although, as a Libertarian, there are several very strong critisms of the position of the left on global warming.

    1. Even if global warming is happening, doesn't mean that extreme government action is called for. In the same way that I believe that Terrorism is real, and I believe it is a danger, but I don't believe the U.S. should be torturing people or locking them up without trial in Gitmo to fight terrorism - I believe in Global Warming, but I don't believe the U.S. should shift to a state-controlled managed economy to stop Global Warming.

    2. As long as "enviornmentalists" are against viable solutions to global warming (such as nuclear power, or geneticly modified fuel crops), there isn't really a point to discussing global warming. Reducing energy consumption means reducing standard of living - and reducing it beyond a certain point means letting billions of urban dwellers (who depend on energy consuming transportation, refridgeration, and industrialized farming for food) die. No democratic society is going to vote for a massively lower standard of living, or for the urban populations to starve to death. Any real solution can't be based on reduced consumption.

    3. So called "enviornmentalists" totally ignore the potential for hysteria and misuse of power. Look at how G. W. Bush used the (real) threat of Terrorism to push all kinds of crazy shit. Look at the kind of stuff people are talking about with the new "online preditor / myspace" hysteria that is gripping the U.S. ... The fact is, doom and destruction hysteria can be exploited for facist and totalitarian ends. The fact that "enviornmentalists" and the left refuse to acknowledge the fact that enviornmental hysteria could be exploited for nefarious purposes, means that they are either stupid, or have their own nefarious purposes that will exploit enviornmental hysteria.

  • ||

    Glad you're back from back from Syracuse. I look forward to your views on what to do about the weather, now that we have some

  • ||

    Mr. Bailey:

    Is your "was" which has so many here suddenly slack jawed meant to suggest you are no longer skeptical about a global warming trend or that it is in some significant measure man-made?

  • ||

    Guys, it's time to change the argument from "is global warming happening" to "second-hand global warming is a myth and besides you ought to just go to another planet if you don't like it". Just a heads-up here.

  • ||

    New data sets are great, but it still seems odd to go about identifying and correcting errors in old data.

    If the old data is different from the new data, the logical thing to do is examine both data sets and see what sort of errors might be found in each data set. You search for errors not by discarding stuff that you disagree with, but rather by examining the limitations of your instrument, check for dubious assumption in the data analysis, etc.

    I'm only through the abstract so far and this is throwing up red flags. Perhaps it was legit, but why no effort was made to modify the models in question when data didn't reconcile is curious.

    *sigh*
    As I understand it, climate modelers have continued to do calculations. It not like they folded up shop after the first round. The whole point of scientific modeling is not to simply generate a computer program that will spit out a plot that looks just like the experimental data. You've already got the data.

    Rather, the point of modeling is to make a minimal set of assumptions about the system in question, assumptions grounded in well-documented experimental facts (e.g. basic equations of heat transport, light transport, etc.). Then you derive equations from those assumptions and solve the equations (e.g. time-evolve a set of partial differential equations). If the outcome of solving those equations matches the experimental data then you conclude that your assumptions capture the basic phenomena and processes governing the behavior of the system.

    If there's a mismatch between data and models you have to question both sets of results. You certainly go back to your model and reconsider all of your assumptions and parameters. However, you usually only modify those assumptions and parameters in ways that can be carefully justified from well-supported experimental evidence (e.g. basic laws of physics, basic phenomena of transport, etc.). You don't just introduce any old assumption that would give a result that looks like the experiment.

    Why not? Well, who says that the experiments were right? Experimenters can make just as many mistakes as modelers. So they also go back to the drawing board and do more careful measurements, just as the modelers use faster computers and hence finer computational grids, and tweak their assumptions within certain reasonable bounds.

    The only time when modelers would fundamentally change their assumptions is if a data set has been reproduced a few times and checked extremely carefully. Why? Because the assumptions that go into models are generally very minimal and well-grounded, or at least they're believed to be so based on the best available information at the time. To drastically alter the assumptions would be to venture into territory with little experimental support. Modeling is a fundamentally conservative endeavor.

    As to chewy's 11:48 am post:

    The reason why one explanation is favored rather than another usually requires more analysis than is put into an executive summary. If you read the full report and you still aren't satisfied then come back and we'll talk some more, and I'll consider the possibility that the scientists are dishonest and sloppy.

  • R C Dean||

    Goddamn crap Reason server. C'mon guys, how hard is it to have enough capacity for a comment section?

    After 8 attempts to post a comment, I lost it. To summarize:

    various global temperature data sets . . . are now all "consistent" with man-made global warming

    merely means that you can't rule out man-made global warming on the basis of the data sets. The same data can be consistent with a number of underlying mechanisms for causation. The fact that the earth is warming is consistent with natural cycles as well, since the earth has gone through innumerable warming trends in the past.

    In other words, this doesn't really add much new to the debate. Even "climate skeptics" have conceded over the last year or so that the planet is warming up, and that seems to be all that the NOAA report really says.

    Climate skeptics continue to say that the case hasn't been made for anthropogenic CO2, and I don't understand the NOAA report to be saying any different. I don't think NOAA is claiming that the temperature data settles the question of what is causing the current warming trend.

  • Dave W.||

    T.:

    Do you really believe that all that subtle stuff about interpretation of scientific data was what led Bailey to being (initially) on the wrong side of the global warming divide?

  • ||

    Goddamn crap Reason server. C'mon guys, how hard is it to have enough capacity for a comment section?

    I suspect the rising temperature is affecting the server.

  • ||

    I never said a word about Ron Bailey's thought process. I was addressing the issue of whether this report can be trusted. So far I hear a lot of "Yeah, well, why didn't they put the entire report into the summary?" or "Yeah, well, why didn't the scrap the models rather than waiting for more experimental data?"

    Believe what you want about this report, but don't expect reasonable people to reject it just because the executive summary merely summarizes a point.

  • uncle sam||

    Given that the climate has been warming for hundreds of years, the lack of change indicated by satellite measurements would seem anomalous.

    What I want to know is how they can shown how much of the recent warming is manmade. I am not impressed with statements like "probably manmade" or, we can't imagine any other reason for it" etc.

  • ||

    Did I ever tell you guys about this one class I took in college? The syllabus said that we would study the consequences of wave-like behavior by electrons. Of course, the syllabus didn't say a word about any evidence that electrons behave like waves, it just said that they do.

    I was like "Gee, what do they think this is, a short summary of things that will be analyzed in detail during the semester?"

    And don't even get me started on the syllabus that mentioned evolution without including a complete listing of every fossil ever excavated.

  • ||

    The Earth goes through cycles of warming and cooling. Having just come out of an ice age (in geological time), it is to be expected that temperatures will continue to rise.

    Despite the predictions and recommendations of green house gasbags, volcanoes and the sun's own cycles affect Earth's temperature more significantly than human activity. (Shall we cap the volcanoes?)

    There is no evidence showing that current temperatures are anywhere near historical highs.
    There is also no evidence showing the the rate of increase is higher than in other similar geological times.

    Personally I prefer living in a hot-house age over an ice age, but I can hardly wait for nature to swing the pendulum the other way. Think of the fun it will be to hear liberal environmental wackos to change their tunes and begin demanding increases in green house gases.

  • ||

    Saturday, I was looking at an exhibit in the Page Museum in L.A. that said the seas have risen 300 ft. since about 12,000 BC. So, apparently, natural causes have been warming the Earth for thousands of years. Now, I'm willing to concede that, at the margin, mankind's activity adds something to the power of the Sun. But to what extent? If mankind cut it's energy consumption in half, will it save the seas rising 1/2 inch in the next hundred years? And how will we enlightened users stop the Indians and Chinese from using more than enough new energy to offset our savings? Go to war with them? And why is
    today's climate the Ideal one? Why not the one in
    1850 or 1776 or perhaps the one in 2050 will be
    more optimal?

  • ||

    thoreau,

    That's those sneaky scientist for you. Did you know their supposed "theories" regarding quantum mechanics and clasical mechanics don't even work togther? Yet, they go on blithely desighning integrated circuits and bulding skyscrapers like nothing is wrong at all! It's dishonest, underheanded, and un-American.

    DisturbingClown

  • ||

    Mr. Ridgely: Both--the current evidence points to a relatively small upward trend in global average temperatures and that man-made greenhouse gases are responsible for at least a portion of that trend.

    Dave W:

    Do you really believe that all that subtle stuff about interpretation of scientific data was what led Bailey to being (initially) on the wrong side of the global warming divide?

    Actually that's exactly what happened. I've been reporting on and talking with climate scientists and actualy reading long IPCC reports for over 20 years. However, it is true that my reporting on decades of environmentalist scares (overpopulation, synthetic chemical cancer epidemics, biotech run amok) is what inclined me toward the skeptical camp in the first place. All I asked for was evidence and I am now persuaded--perhaps not soon enough for you, but I don't care what you think.

  • ||

    This conversation reminds me of the "Die Hippie, Die" episode of South Park.

  • ||

    I am happy that science is, well, uh, working the way science does. Correcting data when it can be shown to be incorrect is a good thing.

    To the issue of what we should conclude--that we are the major, minor, or insignificant cause of warming--I think it is important to de-emphasize the press release interpretation and read the report.

    At minimum, I think you'll find a fair assessment of the strengths and weakenesses of the models that are so often used to spin conclusions. For instance, this from Chapter 5 (http://www.climatescience.gov/Library/sap/sap1-1/finalreport/sap1-1-final-chap5.pdf)

    "The most sophisticated climate models are direct descendants of the computer models used for weather forecasting. While weather forecast models seek to predict the specific timing of weather events over a period of days to several
    weeks, climate models attempt to simulate future changes in the average distribution of weather events."

    Any reasonable person could interpret this as saying "it ain't perfect". Any conclusions drawn from our imperfect tools should at the very least be routinely accompanied by acknowledgement of the limits of our tools. In weather, it's done very simply using the idea of a forecast--mostly cloudy, 30% chance of rain.

    The real future will be modlled in real time after all.

  • ||

    Ron, you forgot "Love and Kisses" at the end of that. They were required.

    On a more serious note, can we expect an article from you regarding this soon? I would be very interested to hear your thoughts regarding both what convinced you, how you came across it, and the degree to which you subscribe to man-made global warming.

  • Thomas Paine's Goiter||

    Jesus - you get bitchy when someone questions methodology. I guess only other scientists can question methodology?

  • ||

    The point has never been on believing scientists or not.

    The point has always been: mass media and politics are no way to make science progress. If I don't need more proof to believe what physicists say about wave-behavior of electrons, it is because it does come from them. Give people a left/right partisanship in the wave-particle duality, and there I start being skeptical about scientists suddenly say, or of what is reported about them. And history proves me correct on this count.

  • ||

    TPG-

    I get bitchy when people jump to conclusions about a researcher's honesty and rigor based solely on the fact that a press release didn't address every point.

    If tomorrow somebody published a study claiming medicinal benefits from certain illicit substances, I doubt we'd get much of "Wait, you mean they didn't immediately change all of their assumptions when the first round of data didn't confirm their hypothesis?" and "Why does the summary just give the conclusions without giving a detailed justification of the conclusions?"

    It's one thing to ask good questions. It's another thing to jump to harsh conclusions with flimsy justification.

  • ||

    Good question: "Does the full report explain why the researchers believe that some data is erroneous while the models are reliable?"

    Bad conclusion: "So, researchers can just discard any data that doesn't fit their theory."

    Good question: "Why do the researchers believe that the new data sets are more reliable than the old ones? Has the instrumentation been recalibrated, or made with more sensitive detectors?"

    Bad conclusion: "So, when the theories weren't backed by data they just took it on faith that the theories were right and kept looking for data that would fit."

  • Dave W.||

    However, it is true that my reporting on decades of environmentalist scares (overpopulation, synthetic chemical cancer epidemics, biotech run amok) is what inclined me toward the skeptical camp in the first place. All I asked for was evidence and I am now persuaded--perhaps not soon enough for you, but I don't care what you think.

    I think this is a pretty good answer to my concerns, really. I was skeptical (read: highly doubtful) of global warming for these reasons, rather than out of some kind of conclusive analysis of the conflicting data. I switched sides around the same time you did and probably for much the same reasons: a developing scientific concensus that was easy to see even without independent analysis of the underlying data.

    My point on this thread is that parsing thru the biases of the competing sides was more important than firsthand analysis of the data. And the global warming thing reinforced a 3-part lesson about this I should have known but didn't:

    - never trust an anticorporate scientist with an anticorporate theory; and

    - never trust a procorporate scientist with a procorporate theory.

    - if, after eliminating scientists with the foregoing 2 rules, it turns out that there are no scientists left, then: stay agnostic until some of the entrenched players start switching sides.

  • ||

    The above are not verbatim quotes, just executive summaries.

  • ||

    Mr. Bailey:

    Thank you. I was of the impression that you had become convinced of the fact of the warming trend for some time now, but had previously been skeptical regarding the claim that human activity was known to be at least partially responsible.

  • ||

    thoreau,

    While your points made in your 12:07 post are well-taken, I think we all realize that "the climate" is a massive, complex, and chaotic system. Any time you have as many variables as are involved here, very small errors can lead to very divergent conclusions.

    I think some of the arguments here involve wondering why it APPEARS that the default is to fit (the already measured) data to the model. It certainly is worthwhile considering what sorts of errors may be introduced in the process of measuring, but the complexity of a model of the climate lends itself to flaws in the model itself.

    What we DO know is that we are pretty much at the beginning (geologic-time speaking) of an interglacial period. Global temperatures and sea levels rise during such times from what we know historically. We also have some evidence in the climate record of similar periods of time having extremely wild swings (geologically speaking) in climate.

    IIRC, a couple of moderate examples are the Medieval period (very warm) and the Little Ice Age (1700's??). Both periods were very extreme in comparison to what we currently experience. Barely 30 years ago scientists were sounding the alarm of a new Ice Age and/or the population bubble bursting dramatically. Reliable temperature records and detailed climatological observations only go back to 1880 or so in the US.

    What I rarely hear factored into the global warming debate are the very macro things that can impact climate in a huge way: solar cycles; the Earth's magnetic field strength and polar cycles (there is ample evidence that the poles are on their way to a switcheroo - an absolutely catastrophic event for which we are nearly overdue - in the next few thousand years, which means the magnetic field is weakening and the poles are wandering more from year to year); the Earth's wobble, tilt, and orbital eccentricity (all affecting incident sunlight); the Earth's own internal aging process, which we know almost nothing about in the grand scheme. That's to name the big ones.

    On the other hand, I'm an EE. I never studied climate. What the hell do I know?

  • ||

    Timon19-

    You make interesting points that are worth considering. You raise technical questions that should be addressed by people with more expertise in the area than I have. Other people were basically raising ethical questions without any real justification. There's nothing wrong with keeping a model on the table for consideration until additional data comes in. There's nothing wrong with writing a summary that doesn't address every point in detail. Hence it's called a "summary."

    That's all.

  • ||

    I have become so incredibly jaded about the global warming religion that I hardnly pay attention to anything anyone says about it any more.

    The fact that legions of committed capitalism-hating Leftists have lined up behind global warming as the Grond they will use against their despised enemy has made me suspect each and every nibble of "facts" purported by the cult. If that makes me "stubbornly suspicious", then so be it. Leftists have proven themselves to be the suckiest of the sucks, and I say that as a gay man with full temerity. I am suspcious of each and every thing that Leftists say and do, and I don't have a reliable way of differentiating that which comes from a "concerned scienctist" from that which comes from a "Leftist zealot who happens to be a scientist".

  • Thomas Paine's Goiter||

    I get bitchy when people jump to conclusions about a researcher's honesty and rigor based solely on the fact that a press release didn't address every point.

    The conclusion was jumped to after reading a quote directly from the scientist in the article.

    It's one thing if the scientist was misquoted, it's quite another to chastise someone because they are questioning methodology or motivation based directly on a quote.

  • ||

    Jimmy-

    If you like you can of course assume the worst about a theory from the characteristics of some (not all) of its adherents.

    I could just as easily assume the best about global warming from the tactics employed by some (not all) of its critics.

    I don't know that either approach would get anybody any closer to the truth, but at least it would make us both feel good.

  • ||

    thoreau,

    I guess I really have no disagreement with the "summary" point. I just think a lot of people's bullshit detectors peg when they hear "data didn't fit, was corrected".

  • Thomas Paine's Goiter||

    (there is ample evidence that the poles are on their way to a switcheroo - an absolutely catastrophic event

    Everything I've read about that points to horrible communications problems, but beyond that nothing major outside of a few places on earth having a hole in the field that would lead to increased radiation temporarily.

  • ||

    "I think some of the arguments here involve wondering why it APPEARS that the default is to fit (the already measured) data to the model."

    Jumping in, I'd say this is exactly the point. People claimed that the data was being fit to the model, with no evidence to support it.

    As T pointed out, you often correct prior measurements as you learn about certain biases or errors in your instruments over time. Performing this correction is NOT the same as "fitting the data to the model." In fact, it is most likely done independently, and then compared back to the model. I admit I haven't read the whole study yet, so it MIGHT be accurate that "fitting the data" is a good description. But considering the source(s) (well, the scientists, not the government agency), I don't think it is appropriate to presume so from the outset.

    It's a common mistake dogmatics here make. And Thoreau is doing a much better job of pointing it out than I have when I've tried in the past, so I'm going to shut up now.

  • Dave W.||

    I was skeptical (read: highly doubtful) of global warming for these reasons, rather than out of some kind of conclusive analysis of the conflicting data. I switched sides around the same time you did and probably for much the same reasons

    In other words, in my initial post on this thread when I said "we" have to figure out what went wrong, I really meant you and *me*. Our evolving thinking on global warming has been remarkably parallel over time. Surprised?

  • R C Dean||

    I switched sides around the same time you did and probably for much the same reasons: a developing scientific concensus

    Except there's not a consensus on the cause of global warming, much less the degree of human contribution (if any). Plenty of people want you to think so, but it just ain't so.

    I was of the impression that you had become convinced of the fact of the warming trend for some time now, but had previously been skeptical regarding the claim that human activity was known to be at least partially responsible

    That pretty much describes where I am. The mechanisms and contributing factors behind long-term climate changes are almost completely unknown, and anyone who tells you different is just flat wrong. Maybe stupid, maybe lying, maybe trying to sell you something, but wrong in any event.

  • ||

    Timon19,

    Thank you for talking about the elephant in the room. I have been skeptic of man-made global warming for years, partly because of the issues you have raised.

  • ||

    thoreau,

    I appreciate your advice, as it is wise and well-intentioned. My problem is not one of bigotry, but of an inability to distinguish the concerned scientists from those who are using global warming as a cudgel to destroy capitalism. Perhaps you can help me differentiate the two?

    And this is a big problem for me, as I am but two hairs-widths away from bitter, vehement, bloody hatred of every Leftist on the planet.

  • ||

    Getting back to my question from 11:14 AM.

    I think a large part of the reason that section of the press release I quoted raised a red flag is the particular language they used.

    I'm a geotechnical engineer and the phrasing that we use in our reports is very important from a loss prevention/liability standpoint.

    To quote again...Whether this is a result of uncertainties in the observed data, flaws in climate models, or a combination of these is not yet known. ...followed by...Using the evidence available, the author team favors the first explanation.

    The problem I have with this statement is the fact that they state that the reason for the divergence in the data and the models is NOT KNOWN. The that state that they FAVOR the first explanation. Reading this with my engineer brain raises a huge read flag. To me FAVOR implies bias. If, as Ron Bailey, explained in his 11:20 AM post they expect the data will eventual be consistent with the models then should be explicit in their statement. Perhaps saying something like "based on evidence from other regions, it is expected that uncertainties in the data will account for a significant portion of the inconsistencies". I understand this is just a press release, but IMO the fact that it is a press release should prompt them to choose their words very carefully.

  • ||

    thoreau,

    Scientists have had consensuses on things that have turned out to be completely wrong and horribly damaging as a result. (Pellagra springs to mind.) Consensus shows us only the views which have come to the forefront through social engineering, not through experimentation.

    The only thing that I can rely on is the data itself. Unfortunately, the data in the case of global warming is tainted by the wicked motives of Leftists who want to destroy capitalism. It has become 100% politics and has nothing to do with science! Hence, I am jaded and bitter. Perhaps you can help?

  • ||

    TPG,

    Everything I've read has alluded to major, major problems, mostly from solar radiation exposure. Think sunburn is bad on a cloudless day now? And from what I've read, "temporary" is an appropriate term, if you are calibrated in geologic time. It happens relatively quickly in those terms (on the order of decades, IIRC) while the internal movements of the Earth set up a new order.

    Essentially, the poles go away or show up weakly in really unexpected places for short periods (say the North Pole shows up in Omaha one day) as they work their way to the opposite sense. Navigation would revert to using the stars. Satellites would be virtually unprotected. Orbiting astronauts would almost certainly be cooked.

    The magnetic field is really, really important, and you don't want to be around when it goes away as the poles switch. Also from what I've read, there is some (speculative) evidence of a shift in the poles to increased seismic activity and climatalogical effects. The seismic part makes a fair amount of sense because it is the relative motion and differing compositions of the mantle, the inner core, and the outer core that sets up the magnetic field in the first place.

  • Dave W.||

    Jimmy Gatt,

    Ixnay on the ellagrapay. There is an uncomfortable unLibertarian meme lurking there:

    "However, in 1915 Joseph Goldberger, assigned to study pellagra by the Surgeon General, showed that pellagra was linked to diet by inducing the disease in prison volunteers. By 1926, Goldberger established that a balanced diet or a small amount of baker's yeast prevented pellagra."

    When we here about government doctors combatting yellow fever or inventing nitrogen mustard or figuring out how to make penicillin cheaply or solving the pellagra mystery, we . . . well, please, let's not go there. It is a hurty place for anybody who understands how incompetent the government is.

  • ||

    Jimmy-

    If you want fairly non-ideological science reporting, I suggest the science and technology section of the Economist. The science reporting seems neutral to me, but the overall slant of the magazine would be to your liking.


    Matt L.-

    To me, when somebody says that they "favor" an explanation, it means that the available evidence weighs more heavily in one direction than the other, but it's not yet strong enough to reach a firm conclusion. And when such a statement is made in a SUMMARY, I don't expect supporting evidence. I figure that the supporting evidence will be found in the body of the full report.


    Timon19-

    I freely admit to not knowing much about this, but a period of weak magnetic field (during a reversal) could produce a significant radiation hazard without producing much effect on climate. The magnetic field reduces the number of high energy charged particles that can enter the atmosphere. These particles can damage human cells, especially DNA, and thereby cause health problems. However, the total amount of energy carried by these particles is still quite small compared with the energy from the sun. Therefore, a greater flux of these particles would probably not have a measurable impact on climate. (You can ask how the particles can do so much damage if there's so little energy in them, and the answer is that it all depends on how and where the energy is delivered.)

  • ||

    The Oil Era is slowly coming to an end:

    Holographic Solar - Prism Solar Technologies of Stone Ridge, NY, has developed a proof-of-concept solar module that uses holograms to concentrate light. The new technology replaces unsightly concentrators with sleek flat panels laminated with holograms. The system needs 25% to 85% less silicon than a crystalline silicon panel of comparable wattage ... Reducing the PV material needed could bring down costs from about $4 per watt to $1.50 for crystalline silicon panels.

  • ||

    thoreau (and others),

    You've made some valid points, though have failed to address others. As reading this report was a task I had already begun, I thought it best to wait to reply. Some of my questions have been addressed in the report, while others simply have not.

    It is first important to note two things. First, the authorship of the press release, abstract/front matter/preface, executive summary, and each of six chapters differs, with some overlap. Second, this is the first of 21 Synthesis and Assessment products. The others remain unpublished, while the conclusions of this one have been published and offered to the public through the media.

    The main issue is why, as the group states, when the discrepancies between the model and observed data are noted to be the result of problems with the model, or the data, or a combination, the group states that they favor problems with the data alone (the second option). The reason for this favoring is not resolved in this report, though perhaps it will be addressed in subsequent reports.

    What the report does, as the questions posed as chapter titles indicates, is to look at issues with the observable data and adjust to account for discrepancies between old and new data. This is done adequately. However, the question of why focus on the data alone, rather than the models and data both, isn't resolved. Perhaps they were simply searching the best lit parts of the alley first, but this should then be stated. Nonetheless, data was adjusted (in a disciplined fashion) and now more findings fit the model. Some parts still do not, and the possibility of problems with the models are still not raised.

    The report itself is satisfactory, but doesn't support the overall conclusion drawn (problems were with the data alone, not the models). Perhaps this will be addressed in later reports. But it was dishonest and misleading to release this report alone with the conclusions that were drawn. I'm not claiming that the scientists that did the data collection or correction were dishonest. I'm not claiming that the scientists that developed and ran the models were dishonest. I'm claiming that the scientists making the decision to produce this report alone, and make the claims they have, on a subject as politicized as this (by both sides of the aisle along with all the third party hecklers, green or libertarian) were both dishonest and unethical.

  • ||

    chewy-

    If you have made a detailed reading of the report and found no justification for their explanation of discrepancies, then I will accept that.

    I never said that the authors did a good job of explaining their errors. I said that we shouldn't impugn their honesty and thoroughness based on the executive summary. If you have read it carefully enough to draw that conclusion then you have earned the right to make that accusation.

    Fair enough.

  • ||

    It takes a while to read the entire report. Those who have will have noted that Christy, whose data has slowly been corrected, contributed to the chapter on instrumentation.

    Christy et al. agreed slowly as the data problems were understood. Last November's Science magazine letters included some of Christy's remarks agreeing with the corrections.

    There is a deep history on this subject, you can follow the thinking over 15 years or so by reading the publications (Google Scholar link below, note the dates and the evolution of the thinking).

    This is intellectual honesty in action, how science works over time, when honestly fought out with attention to the details without being afraid of political consequences.

    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?sourceid=Mozilla-search&q=Christy+radiosonde+temperature

  • ||

    All anyone needs to know is that Global Warming is a myth cooked up by Margaret Thatcher to crush the coal miners union and promote nuclear power.

    And besides even if it's for real when the New Madrid Fault slips or the Yellowstone Caldera blows nobody's gonna care that it's a few degrees warmer.

  • ||

    I'm claiming that the scientists making the decision to produce this report alone, and make the claims they have, on a subject as politicized as this (by both sides of the aisle along with all the third party hecklers, green or libertarian) were both dishonest and unethical.

    Let us know how your accusation directly to the authors goes.

    Please reprint, here, their replies for all of us to see, chewy. Surely from your tone you are going to write up your findings and send them along, right?

    Right?

    Best,

    D

  • ||

    "IIRC, a couple of moderate examples are the Medieval period (very warm) and the Little Ice Age (1700's??)."

    Problem with raising those issues is that this was a localized phenomena. If you look at tropical corals for the same timeframe, you see opposite temperature trends.

    "Both periods were very extreme in comparison to what we currently experience. Barely 30 years ago scientists were sounding the alarm of a new Ice Age and/or the population bubble bursting dramatically."

    Err, not true. Newsweek is not a scientific journal, folks.

    "Reliable temperature records and detailed climatological observations only go back to 1880 or so in the US."

    But back to the 1600s in the UK.

    "What I rarely hear factored into the global warming debate are the very macro things that can impact climate in a huge way: solar cycles;"

    This has been settled. See the coverage of the Scripps/Lawrence Livermore paper last year (http://scrippsnews.ucsd.edu/article_detail.cfm?article_num=666). [I guess those nuclear weapons labs are hangouts for pinko tree-hugging scientists too.]

    The next stage of the argument is start cut'n'pasting Idso and arguing that increased CO2 will bring a new golden age of increased plant growth, prosperity & fluffy bunnies.

    Next is to accuse those seeking reduction of CO2 emissions of driving us to a Marxist stone age, despite the fact that emissions-trading is the most proposed mechanism for CO2 reduction, and estimates of the cost to mitigate CO2 emissions run aroudn 1-3% of GDP.

    Sorry for the sarcasm folks, but some haven't been paying attention.

  • ||

    "Please reprint, here, their replies for all of us to see, chewy. Surely from your tone you are going to write up your findings and send them along, right?"

    Dano,

    I wasn't planning on it. I was replying to an earlier discussion after reading the piece. I don't expect that to carry much weight, even here, on a discussion board. But since it was the public's money that was used for this product and its presentation to the press, I figured I could have and state an opinion on the matter especially since I bothered to read it. If you disagree, you can say so, and even explain why if you feel like bothering.

    But if I change my mind, I'll be sure to post any response I get here, on this thread. It might take a while, be sure to keep checking the archives.

  • ||

    UrSA,

    I'm not looking to take issue with anything you said except this particular point.

    "'Both periods were very extreme in comparison to what we currently experience. Barely 30 years ago scientists were sounding the alarm of a new Ice Age and/or the population bubble bursting dramatically.'

    Err, not true. Newsweek is not a scientific journal, folks."

    I think what T19 was referring to was the publication of 'Limits of Growth' by Donella Meadows in 1972. She was a Harvard/MIT trained scientist who along with several colleagues published the findings of the World3 computer model in the book. One of the issues that the book dealt with was overpopulation (don't recall if an ice age was mentioned).

    You are correct to say that the findings weren't published in a scientific journal. But it is incorrect to put this Smithsonian Institute associated publication on par with a pop-culture magazine.

  • ||

    Personally I prefer living in a hot-house age over an ice age, but I can hardly wait for nature to swing the pendulum the other way. Think of the fun it will be to hear liberal environmental wackos to change their tunes and begin demanding increases in green house gases.

    Nostar: I suggest you check out a book called, "The Cooling", by Lowell Ponte. They've been there, done that.

  • ||

    The point has always been: mass media and politics are no way to make science progress. If I don't need more proof to believe what physicists say about wave-behavior of electrons, it is because it does come from them.

    Couldn't agree more. It was very hard to hear the real scientists through the din of the environmentalist whackos, predicting global cooling, global warming, overpopulation, mass-starvation, mass-obesity, acid rain, soil erosion, rain forests gone by the early nineties, increasing rainfall, decreasing rainfall, greater temperature highs, lower temperature lows... need I go on?

    Global Warming became, and still is for many people, a religion. There was no evidence that didn't, in some way, support the theory.

    Science, when in the hands of any activist, is almost universally a bad thing.

    In the nineties, when I cared about this subject and debated it extensively, I read scientific paper after scientific paper regarding Global Warming(tm), and the evidence presented, once read in its painfully boring technical speak was... alas, underwhelming. The real scientific reports could be more accurately summarized as thus:

    o Yes the planet is getting warmer, but climate isn't static- planet is getting warmer or getting cooler at any moment in time.

    o Yes, the planet may be getting warmer due to increased C02 and climate forcing.

    o No, we don't know how much it'll warm, but we *think* it will warm by this much, unless it doesn't.

    o Sea ice is decreasing over here, but increasing over there.

    o These temperatures are what we predict based upon models, but they don't all ways coincide with real observations.

    o Some storm ferocity may increase, but frequency may decrease.

    o Historic records of high atmospheric C02 concentrations don't always PREcede a temperature increase, but sometimes appear to PROceed a temperature increase.

    o We're coming out of an ice age, so the extent to which C02 is warming the planet may be exaggerated.

    o Disease vectors may change, or may not-- malaria, afterall was very common near the arctic circle before the widespread use of DDT- so temperature may not play a direct role.

    o C02 is a minor greenhouse gas, and as of yet, we don't fully understand the feedback mechanisms of the major greenhouse gas: wator vapor

    Any clear thinking individual, after reading these things in the actual papers would hardly conclude that we're CAREENING towards disaster. And as such, I'm not convinced yet, either.

  • ||

    Paul, you seem to be describing the same thought process Ron Bailey described in the first post here -- up through the 1990s, many of those were unanswered questions.

    Ron posted he's updated his information (and I hope to hear more serious discussion about that).

    The thing about science is, questions get answered over time. Start with your original sources if you still have them, and you can follow those references forward (Google Scholar is good).

    When you find updated information I think you'll find something relevant to every question you quoted from your 1990s list.

    There was a lot of good science done in the past decade -- and a whole lot of FUD debunked from ideologues of all stripes (plaids, whatever ...)

    The research as it emerges is making some of us into odd bedfellows (wry grin) whose awkward basis for mutual respect (if not attraction) is that we share an aspiration to intellectual honesty and understanding the world using science.

    "Eppur si muove."

  • uncle sam||

    The main problems in all this debate (not here on H&R) is the tendency of AGWC proponents to dismiss criticisms rather than addressing them with science. In science, one is required to address serious criticism with scientific proof and not with ad hominem attacks and pooh poohing.

  • ||

    The temptation is to tell the "global warming skeptics" who managed to delay recognition of and reaction to the problem for two decades, and therefore caused 20 years worth of research on responses to be lost as the situation got worse, to crack open an icy bottle of STFU for the next two decades.

    But genuine conversions need to be legimated. So we'll try to be gracious.

    I'm not saying it will be easy.

  • uncle sam||

    I don't know how they managed that as the media has been gung ho behind AGW catastrophe theory for a long time. Damn near everyone believes that "scientists" support that contention and therefore accept it as proven fact.
    And they still haven't proven several parts of their contention:
    1. That a significant amount of GW is anthropogenic.
    2. That the observed rate of GW is a significant problem.
    3. That anything we can do will have a significant impact on observed warming.

  • ||

    Correcting data *after* it's become clear that it doesn't fit the models instead of tweaking the models themselves has always bothered me. I was an experimentalist, and I won't say that I never did it, but I wouldn't have bet on the validity of those results, either.

    We've *always* been at war with Eastasia.

  • ||

    Uncle Sam,
    You ask for 'Proof'. Science is not about Proof, it never was. Abstract sciences like geometry, do go for proofs, but the climate is not anabstraction. For people like you Evidence:
    http://illconsidered.blogspot.com/2006/05/there-is-no-evidence.html
    ...is never good enough. You will keep moving the goal posts with demands for ever finer standards of 'Proof'.

    Just like Creationists.

  • uncle sam||

    Sorry, I haven't moved the goal posts. I just want them to show:
    1. that they understand the mechanisms of climate change well to describe how they KNOW that anthropogenic CO2 has contributed significantly to historic warming trends.
    2. how they have diferentiated between anthropogenic contributions and natural causes.

    So far they have given evidence that there has been warming. The have even managed to improv the computer models to more closely reflect the observed increase in warming.

    They have not shown (proven their case) regarding the points I set out at 1:55 am.
    As near as I can tell, the most they have been able to give us is: likelys, probablys, possiblys, maybes, etc.

    They have not shown, for instance, that ocean warming is not responsible for the increase in atmoshperic CO2, or how they came up with the proportions they attribute to anthropogenic and natural contributions to GW.

    Yes, I understand geometric proofs, but proof also can be shown in the form of evidence to support theories. Given that warming has been observed for some time, and inferred from historical evidence, they haven't really needed to "prove" that, as it is not really a theory so much as an observation. I am willing to accept observations as a form of proof, but I am still waiting for climate scientists to demonstrate:
    1. that their computer models can accurately (reasonably) predict the future trends any.
    2. that said trends will vary from straightline projections of current/historic trends.
    3. that observed trends indicate an impending environmental disaster.
    4. that popular proposals will significantly alter climate trends. This is one area that apears to be based soley on assertion.

  • uncle sam||

    Be careful of your assumptions, Sam.
    You just made a dismissal of my skepticism without actually responding to it, something I have noticed with great frequency among AGWC proponents. That is perhaps the greatest source of my skepticism. You have just contributed to it.

  • uncle sam||

    And I think I've been to that Wikipedia link, guess I'll have to go read it again to see if there is anythng new. Can you tell me where my specific points are addressed?

  • uncle sam||

    More news in the paper this a.m. apparently verifying AGW.
    There seems to be underlying assumptions in the language, so we shall have to see what comes of it.

  • ||

    "Sorry, I haven't moved the goal posts. I just want them to show:
    1. that they understand the mechanisms of climate change well to describe how they KNOW that anthropogenic CO2 has contributed significantly to historic warming trends.
    2. how they have diferentiated between anthropogenic contributions and natural causes."

    Covering part of 1 and most of 2 is that Co2 made by people contains different isotopes than that made by nature. Old fossil carbon has few isotopes (C13 & c14); 'newer' surface carbon has more isotopes. So Co2 merely welled up from deep in the earth via volcanos etc., has both old Carbon and old Oxygen. Co2 made by people from fossil fuels has old carbon and new oxygen. New Co2, made by say forest fires, has both new carbon and new oxygen. Similar situation with methane: Cows belch 'new' methane, and deep methane is 'old'. This is how we KNOW the bulk of the 36% increase in Co2 is mostly ours, which is greatly increasing. Human Methane is levelling off btw, as is our Nitous Oxide gasses. About half of the Co2 we have released over the past 150 years has been eaten out of the atmosphere and into the ecosphere (plants and oceans etc) so far. Co2 has been measured directly since the early 50's, Seperately, there is it seems a collation of oscillations which do explain some but not all of the experienced warming over the past 30 years. There hasn't however been much change in solar output over the past 60 years.

    Ill-Considered is a good summary of both skeptical arguments and rubuttals to them. This article conerns 'proof' of Co2:
    http://tinyurl.com/n7p4f (Coby can be a bit snarky though)

    This one:
    http://tinyurl.com/hdc4s
    is about the use of qualifiers such as "maybe", "probably", "likely" etc. as opposed to "proven".

    and incidentally Mac Keyboards suck.

  • ||

    Also, http://www.realclimate.org/ is a good site run by real climatologists explainging or rebutting climate news and claims.

  • ||

    Why is it that H&R posters love to assume the worst of science based on press reports?

    gee i don't know maybe becouse H&R only reports on press reports and not the actual study.

    :P

  • ||

    Also, http://www.realclimate.org/ is a good site run by real climatologists explainging or rebutting climate news and claims.

    to bad realclimate has been proven dead wrong on every claim it has made on multi proxy cliamte studies...

    see here:

    http://www.climateaudit.org/

  • uncle sam||

    This is how we KNOW the bulk of the 36% increase in Co2 is mostly ours, which is greatly increasing. Human Methane is levelling off btw, as is our Nitous Oxide gasses.

    It makes sense to me that the bulk of current atmospheric CO2 would come from us since WE don't absorb much back. But the point presupposes that the increase of atmospheric CO2 is THE culprit in GW, however, it remains that climate has been warming for about 400 years and no one is proposing that it has all been due to anthropogenic CO2 emissions.

  • uncle sam||

    Another question that comes up now is what is the effect of increased atmospheric CO2 on the oceanic CO2 exchange rate?

  • ||

    "But the point presupposes that the increase of atmospheric CO2 is THE culprit in GW, however, it remains that climate has been warming for about 400 years and no one is proposing that it has all been due to anthropogenic CO2 emissions."

    Alarmists and press types don't look too closely. Co2 isn't the only anthropogenic greenhouse gas (Ozone, Nitrous Oxide, Methane a few others). The reason co2 gets the most attention, is that it will normally last thousands of years unless barring a major growth in sequestering forces; the other few I mentioned last decades at most. Oft mentioned water-vapor, while powerful greenhouse gas, only lasts days, and as such is not a big long term factor. The overall warming prior to the 1950s can be best accounted for mostly by natural factors. Only after the '50's does the dispitinction become apparant. It is true that there are natural forces involved in incresing the recent warmth too, bu they don't add up to all the warming.

    Johshua, could you be more specific linkwise. Thanks.

  • ||

    Coeanic exchange rate so far has been to absorb much of waht HUman Co2 has been absorbed. It is thought that it may be getting saturated and will stop absorbing the extra Co2; it will continue to absorb the huge amount of natural Co2 out there too. . But I think they need to study the phenomenon more.

  • uncle sam||

    Our impact on oceans regarding CO2 absorbtion needs to be examined as well. It may be that we have impacted oceanic sequestering by allowing certain pollutants to run into the ocean.

  • ||

    >what is the effect of increased atmospheric
    >CO2 on the oceanic CO2 exchange rate?

    Sam, there's good science on this; I tried a longer reply with cites but it has not gotten past the moderator's review process here yet. I think I typed my name differently, my bad.

    Try Google Scholar and look for recent years, you'll find the studies. The effects are plural and complicated -- acidification changes; CO2 dissolves better in cold than in warm water, which needs to be on the surface; wind mixes water. Much else is documented and being studied.

    If my other post makes it, there are some cites.

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