Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Climate Change Data

A recent newsbrief from Scientific American reports that climate change skeptics are using normal variations in scientific data on the climate to attack the principle that the climate is changing, caused by us - a principle believed by 97% of the 3,000 scientists surveyed by the University of Illinois in January.  Apparently an automated system of the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) published obviously incorrect data on Arctic sea ice, and the skeptic community went nuts - "they don't know what they're talking about!"  In fact, NSIDC discovered it had a faulty sensor, fixed it, corrected the data, and audited all their past data; but - "they don't know what they're talking about."

OK, the first point here is that if we provided a genuine education in the scientific method, enough people would understand peer review and data revision in the light of new information that these arguments wouldn't fly.  But, regrettably, we don't.  Even the students who manage to graduate with the ability to read and write stand a sporting chance of not understanding the concepts that drive scientific investigation, or the idea that it's possible to correct errors.

But the paragraph that really caught my eye summarized the opinions of one Marc Morano of the site Climate Depot, a leading climate change skeptic:
Rather he believes that “lack of warming in recent years” has helped his cause—although this decade is the hottest in recorded history, there hasn’t been a record-breaking year in 10 years. Moreover, recent papers suggest that natural climate fluctuations might continue to mask the expected warming trend for up to three decades.
You can boil a living frog to death if you start him out in a pan of cold water and raise the temperature very gradually.  Are we sitting in a pan of water?  How hot is it, anyway?

1 comment:

  1. There's no question that there are "long"-trends in climate variation.

    There's also little disagreement that greenhouse gases have hastened the uptick we're presently measuring.

    Will its ultimate effects be as catastrophic as the doomsayers predict? Almost certainly not, but this trend--along with the host of other harmful things we've been doing to the planet over the last two centuries--is almost certainly going to impact us negatively. If it cuts down the habitable and arable land-masses, then that will just be another pressure against population. But we've know for two centuries that population was the biggest danger of all, and we're doing NOTHING about it. Population is ultimately the root cause of global warming, in addition to everything else. An unquenchable hunger for expansion. Our planet is finite.

    Nothing we think we can do to slow warming will have any success--until, or unless, we can cut back the burgeoning tides of hungry bodies. China and America can argue about who's more responsible, but it's the exploding growth that's the real culprit.