What Fresh Hell Is This?

August 19, 2007

Sunday. Jack Kelly. Global Warming. Spin.

Sigh. I thought we'd gotten further than this. With great disappointment, I guess I have to accept that this week's column by Jack Kelly is strong evidence that he does not, in fact, read this blog.

Or else he would have seen this posting from Thursday. Perhaps if he'd seen it, he would have saved himself a whole mess of embarrassment.

No matter. We'll just retrace our steps.

He begins:

Al Gore claimed in his 2006 crockumentary "An Inconvenient Truth" that nine of the 10 hottest years in history have been in the last decade, with 1998 the warmest year on record.

Not so, says the GISS, which is affiliated with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Columbia University, and is headed by Dr. James Hansen, scientific godfather of global warming alarmism. According to the GISS, the hottest years ever in the United States were, in order: 1934, 1998, 1921, 2006, 1931, 1999, 1953, 1990, 1938 and 1939.

He then goes on to retell the Trib's editorial in analysed in Thursday's posting. Hey, here's an interesting question: How much of a difference is there between the newly corrected temperature data from 1934 and 1998?

Here's how a real climate scientist, Gavin Schmidt, describes things:

The net effect of the change was to reduce mean US anomalies by about 0.15 ºC for the years 2000-2006. There were some very minor knock on effects in earlier years due to the GISTEMP adjustments for rural vs. urban trends. In the global or hemispheric mean, the differences were imperceptible (since the US is only a small fraction of the global area).

There were however some very minor re-arrangements in the various rankings (see data). Specifically, where 1998 (1.24 ºC anomaly compared to 1951-1980) had previously just beaten out 1934 (1.23 ºC) for the top US year, it now just misses: 1934 1.25ºC vs. 1998 1.23ºC. None of these differences are statistically significant.

For those with a calculator, that's two one hundredths of a degree.

I should point out that nowhere in his story (and this matches The Trib more or less exactly) does Jack Kelly mention that the errors affected the US data a tiny bit and the global data not at all.

Schmidt goes on. First about the US data:
More importantly for climate purposes, the longer term US averages have not changed rank. 2002-2006 (at 0.66 ºC) is still warmer than 1930-1934 (0.63 ºC - the largest value in the early part of the century) (though both are below 1998-2002 at 0.79 ºC). (The previous version - up to 2005 - can be seen here).
And then about the global data:
In the global mean, 2005 remains the warmest (as in the NCDC analysis). CRU has 1998 as the warmest year but there are differences in methodology, particularly concerning the Arctic (extrapolated in GISTEMP, not included in CRU) which is a big part of recent global warmth. No recent IPCC statements or conclusions are affected in the slightest.
And he sums up:
Sum total of this change? A couple of hundredths of degrees in the US rankings and no change in anything that could be considered climatically important (specifically long term trends).
And yet to Jack Kelly, it's enough to shake the foundations of climate science.

Let's fact check some more of Jack's column. I got some time. Here's Jack:
The United States is only 2 percent of the world's land mass. It's possible the rest of the world's been getting hotter in the last few years, even if the United States hasn't. But as Lorne Gunter of Canada's National Post noted, we only have surface temperature readings for half the world today. Prior to World War II, we had readings for less than a quarter of it.
So who is this Lorne Gunter? Is he an expert in some way?

He's a "right-of-centre" columnist from Alberta, Canada. The short column from which Kelly takes the above information is another skeptical view of the global climate change data. In that instance it's a four paragraph over-simplification of how temperature data has been collected by weather satellites.

But Kelly's finale is true to form. Here's the last two paragraphs:

As the GISS was quietly acknowledging its error, Newsweek magazine, with exquisitely bad timing, declared in an Aug. 13 cover story that the debate on global warming was over.

"The story was a wonderful read, marred only by its being fundamentally misleading," wrote Newsweek contributing editor Robert Samuelson in the following issue.

Again, this is the error about the US data that was not statistically significant nor does it affect the IPCC's conclusions in the slightest. Jack Kelly quotes Robert Samuelson as saying the story is "fundamentally misleading." But what part of the story? That the planet is warming up? That the debate on global warming is over?

Uh, no. Here's the Samuelson piece. Here's the article Samuelson is talking about. And here's the paragraph where Kelly found the phrase "fundamentally misleading."
If you missed NEWSWEEK's story, here's the gist. A "well-coordinated, well-funded campaign by contrarian scientists, free-market think tanks and industry has created a paralyzing fog of doubt around climate change." This "denial machine" has obstructed action against global warming and is still "running at full throttle." The story's thrust: discredit the "denial machine," and the country can start the serious business of fighting global warming. The story was a wonderful read, marred only by its being fundamentally misleading.
So what was "funamentally misleading" to Samuelson centered on the "denial machine" not about whether the debate is over. Here's an example:
...NEWSWEEK's "denial machine" is a peripheral and highly contrived story. NEWSWEEK implied, for example, that ExxonMobil used a think tank to pay academics to criticize global-warming science. Actually, this accusation was long ago discredited, and NEWSWEEK shouldn't have lent it respectability.
Samuelson spends more time writing that, whatever the truth, we probably can't do much about global anyway. And what, pray tell, does he say about the global warming "debate" itself?
Global warming has clearly occurred; the hard question is what to do about it.
Too bad Jack isn't reading this. It might stop him from making similar mistakes in the future.


Heir to the Throne said...

For those with a calculator, that's two one hundredths of a degree.
Funny, how two one hundredths was not all that important when 1998 was considered the hottest year ever.

Anonymous said...

And what do you want to bet that Lorne Gunter is somehow connected to the tar sands industry in western Canada....


rrl said...

Aha! Thousands of scientists are conspiring against us! Don't you know Al Gore lives in a house, a big house at that? See- global warming is fake. Sigh. Global warming denial people- we are done trying to convince you that global warming is a problem- join us in finding a solution or leave us alone until we find one.

The Subversive Librarian said...

Even the EPA admits that global warming is real, and is probably due to human activity (not sure how that one got past the Bush administration). I find it horrifying that we have to spend all our energy chasing red herrings instead of working on solutions. It's the epitome of irresponsibility to dispute solid scientific scholarship for political and financial gain. Love your blog by the way. You provide links to the sources so we can see for ourselves -- not everyone does that.

Anonymous said...

Why do you lefties even talk about Global warming. Your zen master, Al Gore, has decreed that the debate is over. So who are you trying to convince, yourselves?

Justin said...

Apparently we're trying to convince people with heads too thick to listen. And you know what? That's our bad. Rush et al. can go back to their holes while we try to fix the problem.

Anonymous said...

Still waiting for someone from the global warming crowd to give me the temperature in F for Iowa in the summer of 1845 or perhaps Nebraska for the winter of say 1846. Global warming, hottest year on record. LOL LOL...

Jim H. said...

To anon@ 1:43. Welcome to the internets, but none of the rest of the country is LingOL or what have you. They use ice core data to determine the temperature back thousands of years. There is not a global warming crowd and a non-global warming crowd, there is society who is working towards adapting to climate change, and there are 'dead-enders'. And I think the dead-enders are in the last throes...

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:43

If someone got you the temperature in F for Iowa in the summer of 1845, then what?

What would that prove?

What day, by the way? What time of day? What difference does it make?

C'mon, tell me.

Anonymous said...

What difference does it make? LOL You lefties said this is the warmest ever. Global warming and all. How do you know? You can't trace a temperature before 1868 yet you claim we are all warming up. So prove it. Show me the temperatures in the mid west prior to 1868. By the way 1934 warmest year on record. Lots of SUVs in operation in that decade, eh?

Anonymous said...

No. Just something called the Dust Bowl.

Anonymous said...

So the dust bowl of 1934 was caused by CO2 emmissions? Or perhaps Bush/Rove caused the dust bowl? And was there a dust bowl in the NE of the US? I ask that because that record of 1934 being the warmest on record also applies to Maine and Mass. and NH et al. Try again, but I need that temperature in F that I keep asking for. You lefties have proved nothing.

Schmuck Shitrock said...

Master Lie, I mean Anon, you are undoubtedly correct. This is another issue wherein the Bush Administration is completely wrong.

Thanks for pointing out still another ludicrous statement from the idiots that infest the White House.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous doesn't understand the word "average" I guess.

They calculated the AVERAGE temperature for the US for that year.

I am sure the temperature in New Hampshire was lower in the winter than that years AVERAGE temperature.

He (or she - wingnuts aren't defined by gender, you know) hasn't proved anything. How would knowing the temperature in Iowa in mid July prove anything?