Monday, October 22, 2007

Fraudulent misrepresentation of urban/rural differences

This is a crucial issue. If rural stations show no warming, it very strongly indicates that any overall warming is an artifact of the urban heat island effect -- cities being warmer because of all the energy used within them -- nothing to do with greenhouse effects. Below we once again see Steve McIntyre doing the detective work towards unmasking yet another Greenie fraud

Peterson 2003 stated: "Contrary to generally accepted wisdom, no statistically significant impact of urbanization could be found in annual temperatures"

Last week, Peterson sent me a list of the 289 sites used in this study, together with the classification into urban and rural. As I noted previously, there are many puzzles in the allocation of sites to urban and rural with many “urban” sites seemingly being at best very small towns and, in some cases, rural themselves. So, in that sense, it would seem unsurprising if Peterson didn’t observe any difference between the two networks.

Assuming nothing, I downloaded raw daily data for 282 out of 289 sites. (The other 7 sites either had id number discrepancies or were not online at GHCND.) From this, I calculated average monthly TMAX and TMIN temperatures for all the sites and then calculated 1961-1990 anomalies. I then calculated simple averages of the “raw” anomalies for the two networks BEFORE any jiggery-pokery. Even if all the subsequent adjustments are terrific, from a statistical point of view, it’s always a good idea to see what your data looks like at the start. Here is a plot (with a 24 month smooth.)

As you see in the bottom panel, there is an observable trend in the difference between Peterson-urban and Peterson-rural sites. The delta over 100 years is just under 0.7 deg C.


Figure 1. Peterson 2003 Network Averages. Top -”urban”; middle - “rural” ; bottom - difference.

You would think that this would have been one of the first tests that Peterson would have carried out and his failure to either carry out this test or report such results if the procedure were carried out is noticeable.

Peterson’s articles describes a series of adjustments: for elevation, latitude, time-of-observation, MMTS. Not all of these adjustments are relevant to an anomaly-based comparison. For example, the adjustment for elevation and latitude is relevant to a direct comparison of urban and rural absolute temperatures, but not for a comparison of anomaly trends. Peterson cites literature (Quayle et al 1991) which states that MMTS introduction has minimal effect on averages (although it increases the TMIN and reduces the TMAX). So this would not account for the difference.

Peterson reported on TOB as follows:
The percentage of stations reading in the afternoon is about the same for rural (33%) as urban (35%). However, rural stations have a higher percentage of a.m. readers (53% versus 37%) and a lower percentage of midnight readers (14% versus 27%) than urban stations.

Again for trends, the salient point is the change in proportions, rather than the specific mechanism. The implication of Peterson’s analysis would seem to be that the 0.7 deg C delta in Peterson urban-Peterson rural differential is not due to the effect of urbanization on the urban sites but related somehow to the higher present proportion of morning to midnight readers in the rural network.

Readers should note that Peterson does not carry out TOB adjustments based on documented changes in observation time (which USHCN users might assume). Instead Peterson has used a procedure attributed to DeGaetano BAMS 2000, which purports to estimate observation time based on the properties of the data itself. The DeGaetano procedure, as with so many of these recipes, is not a statistical procedure known to statistical civilization off the island. You can’t go to a statistics textbook and learn its properties. There is no systematic presentation of DeGaetano-adjusted TOBS series against USHCN adjusted series.

However, regardless of the merits of the DeGaetano adjustment, I think that it’s incorrect for Peterson to say that there is no observable difference in urban and rural trends in his network. There is a substantial difference in trends in the “raw” data, which should have been reported. He believes that this difference is due to TOBS changes based on De Gaetano adjustments, but it’s possible that there is some other explanation for the difference, including the obvious candidate - Urban Heat Islands.


This comparison actually gets a little worse. In the figure below, I’ve calculated the average unadjusted temperature for actual cities, rather than places like Snoqualmie Falls. My criterion for inclusion in this calculation is whether the city has a major league sports franchise and includes a variety of mostly small market cities: Milwaukee, Sacramento, Orlando, San Antonio, Cincinnati, San Diego, Seattle, Salt Lake City, New Orleans, plus a couple of larger places: Detroit, Philadelphia, Dallas. To my knowledge, no sports franchises are considering re-location or expansion to Snoqualmie Falls, Hankinson, Pine Bluff or the various other supposedly “urban” sites that dilute the Peterson network.

In this data set that supposedly shows the following:
Contrary to generally accepted wisdom, no statistically significant impact of urbanization could be found in annual temperatures.

actual cities have a very substantial trend of over 2 deg C per century relative to the rural network - and this assumes that there are no problems with rural network - something that is obviously not true since there are undoubtedly microsite and other problems. At the very end of the graphic, the change levels off - I wonder if that might indicate increased settlement effects at rural sites.


Figure 2. Comparison of Peterson Sites with Major League Sports Franchises to Rural Network

Now this doesn’t prove anything one way or the other about other networks - other than there is a need to be wary. However, the notion that Peterson 2003 is a sustainable authority for the IPCC proposition that “rural station trends were almost indistinguishable from series including urban sites” seems increasingly difficult to accept.


Hey Al Gore, We Want a Refund!

By Steven Milloy

A British judge ruled on the eve of Al Gore co-winning the Nobel Peace Prize that students forced to watch "An Inconvenient Truth" must be warned of the film's factual errors. But would there be any science at all left in Gore's "truth" if these errors and their progeny were excised? Minutes of non-science filler dominate the opening sequence - images of the Gore farm, Earth from space, Gore giving his slideshow and the 2000 election controversy. Gore then links Hurricane Katrina with global warming. But the judge ruled that was erroneous, so the Katrina scenes would wind up on the cutting-room floor. Another 12 minutes of filler go by - images of Gore in his limo, more Earth photos, a Mark Twain quote, and Gore memories - until about the 16:30 minute mark, when, according to the judge, Al Gore erroneously links receding glaciers - specifically Mt. Kilimanjaro - with global warming.

The Mt. Kilimanjaro error commences an almost 10-minute stretch of problematic footage, the bulk of which contains Gore's presentation of the crucial issue in the global warming controversy - whether increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide drive global temperatures higher. As the judge ruled that the Antarctic ice core data presented in the film "do not establish what Mr. Gore asserts," this inconvenient untruth also needs to go. [Note to readers: A video debate between Al Gore and climatologists on this point produced by me can be viewed by clicking here.] After still more filler footage about Winston Churchill, the 2000 election, and rising insurance claims from natural disasters, Gore spends about 35 seconds on how the drying of Lake Chad is due to global warming. The judge ruled that this claim wasn't supported by the scientific evidence.

More filler leads to a 30-second clip about how global warming is causing polar bears to drown because they have to swim greater distances to find sea ice on which to rest. The judge ruled however, that the polar bears in question had actually drowned because of a particularly violent storm. On the heels of that error, Gore launches into a 3-minute "explanation" of how global warming will shut down the Gulf Stream and send Europe into an ice age. The judge ruled that this was an impossibility. Two minutes of ominous footage - casting Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) in a creepy light and expressing Gore's frustration with getting his alarmist message out - precede a more-than-9-minute stretch that would need to be cut.

In this lengthy footage, Gore again tries to link global warming with discrete events including coral reef bleaching, the melting of Greenland, catastrophic sea level rise, Antarctic melting and more. But like Hurricane Katrina, these events also shouldn't be linked with global warming. Based on the judge's ruling, the footage that ought to be excised adds up to about 25 minutes or so out of the 98-minute film. What's left is largely Gore personal drama and cinematic fluff that has nothing to do with the science of climate change.

It should also be pointed out that Gore makes other notable factual misstatements in the film that don't help his or his film's credibility. He says in the film that polio has been "cured," implying that we can cure "global warming." While a preventative polio vaccine does exist, there is no "cure" for polio. Gore attempts to smear his critics by likening them to the tobacco industry. In spotlighting a magazine advertisement proclaiming that "more doctors smoke Camel than any other brand," he states that the ad was published after the Surgeon General's 1964 report on smoking and lung cancer. But the ad is actually from 1947 - 17 years before the report. Gore also says in the film that 2005 is the hottest year on record. But NASA data actually show that 1934 was the hottest year on record in the U.S. - 2005 is not even in the top 10.

Perhaps worse than the film's errors is their origin. The BBC reported that Gore knew the film presented incorrect information but took no corrective steps because he didn't want to spotlight any uncertainties in the scientific data that may fuel opponents of global warming alarmism. "An Inconvenient Truth" grossed about $50 million at the box office and millions more in DVD and book sales. Gore charges as much as $175,000 for an in-person presentation of his slide show that forms the basis for the film. Considering that a key 25 percent of "An Inconvenient Truth" is not true - and perhaps intentionally so - it seems only fair that Gore offer a refund to moviegoers, DVD/book purchasers and speaking sponsors. Where are the class action lawyers when you need them?


How to Create and Protect a Consensus

We are all aware of a claimed consensus on climate science, although what the consensus actually is and how far it goes has yet to be defined, in my view. That is not the issue raised here. A book authored by Janis, I. L. & Mann, L. (1977) Decision-making: A psychological analysis of conflict, choice, and commitment (New York Free Press), explores the concept of `Group Think,' which shows a remarkable parallel with the way the climate science consensus is operated and protected. Eight symptoms of Group Think are listed below:

1. Illusion of Invulnerability: Members ignore obvious danger, take extreme risk, and are overly optimistic.

2. Collective Rationalization: Members discredit and explain away warning contrary to group thinking.

3. Illusion of Morality: Members believe their decisions are morally correct, ignoring the ethical consequences of their decisions.

4. Excessive Stereotyping: The group constructs negative stereotypes of rivals outside the group.

5. Pressure for Conformity: Members pressure any in the group who express arguments against the group's stereotypes, illusions, or commitments, viewing such opposition as disloyalty.

6. Self-Censorship: Members withhold their dissenting views and counter-arguments.

7. Illusion of Unanimity: Members perceive falsely that everyone agrees with the group's decision; silence is seen as consent.

8. Mind guards: Some members appoint themselves to the role of protecting the group from adverse information that might threaten group complacency.

I can certainly see how ignoring the dangers of concentrating all of our efforts on futile CO2 reduction, ad hominem attacks, personal smears, US State Climatologists losing their jobs, and the likes of RealClimate plus some media outlets as `Mind guards' fits into this framework. No doubt some blog readers will agree and can think of other examples.


Amazon tribe hits back at green 'colonialism'


It's one of the most fashionable ideas to save the planet from global warming: buying up tropical rainforest to save it from destruction. Gordon Brown has even appointed the millionaire founder of one such charity, Johan Eliasch, as his special adviser on deforestation.

But like all big ideas it is controversial, and this week a leading Amazonian campaigner will visit Britain to protest that this latest trend is linked to a health and social crisis among indigenous people, including sickness, depression, suicide, obesity and drug addiction.

Davi Kopenawa, a shaman of the Yanomami tribe, will help launch a report that, says Survival International, the charity behind it, claims separation from the land is directly linked to the 'physical and mental breakdown' of indigenous communities, whose lifestyle and culture is already under threat from mining, logging and resettlement away from traditional lands.


Australian Labor Party's committment to Kyoto would be costly

Labor's goal is to reduce Australia's CO2 emissions to 60 per cent of 2000 emissions by 2050. This sounds fine in the abstract - but what might it mean in reality? In 2000 Australia's total emissions were about 550 megatonnes in CO2-equivalent terms. So Labor's policy translates into a target of 330 megatonnes of emissions by 2050. In the absence of any policy interventions, business-as-usual greenhouse emissions are projected to grow strongly. Indeed, the Australian Greenhouse Office's best-case scenario projects that even with abatement measures in place, total emissions will be about 700 megatonnes by 2020 -- which is more than double Labor's 2050 target.

By 2050, Australia's emissions will probably exceed 1000 megatonnes. In other words, achieving Labor's target could easily be equivalent to eliminating more than 100 per cent of current activities that use fossil fuels. All of this in order to reduce global temperatures by exactly nothing.

The other part of Labor's climate change policy is to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. This is a strange objective, given Kyoto is basically dead in the water. The Kyoto Protocol limits emissions to percentage changes from a 1990 baseline. The biggest problem is not with the targets themselves, but the process by which emissions cuts are supposed to be achieved. The ratifying countries were forced to agree to their Kyoto targets without knowing what the costs of meeting those targets would be. This is like agreeing to spend the rest of your life with someone you have only just met during a one night stand. It is simply not a credible or sustainable commitment.

As a result, most Kyoto-ratifying countries have failed to significantly abate their greenhouse emissions and reach their targets. And why should they? There is nothing unreasonable about exceeding emissions targets by significant amounts when you are unsure of the costs of meeting those targets. Any other course of action would be sheer folly.

But Kyoto has very little to do with reasonableness. Just ask the New Zealanders. Our friends across the ditch signed up to Kyoto in December 2002, even though a 2001 National Interest Analysis on the case for ratifying the Kyoto Protocol could not decide whether moderate global warming would be detrimental or beneficial for New Zealanders. Helen Clark's Government ignored this information and committed her country to a program of reducing emissions over the 2008-12 period to 1990 levels or to take responsibility for the difference. In practice, that means hundreds of millions of Kiwi tax dollars will be paid to former Soviet Union countries, which have been lucky to accumulate carbon credits.

Actually, luck has had little to do with it. The surest way for a country to reduce greenhouse emissions and accumulate carbon credits is to implement policies which wreck the economy - something at which many former Soviet Union countries excel.

The New Zealand Treasury estimates New Zealand's Kyoto liability currently stands at NZ$708 million. This doesn't sound like very much, but this guess is more than double what it was two years ago. At that rate of increase, at the end of the first Kyoto commitment period in 2012, New Zealanders will owe about NZ$4.2 billion - or about NZ$1000 per person. So, in a nutshell, the main effect of Kyoto will be for New Zealand taxpayers to subsidise bad economic policies by politicians in the former Soviet Union. Does Kevin Rudd have similar plans for Australia?

On the one hand, ratifying Kyoto and committing to a process which has unknown costs seems to be a very strange policy, particularly for someone who constantly bombards us with claims that he is an economic conservative. On the other hand, history suggests Labor has a strong record of reducing greenhouse emissions. The only prime minister who has managed to do it was Paul Keating in the early 1990s, when he engineered "the recession we had to have" and our emissions levels plummeted. Perhaps this is exactly what Rudd has in mind.



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1 comment:

Hemoon said...

So you see or you don't see.
To see climate change in action,
look here.
If you have a weed that grows in a pond and doubles in size every day, and if you can tell that the pond will be full of the weed on the 30th day, on what day will the pond be half-full?
The answer is the 29th day.
So if there is a problem with the environment and if it is accelerating, is waiting till the 27th day a good thing to do before we agree there is a weed and there is a pond? Because on that day the pond will be 1/8th full.
Please give me your thoughts as simply as I have given you mine.