Saturday, December 05, 2009

Is the global warming scare mere chartmanship?

It is well-known that statistics can be made to deceive but so can charts and graphs. Such deceptions are called chartmanship. Examples here and here

A reader has calculated the graphic below to show that climate alarmisn can be seen as mere chartmanship. Pick a certain temperature out of thin air -- as the Warmist pseudo-scientists do -- and describe any deviation from that temperature as an "anomaly" and you can convert any rising set of numbers into something that looks as if a big change is going on. But if you are more scientific and DON'T pick numbers out of the air you get an entirely different picture. You get a picture of a steady long-term temperature rise that began long before the industrial era (late 20th century) that Warmists demonize.

A great chartmanship trick is to use tiny units of measurement to magnify artificially the apparent size of tiny changes -- so note that the figures in both charts are calibrated in tenths of a degree. For comparison, most of us would experience temperature variations of somewhere around 100 times more than one tenth of a degree in the course of a normal day. So, no matter how you look at it, world temperature changes have been minuscule. We actually live in an era of exceptional climate stability. What tiny trend there is is a rising one but the rise clearly predates postwar industrialization so cannot be blamed on postwar industrialization.

Just for laughs, my reader has added onto the bottom of his graphic the temperature record for Copenhagen, where the big Warmist conference will shortly take place. There is clearly NO systematic trend in any direction. So it is a considerable irony that the Warmists are going to be pontificating about warming in a place that has seen NO warming for over a century. Copenhagen temperatures have varied but only in a random way. They depart from the average both downwards and upwards in roughly equal measure. Overall, Copenhagen temperatures are as flat as a pancake. And that's relying on the "massaged" figures of Jim Hansen!


Whoops! There IS a trend there in the Copenhagen data but so slight that I could not see it. Note again, however, that the trend is a long-term one -- not the recent change that Greenies claim.

Australian climate records a mess too

And note that Australian records are a large part of what data we have about one half of the globe (the Southern half)

Australian weather records for an international database on climate change were a "bloody mess", riddled with entry errors, duplication and inaccuracies, leaked British computer files reveal. The Herald found the criticism in a 247-page specialist programmer's log, unearthed among the thousands of files hacked from East Anglia University, which is at the centre of a climate change email scandal. Labelled "HARRY-READ-ME", the log catalogues problems with the raw, historical climate data sent from hundreds of meteorological stations around the world.

The Australian data comes in for particular criticism as the programmer discovers World Meteorological Organisation codes are missing, station names overlap and many co-ordinates are incorrect. At one point the programmer writes about his attempts to make sense of the data. "What a bloody mess," he concludes. In another case, 30 years of data is attributed to a site at Cobar Airport but the frustrated programmer writes: "Now looking at the dates. something bad has happened ... COBAR AIRPORT AWS [automatic weather station] cannot start in 1962, it didn't open until 1993!" In another he says: "Getting seriously fed up with the state of the Australian data ... so many false references ... so many changes ... bewildering."

The log spans four years of work at the university's Climatic Research Unit, the British keeper of global temperature records. The programmer rails that the information has "no uniform integrity".

His criticisms relate solely to the construction of the database and do not question the validity of historical temperature records or analyses that suggest the impact of human activity on global warming trends. "I am very sorry to report that the rest of the databases seem to be in nearly as poor a state as Australia was. There are hundreds if not thousands of pairs of dummy stations, one with no WMO and one with, usually overlapping and with the same station name and very similar co-ordinates. I know it could be old and new stations, but why such large overlaps if that's the case? Aarrggghhh! There truly is no end in sight."

Michael Coughlan, the head of the National Climate Centre at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, said it was difficult to comment without knowing the source of the raw data. It was unlikely to have come directly from the bureau's centre because unchecked, raw data was rarely requested for climate analysis. The bureau had a network of more than 100 specially selected weather stations ["SELECTED"?? Selected on what grounds? Selected to be near urban heat islands? I'm betting that not many rural stations made the cut.] to monitor climate change, and a century of records from them had been checked. "We've put an enormous effort into developing a high-quality reliable climate record for Australia and all that data is freely available," Dr Coughlan said.

But he said that if the British programmer had been using raw weather data, which is sent around the world in real time for weather forecasting, it would not be surprising that it contained errors. This raw data could have come from countries other than Australia, and would have been difficult to correct without access to information in Australia, such as the original field books. "A computer programmer sitting in England won't have the resources to make those corrections. I can understand their frustrations," Dr Coughlan said. [That naughty raw data again]

The programmer's log is one of the most read files worldwide since the email archives were leaked. The log has been treated particularly sympathetically as it reveals his blow-by-blow frustrations, which seemed to be unfolding as his scientist colleagues, including the head of the Climatic Research Unit, Phil Jones, appeared to discuss via email ways to avoid freedom-of-information requests for raw data and to denigrate their critics. Professor Jones, who has denied a conspiracy to manipulate global warming statistics as "complete rubbish", has stood down from his post while the university investigates the leaks.

The Herald attempted to contact Professor Jones and spoke to the computer programmer we believe to be the author of the file. The programmer did not deny his name but referred queries to the university's media unit. Professor Jones has not responded. RealClimate, a website run by climate scientists, confirms the log as the work of a specialist charged with upgrading data.

"Anyone who has ever worked on constructing a database from dozens of individual, sometimes contradictory and inconsistently formatted datasets, will share his evident frustration with how tedious that can be," it says. [Tedious?? It sounds more than tedious. Try complete failure]


Saudis the first country to embrace Climategate

SAUDI Arabia has seized on a series of stolen British university emails to become the first country to cast doubt on the consensus about man-made climate change ahead of next week's Copenhagen summit. The world's largest oil exporter claims the emails stolen from researchers at the University of East Anglia undermine the scientific case that human activity is overheating the planet.

Britain's Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change, Ed Miliband, yesterday said it was "absolute and utter nonsense" to suggest the controversial emails weakened the evidence about climate change.

The emails were illegally hacked from a computer system at the University of East Anglia and then stored on a Russian web server. On November 19, a computer in Saudi Arabia was used to post a link to the stolen emails on a website popular with climate change sceptics and deniers....

Saudi Arabia has long been reluctant to agree to any action to reduce carbon emissions and has only recently gone along with the 192 other governments attending the Copenhagen talks in accepting scientific evidence of man-made climate change.

But its chief Copenhagen negotiator, Mohammad al-Sabban, suggested in an interview with the BBC yesterday that there was now no longer any point in seeking an agreement to reduce emissions. "It appears from the details . . . that there is no relationship whatsoever between human activities and climate change," he said. "Climate is changing . . . but for natural and not human-induced reasons. So whatever the international community does to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will have no effect on the climate's natural variability."

His government might be prepared to take "no cost" measures to control emissions but more drastic and painful action would be out of the question until there was "new evidence" about what was causing climate change, he said.


The Left's Climategate: A Scandal for Journalism, Too

For Decades, the Media Chose to Champion, Not Scrutinize, Claims of Global Warming Alarmists

Two weeks ago, unnamed whistleblowers exposed years of e-mails from scientists working at Britain’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU). The CRU’s Web site describes it as “one of the world's leading institutions concerned with the study of natural and anthropogenic climate change,” but the e-mails paint the CRU as more of a political “war room” for radical environmentalists.

As Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby observed Wednesday: “Assuming the e-mails are genuine, they are nothing short of scandalous. They reveal celebrated climate scientists apparently conspiring to corrupt the peer-review process, to suppress or finesse temperature data at odds with global-warming alarmism, to silence or discredit climate experts who criticize their work, and to hide or eliminate the raw data on which their own much-trumpeted claims have been based.”

Yet since the story broke, the MRC’s Business & Media Institute (BMI) discovered just one broadcast news reference to the “Climategate” e-mail scandal, on ABC’s This Week November 29; CBS and NBC have yet to inform their viewers. The media’s current silence is made worse by the decades they spent promoting the Left’s alarmist global warming agenda and excluding any doubters from the discussion, as documented by numerous MRC studies:

* MRC’s Free Market Project found that between January 1993 and October 1997 — a period leading up to the Kyoto conference that December — just 5% of global warming stories on the ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC evening newscasts mentioned the arguments of skeptical scientists, and 85% of stories did not even acknowledge the existence of scientific skeptics.

* From January 20 through April 22, 2001, as liberals were condemning President George W. Bush for his failure to push ratification of the Kyoto treaty, the ABC, CBS and NBC evening news shows completely excluded the views of global warming skeptics from their coverage, while just one story on CNN included a dissenter — a 97% skew in favor of the doomsayers.

* In early 2007, as Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth was handed an Academy Award, the broadcast network morning news shows ramped up their global warming coverage. But skeptics were once again frozen out: MRC analysts found just 3% of stories contained any mention of dissent from Gore’s approach to global warming — and even those were heavily stacked in favor of his “climate crisis” position.

* BMI analysts reviewed ABC, CBS and NBC’s morning and evening news shows from July 1 through December 31, 2007. Once again, 80% of stories failed to acknowledge any dissent from the liberal orthodoxy on warming. CBS was the most lopsided, with 97% of its stories carrying only the alarmist perspective.

More than 20 years ago, NBC’s Andrea Mitchell admitted how the media had taken sides on global warming. “The networks have made that decision now, where you’d have to call it advocacy,” Mitchell announced at a September 16, 1989 global warming conference held at the Smithsonian (later quoted in the Wall Street Journal).

When journalists become advocates, they inevitably fail to hold both sides accountable. If reporters had maintained an unbiased approach to global warming, they conceivably could have uncovered Climategate years ago. The question now is, will they admit the Left’s global warming scandal even exists?


No global warming in Texas

Houston had its earliest snowfall on record Friday, with several inches accumulating in counties southwest of the city. The previous record for early snow in Houston was Dec. 10 in 1944 and again last year, said Charles Roeseler, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. Snow is rare in the nation's fourth largest city. In the past 15 years, it has snowed four times, including Friday.

Accumulations of 3 to 4 inches of snow were reported in counties southwest of Houston. The city got a half inch or less of snow, and its suburbs reported 1 to 2 inches, according to the National Weather Service. "It's going to continue to snow through the afternoon," Roeseler said in the early afternoon. "We'll pick up another inch or so across parts of Houston."

The city and other parts of Southeast Texas were under a winter storm warning that was expected to remain until Friday evening. Other parts of Texas, including El Paso and Dallas, also had snowfall this week.

Many government offices and businesses around Houston shut down early Friday, said Francisco Sanchez, a spokesman for the Harris County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Houston Mayor Bill White directed city departments to send nonessential employees home Friday afternoon.

The Houston school district did not shorten its school day Friday, but many other districts and colleges around the area sent students home early. "We're trying to make sure people stay off the roadways," Sanchez said. "We want to get them home earlier today."


Biofuel Backfires

Using biofuels won't reduce "greenhouse" gases

For compelling economical, geopolitical, and environmental reasons, biofuels are considered an attractive alternative to fossil fuels for meeting future global energy demands. Melillo et al. (p. 1397, published online 22 October), however, suggest that a few serious drawbacks related to land use need to be considered. Based on a combined biogeochemistry and economic model, indirect land use (for example, clearing forested land for food crops to compensate for increased biofuel crop production on current farmlands) is predicted to generate more soil carbon loss than directly harvesting biofuel crops. Furthermore, increased fertilizer use for biofuels will add large amounts of nitrous oxide—a more effective heat-trapping molecule than carbon dioxide—to the atmosphere. Policy decisions regarding land and crop management thus need to consider the long-term implications of increased biofuel production.


Journal abstract follows:

Indirect Emissions from Biofuels: How Important?

Jerry M. Melillo et al.

A global biofuels program will lead to intense pressures on land supply and can increase greenhouse gas emissions from land-use changes. Using linked economic and terrestrial biogeochemistry models, we examined direct and indirect effects of possible land-use changes from an expanded global cellulosic bioenergy program on greenhouse gas emissions over the 21st century. Our model predicts that indirect land use will be responsible for substantially more carbon loss (up to twice as much) than direct land use; however, because of predicted increases in fertilizer use, nitrous oxide emissions will be more important than carbon losses themselves in terms of warming potential. A global greenhouse gas emissions policy that protects forests and encourages best practices for nitrogen fertilizer use can dramatically reduce emissions associated with biofuels production.

Science 4 December 2009: Vol. 326. no. 5958, pp. 1397 - 1399


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