Tuesday, June 25, 2013

George Will: “No Warming for Last 16 Years” – Let Him Come to Colorado!

George Will is the geeky looking guy with spectacles and bow tie whose visage appears in his WaPo and syndicated columns. Ironically, though geeks are supposed to have higher IQs, Will often comes out with balderdash that more suggests a cretin. In the most recent instance, Will denies there’s been any warming the past 16 years while lashing out at Obama’s remarks on climate change recently delivered in Berlin. According to Will (‘Hitting a Wall in Berlin’, June 22, p. 5D, Denver Post):

“Then came Wednesday’s pratfall in Berlin. There Obama vowed energetic measures against global warming. The 16-year pause of the warming was not predicted by, and is not explained by, the climate models for which – in his strange understanding of respect for science- he has forsworn skepticism”

How so? Indeed, Will is caterwauling about a non sequitur since no serious climate scientist buys into any “16 year pause in warming”. Where did Will dredge up this codswallop? Well, from a misinterpretation of the data published in a Nature paper back in 2008 by Noel Keenlyside et al. Therein was made a tentative claim for monotonic global cooling since ca. 1998. This 'jumped the shark' and become embedded into the warming skeptics' arsenal of disinfo and set real global warming science education back at least a decade in my estimation.

At the root of this misapprehension by the faux skeptics is misinterpretation of the data appearing in the paper - not at all helped by the media (like the WSJ) which have also misconstrued it. Even Editors who fully know the actual original source still can't be bothered to consult it, they'd rather get their info 2nd hand (like from the 'Investor's Business Daily') then bloviate how global warming is wrong, or "hyped" in sundry editorials.

People prone to the denial weltanschauung then read these superficial reports, miss the key core clues, and bruit it all about that they (deniers, skeptics) were right all along. Instead of taking shortcuts, skeptics could have retrieved the ACTUAL paper from Nature! They could have studied the paper's key figure, the one that looks at past and (forecast) future global temperatures, "Hindcast/forecast decadal variations in global mean temperature, as compared with observations and standard climate model projections".

If really intelligent, the first thing Will ought to have noted about the figure -indeed, one major source of confusion - is that each data point represents a ten-year centered mean. That is, each point represents the average temperature of the decade starting 5 years before that point and ending 5 years after that point. Thus, the statistics for potential “cooling” could not possibly have been justifiably extrapolated beyond 1998 + 5 = 2003, or in Will's case, "16 years of no warming"  from 1998.

Second, would-be intelligent skeptics should have spotted the red line in the graphic of the Nature publication and – if bright enough – beheld that it was the actual global temperature data from the U.K.'s Hadley Center for Climate Prediction and Research. They then ought to have asked: "Why does the red line stop in 1998 and not 2007?"  Again, it’s a running 10-year mean, and the authors use data from a Hadley paper that ends around 2003, In effect, they can't do a ten-year centered mean after 1998.

Lazy deniers, however, have parlayed their own perceptual deficiency and this simple statistical peculiarity of the data into believing that global warming factually STOPPED in 1998! But the stunning fact is the evidence all around belies this canard!   For example, there was the black swan storm 'Sandy' that struck New York, NJ in late fall - and most climatologists trace its origins as climate-change born. I elaborated on the reasons in the first answer I provided to a reader's question in this previous Mail Brane: http://www.brane-space.blogspot.com/2012/11/maile-brane-seeking-answers.html    

Fast forward to January 2013, which  had barely begun when fiery images from Tasmania and Australia showed what we likely faced in the Northern hemisphere come June, July. For the record (no pun intended) July 2012 was the hottest ever recorded in U.S. annals with a mean tempeature of 77.6F. The average annual U.S. temperature for 2012 was 55.32F or one full degree higher than the old record set in 1998. (So much for the codswallop that all temperature increases ceased in 1998. )

Meanwhile, here in Colorado we’ve had over eighteen monster wildfires in the last 2 years, which can be tied inextricably to global warming-climate change. Whereas at one time a five day spate of 90-plus temperatures was rare, so much so that few Coloradans used a/c we now are in the midst of a 13 day string of such temperatures combined with extremely dry conditions and prolonged drought – ideal for fires.

In June the Black Forest fire erupted in northern Colo. Springs, burning 24 square miles. Barely a week after it was 95% contained the West Fork fire was ignited by two lightning strikes and has now burned up a total of 125 square miles. There is zero containment and fire fighters expect it will burn for months! Experts pinpoint the immediate cause as lightning striking dead trees, turned into tinder by the mountain pine beetle. The spread of the latter has been fueled directly by longer, warmer and drier springs and summers. If Georgie really does believe there was a 16 year pause in warming he ought to have been here in Colorado the past 12 ½ years with my wife and me, seeing year by year how the climate has turned hotter and drier and the beetle population in the forests increased as a result of the shorter cooling seasons. Obviously, the guy needs a practical education!

Actually, he might need ANY kind of further education, especially in basic research. He might start with The Economist (June 16, 2012) report that notes that Greenland's ice cap is "losing an estimated 200 gigatonnes of ice a year, enough to supply a billion people with water. " If this should continue, and lead to a predicted 59 cm (24 in.) rise in sea level by the end of the century, it will prove catastrophic for many population centers abutting the oceans.

  Before he next scribbles bollocks on Obama's lack of climate change insight or skepticism and the ineffectiveness of current models and how many "scientists' disagree with them, I suggest he consult Eos Transactions of the AGU, Vol. 90, No. 3, p. 22 , and the analysis therein of the extent of scientific consensus on global warming published by P. T. Doran and M. Kendall-Zimmerman . They found that (p. 24):

 "the debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely non-existent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes". 

 In their analytic survey for which 3146 climate and Earth scientists responded, a full 96.2% of specialists concurred temperatures have steadily risen and there is no evidence for cooling. Meanwhile, 97.4% concur there is a definite role of humans in global climate change.   

Methinks Georgie really needs to stick to his avocation of baseball, or maybe the hack politics in which he's so proficient. He really has no future dabbling in climate science since he's already shown he can't even discern basic statistical results presented in research journals like Nature. But then again, maybe he's an agnotologist - one of those who deliberately sows doubt based on faulty economic, scientific reasoning. We also have another name for them: propagandists!

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