Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Last 10 years period warmest on modern record

The AGW denier canard that the earth has been cooling since 1998 is taken apart by Seth Borenstein in AJC.

The case that the Earth might be cooling partly stems from recent weather. Last year was cooler than previous years. It's been a while since the super-hot years of 1998 and 2005. So is this a longer climate trend or just weather's normal ups and downs?

In a blind test, the AP gave temperature data to four independent statisticians and asked them to look for trends, without telling them what the numbers represented. The experts found no true temperature declines over time.

"If you look at the data and sort of cherry-pick a micro-trend within a bigger trend, that technique is particularly suspect," said John Grego, a professor of statistics at the University of South Carolina.

No more cherries now, deniers.

Global warming skeptics base their claims on an unusually hot year in 1998. Since then, they say, temperatures have dropped — thus, a cooling trend. But it's not that simple.

Since 1998, temperatures have dipped, soared, fallen again and are now rising once more. Records kept by the British meteorological office and satellite data used by climate skeptics still show 1998 as the hottest year. However, data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA show 2005 has topped 1998. Published peer-reviewed scientific research generally cites temperatures measured by ground sensors, which are from NOAA, NASA and the British, more than the satellite data.

The recent Internet chatter about cooling led NOAA's climate data center to re-examine its temperature data. It found no cooling trend.

"The last 10 years are the warmest 10-year period of the modern record," said NOAA climate monitoring chief Deke Arndt. "Even if you analyze the trend during that 10 years, the trend is actually positive, which means warming."

The AP sent expert statisticians NOAA's year-to-year ground temperature changes over 130 years and the 30 years of satellite-measured temperatures preferred by skeptics and gathered by scientists at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

Statisticians who analyzed the data found a distinct decades-long upward trend in the numbers, but could not find a significant drop in the past 10 years in either data set. The ups and downs during the last decade repeat random variability in data as far back as 1880.

Saying there's a downward trend since 1998 is not scientifically legitimate, said David Peterson, a retired Duke University statistics professor and one of those analyzing the numbers.

Whammo, some ammo for the noggin of the next denier dumb enough to pull the "but, it's-cooling" caper on me. Some other useful links to load up on:

H/t: Climatespin

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Glasses charged for Copenhagen

I don't like admitting it because I'm a glass-half-full guy, but, right now, the political climate change world is wobbling some.

In Australia, we have a Government that is finally negotiating Carbon Pollution Reductions Scheme bill amendments with an opposition determined to destroy itself for their claque of Carbon Pollution Freedom Scheme lobbyists, in an agonisingly slow-mo train crash over climate change.

Because of aforesaid recalcitrants and a Government determined to win the politics of climate change, but not take the real leadership science says is needed, and because we export 80% of the world's coal, the worst of it is that the best we can hope for.

The high side of Government's proposed 5 to 25% targets (depending on what the rest of the world signs up to at Copenhagen) are on the low side of what climate models tell us are necessary if we are going to control warming by 2C, where a 25% to 40... 60, some say 80% reduction in co2e emissions from 1990 levels is counselled.

On the bright side, politically we are many miles down the road from where we were eighteen month ago, although popular concern about climate change is dropping priority as the economy bites. This, and a concerted campaign by sceptics who, no doubt have had some wins, as well as a sense that, 'well since the Government is doing something we can worry less', all contribute to this drop in priority, I believe.

Will the Government hold the line on what is a weak commitment anyway, or will they give the polluters bigger exemptions to avoid a double dissolution election? The point of the CPRS is that there has to be pain for some.

In the US, Obama's election turned the US from climate change bad guy, to most important player in creating a post Kyoto world. An amazing transformation that even got China making some very positive noises about fighting climate change. And then,... nothing. Obamania ended, leaving the US hung-over, the GFC bit, and Obama's political capital started getting chewed up in health-care reform. What kind of country gets itself torn up over basic universal health-care? Unchecked climate change is going to be so much more expensive, people.

Here's how Jim Hoggan sees it on Desmog blog:

A new poll released by the Pew Research Center has found the number of Americans who believe that pollution is causing climate change declined 20 percent over the past two years. Only 57% of Americans believe there is solid scientific evidence that the global climate is warming.

Some pin this decline on the economy, arguing that Americans have other things to worry about and climate change has drifted off their radar screen.
He goes on to point the finger at the dark influence of Big Denial, all explained in his new book, Climate Cover Up — The Crusade to Deny Global Warming.

It remains to be seen whether the political climate change world is in a death wobble, or we recover our sense of purpose, and straighten up in time for Copenhagen.

You'll forgive me now, if I finish this half-full glass. Then drink another.