Climategate

Given all the fuss today about “The Wave” (which appears to me to be a bunch of people dressed in blue protesting about the fact that there has been no discernible change in the Earth’s temperature for almost 15 years), I thought I’d put up this video from Jon Stewart who gets to the core of the issues in his own unique way. Warning – some of the language is Certificate 15.

For those who want to understand where the Anthropogenic Global Warming critique is coming from, can I recommend this link for a lay-man’s overview and this link for a more comprehensive examination of the real issues. The questions being asked are:

  1. Given that the Earth’s temperature hasn’t gone up at all in the last 10-15 years, is the 1970 – 2000 temperature rise any different to previous temperature rises observed in the last 150 years?
  2. Is there any good scientific proof that CO2 content actually causes temperature rise?
  3. Why do climate models singularly fail to predict current climate patterns and why do the creators of those same models refuse to include empirical data that demonstrates natural causes for climate variation?

Thoughts? Please note, as a statistician, I expect any claims made in the comments to be backed up with empirical evidence.

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33 Comments on “Climategate

  1. As if the comical ‘only a theory!’evangelical aversion to evolution wasn’t bad enough! Laymen may wish to ponder why unrepresentative (e.g.) Princeton-educated scientists denying man-made climate change should be given more weight than the combined scientific consensus. Does your link’s (nice cartoons, btw) objection to “bland, repetitive” (!) papers seriously establish a flaw in the peer-review consensus? Nice contrast between the “good” scientist who are “helpful” and “polite” (!)and the bad scientists who “Idolises human institutions. (Hail the IPCC!)
    Has “faith” in systems, committees, or authorities”

    There we have it! All the climate change science is from idolatrous evil atheists! This is on a par with the young-earth-creationism-and-Intelligent-Design-are-scientifically-respectable-unlike-evolution propaganda, which is not a compliment

    • Ryan,

      Do you have any evidence to provide for your support of AGW?

      To be fair, I did say that one of the links was a “lay-mans” overview and one was more detailed. Yes, one is more cartoony, but I’m interested in the underlying scientific issues.

      There is no “consensus”. Indeed, when some of the IPCC scientists tried to remove their name from the last report they found that the IPCC refused to have their names taken off the report, even though they rejected the paper.

      Let me repeat the point Ryan. I’m not interested in people just saying “Climate Change sceptics are flat-earthers”. I’d like some hard evidence to demonstrate *why* they are flat-earthers. Perhaps you might like to start with the 3 points I make above? After all, if there is such overwhelming evidence in favour of AGW it should be easy to do.

      • I wish you were right, but you’re wrong on a number of points here.

        First of all, there is a consensus. It’s not universal, but the majority of scientists do believe in AGW. That’s why the US Academy of Sciences, NASA, the IPCC, the Royal Society, NOAA, the EPA, the French Academie de Sciences, the Indian, Brazilian and Chinese national academies, and every major scientific body on earth is on board, developed and undeveloped countries alike. Notice that every major country is there at Copenhagen this week to discuss what to do about it. How can there not be a consensus?

        Secondly, it isn’t true that the entire theory is based on modelling. There is plenty of real life evidence of rising sea levels, ice melt, and glacier retreat (stick ‘glacier comparison’ in google images) and most importantly, changing rainfall patterns. It’s not some future possibility – the climate has already changed across central Africa, Australia, and plenty of other places. It continues to do so.

        Finally, to answer your first point – no, the average temperature for the years 2000-2007 has been 0.21 degrees hotter than the years 1991-200, and 0.44 degrees warmer than 1961-1990. It’s not an even curve, but that’s to be expected. Man-made warming is just one aspect of a complex climate system. When our warming combines with a natural warming cycle, you get rapid warming, like in the late 90s. When our warming combines with a natural cooling cycle, climate change moves slower. We’re in a slow phase, but overall, the temperature trend remains upwards.

        I’ve also got to say – please look up and link to real scientists, on mainstream, credible websites. Wattsupwiththat is not a credible commentator.

        For a useful introduction that sweeps away a whole lot of misconceptions, check out the New Scientist’s ‘guide for the perplexed’:
        http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11462-climate-change-a-guide-for-the-perplexed.html

        • Jeremy,

          Let me take your paras one at a time.

          i) If the consensus is not universal it is not a consensus. There are a significant number of scientists in the relevant fields who do not believe in anthropogenic global warming.

          ii) This is a straw man. Sceptics do not deny that there are “rising sea levels, ice melt, and glacier retreat (stick ‘glacier comparison’ in google images) and most importantly, changing rainfall patterns.” The question is not that these things are happening, the question is are they mainly due to human CO2 emissions.

          iii) Yes, temperatures this decade are higher than before, but there is a good body of evidence to show that we are now in a cooling trend. While the past 15 years might have seen the highest temperatures for a few decades, when you’re at the top of a wave you can’t read that as being a sign that things will just continue to go up.

          Once again the questions remain – why are temperatures now dropping? More importantly, where is the hard evidence, the empirical proof, that demonstrates the link between CO2 emissions and temperature rise? There is a better correlation between solar activity and global climate than between CO2 emissions and climate.

          • 1) Like I said, every government and every national academy of science accepts the AGW theory. That’s as good a consensus as you’ll find on any scientific debate. You have to look well outside the mainstream to find alternative theories, and they tend to be propagated by individuals, think tanks, and economists rather than climate scientists. If you just look at climate scientists, 97% are in agreement, according to the University of Illinois poll. http://makewealthhistory.org/2009/01/23/the-consensus-debate-who-believes-in-global-warming/
            I’m taking their word over the economists!

            2) Fair point, I didn’t read your question in sufficient detail. You do ask specifically about CO2. And sure – CO2 traps radiation. You can test it in a school science lab with a heat source on one side of a glass tank, and a thermometer on the other. Fill the tank with CO2, and less heat will reach the thermometer on the other side. In the earth’s case, a layer of CO2 insulates the earth, trapping heat that would otherwise be escaping into the atmosphere.

            Read a temperature graph for the last century, next to a graph of CO2, and you can see the correlation between emissions and warming pretty clearly. Check out the dip in temperature that followed the clean air act.

            CO2 is not the only factor mind you. The climate is a complicated animal. Water vapour is a greenhouse gas too, the sun is a factor, and there are long term climate trends and weather patterns as well. The point is that CO2 emissions have destabilised a very delicate balance.

            3) There’s only a cooling trend if you look from 1998 onwards, 98 being the hottest year on record. These things run over decades and centuries. Take a look at this long-term graph of temperatures: http://www.newscientist.com/data/images/ns/cms/mg18925431.400/mg18925431.400-2_752.jpg
            Notice how the temperature has never changed as fast as it has in the last 100 years.

            Is this the kind of evidence you need to see? Because there’s no shortage of it. But if you’re serious about making up your own mind, you need to read serious science. Sceptic sites will only ever tell you their side. You’re going to have to read both. I have, and only one side has any real credentials.

            • I try really hard to stay away from AGW type discussions, as I tend to just get cross. That being said:

              (1) Japan’s Society of Energy and Resources (JSER/JSTOR) appear to say that climate change is a result of natural cycles (I can’t find a link to the original Japanese, but here’s a translation: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/02/25/jstor_climate_report_translation/). That’s at least one national academy going against ‘consensus’.

              (2) School science experiments may show a qualitative result, but that’s a long way from any kind of qualitative result.

              The classic CO2/temperature graph shows CO2 lagging temperature, so quite hard to demonstrate a causal relationship.

              (3) Cooling/warming trends. It’s a question of where you pick then start/endpoints. Frustratingly, I can’t find the link, but if I remember correctly, the recent rate of warming is the same as other rates of warming, in the warming part of the cycle.

              When the MWP is put back into the timeline, then actually we’re no warmer now than they were then: http://www.climateaudit.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/lambh23.jpg (graph from 1st IPCC report), also plenty of research at http://www.co2science.org/.

              Here’s a longer look at global temperatures/CO2 levels: http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/PageMill_Images/image277.gif notice how the Ordovician period had both an ice age and CO2 levels at least 10x current.

              The warmest year on record has changed a number of times. In 2007 the warmest year was 1934. In 2009 it changed to 1998 (why the change…?). Current top 5 (December 2009): 1998, 2006, 1934, 1921, 1999. In August 2007 the top 5 was 1934, 1998, 1921, 2006, 1931. 2007 is currently in 10th, 2008 is right down in 56th (http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/Fig.D.txt) down with 1882.

              Your assertion that sceptics will only tell you their side is ‘interesting’. By saying that you are trying to assert that ‘climate scientist’ are dispassionate observers and researchers – that’s clearly not the case. What we could really do with is having the raw temperature data to look at; unfortunatly, CRU managed to destroy it all.

              Ultimately, with no raw data, there is no longer any way of doing _science_ on climate change any more. There is no longer any way of testing, verifying, challenging and falsifying theories.

              • Hi Hopeful Ordinand, let me go through the points you raise there.

                1) That’s three scientists from Japan’s energy commission, not the Academy of Science. We know Japan stands with the rest of the world when it comes to AGW, because they have promised to cut their emissions by 25% by 2020. It was one of the first things the new government did when it came to power in September.

                2) The climate may be very complicated, but CO2 having a warming effect is fairly basic physics, that’s my point. The more CO2 there is, the greater the warming effect. By all means question the computer modelling or the tree-ring readings, but sceptics start to look pretty silly arguing about this one.

                And yes, analysis of ice cores shows that historically CO2 lags temperature by around 800 years. That proves that past ice ages were not brought to a close by CO2 – it doesn’t say anything about our current circumstances. The climate is doing something different this time around.

                3) No, the temperature has moved very sharply upwards in the last fifty years, in ways it has never done before. That’s why the climate scientists are worried. As for picking a starting point, just look at the effects of industrialisation onwards. It speaks for itself.

                Not sure what you’re getting at on the changing hottest years. 1934 was the hottest year in the USA, and 1998 was the hottest year globally. That may be it. There are different ways of measuring too – some people measure surface temperatures, some atmospheric, some sea, and some aggregates of all of them. Depending on how you add it up, some accounts are different. Indexing all the temperatures together, the ten hottest years on record have all been since 1997, and 2009 is on track to be the 5th warmest.

                And no, I think both sides want to be believed and may sometimes be dishonest and biased. I believe AGW is true because I’ve looked at which side is more credible – respected scientific institutions, or economists, journalists and recently formed think tanks? Groups like Climate Audit and CO2Science were founded in the last couple of years with a very clear agenda. Groups like the Royal Society, the Met Office or NASA have been studying this stuff for decades.

                And finally – no, only the CRU raw data has been destroyed. Theirs is a tiny fraction of the body of work that supports AGW. There are hundreds of other data sets besides theirs.

                • Let me come back on some of those:

                  (2) It is complicated. No model has yes accurately come close to accuracy. Also, it’s not basic physics. Absorption of partial gasses in a mix is fairly complex. What’s the concentration effect? Is there a maximum absorption? Does it increase linearly, some inverse relationship? How does it interact with other components?

                  I’m not sure what to make of your statements on CO2/Ice Age. They make no sense. If the theory is that CO2 leads to higher temperatures, then surely lower temperatures with higher CO2 concentrations would start to disprove that. To say that ‘the climate is doing something different’ would suggest that there is something else going on. Or have I missed your point somewhere?

                  CO2 lags temperature. That suggests that CO2 is a function of temperature, rather than the other way round. We are, of course, currently coming out of an ice age, in poarticular, we’re still warming up from the Little Ice Age in C17. So:

                  – CO2 lags temperature;
                  – “CO2 won’t get us out of an Ice Age”;
                  – We’re currently coming out of an ice age (Quaternary glaciation or Pleistocene glaciation)

                  What, then, is getting us out of our current ice age?

                  (3) My point with the warmest temperature changes is simply that the figures for warmest years keep changing _within the same data set_. Historical data is being changed, I don’t know why, but they are.

                  There are three main sources of temperature records. CRU, GISS and GHCN. The CRU data has gone, that’s 1/3 of the raw data. I’m not concerned about how much work they’ve done, but in the data itself. Without the raw data, the science is unrepeatable, and thus it’s not science.

                  • 2) Of course it’s complicated, but I was replying to Peter’s original question: “Is there any good scientific proof that CO2 content actually causes temperature rise?” To which the answer is yes there is.

                    As for the ice ages, lots of things impact on the climate. CO2 is one of them, the sun is another, and so on. The evidence suggests that the ice ages did not end because of CO2, but that CO2 levels rose afterwards. A warming earth releases CO2, through melting permafrost and decaying forests and so on. We know this, and climate scientists (good ones) don’t deny it. Quite the opposite in fact – we campaign to avoid the two degrees of warming that will kick into ‘runaway’ climate change, where those feedback mechanisms begin to take effect and it can no longer be halted.

                    The point is that CO2 and temperature are in a fine balance and both impact each other. Note however, that historically temperature lagged CO2 by 800 years. If the sceptic theory was right, then the CO2 increases we’ve seen in this century aren’t due for another 750.

                    No doubt we could argue back and forth on this forever. I get the impression that you’ve made up your mind, as I have mine. But let me say a couple more things.

                    1) I’m a sceptic myself, in the true sense of the word. I’m not an ‘alarmist’, it took my a good while to come round to AGW. I still read the reports and the science with a critical eye. I dismiss as many headlines as I take on board.

                    2) If I am wrong, we’ll have a cleaner atmosphere, we’ll have reduced our dependence on fossil fuels from unstable parts of the world, and we’ll have hopefully rectified some historic injustices in the process. I can live with being wrong on climate change. If you are wrong, you sat by while millions of people, the poorest first, lost their homes and their lives. As a christian, I know which side I would prefer to err on. Which side you choose, is up to you.

                    • Ouch! That felt a bit uncalled for.

                      I’m not quite sure where I said anything about sitting about while ‘millions of people… lost their homes and lives.’

                      I’d assumed that this was a discussion about the science of climate change, not the start of an attack on me. Unfortunately, you’ve just done what countless AGW proponents have done before, moved the discussion from details to the people doing the discussing.

                      If I’m ‘right’, then we’ll have wasted billions of dollars on ‘fixing’ a non existen problem. We’ll have stifled econonic growth around the world with emissions restrictions, keeping millions in needless poverty. We’ll have almost certainly introduced some kind of cap-and-trade system, making the poor poorer and the rich richer (Al Gore has made billions on this already!). We’ll have higher heating bills, pushing more and more people into fuel poverty, leading to more cold-weather deaths.

                      I reject your assertion that either I’m not a Christian, or that your choice is somehow the ‘Christian’ one to take.

                      What’s being discussed is massively important for our children and grand-children, and derves more than a few activists pushing global agendas, and the rationale ‘things will be better even if we’re wrong’ argument.

                    • Sorry, that wasn’t meant to be rude – but it was meant to shift the debate. I think that the climate change debate constantly gets funneled down this route where we all discuss the science, although very few of us are qualified to do so. I don’t mean to attack you as a person, but rather to suggest that this isn’t a neutral debate. What we conclude about climate change matters, and sometimes the science just takes us down dead ends.

                      What happens if we take our faith as a starting point instead, and ask what the loving thing is?

                      What happens if we start with a perspective of risk management?

                      I say this because it’s those perspectives that have helped me make up my mind about climate change. I’m not going to judge anyone’s faith on their stand on AGW, but for me, it becomes a matter of conscience pretty quickly. If there is a chance that my driving or flying is destroying the lives of others in poorer countries, than I will not drive or fly.

                      The risk management angle matters too. The IPCC decided that it was ‘very likely’ that warming is caused by human activity, and they class ‘very likely’ as a 90% certainty.

                      Even if you reject the IPCC’s findings, at what point would you take the gamble? 70%, 50%?

                      Would you get on a plane if there was even a 20% chance of it crashing? Of course not. Most of us would think twice at 1%. So why don’t we apply the same logic to climate change?

                    • I can’t reply that deep, so hopefully, this will appear in the right place:

                      “The IPCC decided that it was ‘very likely’ that warming is caused by human activity, and they class ‘very likely’ as a 90% certainty.

                      “Would you get on a plane if there was even a 20% chance of it crashing? Of course not. Most of us would think twice at 1%. So why don’t we apply the same logic to climate change?”

                      Fine, all well and good. Where’s the research, the work, the pressure to deal with the 10% uncertainty from the IPCC? What you’re saying is that there’s a 10% chance billions of dollars are being wasted? By your own argument, more work needs to be done to investigate what happens if AGW is false.

                      I’d be interesting in any comments you have on the ice core data I posted at the bottom.

        • If a lot of well-trained scientists look at the same data, they will often reach the same conclusions, and form a consensus. But I think the thing which is thrown into question by these events is: how much of the data has been made to support the theory by nefarious practices? We only know about events at one particular institution where things seem to have been pretty bad. The question, to which we don’t know the answer, is: at how many other institutions were similar things going on?

      • Er, idiot questions, perhaps, but, for example, how much CO2 is produced by all the cars in the world as a proportion of the whole output of greenhouse gases from other natural causes? What proportion of these does aviation account for?

        The reason I’m asking is to try and make sense of the extent to which human activity contributes to the whole problem.

        • Not an idiot question, but one to which sadly the answer doesn’t tell you anything. To understand why, imagine a finely-balanced scale with a ton weight on either side. You can move the scale with your finger, even though the amount of weight you are putting on it is far less than the total on either side.

          Knowing that man-made emissions are e.g. 1% of the size of natural ones doesn’t tell you anything about the effect that extra 1% might have, if it happens to shift the system out of balance.

            • I was thinking about this last night.

              Imagine that, in a parallel universe, the current global data were all exactly the same but the scientific consensus was that GW was not anthropogenic.

              My questions would then go something like: “how on earth is what we are doing having no effect? Are we not emitting enough to make an difference? Or where is it all going? Is it being absorbed? Staying in the lower atmosphere? Does man-made CO2 magically not reflect infra-red radiation in the same way? How can increase the global concentration of the stuff from 280 to 380 ppm and it do nothing?”

              The fact that this causes climate change just seems to be fundamentally more plausible than “Yeah, we’ve increased by 33% the concentration of an important bio-active and radiation-reflecting gas in the atmosphere of the entire world and, hey, waddaya know, makes no difference to anything important.”

    • Sure, these figures are readily available. Here are the UK government’s ones.

      Energy generation: 36%
      Transport: 28%
      Industry: 15%
      Housing: 14%
      Public sector: 4.5%
      Agriculture and forestry: 0.7%

      The global figures are different, with forestry featuring much higher, but it is possible to break down CO2 sources. It’s important to do so, as it shows you where the most effort is needed. Easy to see why energy solutions are the first ones mentioned, as energy is the highest source of emissions.

      (these are the 2005 figures, but it was the simplest breakdown: http://cfit.independent.gov.uk/pubs/2007/climatechange/images/01.gif)

  2. On question 2: my understanding is that no-one disputes the general idea of the existence of the greenhouse effect, and that CO2 is one of the gases which make it happen (along with methane, CFCs and others).

    So I wonder whether the burden of proof in this case is actually the other way around? Given that we are (undeniably) creating a great deal of this gas, and that atmospheric concentrations of it have risen quite significantly, doesn’t the proof rest with those who claim that our generation of it will not affect the climate?

    The atmosphere is obviously not a simple system – I agree it’s not as easy as “more CO2 -> warmer planet”. But it seems that this is what you’d _expect_…

    • You see Gerv, I’m not sure we would expect that CO2 -> warmer planet. There’s no good historical evidence for it (it’s been demonstrated that Al Gore’s graphs actually show CO2 increases as trailing temperate changes), so why should things now be different. Don’t get me wrong – I’d be very willing to accept some research that demonstrated the fact, but it doesn’t exist at the moment.

      • I’m not sure we would expect that CO2 -> warmer planet.

        I think if the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere were, say, 10,000 ppm (current value: 380) then we’d definitely have a warmer planet. The general mechanism of the greenhouse effect (water, C02 and methane in the upper atmosphere acting like a blanket) was discovered in the early 20th century and no-one disputes it. The dispute is over whether the amount of CO2 we’ve put in the atmosphere has made any difference.

        • Sorry Gervase, I dispute the mechanism along with many others.
          This is the major problem. The general view is that carbon emissions drive the atmospheric temperature. As soon as this is accepted as a basic premise all the other misconceptions follow.
          ergo flawed computer models and derived conclusions affecting govermental and international policy.
          Theoretical physics shows that there is no correlation between warming in a domestic greenhouse and the warming of the atmosphere. The atmospheric greenhouse effect essentially describes a fictitious mechanism in which a planetary atmosphere acts as aheat pump driven by an environment that is radiatively interacting with, but radiatively equilibrated to,the atmospheric system.
          The second law of thermodynamics shows that such a planetary machine can never exist.
          Nevertheless in almost all texts of global climatology and in a widespread secondary literature it is taken for granted that such a mechanism is real and stands on firm scientific foundations. This is a false premise.
          The terms greenhouse effect and greenhouse gases are misnomers. Computer models that are based on this incorrect fundamental premise are fatally flawed and the result arising are therefore inadmissible.
          To derive a climate catastrophe from what are no more than advanced computer games and scare mankind to death is a crime. to tax the world’s population on this basis is fraud/ grand larcency.

          The above is fully explored in a scientific paper entitled
          Falsification of the atmospheric CO2 greenhouse effect …
          Joint authors:- Gerhard Gerlich & Ralf D Tscheuschner Jan 2009
          This can be found and downloaded as a pdf documentfrom this location http://arxiv.org/pdf/0707.1161v4
          Some of the physics is very advanced, but the conclusions made for each examination are devasting for anyone still embracing the warmist view and who assert that the computer model technique is beyond reproach.

  3. It’s funny how people who accuse Christians of being unthinking believers and suggest that we don’t consider the evidence scientifically suddenly get all emotive themselves and acuse people of being heretics (aka Climate Change Deniers) when they raise ANY questions about this perceived threat!

    As far as I understand the recent questions, at discussion is the *extent* to which human emissions in the form of CO2 etc are affecting global temperatures. Some people argue that temperature cycles are quite natural and that similar ones to the current one may have happened quite recently (eg the Medieval Warm Period- MWP). However, recent debate in the GW community seems to have been shedding doubt on whether MWP was a global phenomenon, or only Europe the North Atlantic and America (where the bulk of the data come from).

    Obviously there is little reliable measured data that goes back very far, even in America and Europe, and most of the earlier data is calculated from things like the composition of ocean deposits and the size of annual grow rings in trees. The scandle seems to be that much of the historical baseline data, that gave rise to the graphs showing exceptional temperatures since 1960 and even higher ones recently, was based on statistically dubious tree ring measurements from one type of tree in the US. And that when this was challenged data from many trees in Russia was also used in a statistiacll dubious way.. and only tree ring data from one tree produce similar results to the previous US cased data – but that this ws themn used to “confirm” previous results.

    Some details here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/6738111/Climategate-reveals-the-most-influential-tree-in-the-world.html

    The other issue seems to be that tree ring data were used to estimate temperatures up to 1960 but that, after that, real measured temperatures are used… because temperature estimnates from the tree ring data post 1960 don’t show a temperature rise! This obviously raises questions regading the reliability of the earlier estimated temperatures – which, if this is true, might also have been much higher!

    At ery least it gives rise to a lot of questions about comparing apples with tree rings!

    Was the MWP really cooler than now, or does the tree ring method underestimate temperatures? And, how can we compare hostorical temperature data with current temperature data if the method was changed? Especially of the point that it was changed is exactly the start of the period that we are most concerned about. If these accusations are half true, scientific heads (or at least careers) seem likely to roll!

    As a statistician (or someone married to one)you can probably assess this better than me, so I öppk forward to your considered comments on the data now being published!

    Personally I think that climate change is obviously happening – too much stuff is happening that I’ve not seen in my lifetime. And anyway, biblically, humanity has a God-given responsibilty to do what it can both to take care of the earth’s population as some areas are becoming unable to sustain all their inhabitants, and to do what we can to mitigate the changes…

    However, truth *is* important. Truth is not the enemy of doing the right thing!

  4. This is rather more objective data (probably) showing human effects on the atmosphere starting with the good-old industrial reviolution: http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/co2/graphics/lawdome.gif

    However, that data uses measurements from old air trapped in ice (which one could argue might have changed over time – for instance by absorbtion of some components onto, or out of, the ice or trace minerals in it etc etc). BUT it is backed up with direct atmospheric measurements here (for instance): http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/co2/graphics/Barrow_CO2.jpg

    These lok very similar to the recent ice air measurements and therefore suggest the first data is pretty reliable (but there could always be some longer time-scale effects….)

  5. OK. Here’s some actual data.

    This (ftp://ftp.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/paleo/icecore/greenland/summit/gisp2/isotopes/gisp2_temp_accum_alley2000.txt) is ice core data from Greenland, courtesy NOAA (disclosure: I came across the data via WUWT, however, I looked at the actual results myself). The first table in the data is temperature against age (thousands of years before present day). All I did was fire up Excel (other spreadsheets are available) and put the raw data in. Here’s where the fun begins.

    Pick an age range for your data, and plot a simple X-Y scatter graph (I went for one with smooth lines ad markers). If you use the raw data, remember that 0 on the x-axis is now, and increasing numbers are further away in time.

    – 300 years (age of 0.3) is a good one – that should cover pre-industrial revolution, right? Very clearly on the graph is an increase around 150 years ago, and it’s huge.

    – 500 years (age of 0.5) – that huge spike increase is still there, although it was cooling from 500 years ago to 150 years ago.

    – 1000 years – That huge spike has shrunk compared to the temperatures 100 years ago. 2000 years ago, the temperature was even higher. 10,000 years ago the temperature was higher. In fact over the last 10,000 years this data suggests we have been in an unprecedented cool period.

    – Oh, and yes, we are warmer than we were 11,000 years ago (in case there’s an accusation of cherry-picking), but really would you want to be 20C colder than you are now? I’d rather _not_ live in an ice age, if that’s OK with you :)

    This is data taken from a single ice core in Greenland, so I’m not claiming any kind of ‘killer’ argument here – the data is, though, quite interesting, and would suggest that maybe C02 isn’t quite as big an issue as people might think…

    If you want to go back further, grab the Vostok data (ftp://ftp.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/paleo/icecore/antarctica/vostok/deutnat.txt) which goes back ~400,000 years and is also interesting.

    • I’m sure that’s very interesting, but I’m not a scientist and I’m not going to pretend I know what to do with raw data like that – mainly because it’s completely out of context. The notes for the data says it shows that abrupt climate change has happened in Greenland in the past, which we know. (they don’t know if the Younger-Dryas period seen here was global or not)

      But this proves my point about us all assuming we can do the science better ourselves. Do you really understand enough about “using ice-isotopic ratios, borehole temperatures, and gas-isotopic ratios” to make statements about AGW? I know I don’t.

      And to come back to the IPCC and their 90% certainty – no, I’m not saying there’s a 10% chance they’re right. I’m suggesting that the most comprehensive scientific scrutiny board ever put together concluded that AGW was 90% certain. And that’s seems to be not good enough for many people.

      • They’re 90% certain, hence 10% uncertain. By your own arguments, that warrants looking into – would you get on a plane if they were 90% certain that all the bolts had been done up tightly?

        Actually, I’ve a degree in Chemistry, and one in Computer Science, so yes I can have a good go – certainly I’ve got a pretty good idea how science works. Have you spotted that the chair of the IPCC is an Industrial Engineer, not a Climate Scientist?

        I linked to data other than just the Greenland core, to try to show that it’s not just Greenland showing the same pattern of temperatures.

        We don’t have to do the science ourselves, but if we enter the debate, we do ourselves an injustice if we can’t defend our position. Your argument is to defer unquestioningly to authority figures, my position is to look at the data and see if their analysis of the data makes sense when matched against the data.

        This is at the heart of the Climategate emails. The emails purport to show researchers manipulating data to show something that is doesn’t, and preventing other researchers looking at the raw data. This was my point earlier about the raw data – without the raw data the ‘authority figures’ are unquestionable.

        I’m not saying that questioning AGW is ‘sticking it to The Man’, but the raw data raises questions that are typically ignored, marginalised or derided as ‘out of context’. If you’re going to commit to something, do you not need to know that it has a solid foundation, and isn’t a blind leap of faith?

  6. PLEASE EVERYONE aCCESS THIS SCIENTIFIC PAPER
    Found at this web address HTTP:arxiv.org/pdf/0707.1161/v4
    Just read the title and the abstract
    Those of with a good science backround will accept the main thrust. The body of the paper will be mostly incomprehensible
    to mere mortals without the benefit of higher Physics and Math.
    Scroll though and read the text conclusions.
    When you have finished,then weep, whether you are pro or against the concept of carbon driven warming. Whatever the arguments and “evidence” All of us must surely admit the basic fundamental hypothesis of a greenhouse effect in the atmosfere is fatally flawed. The Second Law of Thermodynamics is contravened, so nearly all the population in both camps have barking up the wrong tree all along.

    I now plead guilty to teaching a simplistic hypothesis for years. Apologies to my former students I should have checked outthe fundamental basis and heeded the words of Claude Bernard
    viz “True science teaches to doubt and in ignorance to refrain!”

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