Saturday, February 13, 2010
Should NASA be trying to scare us over the temperature rise?
[From Rick] A couple of weeks ago, our local news pumped a NASA GISS (Goddard Institute for Space Studies - Hansen's group) news release regarding 'Yet Another Temperature Record.'
My first thought was - HEY - why is this newsworthy? If the temperature has been gradually warming since the last ice age, then EVERY year is likely to set new temperature records. It reminded me of the newscaster that said on election night last year "70% of the votes have been counted and that number is expected to go higher!" I wondered how often they went lower!
But then I thought some about the appearance of the graph as NASA formatted it. What I decided to do was make a little video about that which is here:
[Click on arrow to play video] It will take 2 minutes of your remaining life to watch this and I can't guarantee it will be worth it, but it IS a different point of view.
In putting this together, I noted that the temperature records for Central England (available through Hadley Center but the website I used is either down at the moment (or taken offline as a result of Climategate). The Wikipedia entry is here.
So what I was wondering was - if CO2 didn't begin it's sharp rise until the mid 20th century, can that be picked out of the temperature record. In NASA's chart - MAYBE - you will see that there is a recent trend that MIGHT fall outside the uncertainty in NASA's graph. However, if you also look at the Central England chart, it might not be so obvious. Especially since similar long term rises in the record have occasionally exceeded the slope of recent rises. Even back to pre-industrial times - well before any significant CO2 rise!
Perhaps you will disagree.
Another note - I have not done ANY 'corrections' to the NASA mean temperatures. There have been numerous suggestions of either inappropriate, inadequate or unnecessary corrections to the temperature record (esp. urban heat island and siting corrections). Depending on your take, these might well remove the remaining datapoints that fall outside the error bars in the plots. If this were done, I think that ANY CO2 footprint would be very hard to justify, EPA and IPCC notwithstanding!
What do I believe? Results of experiments where a hypothesis may be isolated and tested, preferably, but those are difficult to come by in climate science. I rarely believe models unless they are validated (even though creating and validating models was a significant part of my career) - it's just too easy to create 'results' without accurately documenting the assumptions and starting conditions required to simulate the models.
I imagine that CO2 does have an impact on the climate - and I doubt it will be measured anytime soon. Until then I think that political action (e.g. cap and trade) falls somewhere between Unwise and Folly!
I'd appreciate hearing if you find the video to clarify your understanding or to trigger any new insights for you.