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.


Ira Glickstein said...

WOW! Terrific video and a great new Topic for the Blog. Rick has been sending me early versions of his video and statistical research and I'm proud that our Blog is the first to feature it.

Please send links to your friends and post Comments with links to it on all the climate-related blogs you read.

Rick has shown that there were periods of extended temperature rises in the record of thermometer readings in Central England. Rises during a period before mass industrialization that causes CO2 to increase. Rises greater than we have experienced over the past 50 to 100 years. Even using the NASA GISS data that many of us think has some ezperimental bias or even some "cooking of the books" to hide declines and exaggerate rises.

I love the graphic sequence where Rick takes the slope out and shows a more-or-less random walk about a straight line.


Ira Glickstein

Ira Glickstein said...

OK - the "race" is on!

I posted a Comment on the very popular WattsUpWithThat with a link to this posting and now (just after midnight Sunday) we've got about a dozen hits in an hour. Tomorrow, the rate will probably pick up as surfers in the US wake up.

You can watch the "race" by going to the Live Traffic Feed widget in the right hand column. Click on Watch in Real Time to see the last 50 hits and where they are coming from.

I'd love to see Rick's wonderful video go viral! You can help by recomending it to your friends.

Ira Glickstein

joel said...

The video was very revealing; a very good teaching tool. Anthropogenic warming is obviously lost in the noise of other effects on the global temperature. We have wasted vast amounts of money that could have been placed in a fund for adaptation, if and when a climate change actually has an impact on poor nations. The Q&A with Phil Jones shows that we a perhaps returning to sanity. -Joel

Richard said...

Thanks, Joel & Ira. I've also put a link at

You might find some of his work interesting - a mechanical engineer interested in providing another view as well. Near the bottom of his current page is a video 'Catastrophe Denied' that is interesting. It's about 90 min long.

I'm working on a taxonomy - if you have seen one already let me know. I found I getting myself confused in collecting papers on data taking, data manipulation, modeling (numerical models and physics based models), etc. I'd like to sort out my own reading (and collection of papers & data).

And Ira - please share your thoughts on CO2 taxes. I hope you include some thoughts about basing the tax on the 'cost to society' or some such thing. What if we found out that life on the planet would be much better with 400ppm CO2? Should undeveloped countries then pay tax revenue to developed countries that have been burning fossil fuel resulting in better growing seasons and rainfall for them?

What about Mercury or Nitrates taxes?

What would be done with the tax revenue? (Obama has made it clear that he wants it in the general fund - and NOT use it to pay for energy independence or 'green energy' (I hate that term - it means whatever the speaker wants it to mean I think).)

Ira Glickstein said...

To Richard (who I assume is our Rick who is having trouble signing on to Google?):

Great that you put a link on another site. You can monitor how effetive this is by looking at the Live Traffic Feed and clicking Watch In Real Time. It seems to me that WattsUpWithThat is by far the most effective, even beating ClimateAudit. Let us see how effecive is.

I plan to post a new Topic on Cap & Trade vs Revenue-Neutral Carbon Tax in a week or so, and will make the PowerPoint chart set I plan to use at our local Philo Club, scheduled for 26 Feb, available for download by anyone.

Great idea to have undeveloped countries pay a special CO2 tax for NOT emitting their share if it turns out that 400 ppmv or 500 ppmv is better for growing crops :^)

A problem with that is that, for efficiency and cost reasons, mature developED countries see their carbon footprint growth flatten or even drop a bit, while developING countgries see their carbon increase rapidly until they reach a maturity level. So, WE may get to pay that tax for not having enough carbon emmisions!


Howard Pattee said...

What is the point of this obsession with the polarized political propaganda of unpredictable long-range climates?

I think you’re missing the forest for a tree. It only detracts from the environmental pollution the way it affects us right now? For example, Richard asks, “What about Mercury or Nitrates taxes?” (See European Space Agency for NO2 data. Also Wikipedia on Air Pollution.)

A study directed by Cornell University ecologist David Pimentel estimates that 62 million deaths per year (40 percent of all that occur) can be attributed to environmental pollution. This is mainly from non-renewable energy and natural resources, especially combustion of organics and toxic industrial by-products, all of which accumulate in the air we breathe, in our food, and in the water we drink.

CentralCoastRick said...

Dr. Pattee:

My parser threw an exception on your post, but I think you suggested we are bothering with the wrong problem. If so, I agree!

My concern is not whether it's warming or not (I think it is) or even whether it's warming alarmingly (I think it's not) but rather that we are focused on CO2 to the extent that other concerns are hardly visible.

A parallel concern - that the cost of a 'fix' for CO2 (if it's cap & trade) may be so enormous to society that there is little maneuvering room left to address other environmental problems.

As Freeman Dyson says (selected quotes):

"all the fuss about global warming is grossly exaggerated"

"They (the problems that warming may cause) take away money and attention from other problems that are much more urgent and important. Poverty, infectious diseases, public education and public health."

So my reason for tilting at the CO2 windmill (or god?) is to convince those that are praying to it to see it's relative unimportance and widen their concerns.

[Indeed, I think that taxing CO2 is likely to do more harm than good. And 'Tax and Trade' is a thoroughly corrupt political ploy offering no good at all.]

joel said...

CentralCoastRick said: So my reason for tilting at the CO2 windmill (or god?) is to convince those that are praying to it to see it's relative unimportance and widen their concerns.

Joel comments. I couldn't agree more. I was doing a little research on the internet in preparation for a talk to be given by a warmist at our philosophy club. He was to make a presentation about his visits to Alaska and the shrinking of the Arctic ice cap. My search led me to the existence of massive undersea polar volcanos that melt glaciers and emit carbon dioxide, a fact of which I wasn't aware. The volcanos add another element to the model of the global energy balance; another poorly understood element that cannot be quantified. My intent here is not to reopen a discussion of global climate change, but something philosophically broader. Let us assume that a sufficiently accurate model cannot be created and ask ourselves a few questions about that situation.

What does one do when science is not powerful enough to yield the required information about the risks of the future? Getting away from the controversial area of climate change, we can take collision with an asteroid or oversize meteor as unmodelable, yet the risk exists and the consequences would be massive. What is the rational strategy in such a situation? Arguing that we should do something, because the result of not doing something is huge, is fallacious. Edward Teller pointed out the logical fallacy of multiplying a probability that approaches zero by a consequence that approaches infinity which yields an indeterminant risk.

It would seem that at a high level of ignorance or a reliance on providence requires a strategy of maximum flexibility. Decisions in favor of flexibility allow one to wait as long as possible which in turn decreases uncertainty. The design of adaptation plans is clearly the way to go, because it gives you precious time in an unknown environment. Alarmists have pushed adaptation off the stage.

joel said...

Howard Pattee quoted as follows:

"A study directed by Cornell University ecologist David Pimentel estimates that 62 million deaths per year (40 percent of all that occur) can be attributed to environmental pollution. This is mainly from non-renewable energy and natural resources, especially combustion of organics and toxic industrial by-products, all of which accumulate in the air we breathe, in our food, and in the water we drink."

Joel responds: The out-of-context quote is misleading. The figures are worldwide and include very primitive areas as well as Chernobyl and other highly toxic sites in Russia, and China. The situation in India for example, is highly frustrating, because much of the problem has to do with custom not technology. Village women cooking indoors with dung create a toxic environment in their huts for themselves and their children. I was involved in the development of a new kind of stove for USAID to be used in such situations. The stove was successful in decreasing pollution in the laboratory, but cultural considerations prevented its use in the field. Perhaps the governments of Third World nations regard pollution as a mechanism of population control.

CentralCoastRick said...

Ira agreed with me: "Great idea to have undeveloped countries pay a special CO2 tax for NOT emitting their share if it turns out that 400 ppmv or 500 ppmv is better for growing crops :^)" though I think his tongue might have been poking his cheek out.

It appears that there is a mixed message about global warming impacts. Prof. David Lobell of Stanford has the following link on his website regarding a talk he gave to American Academy of Sciences last week. Take a look here.

CentralCoastRick said...

And here is a better link.

Ira Glickstein said...

Thanks Rick for your links, particularly this one. There will be winners and losers and, as your link points out, some of the winners will be poor farmers benefitting from higher temperatures and more CO2 for their crops! Good on them!

Yes, we must adapt to the most likely future: Considerably higher CO2 and CH4 levels, and a long-term trend of slightly higher temperatures as we continue to recover from the Little Ice Age, with 30-50 year cycles of cooling and warming about that trend line.

Now that the Alarmism has been quenched by some cool heads coping with snow in Copenhagen and Washington and 49 of the 50 states a week or so ago, and by the revelations of Climategate, it is pretty clear we are not near any "tipping point" and never were.

On the other hand, it is also clear that human-caused CO2 and CH4 will continue to increase no matter what we do to try to reduce carbon footprints as a form of capitalism spreads worldwide and China and India and others raise their standards of living. That will continue to cause some small percentage of warming, along with the long-term trend of slight warming as we recover from the Little Ice Age. The future portends somewhat higher temperatures on average.

The message of Evolution and Natural Selection is, as always, "Adapt or Die!"

Ira Glickstein

PS: I plan to make the PowerPoint charts for my talk this Friday at our local Philo Club available via this Blog next week. I have developed some neat graphics that may shed new light on the greenhouse effect and the saturation of the absorption spectra for CO2, CH4, NO2, O2/Ozone, and H20.

Ira Glickstein said...

Our Central Coast Rick posted this Topic back in January 2010. His great YouTube video takes the NASA global temperature record from 1880 to the present and removes the trend to show only oscillations around that trend.

Rick clearly shows that the rapid rise in global temperatures starting around 1970, which global warming alarmists have been using to scare us, is the result of a natural plus and minus oscillation, dating back at least to the 1880's, which happens to turn positive around 1970, plus the long-term trend dating back to 1880. That long-term trend, dating back to before human-made CO2 was as great as it is today, is a fraction of the claimed global warming rate.

A new posting today on Watts Up With That shows similar results, taking the UK CRU data set and de-trending it, just as Rick did.

Based on this analysis, the natural oscillation turned downward around the year 2000 and should continue in that direction until about 2030. Since the oscillation is about six times as sharp as the long-term trend, we should see statistically significant GLOBAL COOLING over the coming decade. (But, note that there IS an overall warming trend of about 0.06ºC per decade, far less scary than the 0.2ºC per decade the alarmists have been throwing around.)

Please follow the above link to see a second example of what our Rick showed us back in January.

Remember - Rick was first, right here on the TVPClub Blog!


Ira Glickstein