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Global Warming?

Friday, 22 July 2011 05:04

Maybe I've missed it, but I haven't seen any discussions in the context of the current heat wave. Of course there is no direct connection between global warming and any specific weather event, but given that there is a well-documented trend of warming over recent decades, the heat wave might be a good time to have a piece or two on the topic.

Put another way, suppose that there was a terrorist attack against U.S. citizens after a Democratic president had decided to close Guantanamo and end practices that raised civil liberties issues. Does anyone doubt that there would major news articles asking whether the president's actions had opened the door for the attack?

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They'll probably cover it later
written by KJMClark, July 22, 2011 8:21
I would expect it as a "followup" topic in the fall. It's a little hard to ignore "record spring flooding", but until the worst of the heat wave has roasted the east coast, and until we have a feel for the rest of the summer, they'll hold off on that analysis.

And of course, you'll always have someone claiming the data say it didn't happen, and if it did, it's not a sign of anything. I mean, this past winter wasn't unusually cold, but we did get a lot of precipitation. So snow means no warming, even though it fits the climate change predictions. Whatever.
Deficit Warming
written by izzatzo, July 22, 2011 8:44
The natural heat wave has been replaced by the man made deficit wave.

Suppose there was a deep jobless recession and the President's plan to cure it failed. Does anyone doubt there would be major news articles suggesting the stimulus plan actually made the deficit worse?

As a man made sin against nature the deficit can be cured while the heat wave is a product of uncontrollable natural causes like volcanoes.

Stupid liberals.
Actual data and correct statement of predictions
written by John Puma, July 22, 2011 8:55
Contrary to the baseless claim above, actual global temperature data is here:

Note: the observation is rising temperature but the prediction based on the observation is MORE FREQUENT AND MORE VIOLENT EXTREMES OF WEATHER.

This, of course, means BOTH "unseasonally" high temperatures AND "unseasonally" low temperatures validate the prediction.
written by SteveB, July 22, 2011 9:24
When I look at the giss/nasa web site mentioned above, I still see no average increase in temperature over the past decade.
SteveB Reading Diagrams
written by reason, July 22, 2011 10:18
1. Ignore the outlier in 1997 that seems to be distracting you.
2. Find the year 2000 and trace up to the graph.
3. Find the year 2010 and trace up to the graph.
4. Compare them.
5. Go OH!
Drawing the right (or wrong) conclusions from small samples
written by Jan Perlwitz, July 22, 2011 11:02

The data shows that the average Earth surface temperature rose sharply during the 1990s, but then has not increased in the past ten years. So one can say, correctly, that the recent decade has had the highest average temperature on record. Or, one can say that the Earth has stopped warming over the past decade,

Latter conclusion is equally wrong as it would be wrong to draw such a conclusion with respect to man-made global warming, if the global mean temperature this year was below the one of last year, which it likely will be. 10 years is just a too short time period to draw a meaningful scientific conclusion here. The variability on such a time scale is too strong to see a statistical significant signal. Global warming is a process that occurs over many decades and over centuries.

and that there is something basically wrong with the computer models that predicted continued warming.

This is also a wrong conclusion. The purpose of climate models and climate simulations is not to simulate the exact curve of the temperature or other climate variables in time. The climate system is a statistical system. One curve in time is only one realization from the population of all possible realizations within the climate system for a given set of boundary conditions (e.g. solar input, greenhouse gas concentration, aerosol content in the atmosphere, land use). The goal of climate projections is to make scientific statements about the statistical properties (e.g. mean and variance) of the population of possible climate realization and how those properties change when the boundary conditions change (e.g. due to an increase in greenhouse gases, or a decrease in solar radiation). So, the proper test for a climate model is not to compare whether the simulated temperature agrees with the real temperature curve. The proper test is to see how well the climate model simulates the statistical properties of the real system. For instance, one can test whether the real temperature curve in time lies within the range of uncertainty of the climate projections. As long as it does, the conclusion that there was something "basically wrong" with the models is not a valid one. And if the real temperature curve were to be outside the range of uncertainty one also would have to be careful to not jump to hasty conclusions. One would have to see whether a failure of the projection is really due to a flaw of the models, or whether it is due to a discrepancy between the prescribed and real boundary conditions, e.g. if real greenhouse gas emissions have departed from the projected ones, or if the real solar input departed from the prescribed one in the simulations.

"Stratospheric Pollution Has Slowed Global Warming"
written by AndrewDover, July 22, 2011 11:04


for the cherry pickers
written by apeescape, July 22, 2011 12:23
Here's probably a better graph: (http://scienceblogs.com/deltoi...limate.png)

There are a bunch of times where short term trends were negative even though the overall trend is positive (this result is almost a statistical certainty unless warming is monotonic).

People take the temperatures a little too literally while ignoring medium term effects. We saw a huge 1998 El Nino and a moderate El nino in 2010, yet the temperatures are pretty similar. Why? -- cuz the overall trend is towards warming.
Direct link
written by AndrewDover, July 22, 2011 12:24

excess energy trapped in the biosphere
written by Ethan, July 22, 2011 1:17
College friend of mine is a professor of oceanography with a specialty in arctic ice and remote temperature/current/whatever sensing.
At our 25th reunion (1987) I asked him if global warming is real. He said he couldn't yet separate the noise from the signal even though ocean temperatures are much more regular that air temperatures.
At our 45th reunion (2007) I started to ask him again, and this time -- before I even finished the question -- he blurted out, "Absolutely real and we're causing it."
written by Peter, July 22, 2011 3:11
The 'noise' that there has been no warming in the last decade is simply noise- learn the science! Stop Cherry picking data from sources who know nothing!

The warmest years on record are 2005 & 2010. The arctic this year is melting at pace that could see an ice minimum as low as 2007.

C02 levels have not been this high in 17 million years (393ppm) and rising 2-3ppm a year.

If anyone thinks that warming has slowed- they are fools. The heat wave and drought in the western mid west and great plains is a fine look into the future- by 2020 you will begin to see a return to dust bowl conditions.

The great sunbelt migration is over- it will begin to reverse by 2020.

We are near a tipping point with global warming. If we go on a BAU path- to CO2 at 450ppm and an additional 1 degree C warming over the 1 degree we have now- it will be a prescription for disaster.


written by SM, July 22, 2011 3:13
It's because liberals know better than to try to prove something like climate change based on one event - just like a snow storm doesn't disprove it either. Therefore they're not stupid enough to complain about it openly and loudly, realizing how dumb it would make them look.

However, your other example would be an article written by a conservative, whose ignorance knows no bounds.
Climate change leads to extreme weather events.
written by Juan Hernandez, July 22, 2011 11:39
True story Dean. A good reporter would not only release a climate change piece today, but also during the fires in Texas & Arizona, the floods in Mississippi/Missouri/Queensland, and after the many snow storms we had over the winter. Climate change = extreme weather events.

Bill McKibben in WaPo:
At least New Zealand Gets It
written by CR, July 25, 2011 3:44
Global Warming
written by Randy Fritz, July 25, 2011 4:44
Or the big headlines on "news" shows on Fox when the climate, for ANY brief period, goes AGAINST global warming, like a cool spate in summer or winter. Immediately there are headlines questioning global warming. When it gets hot in summer or warmer than usual in winter, though, mum's the word.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.