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A COOLER YEAR: GLOBAL WARMING WEATHER ANOMALY OR THE BEGINNING OF A "REGRESSION TO THE UNKNOWN TEMPERATURE MEAN?"

What we all agree on...

There is no doubt in anyone's mind, be they a proponent of global warming, global cooling or just skeptical of the whole man-made weather change thing, that weather is variable. (And most politicians are slime-balls).

Where we diverge...

Some of us, myself included, doubt that man is responsible for the variability in global weather and that this variability is linked to the greenhouse gas known as "carbon dioxide." The basis for our conclusions lies in the fact that carbon dioxide is a minor component of the global weather inputs and is far overshadowed (pun intended) by a more significant greenhouse gas source, water vapor. Both of which are dwarfed by the issues induced by the variability of the sun's solar output. Since we disagree about the cause, we are naturally pre-disposed to disagree about the so-called cure or mitigation efforts which involve man's attempt to control carbon emissions. We believe that these efforts are mostly driven by political considerations which have co-opted certain scientific findings to justify their conclusions while ignoring others.

My personal belief is that the weather is cyclical and we are unable to compute an accurate global mean temperature due to the extremely long time periods needed for analysis, the systemic inaccuracies of historic global temperature measurement and the imputation of global temperatures from secondary sources such as ice cores involving the percentages of trapped gases. The basic problem is that the measurements are based on a statistically insignificant number of observational sites and that the data returned can be characterized by researchers as semi-empirical  phenomenological theories. This is complicated by the systemic noise introduced by the placement of instruments and the collection of data.

The trouble with mathematical models of natural events...

I once engaged in a rather pointless argument with a mathematician engaged in cellular automata research. The mere fact that a computer using a mathematical algorithm could produce what appears to be the structural pattern of a leaf ... did not mean, at least to me, that the mathematical model employed could be used to accurately describe the character and nature of a leaf, but merely portrayed a representation of something that looked like a leaf.

So it is with weather models. They can produce data which appears to correlate with natural phenomena, but one must question whether or not it is a coincidental representation or something truly representational of the underlying system mechanics.

With mathematical models, it all depends on your starting point assumptions and the range of data used for the modeling run. Unfortunately, some mathematical models produce outlandish results that seem to have an extremely low probability of being accurate or predictive. And one of my pet peeves is when these "outlier" values are used to develop wild scenarios to justify political actions. This appears to be the basis for some of the more outlandish tales in Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth." A work I believe to be more political than scientific.

The scientists continue to do science...

Those scientists who are not engaged in supporting funding activities or supporting some political agenda continue to work hard at discovering elemental truths. They labor under difficult circumstances and very rarely speak out about the work of others; especially should that work fall outside of their own scope of research. Most are not generalists and those that are, are mostly driven by mathematical modeling.

I believe that these scientists should be financial supported with politically-neutral funding and continue to publish their findings and conclusions in peer-reviewed publications which provide a forum for both confirmation and rebuttal. This process does not yield instant gratification and results which are media-friendly without a long explanation of assumptions, probability and the hazards of projecting limited data into global situations with statistical certainty.

So what are we to make of the recent findings that the earth is globally cooler in the past 12 months?

According to Anthony Watts (Watts Up With That?)... 

January 2008 - 4 sources say “globally cooler” in the past 12 months

"January 2008 was an exceptional month for our planet, with a significant cooling. January 2007 started out well above normal."

"January 2008 capped a 12 month period of global temperature drops on all of the major well respected indicators. I have reported in the past two weeks that HadCRUT, RSS, UAH, and GISS global temperature sets all show sharp drops in the last year."

Here is a quick comparison and average of ∆T [change in temperature] for all metrics shown above:

Source: Global ∆T °C

HadCRUT:    - 0.595

GISS:              - 0.750

UAH:               - 0.588

RSS:                  - 0.629

Average:        - 0.6405°C

"This represents an average between the two lower troposphere satellite metrics (RSS and UAH) and the two land-ocean metrics (GISS and HadCRUT).  While some may argue that they are not compatible data-sets, since they are derived by different methods (Satellite -Microwave Sounder Unit and direct surface temperature measurements) I would argue that the average of these four metrics is a measure of temperature, nearest where we live, the surface and near surface atmosphere."

The media gets it wrong...

The DailyTech web site carried a story citing the Watt's blog post as a reference. However, the following paragraph is in error.

“Anthony Watts compiled the results of all the sources. The total amount of cooling ranges from 0.65C up to 0.75C — a value large enough to erase nearly all the global warming recorded over the past 100 years. All in one year time. For all sources, it’s the single fastest temperature change ever recorded, either up or down.”

According to Watts, "I wish to state for the record, and with objection, that this statement is not mine: '–a value large enough to erase nearly all the global warming recorded over the past 100 years'”

"There has been no “erasure”. This is an anomaly with a large magnitude, and it coincides with other anecdotal weather evidence. It is curious, it is unusual, but it does not “erase” anything. I have suggested a correction to Daily Tech."

But Watt gets it right...

"This is an anomaly with a large magnitude, and it coincides with other anecdotal weather evidence. It is curious, it is unusual, but it does not “erase” anything. "

I don't know what it means...

Yes, it could be the inflection point that signals the "regression to some unknown climatological mean temperature value" or it could be an anomaly which will be buried in the sands of time. I do not know the significance of the finding. The scientists don't know the significance of the finding. And the politicians certainly have no clue about the significance of the finding or even the methodology for researching the significance of the finding. 

Which brings me back to the reason for this blog entry. With all of the uncertainty in observations and weather modeling and with the extremely long periods involved to see measurable results, we should concentrate on expanding the science and the funding for science -- and not be stampeded into rash actions based on political considerations. Actions which can have dire consequences for our economic, legal and human rights infrastructure without being able to produce an measurable impact. A perfect scenario for politicians who want to take advantage of science for their own purposes and still remain unaccountable for producing results or even proving that their climate theories are valid.

Man will survive...

Man has always adapted to harsh climates. Man has always thrived under rigorous conditions. Who are we to say that global weather change is "good or bad" and that  the  political consequences of taking preemptive and precipitous actions can be justified on any basis?

Global warming, global cooling and the more politically correct global climate change are artificial constructs of politicians. No matter what anybody may say or claim, there is a scientific case to be made for both sides -- and it should be left to the scientists to make that case. Not the other way around where politicians support their case with carefully chosen scientific findings.

What can YOU do?

Support politically-neutral science and science organizations. Beware of political institutions which base their political actions on their interpretation of science.

Beware of the corrupt and morally bankrupt United Nations where it is all about money and power -- and the preservation of the rights of dictators in the face of democracy.

Take a scientist to lunch.

Do not vote for any candidate or current politician who is willing to subvert the safety, security, sovereignty and economic strength of the United States or limit an individual's right of self-defense for their personal philosophy, power, prestige or profits.

-- steve

Quote of the Day: "I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority." -- E. B. White (1899 - 1985)

A reminder from OneCitizenSpeaking.com: a large improvement can result from a small change…

The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. -- Marcus Aurelius

Reference Links:

January 2008 - 4 sources say “globally cooler” in the past 12 months « Watts Up With That?


“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

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"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

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