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Global Warming: Confusing reporting with importance and relevance ...

Is it intellectually dishonest to report a fact using a headline, which is accurate, but which overstates the importance of the finding or contributes to a misleading impression?

The information may be scientifically accurate, but what if the reporting is skewed to mislead the public into believing the scientific data supports a political agenda?

According to Newswise … 

“The global average temperature jumped   0.41 C  from June to July, the largest one-month jump in the 31-year global temperature record, according to Dr. John Christy, director of UAHuntsville’s Earth System Science Center. The global average went from normal in June to the second hottest July on record.”

The average layman would look at this report and might say that “we are experiencing global warming” and it is being proved by reputable well-credentialed scientists. So let’s look a little deeper.

What is the significance of a few monthly measurements which are barely perceivable squiggles in the context of a significantly longer global weather pattern? Individual results which may be masked in the overall variability of nature’s normal climate change? Especially when the directly observed and proxy data (tree rings, etc) has been much hotter and much colder in the Earth’s history. Especially in periods predating industrialization and the use of coal-fired energy plants? This type of reporting is a “big whoop-de-do” of nothingness … designed to obtain media coverage for the reporting institution and its principal investigators. Something to advance the funding of worthy scientific research in the mainstream media.

Caveat …

At least in this case, the reporter was intellectually honest and notes that:

Part of that is an artificial artifact of where we put the calendar boundaries,” Christy said. “Warmth from the new El Nino was not felt at all in June but really got going almost from the first day of July.”

One, nature does not appear to be a respecter of artificial time divisions since global climate is a continuous process and time is only man’s way to make sense of the reported data.

And two, the selection of the reporting interval may be more critical to the story than it is to reality.

“At 0.41 C warmer than seasonal norms, July 2009 was second only to July 1998 (+0.51 C). July 1998 was on the back end of the most powerful El Nino Pacific Ocean warming event of the 20th century. That El Nino also caused the warmest monthly average temperature in the climate record: +0.77 in April 1998.”

What? Someone is reporting that a physical phenomenon (El Nino) is causing warmer temperatures. Not carbon dioxide, not coal-fired energy production, not the bogus destruction of the Amazon rainforest?

El Nino?

I wonder if anyone else noticed that El Nino does not seem to have anything to do with man’s alleged use of coal-fired plants or the production of CO2. The last time I checked, the largest greenhouse gas was water vapor and that the cloud cover in a region was a function of moisture content and atmospheric pressures which drive the winds.

“El Niño-Southern Oscillation [ENSO] is a periodic change in the atmosphere and ocean of the tropical Pacific region. It is manifested in the atmosphere by changes in the pressure difference between Tahiti and Darwin, Australia, and in the ocean by warming or cooling of surface waters of the tropical Eastern Pacific Ocean.” <More>

Must know information?

At 0.61 C warmer than seasonal norms, temperatures in the Southern Hemisphere in July tied May 1998 (during that big El Nino) as the second warmest month south of the equator. It was also the second warmest month on record in the Antarctic, where the average temperature was 3.11 C (about 5.60 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than seasonal norms for the Antarctic winter. The warmest (compared to seasonal norms) was May 2002, when the continent’s average temperature was 3.30 C warmer than normal.”

“Largest One-Month Change
Monthly Average Temperature
June ‘09 to July ‘09: +0.41 C
Dec. ‘06 to Jan. ‘07: +0.29 C
Dec. ‘04 to Jan. ‘05: +0.29 C
Sep. ‘84 to Oct. ‘84: +0.29 C
Feb. ‘99 to Mar. ‘99: - 0.28 C
Nov. ‘95 to Dec. ‘95: - 0.28 C
Aug. ‘84 to Sep. ‘84: - 0.28 C”

What irritates me is that these findings, while scientifically accurate (for the methodology employed), lead to headlines which seem to say that we are experiencing some form of global warming and that the preponderance of these reports in the mainstream media may mischaracterize the natural variability of nature in such a manner as to support unwarranted and ineffective human intervention in the form of a political agenda.

Let’s look at something quite different …

By the way, please note that the charts below are from the University of Alabama, Huntsville, courtesy of Dr. Roy Spenser – the very same Roy Spenser who is reporting the temperature increase.

Continuing a decade-long trend of declining global temperatures, the year 2008 was significantly colder than 2007, and global temperatures for the year were below the average over the past 30 years.”

The global temperature data, reported by NASA satellite-based temperature measurements, refuted predictions 2008 would be one of the warmest on record.”

“Data show 2008 ranked 14th coldest of the 30 years measured by NASA satellite instruments since they were first launched in 1979. It was the coldest year since 2000.” <Source>

Lower Troposhperic Global Temperatures

A somewhat different picture and a different impression. One that places the above findings in somewhat of a better perspective. Unfortunately, the time scale of this data is still suspect … because the Earth has seen colder temperatures and warmer temperatures – with higher levels of carbon dioxide and lower levels of carbon dioxide – and which occurred before man’s so-called outrageous industrialization.

Further details on the report …

“As part of an ongoing joint project between The University of Alabama in Huntsville, NOAA and NASA, Christy and Dr. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist in the ESSC, use data gathered by microwave sounding units on NOAA and NASA satellites to get accurate temperature readings for almost all regions of the Earth. This includes remote desert, ocean and rain forest areas for which reliable climate data are not otherwise available.”

“The satellite-based instruments measure the temperature of the atmosphere from the surface up to an altitude of about eight kilometers above sea level. Once the monthly temperature data is collected and processed, it is placed in a ‘public’ computer file for immediate access by atmospheric scientists in the U.S. and abroad.”

Politically correct, but possibly dishonest …

Neither Spencer nor Christy receives any research support or funding from oil, coal or industrial companies or organizations, or from any private or special interest groups. All of their climate research funding comes from state and federal grants or contracts.”

While it is common practice to note sponsorships is relatively neutral terms, it seems that this particular “politically correct” notice makes it seem that funding sources other than state or federal grants are suspect. I find such notices make me wonder about the neutrality of the research findings and the veracity of the popularly-reported work.

What annoys me is that this type of notice is also intellectually dishonest because agency funding, whether from state or federal sources, can be both implicitly and explicitly biased. That is, researchers submit research protocols tailored to the agencies predominant biases and beliefs in order to receive funding and may select computational parameters which allows their research to meet perceived agency goals in order to secure additional funding. The parameters which are often used to skew results into an acceptable result include a “selective date range” or key assumptions which are hypothetical rather than experimentally observable. In some instances, actual sensor data is smoothed, averaged or missing data is interpolated. While most scientists scrupulously annotate their work – the caveats, reservations and deviations contained in the footnotes rarely are mentioned in reports carried by the popular press.

Let’s see what the other principal investigator, John Christy, has to say …

Warming Trend Overstated

’The substantial and continuing La Niña cooled the Earth quite a bit in 2008, to the point that it was slightly below the 30-year average [1979-2008] but slightly above the 20-year average [1979-1998],’ said John Christy, distinguished professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH).”

’From research we have published, and more to come soon, we find that land surface air temperatures misrepresent the actual temperature changes in the deep atmosphere—where the greenhouse effect is anticipated to have its easiest impact to measure. Surface thermometers are affected by many influences, especially surface development, so the bulk atmospheric measurements from satellites offer a straightforward indicator of how much heat is or is not accumulating in the air, for whatever reason,’ Christy explained.
’Recent published evidence also supports the long-term trends of UAH as being fairly precise, so the observed rate of warming is noticeably less than that projected by the IPCC ‘Best Estimate’ model simulations which, we hypothesize, are too sensitive to CO2 increases,’ Christy added.” <Source>

A honest scientist … and a little reportorial slight of hand by the mainstream media and you would believe that we have a consensus of scientists endorsing the United Nations IPCC findings and that we must take action now to save the planet.

Bottom line …

With respect to global warming, global cooling and global climate change, the science is far from being settled, the advertised consensus (if that was how one actually determined scientific facts) does not support many of the published findings and that we must regard much of what is being done in the name of science to be, in truth and reality, an attempt to manipulate man’s perceptions to advance a controlling political agenda which will result in bigger government, higher taxes, and the gradual loss of freedom and liberty.

Once again we are being screwed by the politicians and a corrupt mainstream media which refuses to report the situation in a neutral and unbiased manner.

Since this is all ginned-up by politicians, there is but one solution …

Capture2-11-2009-6.54.19 PM

Be well, be safe and take care of yourself and your family first.

-- steve

P.S.  If I were one of those kooky people who want to put reflectors on sailboats or inject harmful sulfur into the atmosphere, I might suggest we bomb the volcanoes which produced noticeable periods of significantly cooler temperatures.  And given man’s relatively puny efforts in relation to nature’s awesome forces, I doubt that even bombing would help trigger a massive volcanic eruption.

Reference Links …

Newswise Science News | Global Temperature Report - July 2009


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