Monday, January 21, 2008

The Denier Response

I don't take myself too seriously, but I'm pretty sure Lorrie Goldstein's latest column is a response to a series of email exchanges I had with him late last week (there were more, mostly name calling ;) ). Goldstein used data from one source to argue that global warming had stopped, to which I provided him with NASA's data, data that showed 2007 as the second hottest year on record. Goldstein responded that three organizations had found differing results- which is it 2nd, 5th or 7th?. Goldstein now acknowledges the NASA findings in his column, although he still twists the arguments:
Since the debate over man-made global warming is "over" and a "consensus" has been achieved, how hot was last year anyway?

NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, headed by James Hansen who is an advisor to Al Gore, says 2007 was the second warmest year on record.

Meanwhile, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says it was the fifth warmest.

And Britain's Meteorological Office (the MET), which does its analysis in conjunction with the University of East Anglia, and which at the start of the year predicted 2007 would likely be the warmest on record, says it was the seventh warmest.

NASA says 2005 is the warmest year on record and 2007 tied for second with 1998.

Goldstein acknowledges other data, and even offers this mature tidbit:
NASA, the NOAA and the MET agree the Earth has been steadily warming in recent decades, that the most recent decade contains the hottest years on record, that it is very likely man-made global warming is driving climate change and that the Earth is responding to these changes. But even here, a caution.

He was doing so well, up until the last sentence.

Goldstein actually acknowledges the denier camp doesn't speak for mainstream science:
This is a minority view in the scientific community, which argues such phenomena as ocean and aerosol cooling explain recent minor temperature variations.

It ends here, because Goldstein proceeds to manipulate the warming data, to show that temperature changes have remained static in the last few years, no evidence of warming. What Goldstein fails to acknowledge is the basic truth, all the recent years he cites are well above the global mean average. The Goldstein argument demands that for global warming to be real, 2007 must be warmer than 2006, 2006 must be warmer than 2005, 2005 must be warmer than 2004.... No scientist worth his salt would endorse this piecemeal approach.

Ignoring the general trends, Goldstein plays the isolation game, akin to when deniers point to a cold day, somewhere in the world, and extrapolate that irrelevant sample as proof of a hoax. Instead of following the scientific model, Goldstein makes objective warming look irrelevant.

We are already seeing papers released that suggest 2008 might not set a record for warming, due to real phenomenon like El Nino and other natural fluctuations. In fact, a British paper suggests a couple years of "relative calm" (above average), followed by more acceleration. With that in mind, we can expect people like Goldstein to continue their misguided crusade, as though they the clever ones, who see through the ruse. What a waste of energy, the search for the flat earth continues.

29 comments:

Jay said...

How could someone so dumb and unable to read scientific research papers or interpret a graph ever get a job as an editor?

Isn't that like "the blind leading the blind"?

Steve V said...

jay

It's not like Goldstein writes for a real publication. People might stumble across his columns trying to find the sports section. Kate at SDA refers to Goldstein as one of the most "balanced". LOL.

Scott Tribe said...

I would argue the most "balanced" writer who is half-sane at the Sun is Greg Weston. He actually wrote a column in I believe Sunday;s edition criticizing Harper for the late-night firing of Keen and warning the (mis)treatment of th civil service could end up blowing up in Harper's face.

Lewis said...

Speaking of reports Steve V, try this one on for size:

January 21, 2008
Antarctica Snowfall Increase
Filed under: Polar, Antarctic —
The ice caps hold a special place in the cold hearts of the global warming advocates who are all too quick to insist that our ice caps are currently melting at an unprecedented rate. We suspect that they will not be particularly thrilled to learn that a paper has just appeared in Geophysical Research Letters entitled “A doubling in snow accumulation in the western Antarctic Peninsula since 1850.” The article is by scientists with the British Antarctic Survey and the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nevada; the work was funded by the UK Natural Environment Research Council and the U.S. National Science Foundation. In case you think that the Desert Research Institute in Nevada would have little interest in Antarctica, recall from geography classes you’ve had that Antarctica receives little precipitation and is regarded by climatologists as a frozen desert.

We have covered Antarctica many times in past essays, and despite literally thousands of websites claiming that some calamity is occurring in Antarctica related to global warming, we side with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in this matter. Magazine covers have wonderful pictures of melting of the Antarctic, but IPCC in their 2007 report clearly states “Antarctic sea ice extent continues to show inter-annual variability and localized changes but no statistically significant average trends, consistent with the lack of warming reflected in atmospheric temperatures averaged across the region” (in fact, Antarctic sea ice extent has recently set record highs for both total areal extent as well as total extent anomaly (see here and here)). Furthermore, IPCC tells the world (and we wonder if anyone is listening) “Current global model studies project that the Antarctic ice sheet will remain too cold for widespread surface melting and is expected to gain in mass due to increased snowfall.”


Elizabeth Thomas and her two colleagues begin their article noting “Antarctic precipitation is a difficult parameter to measure directly, primarily because of problems with blowing snow. A recent synthesis of available data suggests no significant change in snowfall across the continent as a whole since the 1950s. However, proxy indicators do suggest an increase in the Peninsula.” They note “that the number of days with precipitation — based on synoptic observations of ‘present weather’ — at Faraday station, in the north-western Peninsula, increased at a rate of 12.4 days/decade between 1950–99. In addition, model data reveal an upward trend in regional precipitation for the period 1980–2004 while satellite altimeter data indicate an increase in elevation in the western Peninsula for 1992–2003, thought to be due to greater snowfall.” Notice that they are talking about more snow and more snow accumulation – in Antarctica.

Thomas et al. analyzed a medium depth ice core drilled at a high accumulation site (Gomez) on the south-western Antarctic Peninsula (73.59°S, 70.36°W, 1400 m) (see map , Figure 1). If you want the details, the core was drilled in January 2007 using an electromechanical, 104 mm diameter drill to a depth of 136 m. As seen in the figure below, the snow accumulation (measured in meters of water equivalent per year, mweq y-1), has as the title of the article suggests, been rising like a rocket. In their own words, the authors state “Annual accumulation has more than doubled in the last 150 years: the mean for 1855–1864 was 0.49 mweq y-1while for 1997–2006 it was 1.10 mweq y-1. At the beginning of the record annual accumulation is relatively stable until about 1930 when it begins to increase steadily. Following a slight reduction in accumulation in the late 1960s, the most rapid increase occurs in the latter part of the record with the mean accumulation rate from the mid-1970s onwards increasing to 0.95 mweq y-1. Note that for the post-1980 period even the lowest annual accumulation values are still greater than the highest accumulation values from the first half of the record (1855–1924).” This huge increase may be unique to the Gomez area, but other cores sites certainly show increases in accumulation as well.


Figure 1. Annual accumulation at Gomez (dashed blue) and running decadal mean accumulation at Gomez (solid blue), Dyer Plateau (red), James Ross Island (black) and ITASE01_05 (green) in meters of water equivalent per year (mweq y-1) between 1850 and 2006 (from Thomas et al., 2008)

So while we’ve heard recent reports about Antarctica losing ice, here we again find evidence to the contrary, and then some, at least in these locations. Not only is there no evidence of melting at the Gomez site, snow is accumulating there at an amazingly high rate. Clearly, this paper adds to the evidence that suggests that we simply, as of yet, do not have a firm grasp on the climate changes and their drivers that are effecting Antarctica, past, present, or, much less, future.

Daisey said...

I see that it is melting at a record pace too in the Canadian Arctic. Last night at the Eureka weather station in central Melville Island, the temperature dropped to minus 49.4 deg C; or minus 57 deg F. Yup, sure will be melting rapidy there too.

Steve V said...

Oh Lewis :)

daisey

You are so dense, you just presented the "isolation game" I mentioned in my post. Too funny.

Daisey said...

Steve V,
My problem is temporary but yours is a permanent affliction.

Steve, I can study and tomorrow become 'undense', but poor ole Steve, will always be blind.

Steve V said...

Daisey

"Steve, I can study and tomorrow become 'undense'"

It's never too late to get your highschool diploma. Good luck to you, I recommend Grade 11 Science.

Fini.

lance said...

Steve, the "isolation game" works both ways.

Citing only the data which proves a point is used by those questioning AGW and by those supporting the theory of AGW.

Could volcanic activity, geysers or hot-springs cause the ice to flow more and faster in Antarctica?

Or is soot (Journal of Geophysical Research) (MSM article) really responsible for glacial melt?

Why isn't the troposphere reacting the way the computer models said it should? Is it because of ozone depletion or are the models wrong because they are too simple and don't take volcanic eruption, El Nino and La Nina into account?

Way too many questions out there to think AGW is anything but a theory.

Cheers,
lance

Steve V said...

"Way too many questions out there to think AGW is anything but a theory."

Lance, you can waste your time with the other stragglers, the vast majority opinion is moving forward. That isn't to say that legitimate questions don't exist, but I'm not really interested in the viewpoint of those that can't even accept the premise.

lenny said...

As Lewis demonstrates, the mind of the denier is bizarre indeed.
A study assessing snowfall accumulation in less than 3% of Antarctica is of great significance and should be used to extrapolate climate change effects for the whole continent, while a study of the net accumulation/loss of ice volume for the whole continent is ignored.

lance said...

Shorter Steve: Nah, Nah, I can't hear you!

This whole debate is political, science has nothing to do with it.

Disgusting.

Steve V said...

"This whole debate is political, science has nothing to do with it."

I'm sure that's what the tobacco industry used to say too.

Ti-Guy said...

Way too many questions out there to think AGW is anything but a theory.

No kidding. There are literally millions of questions that keep AGW in the realm of speculation. Such as:

1. Couldn't AGW be caused by people leaving their doors open in the winter, thus heating the atmosphere?

2. Has anyone heard that the Earth's core might be heating up? Why is that information being suppressed? Is it peer-review consensus terrorism? And if not, why not? And where are my keys, anyway?

3. Are we sure that 347 debunkings of the solar energy hypothesis are really enough to dismiss it?

4. What about God...maybe he's got a cold?

This whole debate is political, science has nothing to do with it.

Questions in and of themselves are not science, CheersLance.

The only reason I can think of for certain types of people to keep posing them is...well, political.

lenny said...

"Could volcanic activity, geysers or hot-springs cause the ice to flow more and faster in Antarctica?"

The question is: "Could volcanic activity, geysers or hot-springs cause a significant amount of the Antarctic's ice loss?

The answer is: "Hahaha!"

Or, as the author of the study you cite says (and remember he's only talking about the small portion of Antarctica where there's volcanic activity) "Volcanic heat could still be melting ice to water and contributing to thinning and speeding up of the Pine Island glacier, which passes nearby, but Vaughan said he doubted that it could be affecting other glaciers in western Antarctica, which have also thinned in recent years. Most glaciologists, including Vaughan, say that warmer ocean water is the primary cause of thinning."

"Or is soot (Journal of Geophysical Research) (MSM article) really responsible for glacial melt?"

Not according to the study you cite which suggests that "soot" may be responsible for 1/3 of arctic warming.

"Why isn't the troposphere reacting the way the computer models said it should? Is it because of ozone depletion "

Maybe. What's your point?

Steve V said...

"Couldn't AGW be caused by people leaving their doors open in the winter, thus heating the atmosphere?"

Ti-guy, all kidding aside, I've thought about this point. All the heat that man generates is an artificial process, is it conceivable that things such as home heating contribute. I know the heat dissipates, but it is still added to a natural process. Just a thought.

lenny said...

"This whole debate is political, science has nothing to do with it."

Science has everything to do with it, and kudos for rising above the denier crowd and actually referencing it. Now, if you could just work on comprehending what you read.

lance said...

Lenny, it's just as ridiculous to ignore a very solid experiment that says snowfall has increased dramatically because the person bringing it up used it as a proof against AGW.

This is all just stupid. Fact is fact, it has no politics. Hypothesis to fit the facts, not the other way around please.

Cheers,
lance

Ti-Guy said...

is it conceivable that things such as home heating contribute.

Steve...I'm going to have to check your blog to see if there's an empty pod (stamped with the CPC logo) lying around somewhere.

Just kidding. I don't think heat in and of itself would be significant. Most of the world doesn't heat dwellings the way we do.

Steve V said...

ti guy

What about the urban "heat island" scenario? That is another artifical contribution, does it add up?

Steve V said...

lance

Who cares if snowfall is increasing, if the icecap is receding, which is the conclusion of my link, which is conveniently ignored? It snows in cold places that are frequently below zero, the bottomline is the ice mass.

Ti-Guy said...

What about the urban "heat island" scenario? That is another artifical contribution, does it add up?

I don't know. I'd have to research that.

I don't think so. The "heat island" effect is a micro-climate issue and might exist even if greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere remained constant.

lenny said...

"it's just as ridiculous to ignore a very solid experiment that says snowfall has increased dramatically because the person bringing it up used it as a proof against AGW."

A study dealing with snow accumulation in an area that amounts to less than 3% is obviously insignificant when you've got a study demonstrating net accumulation/loss for the whole continent. It's like ignoring the fact that 99% of the world's glaciers are shrinking and posting some study of one of the 1% that is growing, and suggesting it's "proof against AGW." It's no more "proof against AGW" than safely driving home from the mall is proof that people don't die in car accidents.

Steve V said...

Just a thought :)

lance said...

Well steve, in your link:

"The figures were calculated by deducting the amount of ice losses on the continent from the amount of snow that computer models indicate it receives.

The figures were based on satellite data on ice thickness and the speeds at which glaciers are flowing into the ocean."

So, the mass was calculated using a computer model of snowfall. Now we have a solid measurement of that snowfall.

But then, who cares about snowfall.

lance said...

Yes lenny. Actually measuring something is for amateurs.

The computer model that extrapolates the snowfall from which the icesheet loss is arrived at is probably much more accurate.

Cheers,
lance

Steve V said...

lance

Are you for real, the ice sheet lose is measurable, it isn't a computer probability, it's real? The deniers don't deny receding, just the cause, you seem to arguing the visual. Let the satellite imagery do the talking.

lenny said...

"Yes lenny. Actually measuring something is for amateurs."

"Measuring" is what the satellites are used for, Lance.
Now, do you have so evidence to present that the findings in the snowfall study contradict the findings in the net ice loss study? Because you sure seem to be suggesting you do.

lance said...

lenny, as far as I know ice thickness on land is only measured by local ice penetrating radar, not from a satellite. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Sea ice thickness can be measured from satellite and from upward looking sonar.

If the above is correct, then yes, steve, the loss of ice mass is completely dependent on computer model and extrapolation.

No, lenny, that doesn't mean it's wrong. It may mean that the new snowfall data may make the models somewhat dated though.

Cheers,
lance