In the “you gotta be kidding us” category

One of the things that always leaves me shaking my head is the selective use of statistics by the so-called climate skeptics.   Today’s episode was inspired by a Facebook post from  a friend of mine.   He posted a link to an article in the Daily Mail.    Forget global warming – it’s Cycle 25 we need to worry about (and if NASA scientists are right the Thames will be freezing over again).  So I figured, what the heck,  and I went over to check it out.    The first thing I saw was

The supposed ‘consensus’ on man-made global warming is facing an inconvenient challenge after the release of new temperature data showing the planet has not warmed for the past 15 years

Well, that tells us where we are going, doesn’t it.  We can expect an objective, fact base article.  Riiight.      Coming up next

Meanwhile, leading climate scientists yesterday told The Mail on Sunday that, after emitting unusually high levels of energy throughout the 20th Century, the sun is now heading towards a ‘grand minimum’ in its output, threatening cold summers, bitter winters and a shortening of the season available for growing food.

Hmm.  I wonder who these supposed “scientists” are.    They certainly aren’t the ones that produced the report.   The report does certainly indicate that there is likely to be lower solar activity over the next several decades.

According to a paper issued last week by the Met Office, there is a  92 per cent chance that both Cycle 25 and those taking place in the following decades will be as weak as, or weaker than, the ‘Dalton minimum’ of 1790 to 1830. In this period, named after the meteorologist John Dalton, average temperatures in parts of Europe fell by 2C.

However, it is also possible that the new solar energy slump could be as deep as the ‘Maunder minimum’ (after astronomer Edward Maunder), between 1645 and 1715 in the coldest part of the ‘Little Ice Age’ when, as well as the Thames frost fairs, the canals of Holland froze solid.

So let’s take that second statement first.  Notice there is no quantification of the possibility.   It is possible… that just about anything could happen.  So let’s ignore that second statement.   But give them the first.  92% chance that solar activity will be unusually low.   Notice the mention of what happened to “parts” of Europe.   So let’s look at the release from the Met office themselves.

Sarah Ineson, who performed the experiments, said: “What we’re seeing is UV levels affecting the distribution of air masses around the Atlantic basin. This causes a redistribution of heat – so while Europe and the US may be cooler, Canada and the Mediterranean will be warmer, and there is little direct impact on global temperatures.

But what about the 15 year pause?  The article states flatly that the recent data released by the met office “confirms that the rising trend in world temperatures ended in 1997.”  But they don’t say who reached that conclusion.   They do show the following chart:


Two things to notice about this chart.  First, it doesn’t look like much of a trend to me either way.  In fact, without 2011, it looks like mostly a warming trend.  But if you step back and look at the data from a longer period


And you can see that 1998 was a record year, and that temperatures have not moved significantly lower.  The trend (though apparently slower) has certainly not halted.

But, what about the sun cycles?  Further along in the article

World temperatures may end up a lot cooler than now for 50 years or more,’ said Henrik Svensmark, director of the Center for Sun-Climate Research at Denmark’s National Space Institute.

Svensmark has made the claim that Galactic Cosmic Rays (GCR) are largely responsible for climate change.  The problem?  his data has matched the hype.  Others have tried to replicate his work and haven’t been able to,  and he refuses to release details.

“While the experiments were potentially of interest, they are a long way from actually demonstrating an influence of cosmic rays on the real world climate, and in no way justify the hyperbole that Svensmark and colleagues put into their press releases and more ‘popular’ pieces. Even if the evidence for solar forcing were legitimate, any bizarre calculus that takes evidence for solar forcing of climate as evidence against greenhouse gases for current climate change is simply wrong. Whether cosmic rays are correlated with climate or not, they have been regularly measured by the neutron monitor at Climax Station (Colorado) since 1953 and show no long term trend. No trend = no explanation for current changes.” Dr. Rasmus BenestadNorwegian Meteorological Institute


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