The 12 days of global warming

Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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5 Responses

  1. Brian says:

    there’s a huge legion of scientists who are not Al Gore, are not politicans, and are not media whores — who are genuinely concerned about the data they’re collecting that continually solidify the fact that we’re warming the planet at an unnatural rate. Mocking Gore is fine but it doesn’t change the facts.Report

  2. Sam M says:

    I have been pretty agnostic about climate change for a long time. I know, that’s a cop out. But I could never get a handle on the actual science, and the messengers all seemed to have an agenda. So I guess I would come down against any radical changes to the economy, etc. Ron Bailey almost had me convinced, and I guess I was leaning in his direction.

    So while I guess that makes me kind of a denialist, if that’s the word, this stuff all makes me even more skeptical. In the comments, Brian points out that tons of scientists still worry about global warming. OK. But my understanding is that this concern is based on a pretty small set of data, the veracity of which appears to be in question. Worse, that data doesn’t really say anything. It’s the computer modeling used to manipulate the data that seems even more tainted now.

    And from what I can tell, a very, very small subset of scientists was engaged in collecting the data and formulating these models. And then peer-reviewed each other to prominence. And peer-reviewed others into oblivion.

    The thousands of scientists who we see worrying now are REACTING to this data and modeling, which up until now was seen as so sancrosanct, people who doubted it were considered so lowly as to be compared to holocaust deniers.

    But honestly, I don’t ask this as someone with a huge ax to grind in this debate–but doesn’t this current debacle call that data and that modeling into question? And if it does, doesn’t this cast doubt on the consensus that emerged as the fruit of that data and modeling?

    Perhaps not. But if this turns out to be really bad… that wholce consensus thing doesn’t amount to a pile of rubbish. None of it.

    For now… buy stock in Consul.Report

    • Nob Akimoto in reply to Sam M says:

      There’s really a very large set of data, though the significance of the CRU hack is more that it was the dataset/modelset used by the IPCC, rather than because its dataset was vital to the overall field of climate science. Real Climate’s done a pretty good job of listing datasets and models, there’s a lot of them. One of the things that happens generally in science (social or natural) is that people generally try to build their own datasets, either because it’s more convenient for their own thesis (very common) or because their models require certain types of data conversion from raw observations to account for observed variable problems.Report

  3. Sam M says:

    Well, here we have yet another dispute that seems to be “resolvable” with regard to the facts. I honestly don’t know the answer, but here is what Ron Bailey wrote yesterday regarding the data:

    “It is reassuring to think that even if the CRU data are shown to be distorted (either wittingly or unwittingly) other independent sources of data are at hand. But that belief may not be entirely accurate. Besides the CRU temperature data, there are two other leading sources used by the IPCC, one created by the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), and the other by the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Climatic Data Center (NCDC).

    While it is true that the scientific groups are independent, as University of Colorado climatologist Roger Pielke Sr. (father of Pielke Jr.) observes, the temperature data sets are not all that independent. Pielke cites the 2006 U.S. Climate Change Science Program report, which noted, “Since the three chosen data sets utilize many of the same raw observations, there is a degree of interdependence.” The report further observed, “While there are fundamental differences in the methodology used to create the surface data sets, the differing techniques with the same data produce almost the same results.” In 2007, Pielke and his colleagues reported, “The raw surface temperature data from which all of the different global surface temperature trend analyses are derived are essentially the same. The best estimate that has been reported is that 90–95 percent of the raw data in each of the analyses is the same (P. Jones, personal communication, 2003). That the analyses produce similar trends should therefore come as no surprise.” ”

    Granted, Bailey writes for reason. And he used to call warming an “ecom-myth.” But he has changed his tune in recent years.

    So either there is a wide variety of data that has been collected and used, which means that if this data is tainted, we still have recourse to others.

    Or not.

    I wonder if it’s possible to get an answer even to this kind of question. seems pretty provable, either way.Report