Secular Right | Reality & Reason

Feb/10

2

The Church of Climate Change: Some Movement in The Pews

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This press report is interesting, not only for what it contains  (some tricky questions about Chinese climate data on urban ‘heat islands’ ), but for where it appears – in the Guardian, a center of AGW orthodoxy.

The Guardian‘s writer concludes as follows:

The story has a startling postscript. In 2008, Jones [Professor Phil Jones, director of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia] prepared a paper for the Journal of Geophysical Research re-examining temperatures in eastern China. It found that, far from being negligible, the urban heat phenomenon was responsible for 40% of the warming seen in eastern China between 1951 and 2004.

This does not flatly contradict Jones’s 1990 paper. The timeframe for the new analysis is different. But it raises serious new questions about one of the most widely referenced papers on global warming, and about the IPCC’s reliance on its conclusions.

It is important to keep this in perspective, however. This dramatic revision of the estimated impact of urbanisation on temperatures in China does not change the global picture of temperature trends. There is plenty of evidence of global warming, not least from oceans far from urban influences. A review of recent studies published online in December by David Parker of the Met Office concludes that, even allowing for Jones’s new data, “global near-surface temperature trends have not been greatly affected by urban warming trends.”

Keenan accepts that his allegations do not on their own change the global picture. But he told the Guardian: “My interest in all this arises from concern about research integrity, rather than about global warming per se. Jones knew there were serious problems with the Chinese research, yet continued to rely upon the research in his work, including allowing it to be cited in the IPCC report.”

H/t: Mark Steyn

7 comments

  • A-Bax · February 3, 2010 at 8:56 am

    It’s encouraging to see the group-think edifice beginning to crumble. The public at large may not understand much about climate science, or even the nature of the (proper) scientific method, but they do understand chicanery, fraud, and conflict-of-interest.

    The AGW hypothesis – however intuitively implausible – has not, of course, been debunked or disproved by the avalanche of misdeeds that are coming to light. But the cracks in the façade of “consensus” will hopefully open the door to the public understanding that climate science is not settled, and that those who insist otherwise are simply mistaken (at best).

    For those who disagree, and insist that climate science is in fact settled, I ask: what has the AGW hypothesis successfully predicted? (Please bear in mind that future temperature expectations based on data modeling does not count as empirical evidence).

  • Mike H · February 3, 2010 at 10:01 am

    Unfortunately the brainwashing may already have done too much damage. We’re experiencing one of the harshest winters in recent memory yet hardly a day goes by where I don’t hear someone say that it’s actually because of global warming. There’s literally no possible outcome which could falsify the AGW hypothesis in the minds of such people.

  • A-Bax · February 3, 2010 at 10:49 am

    Mike H: You might be right that the brainwashing has done too much damage already, but I’m holding out hope. One thing I find encouraging is the degree to which environmentalists have damaged their “brand”.

    The rhetorical shift from “Global Warming” to “Climate Change” is telling, I think. Why the shift? Part of the reason, it seems to me, is that the term “Global Warming” became kind of a punch-line. Or just an eye-rolling non-starter. So a PR change was in order.

    To me, it’s kind of like how the term “toilet” changed to “bathroom” and then changed to “restroom”. Over time, the term itself becomes almost infected by the activities it calls to mind, and periodically we seem to shift to something new so as to not sound so gross.

    I’m hoping that the term “climate change” will suffer a similar fate (eventually) in the wake of what’s been happening. It’ll end up being associated with self-serving, manipulative, dishonest quackery, I hope. And maybe, just maybe, the politics will be taken out of it, and some legitimate science can get done.

    I know, I know, rose-colored glasses. But if the public recoils enough at the deceptive (in some cases criminal) behavior of doomsday-enthusiasts, perhaps the funding spigot will get turned off, and those who would subvert science for political ends will move on to something else.

  • Tom · February 4, 2010 at 5:34 am

    Ah, science by press release and political thinktank. Just like the anti-vaccine movement, and young-earth creationists. If my viewpoint were supported in manners identical to those movements, I’d probably start asking myself some very strict questions.

  • Sully · February 5, 2010 at 10:57 am

    Last evening I talked to a young fellow who’s a couple of years away from his PhD in Chem Eng. He mentioned that the grad students he associates with are pretty much all of the belief that the destruction of, or more kindly, inability to produce, the raw data, by the CRU and IPCC crowd is sufficient reason to discount all of their research. If the warmists have lost the science folks at major universities the matter is going to wait for new research by scientists rather than advocates.

  • Don · February 6, 2010 at 8:56 am

    Indeed, churches have formed regarding global warming, and one is very much in evidence on this site, and today we hear its urban heat island hymn. Topical, indeed! I wonder who on this site will be the first to do an objective assessment of the in press paper by Menne?

  • Andrew Stuttaford · February 6, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    Don, I may be missing your point here, but mine is not that heat islands ‘explain’ global warming (I don’t think they do). Indeed, I specifically quoted the following from the Guardian piece I posted: “…This dramatic revision of the estimated impact of urbanisation on temperatures in China does not change the global picture of temperature trends. There is plenty of evidence of global warming, not least from oceans far from urban influences. A review of recent studies published online in December by David Parker of the Met Office concludes that, even allowing for Jones’s new data, “global near-surface temperature trends have not been greatly affected by urban warming trends.”

    What I do think is worth noting is the sometimes rather curious manner in which *some* AGW data appears to have been put together and, more interestingly still, accepted. That the Chinese heat island piece I excerpted ran in the Guardian, previously a center of climate change orthodoxy, was, I thought, striking. Hopefully, it is an early sign of a slightly more critical approach to AGW, something that in the end can only help the science along.

    For anyone intersted, here’s the URL for Menne piece to which Don is (I believe) referring.

    http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/ushcn/v2/monthly/menne-etal2010.pdf

    Enjoy!

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