Saturday, January 09, 2010

Apparently not enough said ...

A satellite image of snow-covered Britain

So here's a PS to the earlier "Enough Said" post:

Below is a complete transcript of the item read by Couric from the Friday, January 8, CBS Evening News:

And it’s also cold in the United Kingdom. A satellite picture shows it’s covered in snow from the white cliffs of Dover to the Isle of Skye. Britain is in its longest cold spell in nearly three decades.

Some are attributing this to global warming.

Posting from the Auckland, New Zealand airport, where its warm, but only because it's summer here.


Doughlas Remy said...

Gil, your photo of the snow-covered British Isles is a classic example of how data—in this case a photo—can be misinterpreted and misused. If you were to zoom away from this area and take another photo that shows half the northern hemisphere with Moscow in the middle, and then create an overlay showing temperatures in the entire visible area from Newfoundland over to Tibet (on the same day that the British Isles were under ice), you would see an image approximately like this illustration.

The illustration, from MetOffice (the UK’s national weather service) shows what MetOffice describes as “bands of unusually warm air” to the south and east of the British Isles on the very same day that your photo was taken. If you are going to conclude from your photo that global warming is not happening, then I think you should conclude from the wide-angle illustration that the northern hemisphere was experiencing some extreme temperatures on the day your photo was made.

Here’s what the BBC’s MetOffice had to say about the coldest spell since 1963:

It is absolutely, undoubtedly true that over the past hundred years the world has gotten warmer, and the science is really very clear that the world will continue to get warmer. And the fact that it’s snowy in my garden doesn’t change that fact. ... Flowering is starting, generally, much earlier. One cold winter is not the end of global warming.

Watch their report here.

What is important to keep in mind is that there’s a difference between weather and climate. Weather is what you get from day to day. Climate is what you get over a thirty-year period.

If you have any lingering doubts that global temperatures are rising, take a look at some of these charts. Notice the saw-tooth movement of the lines on the first chart, which shows global land and ocean means since 1880. And notice that the trend is definitely, unmistakably "upward." The chart is from the Goddard Institute for Space Studies. NASA uses data that they provide.

Also, while you’re in Australia, talk to people there. They’ve had a wake-up call, and I don’t imagine you’ll find very many skeptics left.

Rick said...

I think it's disthpicable, Gil, the way the UK is hogging all the air conditioning like that. Disgusting display. Don't they know the other countries are suffering under AGW?
Flawnting it like that. You can see it from outer space for Pete's sake! Look around you UK!

Gordon said...


" ... while you’re in Australia, talk to people there. They’ve had a wake-up call, and I don’t imagine you’ll find very many skeptics left."

As in America, the tide of skepticism has been rising in Australia for several years. Just in December, their Senate changed course and rejected Turnbull/Rudd, their version of a cap and trade scheme. Australia's skeptics can be found at the Australian Climate Science Coalition, the Carbon Sense Coalition, or their new political party, The Climate Skeptics.

Unknown said...

And thank God for skeptics!

Doughlas Remy said...

Gordon, you’re absolutely right, and what you’ve said really surprises me. Australia is one of the last places on earth where I would have expected to find significant resistance to the scientific consensus on climate change. It is one of the countries that the 2006 Stern report considers most at risk. The effects will include drought and desertification in much of the country, erosion and inundation of coastal areas including Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane, damage to the Great Barrier Reef and other fragile ecosystems, increased bush fires, and more extreme behavior of cyclones (higher wind speeds, increased rainfall, stronger tides).

The Australian government acknowledges the impacts of climate change and has established the Australian Climate Change Science Program. Climate predictions are from CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) Marine and Atmospheric Research, Bushfire CRC (Cooperative Research Centre), the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, and the World Meteorological Organization.

I have to keep reminding myself that there is no necessary correlation between acceptance of the scientific consensus about AGW, on the one hand, and either proximity or risk level on the other. People living in the floodplains of rivers flowing off the melting glaciers that I can view from my upstairs windows in Seattle are not necessarily coming around to the consensus, and that is what amazes me, because their homes are sometimes flooded with river water and debris. Why do they think they are getting flood alerts that they didn’t get a few years ago? Or don’t they remember? Maybe they’re too new to the area or just too busy to think about it. Do they even think about where the river water comes from and why it might be rising? Or maybe there’s some kind of cognitive dissonance, a “disconnect” that allows them to avoid connecting the dots. “The glaciers are melting, but it can’t be because of global warming because Fox News says global warming is a hoax.”

Here are two related quotations that look at AGW from a risk management perspective:

I recognise that many people are sceptical about the science. But as Margaret Thatcher pointed out 20 years ago, this is an exercise in risk management. Given that the consequences of unchecked global warming would be catastrophic, responsible leaders should give the planet the benefit of the doubt. Few of us imagine our house is going to burn down tonight, but most of us will have taken out insurance. (Malcolm Turnbull, TimesOnline)

Nobody would accept expanding nuclear power if there was a 5 percent risk of a major accident. Why would we accept expanding oil and coal power if there is a 5 percent risk of a major climate accident? (John Roach of the National Geographic News)

truepeers said...

Alternative Doughlas,

"Climate is what you get over a thirty year period"

Dave Evans said...

Went to truepeers link. Started counting the factual inaccuracies - oh dear must learn to count faster.

Here is just one of the bigger ones:

"Their predictions – based on an analysis of natural cycles in water temperatures in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans – challenge some of the global warming orthodoxy’s most deeply cherished beliefs, such as the claim that the North Pole will be free of ice in summer by 2013."

No it is not one of global warmings deeply cherished beliefs. Some of said that this is now a possibility. Hardly the same as the above. Do these people understand the English language.

Doughlas Remy said...

Re: Truepeers’ link to Mail Online:
Mail Online is not a reliable source for information about climate change. Try the BBC News online, here. (The article is entitled, “Arctic summers ice-free ‘by 2013’”.

There are plenty of other reputable sources. These sources, including the National Snow and Ice Data Center, will agree that Arctic Sea ice has seen a persistent decline over the past 50 years. Keep in mind that the line on the chart will always have a sawtooth pattern, so the data must be viewed over a long period. Concentrating on short periods, or selecting periods by connecting peaks and troughs on the sawtooth is called “cherry-picking.”