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Thursday, August 2, 2012

tamino nails Anthony Watts' seminal, game-changing [NOT], unsubmitted draft paper on U.S. land temperatures, or "Much Ado About Nothing"

Much Ado about Nothing

by tamino, Open Mind, August 1, 2012
A couple of recent events have caused some stir in the climate denial blogosphere.
I’m underwhelmed.

Comic relief comes courtesy Anthony Watts, who announced a new “paper” which he claims “shows half of the global warming in the USA is artificial,” and which Pielke the elder calls “seminal” and a “game changer.” Some consider it hypocritical that Watts should make such a big fuss, including a “press release,” about a paper which isn’t yet even submitted for publication, let alone peer reviewed or accepted for publication, after he so scathingly criticized Richard Muller for doing pretty much the same thing some time ago with the initial results of the Berkeley study. Apparently, for Watts it’s OK to trumpet unpublished work which agrees with his ideology, but it’s a mortal sin when it disagrees with him.
What Watts has shown is that he can get a lower warming trend for the continental USA than others get. All you have to do is systematically eliminate the data you don’t like, while ignoring things like station moves, instrument changes, and recording data at different times of day. Don’t you dare correct for known biases (unless of course doing so would make the estimate of global warming smaller)! And if the satellite data should be in better agreement with others than with yourself, don’t breathe a word about that.
The irony is that Watts is doing exactly what he accuses others of: tilting every aspect of the data and analysis to suit his ideology. The joke is that he actually thinks this is “science.”
Since his original chest-beating, it seems that even some of his co-authors (one can’t help but wonder, did they all even know they were listed as co-authors?) take exception to his methods. Alas, it looks like important details are missing which are required for those who want to check his results. I certainly didn’t find any links to the data or computer programs used. Doesn’t Anthony want to be audited?
It’s the latest move in Watts’ grand plan to minimize the amount of global warming we’ve witnessed. He would never claim that the earth isn’t warming, any more than he would say the earth is flat — just that it’s only half as round as the so-called “experts” claim.
Boredom arrives from the Berkeley team itself, with a new (but again, as-yet unpublished) paper about the Berkeley global land-only temperature estimate. Temperature-wise, the numbers are updated through November 2011 and the overall picture is pretty much unchanged. What’s new is that they have subjected the results to some analysis, concluding that recent global temperature increase is due to human activity (greenhouse gases) and that volcanic eruptions also influence global temperature. Good job catching up with climate science — circa 1980.
Their attribution is based on simple regression of temperature against the logarithm of CO2 concentration (as a proxy for human influence) and volcanic sulfate emissions, and noting that including solar variation in the mix doesn’t improve the fit significantly. How original! There’s no attempt to account for the time lag in the climate system, certainly no accounting for multiple time scales (in particular the long time scale of the oceans which will affect land temperatures). The influence of the el Nino southern oscillation isn’t included either. Sulfate aerosols are only included if they’re volcanic — all those sulfate emissions from factories and power plants are ignored.
Does anybody else think that their regression analysis is no more sophisticated or informative than what a number of readers here have already done themselves?
They do, however, conclude that what’s left over after their regression bears some resemblance to the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO). I suspect this is Richard Muller’s attempt to justify his previous conclusions about AMO and land temperature. Or, maybe it reflects his fervent hope that the Berkeley project might actually find out something that we didn’t already know.
Tell ya what I think.
The impact of global warming is getting clearer, and will soon be obvious even to the hard-core deniers. Arctic sea ice continues its death spiral. Sea level continues to rise. The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets continue to lose mass at an alarming pace, and glaciers worldwide keep shrinking. Species continue to migrate to higher latitudes and altitudes. We’re also seeing more and more signs that the “man in the street” can’t ignore. Since the amazing heat wave in Europe in 2003, we’ve seen amazing heat waves in Australia, Russia, the USA (twice). We’ve seen enhanced drought and record-breaking floods. And to the statisticians at re-insurance giant Munich Re, the increase in weather-related disasters is both huge and certain. This is not normal — and it’s not natural.
In other words, we’re rapidly approaching the moment when denial is no longer possible for the sane. Those who want it not to be so are getting annoyed at nature’s recurrent reminders, so they’re getting more shrill and more desperate. Furthermore, the press is starting to realize that all those times that fake claims from fake skeptics were proved fake, is no accident. It’s a pattern, one they should have heeded all along.
I’ve said before that by the end of this decade global warming will be so f***ing obvious that deniers will be laughed at — at best. Perhaps I should revise the time scale for that prediction, because the obvious is knocking at the door. Who knows, depending on what happens weather-wise over the next few months, maybe Mitt Romney will decide to flip-flop on the issue — again.

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