MORE ON CLIMATE STATISTICS
Earlier this week the UN World Meteorological Organization published a press release that shows the bewildering subtlety of the statistical arguments that climate policy needs to consider. The press release notes that 2009 is on pace to be the 5th warmest year on record (i.e., during the industrial age) and that this decade (2000′s) will have been the warmest decade on record, with the 1990′s the second warmest decade. The press is largely reporting that this data implies global warming is continuing.
However, note that the press release is also perfectly consistent with the following position held by the global warming skeptics: “The world shows no statistical warming since the late 1990′s.”
How can that be? “Fifth warmest year” certainly sounds ominous. So does “warmest decade”
But if you climb a hill to a plateau, anywhere on the plateau is likely to be higher than the hill you were climbing. And if you measure 10 random spots on the plateau, it is hardly a surprise if the last spot you measure happens to be the fifth highest of the 10 spots you measured.
The press release is simply irrelevant to whether what’s on the other side of the plateau is a valley or another hill.