December 9, 2009 at 7:27 PM 6 comments

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.


Entry filed under: current events, environmental sciences, peace and justice. Tags: , .


6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. bewarethechicken  |  December 30, 2009 at 3:40 PM

    True enough. But due to the media’s incessant desire to report on “both sides” non-expert skeptics get to voice their opinions on an equal footing with the zillions of experts who believe in global warming.

    In a rational world we would just listen to consensus expert opinion and move on. But similarly to when cigarrettes were being exposed as harmful, the industry made sure it’s voice was the loudest. This is easy to do, because unbias scientists have no great incentive to get the record straight -they just do their research.

    Anyway, the result is, when there is a snowstorm, every anchor on Fox News makes fun of those who claim global warming – even though no correlation. Similarly, when the media see that it’s the warmest decade on record, they present it -whether its conclusive or not.

    What should be conclusive is the overwhelming expert consensus, but that’s not the world we live in.

  • 2. FireTag  |  December 30, 2009 at 5:49 PM

    “the zillions of experts who believe in global warming.”

    That is an interesting statement in itself, BTC. Didn’t we all come to think that was the case because the media so told us?

    And did those experts who came to the conclusion do so because they assumed that the peer review process was functioning properly, since they had no time or inclination to check the work themselves? And did they assume that the skeptics were not expert in relevant fields because they already assumed that the peer review process was functioning properly?

    One thing that has become apparent to me as I have begun to follow this issue is how much wealth is on the line for the “rich” on both sides of the issue. You have oil and coal companies standing to lose fortunes on one side, and you have companies like GE and the Tata Group, India’s largest and most politically powerful industrial conglomerate standing to lose fortunes on the other.

    With so much at stake, we can not trust in the objectivity of scientists, I’m sorry to say, but need to demand greater openness in the peer review process. Not less.

    If you’ve read the next post yet, you’ll see that CRU even reported evidence AGAINST the global warming hypothesis obtained by their own members as if it SUPPORTED the hypothesis.

  • 3. bewarethechicken  |  December 31, 2009 at 3:21 PM

    It’s not the media that convinced me that zillions of experts are on board. It’s the fact that every scientific body in the world supports this conclusion – so much so that every world leader went to Copenhagen to work out a deal. This isn’t a media-driven thing, it’s a fact driven thing.

    If you can’t trust the objectivity of thousands of scientists, then there’s no hope for you. I cannot become a scientist, therefore I am forced to trust consensus.

  • 4. FireTag  |  December 31, 2009 at 4:53 PM

    Hence the questions I raised about how the “scientific consensus” was reached. It seems we can not trust the objectivity of key scientists, who actually form a very small portion of those you appear to form a “scientific consensus”. The peer reviewers, who are reviewing each other’s papers, are in the dozens, not zillions.

    There are some things I have the training to examine more closely. As I have, I have found that the things I CAN check are dodgy.

    Once that is exposed, its time to get a second opinion. The world has too much at stake on this particular issue.

  • 5. bewarethechicken  |  January 4, 2010 at 2:06 PM

    I don’t see why we can’t trust the objectivity of key scientists.

    • 6. FireTag  |  January 4, 2010 at 6:35 PM

      See my reply to your comment on my next post, “Get Your Hand Out of the Cookie Jar!”.


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