Digital Diatribes

A presentation of data on climate and other stuff

Blogging Against the Grain, and My Most Recent Diatribe About Global Warming

Posted by The Diatribe Guy on February 12, 2008

I’m told that, in order to have a successful blog (i.e. one that more than three random people read, and only because they clicked the wrong link after a Google search) you must have a primary focus.  Alas, it looks like I will never have a successful blog.  I can’t help myself.  I have too many random interests.   I enjoy writing, and sometimes I’m trying to use my “entertainer” gene and not trying to make any broader point.   I also love current events:  news, politics, issues of the day…  Thus, my “news of the day” posts.   I love music.   Not just listening to it, but – as any visitors to the blog will know – I have a CD to promote, and the business side of me says that it would just be better to focus on blogging in order to draw attention to that.  (“That” meaning Avant-God, a Catholic/Christian Rock project that you will be sure to want to check out on CD Baby, artist Joe Tritz…  um, sorry about that shameless promotion…)   Then there’s the religious stuff.   I could just have a blog on Catholicism and/or religion in general.    Then there’s the personal stuff…  family, kids, stupid things I do… those kinds of things.

 It sounds like I need six blogs, so that each one has a particular focus.

Unfortunately, trying to keep those blogs active would be a nightmare for me, and while it would help streamline things for all my loyal fans, it is an impractibility.   Thus, I am just letting you know that I am well aware of my discombobulation.  All I can say is, check out the blog and read what fancies you.  

I go in streaks, too.   Some topic will interest me and I’ll plow into it.   Then it will wither on the vine.  Then I’ll get interested again.   It’s almost as if I’m trying to frustrate you.  

And so, having said that, tonight’s post is part dissertation about my posting propensities (and lack of uniformity thereof) and today’s little research on global warming.  

It’s cold here again.  And it’s snowing again.
This article says that it’s about to become the snowiest year in Madison, Wisconsin – ever.  This article tells me that it’s record cold in Minnesota.  I saw another article about the snowstorms in Ohio and Kentucky.

Yeah, it’s anecdotal.  But China has been decimated by one of the fiercest winters on record, with both snow quantities and cold.    It snowed in Jerusalem, a somewhat rare occurrence.   It snowed in Baghdad this year – a once-a-Century occurrence.

There are anecdotes of warmth, as well.  I talked to a business associate in Sweden who said the winter has been unusually mild, with little snow.  In the same conversation, he noted that the cold actually went south, though, and that people he knew in Turkey had one of the coldest winters they could remember.

January came in, according to NOAA as below average in tempreature (0.3 F below average of time period recorded).   It was the 49th coldest year of the 114 years.   So, overall, not the coldest, but in the top half of cold years for that month.  This is U.S. only.  The global stats showed the coolest temperatures since 2000, though it is above the baseline 1951-1980 average.

This winter doesn’t fit the Global Warming model.

It’s just one year.  And primarily, at this point, just one month.  Things could well bounce back and we’ll hear even more about global warming.   But what is interesting to me is the GW community’s ability to ignore this coldness.   When someone like me points out these things, it’s called anecdotes and I’m reminded that it doesn’t detract from a long-term trend.  Fair enough, but I’m then usually provided with counter-anecdotes.  And discussions of cycles (as potentially the real trend – not just a straight line) are usually poo-poo’d, even though if you look at a chart of satellite temps from the last 9 Januaries, it’s a flat line (actually, slightly negative even.  I ran a slope against the data in the global temperature anomaly link above).   This could indicate the top of a cycle, preceding a cooling trend.

Then, there’s stuff like this:
1) – a 2000 year analysis of temperatures from regions all over the globe analyzing temperatures by tree rings.   Looks like a cycle to me…

2) – an analysis that shows that the 1500 year trend in the Arctic looks cyclical, with an overall cooling trend.

3) Antarctic ice and anomalies which show aggregate ice in the Southern hemisphere, along with the ice anomaly increasing.   I’ll bet we’ve all heard about how the ice is melting in the Antarctic, right?   Well, overall Southern Hemisphere ice is very cyclical by season, and overall the anomaly is at a high point in the plus side for Southern hemisphere ocean ice.

And then, there are those whacky scientists who study the sun and think we are heading for a cooling period.    I read an article about some Russian scientist who feels the same way a while back.
Not surprisingly, it hasn’t really slowed the claims to global warming down.  I guess that’s in line with believing that the short-term occurrences of cold weather simply detract from the long-term issue of warming.  A valid thought, as far as that goes.    I am curious, though, if those who are sold on global warming are even willing to consider evidences such as the Antarctic ice as anything other than an annoying bit of information that “surely has a reasonable explanation, and therefore isn’t worth the time fretting about with all the other evidence” or if they are willing to take a second look at the data.   I also wonder why the scientists who observe the sun are generally dismissed, as if the sun has nothing to do with the temperature of our globe. 

It doesn’t halt the rhethoric, though.   I thought these two stories, that I both saw today, were amusing in their irony:

Bloomberg says Global Warming could kill us all.  On the other hand, maybe it will save lives, instead.

I’ve never really denied that a warming trend has occurred in recent decades. My skepticism is always about the reasons assigned to that trend (and more importantly, the corresponding policies that result) and whether or not this is a cycle that will reverse itself at some point (whether or not in our lifetimes) irrespective of what we do or don’t do to “combat” it.  And this really is the central issue, because this is more than just debating who’s right and who’s wrong.  Policy decisions are, and will continue to be, made based on evidence that may be being assessed inappropriately. 

For example, using the table of anomalies that I linked to, there is an undisputable upward trend in temperature anomaly.  Ignoring arguments for why this may or may not be accurate, let’s assume it is.   In ten of the months, in recent years, one can establish a negatively sloped trend line.   Now, to prove I am not getting carried away, it is admitted that three or four of these are pretty weak – it’s a line established by the most recent 2-4 data points.   But some of the months are established over the last 8-10 years.   Now, it is true that this could be a pause in the upward trend.   But there is no more proof of that than me saying that this indicates a peak, and a trend reversal.  The simple fact is, we won’t know until we get more data points.  But we seem to be at a potentially critical juncture in determining what is in store.  Given this pause, it seems more prudent to wait and see what is on the horizon than it is to spend countless billions on a problem that may not exist.  We can still address other environmental problems of pollution, toxins, and the like.  There is nothing wrong with reasonable and economically viable emissions standards.  But let’s not go all Kyoto quite yet.

Finally, it was mentioned to me elsewhere that La Nina is an explanation for the cold weather and snow accumulations.  And while it does appear that more precipitation was indeed forecast, the temperature thing does not appear to be reasonably explained by La Nina if you take a look at the predictions leading up to the winter months.

NOAA was predicting above average temperatures countrywide, including the Great Plains region and the Northeast.

Accu-weather expert Joe Bastardi was basically wrong about almost everything regarding temperature expectations throughout the winter.

Post-winter explanations for colder weather because of La Nina ring a little hollow to me when put in the context of predictions made prior to winter.

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