What Giveth in the Ice Debate? (Southern Hemisphere)
Posted by The Diatribe Guy on May 27, 2009
Maybe some of you intelligencia can shed some light on this for me… This post is nothing earth-shattering, not data driven, and is not particularly original. But I’ve been musing. And what I’ve been musing is that, whatever your personaly belief is about Anthropogenic Global Warming, Environmentalism, Stewardship of our Planet, or whatever else, there is also the need for honest assessment of the facts. Sometimes these facts are comfortable to our preconceived notions, and sometimes they are not.
Back to my analogy… the concern on my end is continually throwing stupid policy after stupid policy (tax and regulation, banning light bulbs, carbon trading, banning lamb meat from UK restaurants, and so on) to solve a non-existent problem. With each step we take, it centralizes more authority and control into the hands of a few, it creates inefficiency, and reduces freedoms, rights, and choices. Seriously… 20 years ago, did we ever imagine that we’d live in a country where the sale of incandescent light bulbs would be friggin’ illegal?
Suppose I think that a certain stock that has dropped will rebound. There are conflicting reports as to its outlook, but I’ve decided to ignore the negative ones. I invest in it. It drops again. I still believe in it, and despite the poor earnings and financial results, I continue to think it’s a winner, so I pour more money in. It drops some more. Damn it, it will come back. I know it will. So I pour everything I have into it. When the company declares bankruptcy, only then will I realize that believing in something in the face of contrary facts, and acting on that belief can have dire consequences.
So, this could be applied to a number of things in the climate debate. Some things seem less clear than others. For example, we have a 12-year flat trend line in global temperatures, using RSS data, but within that period, the last 10 years is actually upward sloped, as are the longer-term periods. Reasonable people on both sides can offer facts that support their opinions, while the honest person will acknowledge that the final answer is not clear. Is the current period a true flattening? The start of a reversal? Or simply a lull in the path of more warming to come?
But then there’s the Southern Hemisphere Ice. And it’s simply mind-boggling to me that the data is basically ignored. Not only is it ignored, but when one piece of the Antarctic shelf is cleaving or melting, it makes the news. Absent in the report is the overall picture. I won’t go into all that, especially since anything I could do would pale in comparison to the work that Jeff has done at the Air Vent (link to the right). Here’s one such example, but he has a plethora of work that he has done reconstructing and analyzing the reports that supposedly somehow showed Antarctic warming, despite increasing ice and decreasing temperatures over the last 30 years.
There are lies, damn lies, and statistics…
But all one has to do is look at the charts. Click on the chart to get a bigger version. Here they are (all charts come from http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu and are linked on the right of the page):
I asked my 3rd grader if this chart seems to be going up from left to right or down. He said up. My 3rd grader seems more astute in his observation skills than some scientists who don’t like that answer.
I suppose you can quibble about the fact that, at this point this year, the ice level isn’t as high as it was last year.
Here’s a riddle for you. In what year did the highest ice extent level occur?
Hint: look at the chart. No… not there. On the right side of the chart!
I go through this exercise more out of frustration than anything. I will admit that there are some valid theoretical arguments in favor of AGW. They are fairly simple, and I personally think the arguments break down in the complex planetary system that is the earth. But, OK, there is some theory there. And then, absent any serious analysis of other influencing factors, there is also a look at temperature trends where you say “hey, maybe there’s something to this!”
But then, in the world where correlation causation, one starts to look at solar effects, oceanic oscillations, longer term and shorter term trends, and all that and it’s a lot less clear that it all boils down to carbon. I’ve pretty clearly shown, simply from data alone, that when you remove the influence of oscillation patters, you get a pretty steady – not an accelerating – trend of about 0.4 degrees Celsius warming per Century. Then, I’ve shown that sunspot counts do seem correlated on some lag (and since it makes no sense to believe our climate would influence sunspots) there must be some level of causation there. Haven’t totally quantified how much of the trend can be attributed to that, because I need to do it in conjunction with the other factors. And then, I haven’t even looked at all the oceanic oscillations and myriad other influences.
My point is, just by doing some analysis on my own, which I have yet to have anyone tell me is incorrect, we’re down to a fairly minimal potential AGW influence. And this doesn’t consider other longer-term or unknown influences.
But beyond some fancy analysis, the bothersome thing is that we have direct evidence today that should make a real scientist, at the very least, question the premise of global warming. We have a mathematically derived 12-year flat trend line, and a short-term downturn. Whatever the statisitcal limitations might be on forming a conclusion, it’s still the current set of facts we can observe first-hand. We have ice in the Arctic that is below normal, and reached a minimum a couple years ago, but has since rebounded and just this month reached a level unseen at this time in the last decade. Click here for the current chart.
But the most egregiously overlooked information is the Southern Hemisphere ice extent. The charts above most definitively show more ice. They just do. Yes, I’ve heard the argument that “Well, you don’t understand climate modeling. Models actually predict more snow with global warming.”
I could actually buy that line, because a part of it makes a certain amount of sense. The problem is the dishonesty of application. When people thought there was less ice, you see, it was due to global warming, and sea levels were going to rise, like, 3000 feet. Now, we’re told that climate models predict more snow pack, and thus more ice. But the other thing is, there are so many climate models that you can pretty much find some model somewhere that predicted something or another. But not every model did, in fact, predict more snow. So, talk to the hand with that. You’re cherry picking your models, again, to fit your preconceived notions.
On another, unrelated (well, sort of related) note: Watts has a post up that NSIDC is finally giving up on producing daily ice extent charts. The satellite’s been puking now for a few months, and they’ve given it their best shot on a workaround, but it’s clear that it’s not going to be reliable. Thyankfully, we have the IJIS site, referenced earier. Otherwise, we’d have to rely on guys from greenpeace in kayaks measuring ice in preselected areas to tell us how much ice is missing up north.