Brian Sussman: Global Whining vs. the Truth

Foreword from Anthony:

Brian Sussman is a professional acquaintance of mine, I’ve known him since he was on KPIX-TV in San Francisco. He and I have come to essentially independent but similar conclusions, and he is writing a book on the subject of “Global Warming”, and excerpt of which is printed below.

In his opening he writes: “Like most TV Meteorologists, I loathed the heat wave live-remotes.” Ditto that. I’ve done more than my fair share of inane live shots where the producer demanded some sort of tie in with regular weather events to make it look more important than it actually was. I hated that too, but it was “do your job or find another place to work” when it finally came down to the crucible argument. From experience, I can tell you that many TV meteorologists are skeptical, few get to voice that skepticism.

I’ve spent a lot of time this week on polotical issues related to global warming, mostly due to the Leiberman-Warner bill being debated (now dead BTW). Next week it’s back to the science.


Global Whining vs. the Truth
By Brian Sussman

“105° tomorrow? We’ll be sending you out live,” the television producer informed me.

Like most TV Meteorologists, I loathed the heat wave live-remotes. I would much rather work in a controlled environment, complete with air conditioning and a green Chroma-key screen. And during extreme weather events, the studio lent itself to professionalism rather than playing on emotion.

“Let me guess, the bank in Walnut Creek?” I said sarcastically. I had been through this drill many times.

“Perfect location. Plus, a lot of viewers with ratings meters out there.”

Walnut Creek is an upscale town 30 miles east of San Francisco. It is sheltered from the cooling influences of the coast and the Bay by a modest mountain range. As a result, in the summer that region can bake. The bank not only referenced the name of the town, but had a thermometer that was several degrees off, thanks to the heat absorbing black asphalt on the adjacent multi-lane street and the pavement of the nearby parking lot. The producer knew 105° would easily read 110°. On air, I always quickly explained the reason for the soaring temperature reading for our audience, but it was not enough. The misleading visual message was absolutely clear: 110° in Walnut Creek-another sign of climate doom! No doubt about it, the climate was under assault. It had to be global warming.

No, it’s global whining.

Even without the bogus bank thermometer, a heat wave-or even a hot year-does not indicate global warming. More important, such weather does not point to any warming created by mankind’s utilization of fossil fuels. But telling that to the stooges on Capital Hill who are debating energy policies like Cap and Trade is like trying to tell the TV producer not to mislead the audience by sending the weatherguy to the bank thermometer in Walnut Creek.

The world’s most thorough historical temperature record is found amongst the 1,221 official, government-sanctioned weather monitoring stations that have been recognized as a part of the U.S. Historical Climatology Network (USHCN). Most of the stations within this network have records that date back to the 1800s. The beauty of this system is that in so many cases the environs where the thermometer is housed has changed little over the decades, providing critical data to determine major long-term trends.

In some instances thermometers within the Network have been encroached upon by urban sprawl and their readings notably have trended upward. However, for the locations that have remained relatively stable, the temperature record hardly reeks of global warming.

A perfect illustration is found when comparing the USHCN temperature records from Central Park in New York City to those taken a mere 55 miles away at West Point.

Readings in Central Park have been regularly measured since 1835 when the city’s population had just surpassed 200,000. Today, surrounded by a metropolis of eight million people filled with some of the world’s tallest buildings, a massive underground subway system, an extensive sewer system, power generation facilities, and millions of cars, buses, and taxis, the Central Park temperatures have been greatly altered by urbanization. And, as one might expect, the Central Park historical temperature plot illustrates an incredible warming increase of nearly 4°F.

The West Point readings have also been meticulously maintained since 1835, but the environment surrounding the thermometer shelter has experienced significantly less manmade interference then the one in Central Park. The West Point readings illustrate a significantly lower warming increase of only about .6°F over the same 170-year period. This is remarkable given that the year 1835 is considered to be the last gasp of the Little Ice Age — a significant period of global cooling that stretched back several hundred years.

Cries of out of control global warming become more dubious when one looks at the hottest decade in modern history, the 1930s.

The summer of 1930 marked the beginning of the longest drought of the 20th Century. From June 1 to August 3, Washington, D.C. experienced twenty-one days of high temperatures of at least 100°. During that record-shattering heat wave, there were maximum temperatures set on nine different days that remain unbroken more than three-quarters-of-a-century later. In 1934, bone dry regions stretched from New York, across the Great Plains, and into the Southwest. A “dust bowl” covered about 50 million acres in the south-central plains during the winter of 1935-1936. In some areas, the drought never broke until 1938.

According to the National Climatic Data Center, 1936 experienced the hottest overall summer on record in the continental United States. In fact, out of 50 states, 22 recorded their all-time high temperature during the 1930s, including:

* 110º Millsboro, Delaware, July 21, 1930

* 100º Pahala, Hawaii, April 27, 1931

* 109º Monticello, Florida, June 29, 1931

* 118º Keokuk, Iowa, July 20, 1934

* 111º Phoenixsville, Pennsylvania, July 10, 1936

* 120º Seymour, Texas, August 12, 1936

* 121º Steele, North Dakota, July 6, 1936

* 117º Medicine Lake, Montana, July 5, 1937.

(Graph added by Anthony, courtesty of Joe D’Aleo, ICECAP )

Here is a source for this graph -Anthony
http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/pub/data/special/maxtemps.pdf

One might make the argument that the incredible rise in temperatures in the 1930s coincided with the first notable increase in CO2, thus, the gas can be linked to global warming — but not honestly. While levels of carbon dioxide continued to increase during the following three decades, temperatures actually decreased.

According to NASA, the average temperature on the planet between 1940 and 1970 dropped .6°F. By the mid-Seventies the media was abuzz with notions of the next Ice Age. In its June 24, 1974 edition, Time magazine warned,

“Climatological Cassandras are becoming increasingly apprehensive, for the weather aberrations they are studying may be the harbinger of another ice age”

But those warning of global cooling soon became disappointed, as from 1970 to 1998 there was a slight increase in temperature (.34°F), noted in both USGCN record and verified by satellite observations (which only became available in the Seventies).

Since 1998 there has been no additional warming and indeed, a global dip in temperature began in 2007 and has continued into this year.

All this said, when examining the data from the most trusted sites within the Historical Network beginning in 1930 to present, there has actually been a net-decrease in temperature. This decrease is noted in all quarters of the continental United States.

Thus, the biggest chunk of global warming that has supposedly coincided with the Industrial Revolution and the increase in evil carbon dioxide, mostly occurred after the Little Ice Age and prior to 1940.

And Congress needs to understand this: carbon dioxide is not our foe. It is a fertilizer that is essential for life on planet earth; it is no more a poison or pollutant than oxygen or water.

CO2 is also the byproduct of progress. The cars that allow us to drive to important places like work, worship, our kids’ sporting events, the beach or the mountains, run on a very efficient portable form of energy known as gasoline, derived from petroleum. Our homes are heated, cooled, and lighted more often than not from natural gas. Companies that make the products essential to our lives also rely on these two forms of energy to create and deliver their wares. The carbon dioxide produced from these forms of energy is identical to the gas that is gently being emitted from your lungs as you read right now.

You are not expelling pollution: you are contributing to our planet’s carbon cycle. And the earth has a variety of built in mechanisms to recycle your CO2.

Carbon dioxide accounts for only slightly more than 3/100ths of our planet’s atmosphere. And what percentage of the miniscule amount of gas is produced by the activities of man, including the utilization of fossil fuels? According to a thorough analysis by the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, a research wing of the U.S. Department of Energy, only 3.207% — well within historical norms. And how much has CO2 increased in the atmosphere over the past 150 years? Approximately 35%.

In his must-read eco-thriller, State of Fear, Michael Crichton creates a brilliant visual to assist us in wrapping our minds around the components of Earth’s atmosphere. On page 387, he likens the atmosphere to a football field. The goal line to the 78 yard-line contains nothing but nitrogen. Oxygen fills the next 21 yards to the 99 yard-line. The final yard, except for four inches, is argon, a wonderfully mysterious inert gas useful for putting out electronic fires. Three of the remaining four inches is crammed with a variety of minor, but essential, gases like neon, helium, hydrogen and methane. And the last inch? Carbon dioxide. One inch out of a hundred-yard field! At this point I like to add, if you were in the stands looking down on the action, you would need binoculars to see the width of that line. And the most important point-how much of that last inch is contributed by man-made activities? Envision a line about as thin as a dime standing on edge.

Are you still worried about the dangers of CO2?

Me, neither.

And historically, CO2 has been significantly higher than today. In data primarily gathered from ice cores, we see carbon dioxide levels were 500 times higher during the Cretaceous period, some 160 million years ago. Many theorize that the dinosaurs were able to grow to such sizes because of the indescribable abundance of carbon fed foliage and overall atmospheric conditions present during that era. Certainly the SUV could not be blamed for those high levels of CO2. Dinosaur flatulence, perhaps?

Despite the cries of Congress, the Earth does not have a fever and carbon dioxide is no more dangerous than the breath of life. During the fall elections we need to cap the rhetoric from some of these political whiners by trading them in for people who know a good thermometer when they see it.

Back to you in the studio…

Brian Sussman is a radio talk show host on KSFO-AM in San Francisco and formerly an award-winning television meteorologist. His forthcoming book, “Global Whining, a Denier’s Handbook” is being represented by WordServe Literary Group, Ltd.

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60 thoughts on “Brian Sussman: Global Whining vs. the Truth

  1. “Politics is perhaps the only profession for which no preparation is thought necessary.”

    Robert Louis Stevenson

  2. I know my experience is merely anecdotal but I’d rank 1982 and 1987 (or at least the year Yellowstone burned) as the warmest in my ‘brief’ tenure.

  3. This is a terrific summary of the basics. Can you plot the temperatures from the “good” USHCN stations that show the cooling since the 1930s? After seeing the results from surfacestations.org, I skeptical that the network ever had the quality control needed to measure any long term trend of less than several degrees.

    I think that there’s a typo: CO2 accounts for 3/10,000ths of the atmosphere, not 3%.

  4. I like to keep my meteorology and my politics well apart, separate weather from the state!!!!!!!

  5. “Carbon dioxide accounts for only slightly more than 3/100ths of our planet’s atmosphere.”

    Shouldn’t that be 3/10,000ths (=300ppm)?

  6. I used to live in Los Gatos and listened often to the “Sussman”. I called in a number of times on his radio show and talked about global warming issues.
    Please tell him I said Hi

  7. I think I am going to get this book/

    I also got a kick out of the fact that the picture of the bank sign is the bank I use in Topeka , KS.

  8. My copy of State of Fear is loaned out…can anyone confirm that Crichton literally used the words “78-yard line” and “99-yard line” on page 387? There are no such lines in football. Seems his editors wouldn’t let such an awkward reference stand.

  9. Some climo facts for Bangor, Maine USA:
    August 1935: All time max temp: 104F
    August 1937: Temperature exceeds 90F on 17 days
    August 1975: Monthly maximum 102F. Last recorded 100 degree reading
    June 2008: 2PM Temperature on the 6th – a balmy 54F. Please, send some “climate change.”

  10. Of course the alarmists will point to the feedbacks as the enemy, not direct CO2 warming itself. The ‘feedbacks’ cited by IPCC haven’t actually manifested, but that won’t stop the Alarmists and ‘CO2 is ALL there is to climate change’ crew from continuing to make ‘unprecedented’ claims about the dangers of modern power generation….

  11. Technically, the ’78’ and ’99’ yard lines would be hash marks. They are marked, just not full width lines.

  12. When CO2 was first called a pollutant, I was outraged. This is the stuff we breath out and that plants live on. Get over it, greenies, you are going to die one way or another. And what about the faint possibility that the god you meet on the other side is not Gaia? The most likely contender takes a dim view of oppressing the poor even if done by government.

  13. Under the football analogy water vapor is actually in higher concentration than CO2 and yet it is never mentioned in there.

  14. @ Henry Cherry,

    I agree, I don’t like to mix my CSPAN with my Jim Cantore! Should be an interesting read, thanks for including this excerpt. And to see my CARTOONS click on my name link.

  15. My sister used to live in Walnut Creek. It was hotter than San Francisco, which was why they could afford Walnut Creek. (Even Walnut Creek wasn’t cheap, but it was comparatively less expensive.)

    I’m trying to remember conversations with TV meteorologists who invited my husband, Jim, to give a presentation on his trip to the Arctic on a climate change related project. I don’t remember any debates climate change. There had just been some amazing storms in Iowa, and also over the Great Lakes. We were all busy discussing the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

    (We’d just had a storm the meterologists were likening to thewreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald storm. On the day of the storm, my students read the barometric pressure during a aero lab, and thought the reading was impossible. I told them to notice the weather and asked them if they’d had as much trouble opening and shutting doors as I’d had. I also advised them to note the fiduciary information in the notebook as good practice. The low pressure came in fast.)

  16. JIm, yes there are: “Lengthwise, football fields have short marks, or yardlines, at the sidelines at one-yard intervals, with every fifth one extending all the way across the field.”

    My contribution is to suggest that Sussman check on the age of his ice cores: “In data primarily gathered from ice cores, we see carbon dioxide levels were 500 times higher during the Cretaceous period, some 160 million years ago.” That’s over a 200:1 exageration of the duration of ice core data.

  17. Oops,it just takes a keyclick to see my own error. Jim meant that there aren’t yardlines called 78 or 99 because there is none higher than 50 (in the middle of the field.

    Anthony you are welcome to delete my comments.

  18. URGENT – WEATHER MESSAGE
    NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MEDFORD OR
    732 AM PDT FRI JUN 6 2008

    CAZ084-085-ORZ029>031-062245-
    /O.CON.KMFR.FR.Y.0013.080607T1000Z-080607T1500Z/
    NORTHEAST SISKIYOU AND NORTHWEST MODOC COUNTIES-MODOC COUNTY-
    KLAMATH BASIN-
    NORTHERN AND EASTERN KLAMATH COUNTY AND WESTERN LAKE COUNTY-
    CENTRAL AND EASTERN LAKE COUNTY-
    INCLUDING THE CITIES OF…TULELAKE…DORRIS…ALTURAS…
    ALTAMONT…KLAMATH FALLS…BEATTY…BLY…CHEMULT…CRESCENT…
    GILCHRIST…SPRAGUE RIVER…LAKEVIEW
    732 AM PDT FRI JUN 6 2008

    …FROST ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 3 AM TO 8 AM PDT
    SATURDAY…

    A FROST ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 3 AM TO 8 AM PDT
    SATURDAY.

    COOL AIR AND CLEARING SKIES TONIGHT WILL ALLOW TEMPERATURES TO
    DIP INTO THE LOWER TO MIDDLE 30S EARLY SATURDAY. SHELTERED AREAS
    WILL BE MOST VULNERABLE AS WEST TO NORTHWEST WINDS WILL LIKELY
    BLOW OVER THE RIDGES OVERNIGHT.

    A FROST ADVISORY MEANS THAT FROST IS POSSIBLE. SENSITIVE OUTDOOR
    PLANTS MAY BE KILLED IF LEFT UNCOVERED.

  19. While I was studying at UCB, I worked in the evenings as a key-punch typist at this bank in Walnut Creek to help fund my college studies.

    I first learned about computers while using the IBM 360 at Emery University, and this bank was also using an IBM 360 computer. It was because of the programmer at this bank, and what he taught me late at night, that I decided to change my objective from astrophysics to computer software engineering.

    The rest is history…

  20. Bill: We haven’t reached the ‘tipping point’ yet. It’s 400 ppm. Or 450, when we get to 400. Or 475. But when we get there, all H— will break loose. Trust me. al-Gore said so. He wouldn’t lie.

    Never mind that we have been far over 450 or whatever in the past and the earth didn’t melt, this time for sure. (re: Bullwinkle pulling ‘rabbit’ out of hat)

    I wish there was a way to invest in stupidity futures…

  21. Thank you, thank you ~ now that we can set aside all that foul & slimy political crap, it’s great to hear we’ll be back to the true science playground next week. Pseudoscience gets old in a hurry. BTW, in case anyone missed it, there was just a small, brief SC23 spot just below the sun’s equator; lasted approx a day; was gone late this morning {though the echos of the spot can still be seen at the SOHO site}.

  22. Anthony,

    I have slightly different values for the amount of warming in New York City’s Central Park and the United States Military Academy at West Point New York. To the best of my knowledge this pair of stations is absolutely unique.

    John Daly and I were interested in the New York City and West Point ( http://www.john-daly.com/stations/WestPoint-NY.gif ) stations years ago and I have been keeping the data updated even since. Originally the GISS pre-homogeneity-adjustment data was used but when GISS deleted all data before 1880 I had to switch to the Historical Climatology Network (HCN) dataset. Compared to HCN, GISS is much fussier with the data and there are more gaps in their datasets. The current HCN dataset for New York City Central Park data goes from 1822 to 2006 and the West Point NY dataset from 1826 to 2006. Here are the direct comparisons between the two stations over the entire range of available data.

    Here is the comparison for the two stations from1826 to 2006.

    For the 180 years from 1826 to 2006 the temperature in New York City’s Central Park increased by 2.61°C (4.70°F) while the temperature at West Point, NY increased by only 0.18°C (0.32°F). No matter how you look at the West Point data, there is almost no global warming in evidence. Give the United States Army an A-Plus for land stewardship. There is something to be said for being willing to shoot trespassers!

    Mike

  23. Duluth Area
    Extremes
    Highest Daily Maximum Temperature (degrees F)
    Days: 1/1 – 12/31
    Length of period: 1 day
    Years: 1874-2008

    Rank Value Ending Date
    1 106.0 7/13/1936
    2 102.0 7/12/1936
    3 100.0 7/7/1936
    4 99.0 7/1/1883
    5 98.0 7/9/1936, 7/8/1936, 7/20/1901, 7/14/1901
    9 97.0 7/28/2006, 7/7/1988

    Highest Daily Average Temperature
    Rank Value Ending Date
    1 92.5 7/13/1936
    2 88.0 7/9/1936
    3 87.5 7/8/1936
    4 87.0 7/20/1901
    5 86.0 7/29/1916
    6 85.0 7/12/1936, 6/30/1931
    8 84.5 8/11/1947, 6/29/1910
    10 84.0 7/14/1983

    Highest Daily Minimum Temperature
    Rank Value Ending Date
    1 79.0 7/13/1936
    2 78.0 7/9/1936
    3 77.0 7/8/1936
    4 76.0 6/30/1931, 7/29/1916, 7/20/1901
    7 75.0 7/14/1983, 8/11/1947, 7/6/1886
    10 74.0 8/5/2001

    International Falls Area
    Extremes
    Highest Daily Maximum Temperature (degrees F)
    Days: 1/1 – 12/31
    Length of period: 1 day
    Years: 1897-2008

    Rank Value Ending Date
    1 103.0 7/22/1923
    2 101.0 6/27/1912
    3 100.0 7/19/1923, 7/28/1916
    5 99.0 6/18/1995, 6/17/1995, 6/30/1921, 7/1/1911, 6/21/1910
    10 98.0 7/6/1988

    Highest Daily Average Temperature
    Rank Value Ending Date
    1 86.0 7/28/1916
    2 85.5 7/1/1911
    3 84.5 8/5/2001, 6/17/1995, 7/18/1916, 7/16/1898
    7 84.0 7/7/1974, 7/22/1923, 7/19/1923, 7/6/1916

    Highest Daily Minimum Temperature
    Rank Value Ending Date
    1 79.0 7/16/1898
    2 77.0 8/5/2001
    3 76.0 7/30/1919, 7/10/1916
    5 75.0 7/19/1916
    6 74.0 7/17/1975, 7/6/1916
    8 73.0 9/8/2002, 7/30/1975, 7/26/1916

    As far as extreme heat goes, the early years(1950 & prior) have it around here. Yet, on the flip side, the majority of extreme cold in all these categories are in the latter half (1951-present). Go figure!

  24. I listen to him when I lived in San Jose, he was a level headed guy as I recall.

    The notion that CO2 is a pollutant is funny enough. When I heard the Supreme Court had ruled it so, I couldn’t stop laughing, stupidest thing I had ever heard, and it was judges no less who deemed it so. So much for the wisdom of judges. I suggest those who think CO2 it is a pollutant, stop using it. That should reduce the levels, right?

  25. Re: Inquirer I Totally agree. Also have a look at these previous changes
    http://mikelm.blogspot.com/2007/09/left-image-was-downloaded-from.html
    After this (because no explanation of why changes are made) You would have to be wary of data/image manipulation although I tend to give benefit of doubt to this site. In fact I think it looks thicker than 07. However remember that with Temps falling etc it would be fatal for them if NH ice does not sink this summer to 07 levels. (I personally think it will flatline and 09 will go quite above anomaly: pure speculation though))

  26. Anthony,

    I thought it would be interesting to plot the record low by state. The URL is:http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/pub/data/special/mintemps.pdf

    I extracted the data:

    1890 1893
    1890 1899
    1890 1899
    1890 1899
    1900 1905
    1900 1905
    1900 1905
    1900 1904
    1900 1904
    1910 1912
    1910 1917
    1910 1917
    1920 1925
    1930 1937
    1930 1934
    1930 1937
    1930 1934
    1930 1936
    1930 1930
    1930 1933
    1930 1936
    1930 1933
    1930 1933
    1930 1933
    1940 1940
    1940 1943
    1950 1954
    1950 1951
    1960 1961
    1960 1968
    1970 1971
    1970 1971
    1970 1979
    1970 1979
    1980 1985
    1980 1981
    1980 1989
    1980 1985
    1980 1985
    1980 1985
    1980 1985
    1990 1996
    1990 1999
    1990 1994
    1990 1996
    1990 1994
    1990 1996
    1990 1996
    1990 1996
    1990 1996

    Results in:

    1890 4
    1900 5
    1910 3
    1920 1
    1930 11
    1940 2
    1950 2
    1960 2
    1970 4
    1980 8
    1990 8
    2000 0

    (Hopefully it was counted correctly….)

    It seems that we are recording more record lows 1930, 1980, 1990, but none in 2000. Why are we seeing more record lows after global warming kicked in?

    All it proves seems to be that when you have record highs, you can have record lows? That CO2 has littel to do with temperatures?

  27. Anthony,

    I see after further review that the data has remained consistent although the graph tells a slightly different story than a similar graphic of monthly records. The records for all-time highs summarize the monthly statewide records that I referenced earlier and come to much the same conclusion even when reducing the 600 records down to 50.

    I’ve received criticism from some who say we should use daily rather than monthly records to have more data, but I see no reason for presuming the sampling of 50 states for over 100 years with 12 months per year [over 60,000 points] is an insufficient sampling. The comparison of the 1930s to the 1990s gives a little more weighting to the latter than the 50 all-time records, but there is little doubt that the 1930s were hotter overall.

    REPLY: NASA’s Gavin Schmidt once said all we needed were 60 points, so I concur

  28. Re Central Park and West Point:- When are they going to realize that weather stations in the middle of cities measure civilisation, not temperature. All the energy being used in a city devolves to heat, and it will always be warmer than the untouched areas.

    Seza, Melbourne Australia (the one with the weather station in the middle of the roadways!)

  29. Does anybody here know that last year was the second warmest on record in the whole of the Northern Hemisphere?

    And that the warmest in the NH was in 2005.

    Forget the 1930s and that small area of the world called the USA.

  30. if anybody doesn’t think that a 35% rise in Co2 is anything to worry about maybe they should study an equivalent rise of lead in the atmosphere and say that that didn’t matter either because the quantity was so small.

  31. I fail to be puzzled by the selection of “lead” as the comparison point – why not water vapour, which after all makes more sense as a point of comparison? Well, because water isn’t scary. Lead is scary, bad, baaaaad.

    There’s a lot of irrational crap up there from “skeptics” – I’m not counting them in the ranks of true skeptics – but you came in and completely outdid them on irrational nonsense. Congratulations, and thanks for making the case for us.

  32. Sandy,

    You shot yourself in the head with that lead comment.

    1. Humans and animals don’t normally exhale lead so it cannot be said to be a natural and NECESSARY waste product.

    2. Lead is not a food source for plants, much less a NECESSARY one.

    Good luck dear, we all have to start somewhere. Perhaps you are just young.

  33. Sussman’s graph of “All Time Record Highs by State” shows a poor statistic for measuring global warming. The latter is the globally averaged temperature increasing as a trend over multiple years and even decades.

    Sussman’s statistic of “record high” filters out all other temperature change until the next record high occurs. Record highs occur by random fluctuations of temperature around the average. So a graph of record highs confounds the average temperature with the variability, and any trend over time of the variability with the trend over time of the average.

    The best measure of average temperature is…(anybody? anybody?)…the average.

    REPLY: Read the post carefully, note the source. That’s not Sussman’s, I added it. The source is NCDC.

  34. Sussman stated that warming has not occurred since 1998. Why doesn’t anybody ever say that warming has not occurred since 1997 or 1999? Why always 1998?

    Answer: Regression toward the mean. 1998 had an unusually high temperature–unusually high above the average (mean) temperature, due mostly to an unusually powerful El Nino. Subsequent temperatures of course are closer to the mean (average). So of course a trend line starting from an outlying high will not trend higher.

    This isn’t about climate, it’s about basic statistics. Look up “regression to the mean” in a statistics textbook.

    And feel free to plot the temperature trend starting in 1997, and another trend line starting in 1999. Surprise!

    A legitimate way to calculate the trend is to create moving averages starting way, way, back in the 1800s. A moving average reveals trends by reducing noise. To be thorough, you should calculate three-year moving averages, and five-year moving averages, and seven-year moving averages, and so on.

  35. Steve Stip (11:27:54) :

    Are you arguing that something that is a normal and necessary waste product of humans, and that is a food for plants, can’t be a pollutant? Or can’t have negative impacts on the biosphere?

    Really?

  36. If I have a temperature controlled room, and I set it to get 1/100 C warmer every day for a year I will have set 365 temperature records, one every day, and the room will be 3.65C warmer at the end of the year.

    Imagine that I now change that, and start turning the temp up 1C on Jan 1 of each year, for 10 years. In that 10 year period, I will set only 10 temperature records, one per year. The rate of setting new records will be only 1/365 what it was during the first year. And yet, at the end fo the 10 years, that room will be 10C warmer than right at the end off the period of a record a day.

    Rate of new records is not a valid way to measure temperature changes. The only reason to try to use it to argue about temperature records is if one has some reason to avoid showing the actual temperature record in an attempt to confuse the argument..

  37. Anthony says “the Biosphere seems to like it”

    Back in a previous life, I was involved in a project monitoring mud flat biotic response to outflow from a tertiary sewage treatment plant. Basically, we looked at changes in biota in response to being flooded with a continuous supply of high-concentration, high-quality nutrients – to fertilizer. In my part of the project, we measured macrofauna – mostly polychaete worms, molluscs, and crustaceans, visible with dissecting scope.

    We analyzed samples 15cm square by 10cm deep.

    Pre-fertilization, before the plant started operation, we counted 2000 – 3000 animals per sample, with typically in excess of 30 species represented by more than 100 individuals. Post-fertilization, after the plant started operation, we observed a rapid chance to more animals on average but with dramatically reduced complexity and dramatic variability. Within 3 months, we were getting highly variable counts of 2000 – 6000+ animals, but with typically only 3-5 species represented by more than 100 animals, and with regular collapse and recovery of the macrofauna component of that ecosystem over time.

    Productivity, primary or otherwise, is important to understanding ecosystems, but it is a piss-poor (yes, that is a waste-treatment-plant pun) way to measure the health or stability of that ecosystem.

    REPLY: I would expect different responses to Chemical Fertilizer (wastewater) than CO2, I don’t know that a parallel could be drawn – Anthony

  38. Molly,

    No, CO2 above 3% concentration is toxic, for instance. I was just pointing out that lead is an extremely poor thing to compare to CO2. Do you disagree?

    Really?

  39. Following up my and Molly’s points about using number of temperature records:

    Some folks seem to have an intuition that if the average temperature is rising, lots of new records must be set very frequently. But that intuition comes from some big assumptions that definitely do not hold true for global warming.

    New records will be set very frequently only if the variability around the mean (average) is nearly the same as or smaller than the trend in the mean.

  40. Steve Skip.

    The point of the lead example was that arguing that something is unimportant simply because it is at very low concentrations, is a logically invalid argument. She was not comparing lead to CO2. She was disputing the argument that something can’t have an important effect simply because it is at very low concentrations, by giving an example of another substance that clearly has an important effect at very low concentrations.

    CO2 has a substantial effect on the heat balance of the atmosphere, even at its low concentration – the science for that statement is very, very solid. Saying it cant have an effect because it is at low concentrations is NOT a logically valid argument against that solid science – and counterexamples of other materials that have effects at low concentrations is a logically valid counterargument. It doesn’t matter that this counterexample is lead – it matters that this is a valid counterargument, whatever the material.

  41. Molli,

    The jury seems to be out on:
    1) whether increasing CO2 concentration necessarily increases global temperature.
    2) whether increasing CO2 concentration (to a point) is bad since it might increase crop yields.
    3) whether some global warming is bad since this might also increase crop yields.
    4) whether the additional CO2 might not be helpful in preventing or alleviating a drastic drop in global temperature.
    5) whether changes to the world economy brought about CO2 reductions aren’t worse than the problem they purport to change.

    So as far as life is concerned, lead is a poor choice to compare to CO2 since an increase in lead concentration has NO benefit that I am aware of. So it is comparing apples and screw drivers. So, yes I would be alarmed about an increase in lead concentration even from a small baseline but no I would not be alarmed by an increase in CO2 since this might be good or bad.

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  43. Molly & Steve:

    1) Methane would be a better comparison than lead since both CO2 and methane are metabolic products. You’d then be comparing apples to oranges, not apples to screw drivers.
    2) The natural seasonal flux of CO2 is rather wide, with the highest concentrations occurring in winter and the lowest in summer. What is meaningful for the argument is the increase in the residual CO2 load which is the net difference between that emitted and the uptake/sequestration. That increase in the residual CO2 is what should be tracked more closely, not the average PPM of CO2. There are a number of papers out there that point out the residual increase is a result of deforestation and ocean pollution (restriction to uptakes) as much as excess emissions. This might be a good place to point out that, according to a paper in Nature in 2000, the majority of anthropogenic CO2 comes from Third World homefires and rural burning, not fossil fuel emissions.
    3) Data is pretty much in that historically, the rise in CO2 FOLLOWS the rise in temperatures, not the other way around. There is no historical evidence that an increase in CO2 drives the increase in temps.

  44. Pieter,

    Thanks for the info. One might infer that progress away from dependence on homefires would be a good thing.

    “Data is pretty much in that historically, the rise in CO2 FOLLOWS the rise in temperatures, not the other way around. There is no historical evidence that an increase in CO2 drives the increase in temps.”

    Wow! If true, then AGW is a walking zombie or given the grant money involved, a vampire. Someone get stake!

  45. Pieter Folkens wrote above, “There is no historical evidence that an increase in CO2 drives the increase in temps.”

    Pieter’s statement is incorrect. For example, the glacial periods each took about 5,000 years to end–5,000 years for temperatures to start and end rising. 800 years into those 5,000 year periods, CO2 started rising and kept rising for the remaining 4,200 years, contributing to the temperature rise. Orbital variations probably were the triggers of the initial temperature rises, but the full rise of temperature need CO2 as a contributor.

    Then there is the current driving of temperature by CO2. We know that CO2 is not lagging temperature rises currently–not even for the initiation of this modern period of temperature increase.

    More details, and links and references to the original, peer-reviewed articles, are here: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/co2-in-ice-cores
    and here: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/04/the-lag-between-temp-and-co2/

  46. Anthony embedded a reply in Molly’s post of 06/09. Anthony objected “I would expect different responses to Chemical Fertilizer (wastewater) than CO2, I don’t know that a parallel could be drawn – Anthony”

    In fact, Molly is correct. There is growing experimental evidence about the effect of CO2 on plant growth, and the news is not all good. Plants do not all respond well to increasing CO2. The composition of many plants changes; for example, some plants grow more woody stalk than leaves. And some plants, notably weeds, grow better than crops as CO2 increases, thereby making crop growing harder. Here is a starting point for reading, but there are many more recent publications as well:

    http://www.ars.usda.gov/research/publications/publications.htm?SEQ_NO_115=136326

  47. A more comprehensive and up to date report on the effect of climate change on agriculture was published this May, by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. Just a few highlights:
    – Grain and oilseed crops will mature more rapidly, but increasing temperatures will increase the risk of crop failures, particularly if precipitation decreases or becomes more variable.
    – Weeds grow more rapidly under elevated atmospheric CO2. Under projections reported in the assessment, weeds migrate northward and are less sensitive to herbicide applications.

    A summary is here: http://www.scienceblog.com/cms/feds-release-massive-climate-change-report-16553.html

    The full report is available here: http://www.climatescience.gov/Library/sap/sap4-3/final-report/default.htm

  48. Tom,

    Your assertion that CO2 is needed to warm the earth for 4,200 years is not supported by the “peer-reviewed” comments at RealClimate. Jeff Severinghaus speculating in an email that CO2 must be one of the supporting causes is no more than that, speculation. Caillon et al, 2003, nail down an 800 year lag but nothing in that paper supports the assumption that CO2 provides the strong feedback needed for a 5,000 year warming.

    Yes, 800 years is less than 5,000 years. CO2 may have been a strong driver for the warming of Termination III, or it may have been an inconsequential bystander. The RealClimate postings and the referenced paper provide no evidence that it was one or the other.

  49. Here’s a thought: Since the Global Whiners seem to insist that we have a greenhouse gas-based thermostat with which we can precisely control the temperature of the earth to some optimal value, what will happen then when the earth starts to cool significantly? Will we open that CO2 valve and start pumping it back into the atmosphere? AND, will we then PAY companies to start producing more CO2, and try to encourage enlarging each of our carbon footprints??? This is lunacy. The scientists developing the General Circulation Models (GCMs) should be punished for allowing people and politicians to believe this crap. I’m sure they know better what the limitations of the models are.

  50. The author is a complete moron. Co2 at 3 parts per 100 of the atmosphere?!! Try 3/10,000ths or 300ppm as Woodpecker correctly points out. Besides, just because something is present in a very small quantity, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a major effect on the dynamics of a complex system (think catalyst). The CHANGE in relative atmospheric Co2 concentrations is what is important. All of the author’s points about local warming caused by asphault and cities are well described by climate scientists, but that doesn’t mean global warming isn’t also occuring. I can’t believe this clown is a meterologist. Jared Mitchell, MD

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