The Joy of Innovation

Guest post by Thomas Fuller

There would be no global warming without new technology. And that’s not because new technology uses so much energy.

It’s because new technology has allowed us to measure new phenomena, and old phenomena with radically more powerful tools.

Mike Smith gives us an example in his book ‘Warnings’, a great story about how technology addressed the warning system for U.S. tornadoes (and which is advertised here on the right hand column).

He notes that many tornadoes that are called in to reporting centers today would never have been noticed before, thanks to a growing American population and the ubiquity of mobile telephones. So although it may look like we have more tornadoes than in the past, it’s just more and better measurements.

The same is more or less true of hurricanes. Before satellite coverage began in 1969, we really didn’t know exactly how many hurricanes actually happened in a given year, nor how strong they were. If they didn’t make landfall, they would only be catalogued if planes noticed and reported them, and they would only be measured if specially equipped planes basically flew through them and charted their strength. Some have tried to estimate hurricanes from previous eras (and Judith Curry is talking about the subject on her brand new weblog), but different scientists have come up with different answers.

Funnily enough, the answer that indicates hurricanes are getting stronger got published in the IPCC, while the answer that contradicted it resulted in the resignation of its author from the IPCC. Time will tell.

The phenomenon is certainly also true of measurements of ice extent, volume and area, which would not be possible without satellite imagery. Without satellites, we would be blissfully ignorant of what’s going on there, or at least in the same condition of partial ignorance that led the New York Times to predict global warming or a new ice age several times in the 19th and early 20th Century. Plus ca change, plus ca meme chose…

New technology has had a radical effect on the time series of measurements made for extended periods before the technology was adopted. Sailors used to measure sea surface temperatures using a thermometer in a bucket lowered into the sea. When Argos buoys began providing a network of more accurate measurements, there was a break in the timeline.

When surface stations converted to electronic thermocouples on a short leash, the adjustments required caused another break in the data series. (I guess readers here might know something about that already.) Scientists have worked hard to make adjustments to correct for the new sources of data, but the breaks are still pretty noticeable.

The sensible thing would be to give the new technologies time to develop an audited series of measurements long enough to determine trends, rather than grafting new data on top of older, less reliable series. But there are two objections to this: First, who’s to say another new measurement technology won’t come along and replace our brand new toys and resetting the clock to zero? Second, and of more concern, there is a whole scientific establishment out there saying we don’t have time to wait for a pristine data set. Some say we’ve already waited too long, others say that if we start today (and they really mean today), we just might avoid climate disaster.

And if you start to muse on the remarkable coincidence that warming apparently started at the same time as we got all this new-fangled technology, why that makes you a flat-earth denialist. Or something.

As it happens, while serving in the U.S. Navy I took sea surface temperatures with a thermometer in a bucket. There were not many detailed instructions involved. Should I have done it on the sunny side or the shady side? Nearer the pointy end of the ship (that’s technical talk) or the flat back end? How long was I supposed to leave the thermometer in the water?

I wouldn’t want to make momentous decisions based on the quality of data I retrieved from that thermometer, which wasn’t calibrated–I think the U.S.N. stock number was like 22, or some other low number indicating great antiquity. I much prefer what comes out of Argos.

But there are times I wish all those fancy instruments on the satellites were pointing at another planet.

Thomas Fuller http://www.redbubble.com/people/hfuller

The Joy of Innovation

Thomas Fuller
There would be no global warming without new technology. And that’s not because new technology uses so much energy.
It’s because new technology has allowed us to measure new phenomena, and old phenomena with radically more powerful tools.
Mike Smith gives us an example in his book ‘Warnings’, a great story about how technology addressed the warning system for U.S. tornadoes (and which is advertised here on the right hand column). He notes that many tornadoes that are called in to reporting centers today would never have been noticed before, thanks to a growing American population and the ubiquity of mobile telephones. So although it may look like we have more tornadoes than in the past, it’s just more and better measurements.
The same is more or less true of hurricanes. Before satellite coverage began in 1969, we really didn’t know exactly how many hurricanes actually happened in a given year, nor how strong they were. If they didn’t make landfall, they would only be catalogued if planes noticed and reported them, and they would only be measured if specially equipped planes basically flew through them and charted their strength. Some have tried to estimate hurricanes from previous eras (and Judith Curry is talking about the subject on her brand new weblog), but different scientists have come up with different answers. Funnily enough, the answer that indicates hurricanes are getting stronger got published in the IPCC, while the answer that contradicted it resulted in the resignation of its author from the IPCC. Time will tell.
The phenomenon is certainly also true of measurements of ice extent, volume and area, which would not be possible without satellite imagery. Without satellites, we would be blissfully ignorant of what’s going on there, or at least in the same condition of partial ignorance that led the New York Times to predict global warming or a new ice age several times in the 19th and early 20th Century. Plus ca change, plus ca meme chose…
New technology has had a radical effect on the time series of measurements made for extended periods before the technology was adopted. Sailors used to measure sea surface temperatures using a thermometer in a bucket lowered into the sea. When Argos buoys began providing a network of more accurate measurements, there was a break in the timeline. When surface stations converted to electronic thermocouples on a short leash, the adjustments required caused another break in the data series. (I guess readers here might know something about that already.) Scientists have worked hard to make adjustments to correct for the new sources of data, but the breaks are still pretty noticeable.
The sensible thing would be to give the new technologies time to develop an audited series of measurements long enough to determine trends, rather than grafting new data on top of older, less reliable series. But there are two objections to this: First, who’s to say another new measurement technology won’t come along and replace our brand new toys and resetting the clock to zero? Second, and of more concern, there is a whole scientific establishment out there saying we don’t have time to wait for a pristine data set. Some say we’ve already waited too long, others say that if we start today (and they really mean today), we just might avoid climate disaster.
And if you start to muse on the remarkable coincidence that warming apparently started at the same time as we got all this new-fangled technology, why that makes you a flat-earth denialist. Or something.
As it happens, while serving in the U.S. Navy I took sea surface temperatures with a thermometer in a bucket. There were not many detailed instructions involved. Should I have done it on the sunny side or the shady side? Nearer the pointy end of the ship (that’s technical talk) or the flat back end? How long was I supposed to leave the thermometer in the water?
I wouldn’t want to make momentous decisions based on the quality of data I retrieved from that thermometer, which wasn’t calibrated–I think the U.S.N. stock number was like 22, or some other low number indicating great antiquity. I much prefer what comes out of Argos.
But there are times I wish all those fancy instruments on the satellites were pointing at another planet.

Thomas Fuller href=”http://www.redbubble.com/people/hfulleThe Joy of Innovation Thomas Fuller

There would be no global warming without new technology. And that’s not because new technology uses so much energy.

It’s because new technology has allowed us to measure new phenomena, and old phenomena with radically more powerful tools.

Mike Smith gives us an example in his book ‘Warnings’, a great story about how technology addressed the warning system for U.S. tornadoes (and which is advertised here on the right hand column). He notes that many tornadoes that are called in to reporting centers today would never have been noticed before, thanks to a growing American population and the ubiquity of mobile telephones. So although it may look like we have more tornadoes than in the past, it’s just more and better measurements.

The same is more or less true of hurricanes. Before satellite coverage began in 1969, we really didn’t know exactly how many hurricanes actually happened in a given year, nor how strong they were. If they didn’t make landfall, they would only be catalogued if planes noticed and reported them, and they would only be measured if specially equipped planes basically flew through them and charted their strength. Some have tried to estimate hurricanes from previous eras (and Judith Curry is talking about the subject on her brand new weblog), but different scientists have come up with different answers. Funnily enough, the answer that indicates hurricanes are getting stronger got published in the IPCC, while the answer that contradicted it resulted in the resignation of its author from the IPCC. Time will tell.

The phenomenon is certainly also true of measurements of ice extent, volume and area, which would not be possible without satellite imagery. Without satellites, we would be blissfully ignorant of what’s going on there, or at least in the same condition of partial ignorance that led the New York Times to predict global warming or a new ice age several times in the 19th and early 20th Century. Plus ca change, plus ca meme chose…

New technology has had a radical effect on the time series of measurements made for extended periods before the technology was adopted. Sailors used to measure sea surface temperatures using a thermometer in a bucket lowered into the sea. When Argos buoys began providing a network of more accurate measurements, there was a break in the timeline. When surface stations converted to electronic thermocouples on a short leash, the adjustments required caused another break in the data series. (I guess readers here might know something about that already.) Scientists have worked hard to make adjustments to correct for the new sources of data, but the breaks are still pretty noticeable.

The sensible thing would be to give the new technologies time to develop an audited series of measurements long enough to determine trends, rather than grafting new data on top of older, less reliable series. But there are two objections to this: First, who’s to say another new measurement technology won’t come along and replace our brand new toys and resetting the clock to zero? Second, and of more concern, there is a whole scientific establishment out there saying we don’t have time to wait for a pristine data set. Some say we’ve already waited too long, others say that if we start today (and they really mean today), we just might avoid climate disaster.

And if you start to muse on the remarkable coincidence that warming apparently started at the same time as we got all this new-fangled technology, why that makes you a flat-earth denialist. Or something.

As it happens, while serving in the U.S. Navy I took sea surface temperatures with a thermometer in a bucket. There were not many detailed instructions involved. Should I have done it on the sunny side or the shady side? Nearer the pointy end of the ship (that’s technical talk) or the flat back end? How long was I supposed to leave the thermometer in the water?

I wouldn’t want to make momentous decisions based on the quality of data I retrieved from that thermometer, which wasn’t calibrated–I think the U.S.N. stock number was like 22, or some other low number indicating great antiquity. I much prefer what comes out of Argos.

But there are times I wish all those fancy instruments on the satellites were pointing at another planet.

Thomas Fuller href=”http://www.redbubble.com/people/hfuller

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59 thoughts on “The Joy of Innovation

  1. How fortunate we are that AGW is occurring at a time when we have supercomputers, complex analytical equipment and satellites to warn us. If this had happened only 50 years earlier just imagine how catstrophic it would have been! [sarc/off]
    cheers David

  2. It’s not too difficult to measure hurricanes by proxy. A paleoclimatologist was doing a good job in the Florida swamps. He took core samples and you could clearly see beach sand [dropped by the hurricanes] at regular intervals. Better than tree rings as aproxy for temperature as there was only one variable.
    cheers David

  3. “As it happens, while serving in the U.S. Navy I took sea surface temperatures with a thermometer in a bucket. ”
    Thanks for those pictures. I’m sure the bucket had “other uses”. So you were the official ship climatologist? ;^)

  4. The problem is that we are obsessed with granularity. With a big enough microscope, everything becomes significant. Take probability calculations for example – it’s totally ridiculous to even talk about a probability out beyond 2 digits, yet many will claim a prob = .955 is “more precise” than prob = .95. In fact, in most practical applications there is no reason (and no logical justification ) to go beyond a single digit.
    Just because Excel will return 16 places to right of the decimal doesn’t mean all 16 should be taken into consideration.
    The degree of granularity should be commensurate with logic and the application. Space flight deserves more significant digits than driving a car, for example.

  5. The sensible thing would be to give the new technologies time to develop an audited series of measurements long enough to determine trends, rather than grafting new data on top of older, less reliable series.

    Or you can break the series at each technology change and use the first difference method. The ignorance about this is stunning, both in climate science and skeptical circles.

  6. Re: Grumbler

    He took core samples and you could clearly see beach sand [dropped by the hurricanes] at regular intervals.

    I guess that Alex, Bonnie, Colin, Danielle, Earl, Fiona, Gaston, Hermine, Igor and Julia from this year have all left their own distinctive bits of beach sand in the Florida swamps.

  7. For Grumbler/David, In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s there were great public and private works to drain most of the swamp land in Florida. Due to this there was a great amount of collapse of the sediment where the swamps had been located. For instance there are now a great many canals and a large levy system around Lake Okeechobee. Part of the drainage was to blow the falls out of the Miami river (named for proximity to Miami) and the Peace river near Fort Myers. This caused a nearly 13 feet drop of water level in the everglades and by this a drying and collapsing of the sediment exposed to the sun and air. There are now very large subdivisions located where just several decades ago there were several feet of water standing even during the Florida dry season. While the core samples are good indications of past hurricanes there may be problems with the time series involved due to the land use changes having occurred during the past 150 years from Orlando Fl. south to the Keys.
    Just food for thought,
    Bill Derryberry

  8. Thomas Fuller,
    I have previous criticised your posts for lack of skepticism regarding the core of AGW ‘science’; the theory that man is causing the earth to warm and he is doing this through the continued release of CO2. I find your absolvement of the scientists and the IPCC in you articles critical of AGW hype excessive and occasionally incorrect; I will draw the line at saying disingenuous because you have not replied to my previous post that I repeat here:
    “Philip Thomas says:
    September 13, 2010 at 6:09 am
    ‘[Major media campaigns] ignore IPCC scientists so they could insist that Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035.’
    I was under the impression that this claim was made by the scientists in the IPCC report. These facts were reiterated on numerous occasions by Rajendra Pauchari.
    Here is the IPCC’s statement on the matter.
    http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/presentations/himalaya-statement-20january2010.pdf
    Unless I have greatly misunderstood what you have said, it seems completely incorrect to say that the media pushed these errors in the face of IPCC protest.”
    The climate debate is littered with the comments of the nefarious whose sole purpose is to disseminate misinformation and cloud the truth. I would like to think that you are not included amongst those. I have, however, previously debated people with various ulterior motives and have learned to know as much about the authors of articles that I read because I simply do not have the time to fact check everything.
    Is it possible you could tell us about the consultations you made to the UK Government regarding green technologies?
    On Googling your name I was led to a testimonial you gave: http://www.pep-partnership.co.uk/testimonials.asp
    ‘Bill understands how business happens in the governmental sector, especially the European Commission. He’s a hard worker and next time I need a big proposal for an E.C. tender, there’s no doubt that he’s the guy to go to.
    Tom Fuller, Managing Director, nQuire Services Ltd’
    Can you elaborate on your business interests with the EC? Do you worry that the tenders would be less forthcoming if you were critical of the accepted climate science consensus?
    Sorry to put you on the spot but someone who gets so many posts on WUWT should have their cards on the table. These are hard times.

  9. “There would be no global warming without new technology. And that’s not because new technology uses so much energy. It’s because new technology has allowed us to measure new phenomena, and old phenomena with radically more powerful tools.”
    Tom, ordinarily I’d point out that this is an example of the left wing subjectivist world view at work, that warming only exists because we can measure it, but I am more inclined to think this is just poorly phrased. I think you mean that “there would be no claims one way or the other about what global temperatures were doing without the technology to measure them (accurately or not).”
    The global warming and or cooling phenomena would occur whether we observed them or not, this isn’t quantum mechanics 😉 (to physics savvy people who may want to say that this is a misunderstanding of QM, it’s a JOKE people!)

  10. Um, perhaps I haven’t understood something but when a new measuring technology is introduced, wouldn’t it be sensible to use both the old and the new tools alongside each other for a while and compare their measurements? Am I being too simplistic?

  11. Didn’t the medical field note this phenomenon some years ago?
    What appeared to be sharp increases in the incidence of certain diseases in modern times was simply the enhanced ability to detect it’s presence today, versus the inability of doctors (historically) to always accurately ascertain cause.

  12. I was once told of a lighthouse keeper whose job it was to record the Met Office data for that location. What they didn’t know and he didn’t tell them, was that his heart condition made it very difficult for him to get up and down the steps … so he just made up the figures. That is to say, one out of three readings from that station were just made up based on the last readings and what he thought the weather was like going out onto the balcony.
    It’s also extremely unlikely that temperatures were taken at the specified times. A good shower of rain might delay the readings and a sunny morning might mean readings taken early so as to leave more time to spend in the garden.
    Similarly in hotter countries … who wants to go out in the hot of the day, when you could wait a few minutes and it would just be that tad cooler!
    But when you realise that temperatures vary at up to 1-2C/hour, then even 15minutes difference would be 0.5C

  13. Great post, Thomas.
    Many years ago I designed a low cost, lightweight and mechanically simple device for weighing livestock in the field. This was prior to low-cost digital technology becoming available and I was concerned that the level of accuracy of my invention being inadequate until a scientist put me straight on this, by pointing out that the cattle, sheep or pigs being weighed would have ingested an unknown weight of water and feed, and would have excreted an unknown weight of manure and urine. He also told me that weighing a significant number of animals at pre-determined times in their feed cycles was suficiently accurate. He made it very clear to me that weighing a beast to four decimal places of a pound or kilo is merely a form of scientific delusion and also introduced me to the First Difference Method in the course of his instructing me in the methadology of measurement.

  14. I’ve always found it rather amusing that at the very moment we get the ability to cobble together anywhere near the computing power to build the crudest and most simplistic of climate models – those models show… (wait for it)… the world is about to end!!!
    Is it pure coincidence that these two events arrive together? Why, for example, could the models not show that the world will end in 1,000 years time, or that it should have ended 500 years ago?

  15. When serving in the RAF on Search and Rescue helicopters I used to take daily sea temperature readings for the UK Met Office. Te instrument was a shielded mercury thermometer on a rope which we lowered into the sea for 5 mins and then took the reading. Probably not accurate but a consistent error can still produce a result.

  16. “Before satellite coverage began in 1969, we really didn’t know exactly how many hurricanes actually happened in a given year, nor how strong they were”
    Yes. But we still have some reliable data.
    Consider for example this technical memorandum from the NOAA National Hurricane Center.
    The Deadliest, Costliest, and Most Intense United States Tropical Cyclones From 1851 to 2006
    Appendix A: Chronological List of All Hurricanes which Affected the Continental United States: 1851-2006.
    For 2007-2009 anyone can do her own research.
    I have simply added up the Saffir-Simpson Category numbers of hurricanes making landfall in the lower 48 states for each year as a crude measure of cumulative hurricane activity in that region. The graph is a 25 year running average of this quantity, assigned to the middle year.
    Hurricane_Intensity_in_the_Continental_US_1851-2009.jpg
    As we can clearly see, there is nothing unprecedented in the current storm surge, just some weak recovery after the exceptionally low activity of the 1970s and 80s. The overall trend is slightly negative.
    Should you wonder how representative is this sample of the North Atlantic region, have a look at the UNISYS Tropical Storm Tracking by Year page.

  17. In the medical field years before all of the lab testing process of disease detection, differences of opinion on the “real diagnosis” between doctors were always settled by reviewing the autopsy results later.

  18. “…there is a whole scientific establishment out there saying we don’t have time to wait for a pristine data set. Some say we’ve already waited too long, others say that if we start today (and they really mean today), we just might avoid climate disaster.”
    You speak of a “sensible thing”…then in the same paragraph you speak of two objections to that “sensible thing”. Are the objections sensible – especially that second one “of more concern”? Are you implying that scientists are indeed guilty of alarmism, after previously laying the blame on “savvy media professionals”? Or is something else implied here?
    Thomas, I must admit I’ve been playing a little game lately. It’s kind of like “Where’s Wally” for adults. It’s called “Spot-the-AGW-Message-in-the-Skeptical-Article”.

  19. The same situation has been seen in pollution control issues. As technology allowed detection and monitoring of trace chemicals at parts per billion and parts per trillion concentrations, “contamination” started being reported at levels that were totally undetectable just a few years prior.
    At the same time, when dealing with very small quantities you have the issues of precision, and repeatability in measurements causing the appearance of significant shifts when the changes are irrelevant in real world terms.
    A change in contamination from 3 parts per billion to 4 parts per billion could be claimed to be a 33% increase in contamination (4/3). That may be correct in absolute terms but in a practical sense 3 parts per billion and 4 parts per billion are still for all practical purposes zero in almost all cases.
    Just because we can detect it or the sensor will return x many digits on the lcd screen does not necessarily mean that those digits have any significance.
    This has led to an interesting trend in pollution monitoring as soon as technology improves to allow detection of contamination at an order of magnitude smaller concentration, some bureaucrat tries to lower the allowable levels of contamination to a value near the new detection threshold.
    We need to re-introduce some common sense evaluation, and appreciation of significant digits back into the class room for not only science and engineering students, but the general population, so they realize that just because they can measure it, does not mean that it is useful information or that they either can or should try to control it.
    Larry

  20. Tom says:
    September 14, 2010 at 5:10 am (Edit)
    The sensible thing would be to give the new technologies time to develop an audited series of measurements long enough to determine trends, rather than grafting new data on top of older, less reliable series.
    Or you can break the series at each technology change and use the first difference method. The ignorance about this is stunning, both in climate science and skeptical circles.
    **********
    Tom,
    folks are not ignorant of the method. In fact, it used to be used by NCDC. However, the method has some very indesirable qualities. You can read about them in he primary literature or go over to jeffIds site and read his work on it. Personally, I use to like FDM for just the reason you cite, but after reviewing the math and the tests of the method on synthetic data it’s clear that the method is inferior to others.

  21. AGW “science” is so bad that it can’t properly be called science at all; rather, it should be called anti-science.
    When you are paid to find “evidence” for unprecedented warming, and to make ominous pronouncements about what it means, then I suppose it is human nature to do so. Though that doesn’t say much for our survival as a species.

  22. @ Alexander K:
    September 14, 2010 at 6:13 am
    It’s like the way they used to weigh a pig in Maine. They tied the pig to the end of a plank, on which they’d previously found the middle point, put that over a log and piled stones on the other end until the two masses balanced.
    Then they guessed the weight of the stones.

  23. This post is strangely like my college chemistry term paper on the ozone hole. One point I made was that Dobson in 1956 when he first noted the hole had vastly different equipment than the 1990’s. I could find no where that anyone adjusted the modern equipment down to the precision of Dobson’s to see if in fact the hole had gotten larger or we were just measuring it better.

  24. “But there are times I wish all those fancy instruments on the satellites were pointing at another planet.”
    Oye! I heard them polar caps were melting on Mars or something! And it was because of the rising CO2..
    Do you WUWT people know where this rumor comes from?

  25. pointman says:
    September 14, 2010 at 5:26 am
    “Damning New Investigation Into Climategate Inquiries”
    A review of the Climategate investigations. Indeed, damning stuff.
    http://www.thegwpf.org/images/stories/gwpf-reports/Climategate-Inquiries.pdf
    Pointman
    You would have thought WUWT would have run with this.
    [Reply: Post to Tips & Notes so Anthony sees it. ~dbs, Mod.]

    I know of two others who have already posted it to Tips & Notes. It is a huge story. Do you really expect me to believe that WUWT was not aware of this?

  26. Mod,
    Duly noted and reposted therein. That “Tips” thread need breaking up. It’s too long.
    Pointman
    REPLY: Yeah, due for a cleaning – Anthony

  27. “Grumbler says:
    September 14, 2010 at 4:58 am
    It’s not too difficult to measure hurricanes by proxy. A paleoclimatologist was doing a good job in the Florida swamps. He took core samples and you could clearly see beach sand [dropped by the hurricanes] at regular intervals. Better than tree rings as aproxy for temperature as there was only one variable.
    cheers David”
    There are always “other variables”. How about a “storm surge” created by a tsunami? But then I must admit to NOT being a paleoclimatologist and perhaps the results of such a surge might look different, even a million years later. How about a surge caused by an impact? I just ran out of ideas.

  28. Thomas Fuller said
    “Some have tried to estimate hurricanes from previous eras (and Judith Curry is talking about the subject on her brand new weblog), but different scientists have come up with different answers.”
    Ok I admit it, it was me that brought it up 🙂
    There is no doubt there were numerous Hurricanes/violent storms way before the supposed doubling from 1970. Interestingly, many seem to be from the LIA so perhaps the water warmth is not the main factor.
    I suspect the official recording of more and stronger hurricanes is also due to the very effect you are mentioning here, (nice article) that there are more people around to observe in the first place, and they have the technology available to report them.
    Tonyb

  29. As others have noted, medicine is replete with examples of better detection skewing results or what may be accurately inferred from them. Childhood asthma is a good example. Thirty years ago this diagnosis was not made with anything like the frequency it is made today. This is fodder for activists who maintain coal burning power plants are the reason we’re seeing such a sharp uptick in the incidence of childhood asthma. This, of course, is nonsense. Physicians simply have developed better diagnostic acumen and the criteria for what defines “childhood asthma” is more precisely characterized.
    A couple of other biggies – depression and diabetes. The diagnostic criteria for both of these disease states are always in flux. Anybody can diagnose an obvious case, it’s those cases which meet the “new definition” that skew the data. Thirty years a person who was despondent over the loss of a loved one wouldn’t have been diagnosed with depression. Today they would…and they would be treated with antidepressants. The threshold for a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes has been lowered to the point where many patients experience no symptoms. This increases the incidence numbers and causes self-proclaimed “experts” to conclude that high carbohydrate diets cause diabetes. Actually no such cause and effect has been conclusively established. High carbohydrate diets exacerbate a pre-existing condition of Type 2 DM.
    Allow me to propose another theory (also unproven). Before the development of commercial insulin, patients with Type 1 diabetes died relatively quickly (and usually quite young). The same was true for older patients who developed severe cases of Type 2 diabetes. Today we manage these disease states with medications unheard of 100 years ago. Is it not possible that by saving these patients we have allowed the gene associated with diabetes to propagate in the population whereby a century ago much of it would have died out? Personally I believe this theory may have some validity in certain populations (e.g. Navajo)
    But cause and effect has still not been established. In my view this is the great weakness of climate science. Normal human body temperature can easily vary +/- 0.2 deg C and no one gets excited. But measure a 0.2 deg C change in mean global temperature and people become hysterical. We’re pretty sure we’re warmer now than we were 200 years ago, but how in the world can you attribute any of this to CO2? Because you have a theory, right. I’ve got my own theory about diabetes and it’s just as specious as the AGW/CO2 theory.

  30. Thomas Fuller: Plus ca change, plus ca meme chose…

    That’s actually:
    Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose…
    In either form, however, it is surely applicable to the crypto-AGW message of these interminable posts of yours (and not very ‘crypto’ at that). Perhaps you shoud start a ‘WUWTF’ site to do this. Not only could you dilute and slant the message of reality, but you could offer indulgences and absolution to the guilty parties in a much more overt fashion.
    It’s getting decidedly ‘warm and spinny’ around here of late.
    /dr.bill

  31. We see the same thing in crime statistics. If there is a statistical trend of increasing sex crimes, that must be understood in the context of social changes that destigmatize reporting that one has been so victimized. Increased reporting does not necessarily indicate increased incidence.

  32. “There would be no global warming without new technology.”
    Here we go again – start the piece with a non-factual assumption stated as fact… Significant global warming isn’t happening whether you measure temperature with thermistors or thermometers. There is no global warming based on the raw temperature records available.
    The ‘warming’ has come from incorrect and inappropriate processing of the data however it was measured. We don’t even need new technology i.e computers to do bad data processing. We can do bad data processing with an abacus! IF we have a mind to do so…

  33. When I served on weather reporting vessels, the wheelhouse phoned the engine room at the appropriate time and asked for the sea temperature, which was taken from a thermometer at the engine cooling water intake.
    In ballast this might have been about 15 feet below the surface and when loaded maybe 30 feet.
    But so far as I remember there was no place in the WX log sheet to indicate how far below the surface the reading was taken from.

  34. Dr. Bill, don’t take my opinions as representative of the site as a whole. I’m an outlier, more or less. Anthony is just kind enough to give the Lukewarmers a little space on his blog once a day.
    But hey–fire away! If I’m wrong, I have no problem admitting it. And if my point of view is really just annoying you (which I can understand–I’m not putting up charts and graphs or citing papers to back me up, mostly because I don’t think much of the conflict is really about the science at the end of the day), click through to the next post. Bishop Hill has quite clearly pointed out the structural defects in the various inquiries into Climategate.

  35. Long time ago, when there were tube radios, every time you put the power off, there was a sudden surge of volume, as if the radio were giving off its last exhalation, thus Global Warming will abandon us suddenly but not before crying its last cry aloud.

  36. Tom Fuller says:
    September 14, 2010 at 9:57 am
    Dr. Bill, don’t take my opinions as representative of the site as a whole. I’m an outlier, more or less. Anthony is just kind enough to give the Lukewarmers a little space on his blog once a day.

    If you say you are a lukewarmer, could you please tell Anthony; he has you down as a skeptic in the sidebar.

    REPLY:
    Thanks for the reminder. Mr. Fuller said he was a skeptic, and is now a Lukewarmer. So I’ll make the change. – Anthony

  37. “The problem is that we are obsessed with granularity.”
    Ahhh, the digital age. Once everyone had digital watches, it was no longer a little before 6:00, it was 5:58. It wasn’t about quarter after 4, it was 4:18. And greater precision gave the illusion of greater accuracy. Just because the watch said it was 4:18 didn’t mean it was really 4:18.

  38. Tom Fuller:September 14, 2010 at 9:57 am
    Dr. Bill, don’t take my opinions as representative of the site as a whole. I’m an outlier, more or less. Anthony is just kind enough to give the Lukewarmers a little space on his blog once a day…..

    I’ve been a regular reader of WUWT since the NorCal days, and have a good idea of what is representative of the site. You are correct in your self-portrayal as an outlier. Given that you seem to be posting more often than Anthony, however, I wouldn’t want casual visitors to take this “all Fuller all the time BS” too seriously. I would also, with respect, suggest that Anthony might exercise more discretion in his choice of chicken coop monitors while he’s occupied with his personal difficulties.
    /dr.bill

  39. Curiousgeorge says:
    September 14, 2010 at 5:06 am
    The problem is that we are obsessed with granularity. With a big enough microscope, everything becomes significant. Take probability calculations for example – it’s totally ridiculous to even talk about a probability out beyond 2 digits, yet many will claim a prob = .955 is “more precise” than prob = .95. In fact, in most practical applications there is no reason (and no logical justification ) to go beyond a single digit.
    So true. There are way too many people around, many doing research, who ovbiously believe that 2+2 = 4.00

  40. Concerning paleo-hurrican measurements: None of them address the TS, depressios, and hurricans that don’t impact land at all, yet look at all the time that the various news organizations spend on just those things.

  41. Smokey asked:
    “dr. bill,
    What’s a ‘chicken coop monitor’?”
    I’m guessing it’s a bit like a ‘milk monitor’, but with less milk and more chicken poop 😉

  42. John T says:
    September 14, 2010 at 11:25 am
    “The problem is that we are obsessed with granularity.”
    Ahhh, the digital age. Once everyone had digital watches, it was no longer a little before 6:00, it was 5:58. It wasn’t about quarter after 4, it was 4:18. And greater precision gave the illusion of greater accuracy. Just because the watch said it was 4:18 didn’t mean it was really 4:18.

    Well, I reckon I’m one of the oddballs. I don’t wear a watch at all, let alone a digital one. I’m perfectly comfy with knowing whether the Sun is up or not. 🙂

  43. Smokey: September 14, 2010 at 12:39 pm
    dr. bill,
    What’s a “chicken coop monitor”?

    Hi Smokey,
    Sorry for the delay. This job thing keeps interfering with my recreation. 🙁
    With regards to “chicken coop monitors”, in the present context I was thinking of something like Vulpes vulpes, Urocyon cinereoargenteus, Alopex lagopus, etc, depending largely on hair colour as a first approximation. In other words, members of the fox family, who are known to cause much damage when not adequately supervised and particularly if possessed of sufficient cleverness.
    Mr. Fuller appears to have a full measure of this quality. He is very adroit at starting with loose definitions, unstated premises, and then by a series of smooth non sequitur segues, arriving at unwarranted conclusions.
    I’ve grown a bit weary of it.
    /dr.bill

  44. Curiousgeorge says:
    September 14, 2010 at 5:06 am
    The problem is that we are obsessed with granularity. With a big enough microscope, everything becomes significant. Take probability calculations for example – it’s totally ridiculous to even talk about a probability out beyond 2 digits, yet many will claim a prob = .955 is “more precise” than prob = .95. In fact, in most practical applications there is no reason (and no logical justification ) to go beyond a single digit.
    Just because Excel will return 16 places to right of the decimal doesn’t mean all 16 should be taken into consideration.
    The degree of granularity should be commensurate with logic and the application. Space flight deserves more significant digits than driving a car, for example.

    A MOST astute set of remarks!
    I do believe though, that the term you were looking for was: ‘Perspective.’
    To humans, a grain of sand is insignificant, but to and ant, it would be a large rock.
    However, inasmuch as accuracy has been achieved in perhaps a million-fold ways, I would not think to toss the seemingly extraneous, if only that such ‘extraneous’ quantities might be indicative of other things not readily understood or otherwise known at the moment.
    THINK: Who knew —before their discovery— that gamma rays affected cloud formation?
    Who knew that X-Rays existed before the invention of photographic plates?
    Any good measurement tool is worthy of all the accuracy which might be obtained, because in the future there may be useful purposes for even the tiniest fractional measurement, when other things are to be assessed.
    This is NOT to say that increased accuracy should ever be used to pervert. Rather, what it does mean is that increased accuracy is nothing more that just that: A better standard of measurement.
    Sometimes, with increased accuracy you get better sensitivity, and with that sensitivity you get more than just accuracy for that which you’re measuring, i.e., you now have a way of measuring things which you didn’t know existed priorly.
    In that vein, it is my considered opinion that the newer measurement devices are ‘seeing’ things not formerly seen otherwise.
    Perhaps.

  45. Regarding SST and Ocean-air temperatures, I’m reminded of an excellent article titled “What’s Wrong With the Surface Record” at the late great John L Daly site.
    An email comment was sent to Mr Daly by a mariner named John Williams. Though a little lengthy for a comment post, well worth the read as it is an “eye witness account” so to speak.
    Sir,
    I am a navigator in the Merchant Navy who has been involved in making meteorological observations from British and Australian merchant ships for over 35 years. I am an interested observer of this whole “Global Warming” issue via print and internet pages such as yours.
    It is clear to me that nobody could possibly constuct an historical record of oceanic air and sea temperatures to any kind of scientific standard of accuracy from ships’ meteorological and other log books.
    The standard Met. Office issue stevenson screen (sometimes two) enclosed issue wet and dry bulb thermometers were (and are) hung on bridge wings with more thought given to the convenience of the observer than anything else. It was (and is) known that temperatures should be taken from thermometers hung to windward in clear air. Half a gale of wind from the starboard side with cold rain at 0200 is a powerfull reason not to open the starboard wheelhouse door for anything at all! Also, with a relative wind from astern, the temperature must be affected by heat from the engine room, a very powerful heat source, among others. Some men were (few are) very conscientious in shifting the screen to windward; others were (most are) not. In any event there was and can be no standard position relative to ship structure and heat sources such as is possible in a shore installation.
    Even to pretend to read a thermometer to a precision of 0.1 on board ship is asking a very great deal under at least some circumstances. Personally, I would guess that more than 50 per cent of temperature observations as recorded in Met. logs are in error by more than 1 degree.
    Wet bulb temperatures I suspect will be worse. The water was commonly taken from the bridge kettle filled from the ships ordinary fresh water tanks. I have spent hours scraping hard white residues from the bulbs of these thermometers when changing the wicks. It was productive of much bad language to find, at observation time, that the water reservoir had dried up. With time pressing, it is problematical whether enough time was left for the newly filled thermometer to reach the proper reading.
    Everything on board ship is covered, more or less, with salt deposits. This must include the dry bulb thermometer. Salt is hygroscopic. Ergo, dry bulbs cannot have been completely dry. Does this mean that there could have been errors in dry bulb readings due to evaporation from the thermometers??
    Sea water temperatures were taken from samples obtained by means of a Met Office issue rubber “bucket” which looked like a short (about 300mm x 70mm dia.) length of very heavy duty rubber hose with a (I think) wooden plug in the bottom and a metal strop on top to take a length of line. Some had thermometers permanently fitted in a guide set in the bucket so that they couldn’t be removed. The breakage rate was considerable and any handy thermometer was used when this happened. Later buckets were not so fitted, the thermometer was removed while taking the water sample.
    The bucket was left on deck or hung up where it had last been used. It adjusted to ambient temperature. In sunlight in the tropics it could be bloody hot. It was thrown over the side and allowed to trail astern. How far aft it went depended on the ship’s draft and the length of the line but any sample must have been contaminated by heat from boundary layer friction from the ship’s passage and heat from the engine room. Where exactly in the water body the sample was taken from is not possible to say. Some men just threw the whole lot over, in which case the bucket sunk below the surface to some extent, while others paid out the line slowly and the bucket just skimmed and bounced along the surface. How long it was left there depended on the man, the weather and how much time pressure the man was under. (Call from Radio Officer :”You’d better hurry up, I’m off watch in five minutes…..”)
    Sea temperatures now are taken from engine cooling water intakes which is why in modern ships the Met. Office doesn’t get sea water temperatures at night since engine rooms are unmanned at night. Engine rooms can be very hot places and the sensors are set in steel pipework at some distance from the ship’s side. The draft of the ship changes and the ship rolls and pitches. Temperatures are taken from VDU screens calibrated to whole degrees. How accurate they are and how often they are calibrated I do not know. I suspect not very and not very often since a degree or two error is not of concern from an engineering point of view
    All in all, I would not place too much weight on Met. information from ships being of the standard of accuracy that seems to be required.
    John Williams
    .

  46. Some more of interest from J L Daly
    A Hole in the Bucket (dear Liza dear Liza)
    As to sea surface temperatures (SST), this data is even more fragmentary than the air temperature readings. Prior to around 1940, SST was collected by throwing buckets over the side of a ship, hoisting it on deck and dipping a thermometer in it.
    *How deep is the bucket dropped into the water? (SST varies with depth)
    *How long does it take to hoist the bucket up to the deck? (the water is cooling while it is hoisted)
    *Is the deck on which the bucket sits hot under the sun? (If so, the bucket water will heat)
    *Or is the deck cool from sea splash and wind breeze? (If so, the water will cool)
    *Is the bucket made of canvas, wood, or metal? (this affects evaporation and heat
    transfer rates)

    *Is the thermometer dipped in immediately, or is there some delay? (time delay equals cooling or heating)
    *Is the bucket left in the sun, or in the shade? (also affects heating/cooling rate)
    *How long is the thermometer left in the bucket? (as the water cools or heats while
    waiting for the thermometer to settle)

    *How carefully is the thermometer read? (usually by a 17-year-old cadet).

    Get the idea?

  47. I have a “chicken coop monitor”, his name is Vinnie (as in Diesel). He is the biggest baddest rooster this side of nowhere.
    Day before yesterday he took exception at me picking up one of his ladies. It took me 15 minutes of boot to claw combat to beat him off.
    I have scratched legs and belly, the mongrel Vinnie is fine. 🙂 (I do love him, he does his job extra well, good luck to any fox)

  48. 899 says:
    September 14, 2010 at 9:21 pm
    I have no problem with improvements in metrology per se. Only with the use to which they may be put (or perverted, as you say ). Far too often the increased capability is used to justify things such as trade barriers, and so on. We see examples of this in dealings with Asian nations.
    With respect to weather/climate, the arguments seem to revolve around insignificant differences in the 4th or 5th decimal place in order to establish some moral or political supremacy of one or the other point of view. This kind of behavior does nothing to advance the science.

  49. #
    #
    John Wright says:
    September 14, 2010 at 8:03 am
    @ Alexander K:
    September 14, 2010 at 6:13 am
    It’s like the way they used to weigh a pig in Maine. They tied the pig to the end of a plank, on which they’d previously found the middle point, put that over a log and piled stones on the other end until the two masses balanced.
    Then they guessed the weight of the stones.
    ______________________________________________________
    Given the pig weighed between 200 and 700 lbs and the stones (not boulders) weighed between twenty and fifty pounds. It was actually not as bad method a method as you might imagine, especially if the same stones were used over and over again. You can tell if the pig gained weight or weighs more than another pig easily. You can also tell if the pig is at market weight.
    I can guess the weight of a child within +/- 5 pounds by picking him up thanks to routinely hefting fifty pound grain sacks. (Yes the kid was weighed on a scale afterwards) So I imagine any farmer can do the same.
    Here is Walter’s way of weighing a pig http://flashweb.com/blog/2006/01/how-to-weigh-a-pig-with-a-string.html

  50. Philip Thomas says:
    September 14, 2010 at 11:08 am
    Tom Fuller says:
    September 14, 2010 at 9:57 am
    Dr. Bill, don’t take my opinions as representative of the site as a whole. I’m an outlier, more or less. Anthony is just kind enough to give the Lukewarmers a little space on his blog once a day.
    If you say you are a lukewarmer, could you please tell Anthony; he has you down as a skeptic in the sidebar.
    REPLY: Thanks for the reminder. Mr. Fuller said he was a skeptic, and is now a Lukewarmer. So I’ll make the change. – Anthony
    ______________________________________________________
    Seems Mr. Fuller played fast and loose with the truth so he could get his message (read propaganda) out to a large number of skeptics and fence sitters. Luckily people here at WUWT at sharp and spotted the spin.
    Thank you Philip Thomas

  51. Simple: precision is used to create the illusion of accuracy.
    Accuracy is attained and proven ONLY by frequent careful checks against a known and agreed and reliable standard. And if that is unavailable, so is accuracy.

  52. Thomas Fuller – You are so right! It is a common mantra that I have stated many times. The “records” of today are due to the ease and flood of information we have with technology – that did not exist just decades ago.
    If you are plotting the winning streak of your favorite football team, using the last 2 decades is more than adequate to see a trend. For your team, that trend might encompass 20% to perhaps 50% of their existance. However when you are dealing with something that has been around billions of years – or even trends that take tens of thousands of years to fully cycle, 20, 30 or even 40 years is worthless for trending.
    That has always been my problem with Mann. That he was later proved to be a fraud is only natural given the fact he has no quality data to go on.

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