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back to article NASA's curious climate capers

There have been a few red faces at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in recent days, to match the predominant color of its October global temperature map. Based at Columbia University in New York, GISS is the division of NASA that is responsible for global climate data and is used by the media in assessing global …

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90 stations?

They map the ENTIRE globe (even at the displayed level of pixellation) with only 90 stations?

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It's too bad...

It's too bad he doesn't just make the scientific case for global warming. Being all activist (supporting people who vandalized a power station?) and fudging the numbers to try to make his case really doesn't help his credibility, compared to just being scientific, and showing the warming trend the real numbers still indicate.

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Usual Global Warming rubbish

"In all, September data from 90 stations was used in October. GISS director Hansen claimes that data analysis and quality control is rigorous"

Yeah, as long as the temperature shows it's goes up we're happy - regardless of whether it actually si or not.

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Could do better!

Yeah, the science here isn't great - adjusting numbers to fit what you want it to show is a stupid thing to do, because it just weakens your case, or shows that your measurement technique needs improving (As AC1 one points out - a global map from just 90 stations?), in which case you can't be trusted anyway.

Sadly, the skeptics are in exactly the same boat, but for *all* of their data, not just the odd one here and there.

C'mon Reg, do some real reporting, instead of taking the easy route of poking fun at NASA repeating it's own mistakes. Go check some skeptics figures for a change...

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Lies

Lies, more lies, damned lies.

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Anonymous Coward

Annualized?!

Annualized?! Annualized?! Oh for fuck's sake!!

On a serious note: We have here an organization that only has the data from 90 stations to check on a monthly basis and makes a glaring fuckup like this. An organisation that adjusts it's data to suit it's own ends with no rational explanation (whatever happened to the scientific method). And yet people still take them seriously?

The political agenda requires that they show global warming to be a major issue. The Bush administration want a stick with which to beat almost all of the rest of the world, in particular the Chinese, Russians and the developing world. Just look that the maps, the US is nicely blue while the "enemy" is mostly in the red.

"Look at us" they can say "there's no warming in our country so it's everybody else's fault."

Sorry guys but global warming (if you believe in it at all) is a global phenomenon. You can't exempt yourselves from it no matter how much you try making up your own words.

Of course you could argue that the whole issue is just a ploy to allow the world's major governments and big business to release more harmful polution. Step 1 convince everybody that global warming is happening and it's a major issue. Step 2 convince evrybody that only emissions of carbon dioxide cause global warming, it helps if you come up with a nice catchphrase which explains nothing and ignores all other greenhouse gasses. Carbon Footprint would do nicely, it means absolutely nothing but concentrates the gullible on CO2 emissions and makes them forget other greenhouse gasses (methane, water vapour, etc.). Step 3 convince everybody that the best way to cut CO2 emissions is to increase all those nasty emissions and potentially hazardous processes that the environmental lobby have clamping down on for years. Suddenly nuclear power is a good thing (unless one of your enemies wants it - in which case they are only using it to build weapons). Using and disposing of lots of mercury is also apparently a good thing.

Politicians are not necessarilly a bad thing, but they are when their motivations are bad.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 90 stations

Read the article. They used Septembers data from 90 stations for October. The remaining stations (many hundreds, if not thousands) had the "correct" data.

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@AC1

So pop over there and look after 100 stations, get 100 of your mates to help and we have 10,000 stations measuring temperature.

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Boffin

CAN all the adjustments and show the raw data!

All the adjustments do is fudge things. Show the ACTUAL measurements and then try to explain trends.

Unless you have measured a bias in an instrument (and show these measurements) any adjustment is arbitrary and therefore bad science.

Cargo-cult science is what Richard Feynman would probably say!

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@Henry

Actually the raw data from a number of sources does not show anywhere near the warming that the doomsday predictors are stating. Also, because the model researchers are fitting models to fudged data, they then overpredict future warming even more. I do agree about one thing though - this topic is in desperate need of some real science applied to it.

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When will they learn...

Do I think the figures have been adjusted either deliberately or subconciously to support the idea of climate change? No

Do I think NASA is acting in good faith? Probably yes

Does that actually matter? Hell no... whatever their _intentions_ are, you do real science by exposing the raw data and detailing what calculations you've made. Not only does doing anything else subtract from anything you use the data for, it makes it almost impossible for someone _else_ to use the data for a different purpose.

This is just not scientific :(

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@AC - Could do better!

So you are saying the likes of RSS fudge their figures are you. Where's your proof? Or do you mean is that they don't agree with your world picture, so you have to assume they are fudging their figures?

The whole scientific case for catastrophic global warming is weak because it relies on data that only go back a few decades. One problem we have is that severe volcanic activity a couple of centuries ago threw a lot of ash into the air and resulted in wonderful sunsets (no you don't see sunsets like Turner painted, but you did back then) and a significant drop in global temperatures. Then of course we had the industrial revolution, you should therefore have seen all those CO2 emissions producing significant global warming over the 18th and 19th centuries - but that doesn't seem to be the case from the data we have. These data are not necessarilly the most reliable but they are all we have. One reason for this could be the cooling effect of the volcanic ash in the atmosphere. Another could be the amount of particular crap pumped into the atmosphere by burning all that coal causing cooling. The latter is interesting because a lot of the world started cleaning up it's act in that respect in the mid to late 20th century. So we have rising temeratures which coincide with the gradual settling out from the atmosphere of volcanic ash and particulates from combustion.

Now I'm not saying that this explains the recent trend towards global warming, but it's something that doesn't get mentioned by the pro-global warming lobby.

Another thing they avoid is the so called "little climactic optimum" around the time of the Viking expansion. The problem they have with that is that we have a period in relatively recent history where temperatures rose and then fell again. Take things like this into account and you could be looking at our current warming trend being part of a cycle upon which man has no effect or control.

The argument is hugely complex and yet the pro warming lobby work on so many assumptions (or as they like to call them: facts) that they leave absolutely no room for debate. In that respect I find the pro lobby to be more of a religion than a school of scientific thought.

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re: Re: 90 stations

must... rush... to... post... uninformed... opinion... can't... wait... to... read... article...

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Not 90 total

A bit of cursory investigation indicates there were 90 stations for which the climate data was accidentally copied from September to October, there are a total of 908 stations used for surface weather monitoring.

I love the way that if the temperature goes up the reaction is "ZOMG!!! NASA CONSPIRACY TO TAKE AWAY MY PRECIOUS CAR!!!" and if the temperature is moderated down the reaction is exactly the same hysterical hyperbole.

The story here is: "Programming error found, corrected."

There is certainly an IT angle, but I don't think it's really all that big of a deal, no matter what the denial industry would have us believe.

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More tidbits...

1) This article does NOT say how many stations there are world wide. It only says that the September data from NINETY of them were used for October.

2) Screwing with the data to make things look worse is a great way to strengthen the position of people such as myself that do NOT believe this is human caused. Let's see, the people that are getting paid to investigate this horrible thing that is human caused global warming are screwing with the data to make it look like GW is MUCH worse than it is... Now why would the POSSIBLY want to do something like that??? Job security, perhaps?

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All in Perspective

"They map the ENTIRE globe (even at the displayed level of pixellation) with only 90 stations?"

Oh, no. Although they probaly could get by on not many more than that provided that they were well sited, distributed, and maintained (which does not describe the GHCN).

GHCN has thousands of stations. But if you take nearly a hundred and bump them up by up to ten degrees you will increase to bottom line considerably, in climate terms. In this case around a quarter of a degree C (the 1951-1980 anomoly should be on the upper right of each map). That is a very large adjustment as these things go.

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"since reliable record-keeping began in 1880"

I question how accurate these records are compared to the methods of measuring in the last 10 or 20 years.

Also there's a problem in that we were technically coming out of a mini ice-age around the 1880s. Arguably we are still recovering from this.

Whether man has contributed makes crap all difference anyway, we're getting warmer whether man was here or not. Okay we may be making it even warmer still, but it's peanuts to what nature has on the cards.

And face it. We're only here for a tiny blip of time. In the true span of things, we stand very little chance of survival, whatever happens, so what does it matter?

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Paris Hilton

The Climate Change Scam

Until Hansen and his acolytes start to behave in an open and honest fashion a significant number of people will simply regard them as charlatans. It is clear from their behaviour that they do not wish to be open and accountable for their work. Simple errors like copying the data across from one month to the next is for simpletons not large taxpayer funded programs. One can only assume that because the error was in favour of the warming theory they simply did not bother to check the data, if the situation had been reversed and the figures showed the coldest October on record - would they not have investigated it?

At least Paris openly displays her figure!

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Correction Section

Brain sneeze on my part. UAH, which I listed as "University of Alabama at Hambra" is actually "University of Alabama at Huntsville". (Chalk up another "I knew that" moment.)

This is now corrected in the article.

See? Was that so hard? All we want is GISS (etc.) to do the same: Note the error for the record and make the change while "archiving" the old error for future reference.

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The 'global warming' house of cards is finally collapsing

As the scam of anthropogenic global warming continues to come unravelled, the political house of cards in which it resides is collapsing. Climate alarmists are getting increasingly desperate and are now pulling some hasty moves to try to maintain what is left of their credibility.

The bottom line is that climate drives carbon levels -- it isn't the other way around.

Hopefully the temperature levels will drop to the point where global warming alarmism is so obviously wrong, that the general public will dismiss it before bad legislation goes into effect and then they start to claim "see -- we fixed it" like they did with the ozone hole.

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Paris Hilton

Hmm

Since only "England" was in the red zone, can Scotland start mass producing V8 supercars then?

Ahem.

Paris for the foolhardy behaviour and lack of geopolitical awareness.

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England and Ireland

So England and Ireland dropped out of the red zone on the first revised map. Was there some anomaly over Wales then? Or is the author confusing England with the UK or, geographically, Great Britain? That's never been done before now, has it?

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Please don't bash Hansen

Ok so yet another article on the register with a bashing climate change subtext (at least I can comment on this one!)

I met James Hansen when he was in the UK for the court case defending the people with the boats who climbed up the chimney (no I don't work for them, that's really not my style!).

One of the things that struck me when I chatted to him on the train back from Kent was his reluctance to resort to sensationalist language - everything he said was very measured and cautious. He didn't want to get drawn on reports about 'warmest years on record' and freak weather events since they essentially are single events (in the same way that the fact October was chilly in the UK doesn't debunk climate change). He was interested in the potential of 4th generation nuclear power, but was waiting to be convinced that it could be done in a clean way.

He was also quite bemused as his status of being a 'climate change celebrity' - he turned down a request to visit Australia - where there's a lot of anti and pro coal campaigning going on at the moment. The impression I got was of someone who'd really rather be in a lab somewhere doing science.

I think it's difficult to mix science and campaigning - but the potential dangers of climate change are really quite scary, and it's this that prompted Hansen to speak out. After all he first came to fame in the 1980's during a time where there was a lot of politically-inspired whitewashing going on over the climate problem.

With regards to the rest of the article - yes science should be more open - although when the mainstays of the climate change denier lobby are scrutinized they really fall apart.

You can read the statement he made to the court at Kingsnorth here:

http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/files/pdfs/climate/hansen.pdf

and watch an interview here:

http://nonewcoal.org.uk/?q=node/36

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Coat

Almost no one can keep up with their "truth", it changes so often

I'm someone who is more concerned about toxins that aren't visible, so therefore must be ok, being dumped into the air ATM than global temp changes.

But, the biggest problem with this kind of "science" is that MOST of us do not keep up with all of the media stories, and their corrections that are usually barely audible after. A lot of people I know still believe that the shifting of the climate isn't a temporary way the world is using to absorb some of this extra energy being pumped into the system, whether it's mostly man made or not, the world usually adjusts with weather first until the energy absorption-output is at some sort of balance. Like ice melting in a glass of water, once the ice is gone the water warms up pretty quick until it reaches around room temp, which not nearly as complex as the earth. Complex systems that are generally in balance usually go through some kind of change that follows this pattern. With the ice in the water, the system is simple so the changes are very easy to predict. Earth is a soup of elements and molecules (and that's just using what we're sure of on it's surface), without having any kind of data on when something like this has happened before, there really is no way to predict what the change cycle will be like or to what extremes it could take. Scientists pretty much have no faith that anyone would be able to handle the, "we have no idea and are scared shitless because we like to know all the everythings and whys" excuse. Plus they don't get paid if they don't "know" anymore, with the busniness models that emerged in the 80's and 90's theres too much competition with hundreds of other smart yes men who would be very happy with the large paychecks ;P

We don't usually have so many warm winters during the solar minimums. Winter where I live used to be a season, now its fall most of the time with a few weeks here and there of winter. I know most people like the mild temps up here in the colder areas, but I liked the fact mosquitoes couldn't live all year round, and I'm mostly Nordic, so I can actually enjoy the cold :P AND, we're not used to having hurricanes come so close to where we live. But whatever, things change, as long as the weatherman still tells me when the storms are coming I'll be ok.

But it might not be that bad, everything alive today has survived on this ship we call Earth through every catastrophe that has ever happened, including us. I'm gonna have a drink to that :)

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Paris Hilton

This is not science

Once you start fudging the data, or making unrevealed adjustments (or whatever else you want to call it) you're not doing science any more. This is propaganda, plain and simple, and I bet they'd have been perfectly happy to let it stand if they hadn't been outed. i'll bet that if the error had shown a cooling trend, they'd have been all over it, trying to find "the error."

Paris, because this type of thing is about all she can understand

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post hoc ergo propter hoc

I worked for 4 years at a university doing post graduate clinical and cognitive psychology research, and I saw "fudged" numbers like this all the time. Only on professor of 4 asked for the actual code used to "manipulate" or "analyze" the data of the 15-20 projects that came down the pike. I completely lost my faith in science in those 4 years. So, when I hear about all this doomsday prophecying coming from "so-called" experts, I think to myself, what ulterior motive could they have for "manipulating" their analysis code... low and behold, I was correct. For years I've been saying this global warming stuff is a bunch of bullarky... or in other words, there's little, if any, REAL scientific evidence for such a phenomenon that rules out normal, warming and cooling trends.

It's not so much that these guys are fudging their numbers, it's that they're resistant to be transparent in their methods that raises concern. If you have something to hide, it's not science... unless it's classified or related to engineering a product for the market. In this case, they're engineering data for the likes of the weather channel, one of the biggest proponents of global warming, or as it's know now... climate change. Thank you Algore.

What's even worse, to me, the rampant post hoc analysis and mis-allocation of blame for climate change... if we don't even know if it's happening, how can we blame man for it? Furthermore, why should we be allocating millions or billions in federal funds to "stop" it...

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@ breakfast

" The story here is: "Programming error found, corrected."

There is certainly an IT angle, but I don't think it's really all that big of a deal, no matter what the denial industry would have us believe."

Afraid I have to disagree with that. The issue is the behaviour of one of the foremost activist / scientists in the world today, James Hansen. I use that oxymoron deliberately in this case.

Speaking personally, if one of my colleagues behaved with such high handedness and a lack of transparency, I wouldn't trust a thing they say. Bullshit is bullshit in any language and in any field of scientific activity and I've seen enough of this kind of behaviour in the past to know what it means.

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@Frymaster

Good faith?

The first goal of any research establishment is to secure your funding channel.

Anyone getting funding due to GW needs to keep GW alive.

I really doubt that they can make effective apples-to-apples comparisons with data more than 50 years old. Sensors at airports have seen a shift from small grass airfields to mega tarmac jobs with air conditioners etc. Sensors standing in cities are now surrounded by air conditioners pumping out heat. Sensors standing in agricultural land have seen change in land use. How many of the sensors actually stand in places that can give a sensible reference point?

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Wine (not whine)

Yes. The world is getting warmer. When was the last time the Thames froze over?

It's still not as warm as it was in Roman times. When was the last time you drank wine from grapes grown along Hadrian's Wall?

The climate cycles all by itself. Get over it.

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Lost stations

While only 90 stations had the error and many more were used the 90 stations were able to "raise the planet's temperature" considerably.

The real issue though isn't that this happened - mistakes always will occur. The problems are:

1) The lack of "version management" - ie an explanation of the differences between the first version and the current version.

2) The lack of quality control at NASA on this - GISS is the measurement used in the bulk of scientific literature to demonstrate warming and, as a result of this warming, we are going to spend billions on fighting global warming. And yet they only have 1 person spending 3 months a year on ensuring that everything works correctly? Surely a team of 100 checking and rechecking the data and code wouldn't even dent the billions being spent?

3) That the number of stations being used by GISS has, in recent times, decreased dramatically even though these stations are still recording data. Why is this? And what difference does it make to the overall record? Again a bit of money spent on this would be nothing compared to the total cost of fighting global warming.

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Science is all inthe Method

Please bear in mind that it is understood that everyone has a point of view and that scientists are no exception.

And that is precisely why we have the scientific method in the first place--to protect us from ourselves. Scientific method, based on openness and ability to reproduce results, is a very human thing. If we were not the curious pongids that we are but insted E.E. "Doc" Smith's Arisians, we would not require a scientific method: One Arisian would do.

The issue here is science and presentation, not policy. We know that scientists lift one leg and vote like everyone else.

Note that GW, be it (AGW or NGW) is only indirectly addressed in this article. The point is that with such an immenseamount of money (up to a third-to-a-half of world growth on a continuing basis) and such profound policy issues at stake, it is very important that we get the whole story, "warts and all", as well as we can before acting. Any private commercial venture would demand the same.

As McIntyre has pointed out, any assay provided by a mining company that was anywhere near as unsure and obscure as the data provided by NASA or NOAA would be flatly illegal.

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Nasa/GISS

Your article stated

"The revised map still showed Siberia to be fairly warm. England and Ireland were no longer in the red zone, while North West Canada was somewhat cooler."

I must point out that SCOTLAND was also removed from the red zone.

England is the bit at the foot Great Britain.

All of GB was removed from the red zone.

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ben
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Two Options - Only One Sensible

We only have two options - act, or don't act.

A sizeable majority of the scientific community says there is a problem.

The worst that can happen if we act upon their advice is that we create new markets, spur innovation and create new jobs, with a likely temporary increase in fuel costs while technology catches up.

The worst that can happen if we don't act is catastrophe.

So, I know which option I choose.

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Alien

An Enigma Wrapped in an Anomaly

"So England and Ireland dropped out of the red zone on the first revised map. Was there some anomaly over Wales then?"

Always. (But we Evan Jonses don't like to talk about that.)

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Dr. Hansen's Angle and Dangle

"One of the things that struck me when I chatted to him on the train back from Kent was his reluctance to resort to sensationalist language - everything he said was very measured and cautious."

Perhaps so. But his web page is another story.

http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/

(See especially his Presentations and Links section.)

And publicly calling for trials for climate criminals is difficult to describe in other terms than sensationalistic.

Unfortunately Hansen has set himself up as a bit of a pinata stuffed with his methods, codes, etc., which we are very anxious to bring out into the open. And until he does thus bring, he will, perforce, find himself on the business end of the bash.

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@ jake @ Anonymous Coward

'Yes. The world is getting warmer. When was the last time the Thames froze over?'

Since you ask it was the winter of 1962 - 63 when it froze as far downstream as Teddington Lock. If you're asking when was the last Frost Fair then it was 1813 - 14 which is recognised as an exceptionally cold winter even for the Little Ice Age, possibly as a result of the colossal eruption of Tambora in Indonesia. It's questionable whether frost fairs were possible much later, not just because of a general warming trend, but also because the construction of London Bridge from 1825 and the Embankment changed the flow of the river, making it faster and much less likely to freeze.

'It's still not as warm as it was in Roman times. When was the last time you drank wine from grapes grown along Hadrian's Wall?'

Actually you could grow vines at Hadrian's Wall today, it's just that it doesn't make economic sense. I've heard this story about Romans and Northumberland wine a number of times, but I can't find a definitive source apart from Freddie Forsyth blustering on 'Question Time', so I wonder if the Romans ever did have vineyards that far north.

As for temperatures changing. Yes they do, it is the RATE of change in the current warming phase that is abnormal compared to other changes in the Holocene.

@ Anonymous Coward said:

'One problem we have is that severe volcanic activity a couple of centuries ago threw a lot of ash into the air and resulted in wonderful sunsets (no you don't see sunsets like Turner painted, but you did back then)'

Already factored into the calculations and we have plenty of empirical evidence from eruptions such as El Chichon and Pinatubo to know the amount of cooling these eruptions would cause.

As for not seeing sunsets like Turner's ummmm - perhaps some of Turner's paintings are impressionistic?

'Then of course we had the industrial revolution, you should therefore have seen all those CO2 emissions producing significant global warming over the 18th and 19th centuries - but that doesn't seem to be the case from the data we have.'

We're burning an order of magnitude more carbon than we were in the 18th and 19th Century when only a tiny minority of the population were consuming fossil fuels and even then only consuming a small fraction of the energy we use today.

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@IGnatius T Foobar

Feel free to live on in your fantasy world. Out here in the Real One, the effects of climate change on our environment are now trivially easy to see, and their link to human endeavour is also all too clear. Oh by the way, we know all about climate cycles. The current change doesn't fit the pattern.

@ all the people who complain about the adjustments. Perhaps you should read about why they're made instead of assuming they're fudge-factors as the article's author incorrectly implied. I mean, a little scientific research can't hurt can it - unless you're afraid of what you might find.... :-)

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Greenland

And then there was when they could establish farming colonies in Greenland. Still, that global warming is promoted by carbon dioxide, and that it would be a very bad thing in today's crowded, militarized, and be-bordered world is undeniable despite unfortunate errors.

We need to shift to nuclear power, not try to throttle energy use, thereby kicking the poor and working-class in the teeth.

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Gee, Ain't It Fun...

...watching all these PhD level scientists and those who follow their every utterance (on both sides of the debate) screw themselves into the ground over each little disclosure of information. Doctors, take off your PhD blinders and realise that the single biggest influence on earthly climate is that big yellow ball that traverses our sky once a day. Take your noses out of your faulty data sets long enough to learn that solar cycle 24 has come to us stillborn, and couple that with your own PhD-ly prediction (from NASA, no less) that solar cycle 25, due to peak in the mid 2020's is predicted to be an extremely weak one. Odds are good that we're in for at least 30 years of cooling temps, more if the sunspots go on a long-term hiatus like they have done many times in the past.

Little or no sunspot activity has occurred coincidental with each of the five reported periods of global cooling that have been recorded since year 1000, such periods lasting between 40 and 150 years. Tree ring growth data actually takes the connection back some 11,400 years, but I'll be a good boy and just report that which has occurred since civilised man was around to observe.

While you all pay your carbon credits like good little stooges, know that there is a sun god somewhere laughing at your folly in thinking that minute changes in the absolute level of a minor atmospheric gas are more powerful than the effects of the star that powers all of the energy sources on earth, save nuclear fission.

Arrogance, thy name is mankind - or at least Hansen/Gore.

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A little extra info for ya Pete

Please don't bash Hansen

By Pete Posted Wednesday 19th November 2008 18:17 GMT

You might want to actually read what Hansen himself posts before you defend him.

http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/

he clearly has an agenda just based on his own writing.

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Coat

"My shoe is off, my foot is cold."

"Feel free to live on in your fantasy world. Out here in the Real One, the effects of climate change on our environment are now trivially easy to see,"

Thank you. Freedom is a beautiful thing. But I am not sure whom you are addressing, here.

The article did not claim climate change is not occurring. Neither did it say word one about probable cause. It did cite two sources that indicate that the warming trend has been exaggerated by around a factor of two. This is accounted for by miscalculation of UHI and a continually increasing trend of site violations (plus potentially bad FILNET and simply inexplicable SHAP).

As for urban effects, if you want to get technical, waste heat is a direct offset, but heat sink effect instead exaggerates a warming trend. And, of course, for a warming trend to be exaggerated, there has to BE a warming trend in the first place to exaggerate.

Note also that heat sink effect "undoes" itself in a cooling trend. So it is likewise possible that the sharp cooling trend of the last two years may be somewhat exaggerated as well.

"and their link to human endeavour is also all too clear. "

Taken at face value, surely. Human endeavor covers a very wide area indeed. it would include land use and "dirty snow", for two. What is not at all clear is how much CO2 affects temperatures.

CO2 is a greenhouse gas and has a positive forcing effect. Two vital factors are at issue:

First is the extent of the saturation effect (and how much "diminishing returns" are diminishing).

Second, and even more important, is that "positive feedback loop" theory (which multiplies the direct CO2 effects many times) has been called into extremely serious question by recent findings of the Aqua Satellite. AquaSat instead strongly indicates negative feedback leading to homeostasis. That would help explain the flat trend over the last decade.

"Oh by the way, we know all about climate cycles. The current change doesn't fit the pattern."

The multidecadal oceanic-atmospheric cycles (the "Big Six" being PDO, IPO, AMO, NAO, AO, and AAO) were unknown at the time Dr. Hansen made his 1988 speech; they were not even discovered until a decade or more later. The severe cooling over the past year and a ahlf has been attributed to a PDO reversal.

The Big Six all flipped, one by one, from cool phase to warm from 1976 through 2001. Temperatures warmed. Then they were "all on warm". Temperatures remained flat. Now PDO has turned cold, and NAO a,d AO may be wavering. Temperatures have cooled. Does anyone see a pattern here? Especially if the initial warming was overestimated in the first place? It certainly correlates better than the CO2 curve. And you can trace the pattern back to the last warming-then-cooling from the 1920's to the mid-70's.

Add in a "Little Ice Age Recovery" underpinning, and anthropogenic effects (land use, soot, and, yes, a bit for CO2 but no positive feedback loops) as a slight underlying trend, and it fits prety well. Certainly better than Dr. Hansen's climate models.

What can we expect? I'm sure I don't know. I'm equally sure you don't know, either.

And the Sun may be saving up spit for another Dalton or even Maunder-type minimum. We don't know about that yet. Normal cycles only vary tempertures by c. 0.1C, and claims that TSI is at a long-time high are in dispute, so I do NOT attribute 20th-Century warming to the sun.

But what if it's the very model of a Modern Maunder Minimum? (We don't yet know.) If that's the case, all bets are off--short-sell your carbon credits and invest in mink farms.

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We are left with many factors, each with a nice, healthy margin of error. There are ten times the number of students majoring in climatology these days, and a lot more attention being paid to the subject. The above and other questions will be answered, probably in another decade. But we don't know now. We simply don't. The only thing we know for sure is how badly the computer models have failed.

So before we dance the Kyoto with Stern and "invest" a third to a half of world growth on a continuing basis (greatest suffering to be borne by the worlds poorest, at a cost of many, many lives), I think we badly need to find out what is actually going on. This ignores the very real possibility that AGW is all too real but a "cheap, quick, dirty, and effective" fix can be found such as, but not limited to, reflective pole-to-pole satellites or a new power storage method. (Mix and match?)

And if we are going to find out what is going on, methods and procedures--on both sides of the debate--need to be conducted in the open. Don't you think?

In the meantime, make mine one of those non-fur, high-tech padded jobs. Poor Tom's a-cold!

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D.E.W. Diligence

"How many of the sensors actually stand in places that can give a sensible reference point?"

For GHCN (where NASA/GISS gets its data)? In the US, about one in seven. Sic.

In the rest of the world? Hard to say without better photographic evidence, but the indications are that with the possible exception of Australia (and WITHOUT the exception of Western Europe), the surface stations are much more unreliable and badly sited than in the US.

We do have some cursory shots of some of those "September Siberia" stations (there are around a dozen at or a bit under the 80th parallel) and they are magpie-scandals.

The sensors appear to be attached to heated buildings (any nearby building even without heat is a severe heat sink violation), even on roofs (a ghastly disqualifier--any sensor on a roof is estimated to be running at least 5°C hot, probably worse in winter).

And the many of the sites are in mini-urban areas using district heating (huge steam pipes running all over town) that, even if insulated (and photos show not all are), will create UHI (if 5 degrees warmer than forty-below warrants the letter "H").

And since there are no stations north of there and NASA hates a gap, they estimate the entire Arctic based on the (bad) stations surrounding the Arctic Circle. And the Arctic just happens to be where GISS is finding a very large amount of the warming. We don't know how bad it is, but I contend we need to find out.

Well, you get the idea.

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@Mike Richards

> so I wonder if the Romans ever did have vineyards that far north.

Yes. I was a grunt when excavating along the wall during summer vacation between 6th form and upper sixth. I wasn't important, just a "shifter & sifter" ... I think it was at Vercovicium (Housesteads) that we found evidence of a vineyard that had been in production for over 100 years, judging by casts made from the root holes. The only reason to expend the man power for that kind of thing in that era would be wine production.

I seriously doubt that decent wine grapes would grow up there today. It's not warm enough long enough for proper sugar development.

jake in Sonoma, CA ... "we make wine"

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Boffin

@scotchbonnet: You're dead right

I studied astronomy, and have known about several papers showing a 98% correlation between sun-spot activity and global temperature for ages. Astronomers publishing this kind of thing have often been ridiculed or worse for their SCIENCE. There may be a man-made contribution to global warming, but the case is not clear.

However, it does make sense to preserve resources. Hey, if I get a car with twice the fuel efficiency, I can laugh my head off at the fuel bills of those driving your "average" American-built car. Better still, I cycle to work (and almost everywhere else). It's usually faster in city traffic, and it costs next to nothing. I realize this is not possible for everyone, but I know too many people who live a 15 min cycle from work (and 20 min drive, or up to an hour if there is a traffic jam (again)) and still persist in using the car, even in the best of weather. This is just wasteful. Providing good insulation to houses, rather than providing free heating to the mosquitos outside is another way to stop wasting energy.

Maintaining a good standard of living while keeping energy (and other resource) usage low is just plain economic sense. (at least to me but then I have a PhD ;-) )

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Joke

and remember

..the Red Zone is for loading and unloading only.....

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Anonymous Coward

Scientific Method

OK here's the deal with the scientific method.

1. You postulate a theory.

2. You observe and record.

In light of these results you have three possibilities:

a. Your theory is proved beyond doubt. (Unlikely) End of process. Many plaudits. Potentially end of funding.

b. Your theory is proved to be a load of toss. End of process. And end of funding.

c. Your theory is partly right. So you modify your theory and repeat step 2. Continue until you either hit options (a) or (b) or your funding runs out.

What is important about this process is that you observe and record your observations. As soon as you start changing the observed data you are no longer a scientist.

There are two possible reasons why somebody would choose to modify their observations in a purely accademic setting. One is the worry that on hitting option (b) they would be out of a job. The other is that they have been instructed by those providing their funding to procude certain results. There could be others and without knowing the complexities of the organisation I couln't really speculate further.

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@TimM

So, technically, how deep was this mini ice age in 1880? Because it's a shitload warmer now after that "technically mini ice age" than it was before it.

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re: @Henry

Well, one is a number, so I suppose I can't prove you wrong there.

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@jake

"I seriously doubt that decent wine grapes would grow up there today. It's not warm enough long enough for proper sugar development."

You'd better check. Wine is now growing further north than it did during Roman times. And "decent grapes" sounds like a weasel way of backing out of being wrong: "Aye, but they aren't what *I'd* call decent grapes" (neglecting you don't know what the romans of the time considered decent or if it would make a blind bit of difference).

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