back to article 'Sunspots drive climate change' theory is result of ancient error

A bunch of boffins has completed the first-ever revision of the world's most important sunspot data repository, along the way challenging the theory that climate change is substantially attributable to the prevalence of sunspots. It turns out, in fact, that the pro-sunspots argument relies on a statistical artefact introduced …

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@RIBrsiq -- Re: Deniers?

Go back and re-read my comment... You'll see that skeptic != denier. I don't deny there are changes, I'm skeptical of all the fanatical solutions that aren't working... or not living up to the hype which worse.

I see your screaming and venting at all who disagree with you. So scream away and show us the fanatic that you really are.

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Re: Deniers?

"Is there any solid, proven evidence for anthropogenic global climate change? Serious question".

Is it?

By the time there is that sort of evidence, it will be far too late to do anything about the changes. we'll have to live with them, or perhaps die because of them.

What is certain is (a) the measureable increase in atmospheric CO2 since the industrial revolution, and (b) the certainty that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. I'd far rather we stopped raising the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere *now*, rather than after it's too late. Especially since we now have the technologies to do without burning stuff for energy, and lack only the will to develop and deploy them. (Taxpayers are still *subsidizing* fossil fuel production, FFS! )

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Re: How much temps will rise due to CO2?

1.5C is the low end of current thinking:

there is high confidence that ECS is extremely unlikely less than 1°C and medium confidence that the ECS is likely between 1.5°C and 4.5°C and very unlikely greater than 6°C
-- AR5

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Re: @RIBrsiq

all the atmospheric increase is us.

Let's assume for the sake of argument that was a proven fact. It isn't, but we'll just assume for now that it is.

Emitting zero carbon is beyond our ability as a species - things we eat rot and the air we expel during breathing contains elevated CO2. So what we're left with is trying to minimise our collective output.

Minimising our output can be achieved in just two ways - lower output per person,or fewer people.

Efficiency gains should reduce our output per person, but they haven't, because we've found other uses for that energy - flight, air con, a lot of computers etc. People who were poor and had limited access to heating/cooling, transport, or power are now more wealthy and have raised their output per person.

People simply won't go back to an agrarian lifestyle, they just won't, so we can only reduce emissions per person by changing how the power they consume is generated. As vehicle propulsion currently means hydrocarbons, we can only target coal/gas/oil fired power stations for replacement with nuclear.

The above, if it could be implemented globally without proliferation of nuclear weapons, would reset our emissions by a generation or two. The issue then becomes flight. People are flying more often and further than ever before. Families don't live in the same town anymore - they don't even live in the same country or even continent. Only one couple I know are from the same country: the rest must fly to visit family. Jet engines are being made more efficient, but the increase in number of flights will dwarf engineering gains. Automotive uses will be a sideshow to air travel. Trains are still powered by coal (its just burned in the power station rather than the steam engine), which is the worst fuel in terms of CO2:Energy output.

Absent a carbon neutral jet fuel and some realistic way to power electric cars from nuclear fuel, all we have done is extend the timeline until we inevitably come face to face with route #2 - fewer people.

You can't double the population and expect emissions to fall. It isn't realistic. So how do you get the population to shrink? Well, you need to reduce the number of children being born. The debate on how best to achieve that can be expected to be heated & emotive, but ultimately you'd have to look to complusory sterilisation after the second child. A capitalist alternative would be to auction permits to have children. That's not something you could force on people without being absolutely certain the science is right this time and that the conclusions drawn from that science are also correct. We're simply nowhere near that point. Things like the CRU hack and all the crying wolf just discredit the 'science' more each year.

Logically, to minimise economic damage - for society will still need an economy - the least harmful way to reduce the population is to reduce childbirth within the lower half of the economically active adults. The poor, in other words. We'd need to maximise economic activity per person with fewer people in order to minimise the reduction in econoic activity you see, meaning only the well off could breed.

So what are your answers? What is your road map? There'll be plenty of downvotes for this, but predictably no answers. Slapping a few pence per litre on petrol, a couple of quid on the air passenger levy, and a few hundred on domestic power bills just doesn't change anything. So be honest about how you'd solve the issues... are we rationing child birth or auctioning permits to do it, or are we banning transport entirely and letting grandma freeze to death this winter? Are we having a really big war to whittle down the numbers, or making Logans Run real?

Let's just say that you don't have any answers, because you don't. You'd never be able to convince the world to follow your plan. Even assuming all climate 'science' is accurate as presented, all we have left in the toy box then is learning to live with the effects of any climate change. To accept it will happen at an ever escalating rate, and to try to reduce its impact upon us. Anything else is just wasting time and resources, assuming you're right about AGW of course. I don't sweat it, because I know you're not, or people like the CRU wouldn't be spinning their research while hiding or destroying their data to prevent it being analysed by more rational minds.

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Re: Deniers?

Telling it like it is and in plain basic English, too! Refreshing.

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Re: @RIBrsiq

all the atmospheric increase is us.

Let's assume for the sake of argument that was a proven fact. It isn't, but we'll just assume for now that it is.

It is a proven fact. We do know how much CO2 we're emitting -- all you have to do is know how much oil, coal and gas is being bought and how much CO2 is emitted when that oil, coal and gas is burned. One is a matter of public record, the other is simple chemistry. (Simplification -- you also have to add the CO2 emitted by concrete construction, but that is also calculable).

When you check the numbers you find that our emissions are more or less exactly twice the observed increase in atmospheric CO2.

Emitting zero carbon is beyond our ability as a species - things we eat rot and the air we expel during breathing contains elevated CO2.

Are you a moron? The CO2 in our food comes from the atmosphere -- we, "as animals" are like all other animals carbon neutral. Unless you are suggesting that we eat fossil fuel.

As vehicle propulsion currently means hydrocarbons, we can only target coal/gas/oil fired power stations for replacement with nuclear.
Been there, done that. I live in France.

Trains are still powered by coal
Mine aren't. Mine are nuclear powered.

Things like the CRU hack and all the crying wolf just discredit the 'science' more each year.
Ah, you're a conspiracy theorist. End of conversation.

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Facepalm

Re: Deniers?

2 thumbs up & 2 thumbs down

Very clever I see what you did there.

On balance, as of now, there have been 138 posts with an average:

8 thumbs up & 5 thumbs down

So: I hereby declare climate change article comment up and down votes to adhere to the following algorithm:

If UpVoteSelected Then

UpVote = UpVote + 1

DownVote = DownVote + (5/8)

ElseIf DownVoteSelected Then

DownVote = DownVote + 1

UpVote = UpVote + (8/5)

EndIf

There.

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Re: @RIBrsiq

The CO2 in our food comes from the atmosphere -- we, "as animals" are like all other animals carbon neutral.

Oh, I see. You're an idiot. I get it now.

If what you suggest was remotely accurate, in the faintest possible sense, then all we'd have to do to cut emissions was produce food and not eat it. You mistakenly assume people are carbon neutral, when self evidently they aren't, and miss the face that while the population of earth has soared the past 20 years, as have emissions, there has been zero degrees warming. None. Zip. Nada.

At best we can esitmate what we emit in terms of emissions. What we can't claim, idocy aside, is that we fully understand the carbon cycle such that we can not only correlate our emissions with global warming, but can state them to be causal. Its BS.

You've conveniently rules out any natural increase in emissions and prescribed it all to humans, which is self evidently wrong unless every natural process is a constant. Given a small child could grasp that they are in flux, the prevailing CO2 level will increase and decrease due to NATURE.

Trains are still powered by coal

Mine aren't. Mine are nuclear powered.

So there's no coal fired power stations in France? Quack quack oops. Seriously, even basic research and logic are beyond you. I give up..... you won't learn a thing because you don't want to. Carry on with your religion if you must, but don't ever claim it to be science on this forum again.

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Re: Deniers?

"What are deniers waiting for? Bangladesh under water...? Because we're headed there."

Just what are you going on about ?

The Earth has lost and reformed Ice caps many, many times since it was formed - there will someday be ice sheets over most of Europe and North America will get a massive volcanic eruption in Yellow Stone park.

The seas will rise a bit - so what ? welcome to life on Earth.

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Re: Deniers?

"rtfazeberdee

“If someone doesn't value evidence, what evidence are you going to provide to prove that they should value it? If someone doesn’t value logic, what logical argument could you provide to show the importance of logic?”

― Sam Harris

I think this covers the description of the deniers"

Really ? Well given the FACT that EVERY SINGLE climate model has been proven WRONG - not by a small margin either - the energies required to sustain these models is many factors over the total power output of the world power stations combined.

When quoting "Denier" look the in the mirror and recognise your own failings.

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Re: @RIBrsiq

If what you suggest was remotely accurate, in the faintest possible sense, then all we'd have to do to cut emissions was produce food and not eat it.

Yes, that would work. We'd have to make sure nothing else ate it either. Why do you think it wouldn't work? What do you think coal is?

At best we can esitmate what we emit in terms of emissions.
No, we know pretty much exactly how much we emit -- we're pretty bloody good at keeping track of money so we know how much money we're spending on fossil fuels.

You've conveniently rules out any natural increase in emissions and prescribed it all to humans
Simple logic. We know how much we're emitting. We know what the increase in atmospheric CO2 is. We know that our emissions are twice the atmospheric increase, therefore all the atmospheric increase is our emissions.

So there's no coal fired power stations in France?
There are a couple, but a quick visit to gridwatch will show that they generate less than 3% of the electricity.

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Here we go again

When the historical data doesn't match your results, change the historical data. NOAA did it earlier this year, University of East Anglia do it as a matter of course, and ow the pesky sun spot data, let's change that as well.

Is this really science any more?

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Re: Here we go again

It stopped being science a long time ago.

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Boffin

Re: Here we go again

"Climate science" has never been science. Think more along the lines of sociology, cosmetology or astrology.

(Not meaning to "diss" the geologists, chemists, physicists, astronomers, etc who definitely aren't "climate scientists" and would doubtless hate to be mistaken for such)

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Re: Here we go again

What, so you'd prefer that we continue to use unadjusted data that is known to be faulty? That would be useful...

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Re: Here we go again

Climate science is a real thing, but since the 80's it's been warped out of all recognition by enviro-wackos intent on snuffing out western civilization for its many eco-sins. Fossil fuels are the main energy supply for that civilization, so a theory that ties those fuels to thermal armageddon fits the agenda perfectly. It's just gravy that venal politicians find it convenient to jump on board a train that promises them more power and wealth.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Here we go again

"...Think more along the lines of sociology, cosmetology or astrology...."

You forgot "computer science" from your list...

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Re: Here we go again

Wackos on both sides of the fence if you look.

Me - I'm sitting comfortably on the fence and enjoying the screaming...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Here we go again

"warped out of all recognition by enviro-wackos"

Regardless of one's views on which side of the argument is correct, you do yourself no service by in one post complaining that the use of the term "denier" makes the article suspect, and then referring to "enviro-wackos." Cognitive dissonance.

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Devil

Re: Here we go again

You forgot "computer science" from your list...

Uh.. no.. Comp Sci people have much in common with the rest of the mystic types. Normal people have no clue what they/we do yet they believe and trust in us. We work in the dark, eat strange foods, and mumble a language unto it self. Yep.. we're not scientists but mystics.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Here we go again

What, so you'd prefer that we continue to use unadjusted data that is known to be faulty?

Scatter, just how do know that the unadjusted data is faulty? Is it because it doesn't fit the uncertified computer models that don't include correct sun and cloud data - or something else?

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Computer science

Computer science is to science as plumbing is to hydraulics.

The Devil's DP Dictionary (1981) Stan Kelly-Bootle

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Re: Here we go again

No, it's because a bunch of sunspot experts (astronomers, not climate scientists) worked together to fix a discrepancy in the data. Quite understandably astronomers don't want to use data that is known to be dodgy in their research. As to the ins and outs of the work, I couldn't help you but it'll all be out there in the literature if you care to take a look.

If it also happens to poke a big hole in the sunspots drive climate change hypothesis well... that's just tough luck for the proponents of that hypothesis and it's probably about time for them to move on.

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Re: Here we go again

You'll get a sore arse sitting on the fence too long

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Holmes

Re: Here we go again

<blockquote>Regardless of one's views on which side of the argument is correct, you do yourself no service by in one post complaining that the use of the term "denier" makes the article suspect, and then referring to "enviro-wackos." Cognitive dissonance.</blockquote>

There is wisdom in your point. Caution in the review and examination of one's terminology is always wise. However, the religious fervor I perceive is essentially all on the side of the pro-anthropogenesists. It's not that surprising, because generally those convinced that "we're all going to die" tend be passionate about it.

At the same time, when the pro-anthropogenesists label with derogatory terms those who are not buying what they are selling, it is only natural that there will be a backlash in kind from the latter.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Here we go again

Yeah, because telescopes and other instrumentation is exactly the same 400 years ago as they are today.

The satellite used by Galileo, in the 1600's, is on display at the National Academy Of Science. Few people know that it was Galileo that first launched a satellite into orbit, not the Russian satellite Sputnik.

The same can be said of ocean temperature measurements. The modern Argo array of buoys is no better at measuring temperature than the age old methods of hauling a bucket of sea water onto deck and using a thermometer. And everyone knows that engine coolant water is exactly the same too.

In fact, this centuries long practice of "inventing" new scientific instrumentation is just another example of scientists and engineers scamming the public to get that gov't grant money.

When will the madness stop.

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Re: Here we go again

When will the madness stop.

I give up. Are you being sarcastic or trolling?

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Re: Here we go again

"warped out of all recognition"

I was wondering what had happened to Slaine...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Here we go again

"I give up. Are you being sarcastic or trolling?"

Neither. I am not the OP, but I could tell it was irony from the first sentence.

Sarcasm is "fleshy" remarks (literally, from the Gk. he sarkhe, flesh) - "Stick that in yer cakehole and chew on it" is a sarcastic remark.

Trolling is when you make a post designed to get the less than clever to agree with it or the well intentioned to point out your mistakes. This was not that - it was obvious.

Irony is writing the exact opposite of what you mean in such a way that people will understand your real meaning. Antony's speech in Julius Caesar may be the best known bit of irony in English.

It is often said that Americans don't do irony, but thier euphemisms ("collateral damage") come close.

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Re: Here we go again

Me - I'm sitting comfortably on the fence and enjoying the screaming...

Careful... get splinters in the wrong place, you'll be the one screaming.

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Re: Here we go again

What is faulty about the data?

I really don't know of another science that goes around changing data on the basis "it's faulty" to prove a computer model!

How convenient "faulty data" has become. What is the point of recording anything, if you are just going to say in 100 years "the data is faulty".

And finally, the data a few years ago wasn't faulty, it was fine, it suddenly became faulty recently. Because it annoyingly didn't prove what they are trying to prove. An inconvientant truth.

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Re: Here we go again

I really don't know of another science that goes around changing data on the basis "it's faulty" to prove a computer model!
The science in question being astronomy?

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Re: Here we go again

@Nick Ryan "I give up. Are you being sarcastic or trolling?" -

I can't believe anyone doesn't recognize the AC post as sarcasm ( sarcasm is the use of irony, I think) so you must be being trolling.

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Anonymous Coward

WTF

What is this 'statistical artefact'?

What is this data?

They counted sunspot activity, and 68 years later you decide the data was wrong?

How is this possible?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: WTF

I have to concur. Having read the article I have no idea what the error was - simply that a group of people have now rationalised two inconsistent data sets by modifying one of them.

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Boffin

Re: WTF

They counted sunspot activity, and 68 years later you decide the data was wrong?

For decades the treatment for stomach ulcers was a scalpel and then in 1958 a Greek doctor discovered that antibiotics did a much better job. The data was wrong.

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Re: WTF

Different equipment, different sampling, different processing are three of the most common ways for two entities trying to measure the same thing.

So far as I can tell from reading the published paper, the issue is how to make the modern measurements consistent - as in if you took your modern telescope back in time you would get the same result as the 18th century astronomer - with older measurements so that then you can see if there has been a trend change.

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Re: WTF

What is this 'statistical artefact'?

I have no idea. I would expect the experts to have described what it is somewhere but my guess is that it is about weighting; having something meaningful regardless of large or small spots, the same whether a peanut-shaped spot is counted as one or two.

If there was a change in counting methodology back in the 40s there should be a jump from one day to the next when it changed, and that jump will have stayed with us. There is nothing wrong in factoring that jump out so pre-change and post-change can be better compared.

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Unhappy

Re: WTF

Jason, about my puzzlement too. I understood there were decades after Galileo when no sunspots were seen. So has the Maunder Minimum not to mention the Dalton, been adjusted out of the figures ?

All I know is a growing public distrust of of the great grandchildren of the natural Philosophers has made it hard for anyone but the easily frightened to be persuaded of anything without taking on board some blind authority. The Copenhagen Conference with Bohr and Einstein seems to have been from a golden age of civilised dispute.

As it is, failed predictions of doom "real soon now" with hilarious timing have left me a sceptic. Never have big rains again predictions in OZ and Merkin land. Months later the floods are near record breaking. Aside from that, if there was a real crisis I would expect rational responses instead of windmills.

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@JustaKOS Re: WTF

Oh, it's worse than that. I followed the links in the story and they shed no more light on the corrections than the article itself. If you're adjusting the number down, for a decent scientific reason, you CAN put it into terms that technically proficient laymen can understand.

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Re: WTF

"They counted sunspot activity, and 68 years later you decide the data was wrong?

How is this possible?

I've got to page two of the article. And sunspot number, properly called, relative sunspot number, is defined as

R = k (10 Ng + Ns)

So it's not a dumb count of sunspots but a weighted sum of sunspot groups (Ng) and single sunspots (Ns) scaled by an arbitrary constant, k, "...usually called the personal coefficient of the observer..." which compensates "...for the differences in the number of recorded sunspots by different observers [and] depends mainly on the ability of the observer to detect the smallest sunspots (telescope aperture, local seeing, personal experience) and on how groups are split by the observer."

So, the sunspot number is a blend quantitative measure with qualitative opinion of an observer. Do you begin to see how this might suffer some bias and why astronomers might want to revise it?

I do agree that, once again, that El Reg's reporting could have made this clearer.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: WTF

"The data was wrong."

My GP uses the helicobacter example to which you refer as evidence that medicine tends to be tradition driven rather than science driven.

The tabloids, for instance, one minute announce "medical breakthroughs" and the next denounce scientists who change their minds about things. They have a view of science in which everything in the past is fixed and unchanging, and "breakthroughs" merely add to knowledge. This is part of the reason they and their readers don't understand what is happening with earth sciences; the idea that new science falsifies previous dogma is alien to them.

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Re: @JustaKOS WTF

"If you're adjusting the number down, for a decent scientific reason, you CAN put it into terms that technically proficient laymen can understand."

I don't know anything about you, but have people ever thought that, just perhaps, statistics and analysing experimental data is complicated, and you might not be able to understand it? Some things are hard, and there isn't a dumbed down version for us all to understand. This is why we have experts in the first place.

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Re: WTF

The treatment for ulcers was milk diets, antacids and bismuth. Which worked up to a point

Since prevailing view was that bacteria would not thrive in stomach, there was no expectation that an antibacterial treatment was an avenue worth pursuing.

Its not until Marshall et al in the 80s challenge view and prove existence and role of helicobacter pylori (as it is now known) that antibiotic (with acid suppression) therapy adopted.

Possibly complicating pre-Marshall situation/data is fact that bismuth compounds do have an antibacterial action on h pylori.

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Count or area

Looking at some of the charts at the sidc.be site, a first thought is any sunspot *count* would be a very fuzzy value. Overlapping spots could be counted in so many ways

Total sunspot area could be used as a measure for modern values. I wonder how much of the historical data includes pictures from which area could be computed.

And, I also wonder whether the whole sun is included in the values. Or whether the values come from samples of the sun visible at a particular time.

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Boffin

Re: Count or area

One basic consideration when comparing historical data is are are you comparing apples to apples? What instruments were used then compared to now? Do they reliably measure the same thing? Are measurements taken with the same frequency? Are there any other areas in which inconsistencies might skew the data and introduce an artifact? I believe that in the case with the NOAA update many of the the differences were down to measurements by ships in the older data versus measurements by buoys in newer data. More details can be found here. It wouldn't surprise me at all if there were some similar issues with this data set.

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Re: Count or area

Didn't know about that ship/buoy difference. Makes sense.

Yep, if you ever see raw data these climate guys have to work with you sure can understand why the group picture at that site shows a big group. Lotta work to clean that historical stuff. Heck, back in '80 I saw real-time temperature readings from all around the world. Lotta typos.

Another more subtle problem is, how do you know you've improved the data when you fix it? Correlate the fix-up program's output with something else, generally. That process gets knarly when the only "something else" you have is your expectations and common sense. Dang, my program says the winter temperature in Nome is 124 degrees! Time to find a bug. But if that temperature is -20, well, move on. Other stuff to do. And maybe you miss a bug.

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The article seems to suggest that groups of sunspots are now being counted as one.

I think.

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it is getting cooler

take a look at the bigger picture .. we are coming to an end of this interglacial we have had a long run this time ..

what do we have left 50-100 -150yrs ?? then like a cycle we will be plunged into a glacial event theres no stopping it ..

are we prepared no will we be prepared .. prob not . warmth is good everything grows .co2 is good more the co2 better and more robust is plant life . cold well it not so good is it ..

stop the arguing and do something about it ..

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Re: it is getting cooler

Ah the plants. The largest organisms on earth and in the ocean, which grow faster in higher concentrations of CO2.

Why are botanists never asked to comment on global warming?

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