re-4: global warming – science & sources


Richard Moore


I continue to receive lots of comments on this global-warming thread. About half are supportive of what I’ve been posting, and half are not. If I started posting all the comments, we would drift back into our discussions about beliefs, philosophical perspectives, etc. I want to stick to the scientific subject for a while. 
It seems to me that the central question is one of simple measurement: is unusual warming occurring or not? There seem to be two schools of thought on this, as represented in the two charts below. Chart 1 is put forward by several of the sources I cited in the original posting, and Chart 2, from wikipedia, shows the IPCC view. 
If Chart 1 is valid, or nearly so, then it seems pretty clear that there is no immediate cause for alarm, and no particularly threatening trends. In that case, we’re seeing only incremental warming, as we continue to emerge from the Little Ice Age. If Chart 2 is valid, or nearly so, then there’s a great deal of reason for alarm. Please take a look at these two charts, and then we’ll continue below…
Chart 1 


Chart 2

Among the complaints I’ve gotten from people, about my postings, the following two sentiments need to be addressed:
1. The people publishing material contrary to global warming are funded by oil companies. 

2. We do not have the expertise to understand climate science, and must accept what the experts say.
As regards point 2, we do not need to be scientists to realize that Chart 1 means no immediate alarm, and Chart 2 means immediate alarm. That much scientific insight is possessed by any reasonably intelligent 12 year old. If we can determine which chart is valid, then we will have the ability to judge for ourselves, regarding the threat or non-threat of global warming.
As regards point 1, I think we need to be skeptical regarding all sources. Science is funding driven, and funding comes from corporations and governments – both of which have political agendas. Statistics can lie, and interpretations of data can be biased, particularly when computer models are involved. I don’t doubt we can find papers funded by oil companies that are biased, and in the case of the IPCC’s main source – The University of East Anglia –  we know for sure that efforts were made to fudge numbers and to prevent the publication of studies that disagree with the IPCC’s model. 
Consider also this perspective. Suppose you are a legitimate scientist, with a legitimate research proposal, and you anticipate the outcome will show evidence against global warming. Who is likely to fund your project? Not the IPCC. Very likely you’ll get your funding from some institution that gets funding from oil companies. That doesn’t mean your study is biased. Indeed, the funder would be most happy with a totally legitimate, unbiased study, which would be more likely to be influential. We should not be surprised that many of the anti-warming studies have come from funding that is biased against the global warming hypothesis. Some of those studies may be misleading, but there is no reason to assume they all are, without even looking at them.
We need to be aware of the possibility of bias – on both sides of the issue – but we cannot refuse to consider papers simply because of their source of funding. We need to dig a bit deeper, look at the referenced sources in a paper, the weightings that were given to measurements, etc. 
I suggest that we – those of us motivated to understand the truth about global warming – concentrate our research on our two charts. If we can find a way to determine which is valid, or if we can find a version more valid than either, then we may gain the understanding we seek. Some of you have already sent in studies regarding these temperature measurements, and more are welcome. 
For those interested in contributing to this research project, here are two such studies to get us started. The first one agrees with Chart 1, is very clearly biased in favor of ‘burning more oil’, and is very open about it. At the same time, it seems to be basing its various conclusions on valid published research. It’s from the Global Warming Petition Project:
Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide 
Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, 2251 Dick George Road, 
Cave Junction, Oregon 97523  [•••@••.•••]

This second study agrees with Chart 2, is from the IPCC website, and is authored by Philip Jones – the fellow at the center of the email controversy. Thanks to Tim Murphy for sending this one in, which agrees with Chart 2:
Surface and Atmospheric Climate Change 
Coordinating Lead Authors: 
Kevin E. Trenberth (USA), Philip D. Jones (UK) 

In closing, here is a non-technical article that talks about how the issue of climate change has become polarized:

A Perfect Storm: When Politics and Weather Collide
Steve Pendlebury

Q: Do you think the debate over climate change has become more politicized during the 24 years you’ve been a meteorologist?
A: Absolutely it has become more politicized. … I think that’s extremely unfortunate because it tends to take the science out of the debate. … Since about 1980 or so the tone of the discussion politically in this country has been to pick a side and agree with it or disagree with it no matter what, as opposed to looking at each individual issue and deciding where you stand. Now that global warming has become an increasing concern — and I do consider it to be a concern; we need to know what’s going on with it — the climate debate has become a very politicized topic.