Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Climate U-Turn or Explanation?

The controversy around climate alarmist Phil Jones simply won’t die. But this time he is feeding the flurry of reports with his own admissions. Meanwhile, defenders of Jones argue that one reason he can’t comply with Freedom of Information Act requests is that Jones is a sloppy researcher who has piles of unsorted paper and data just sitting all over his office.

BBC interviewer Roger Harrabin, who held the enlightening interviewer with Jones, says that colleagues of Jones said he was unorganized and careless with files and data. Jones admitted as much himself and said that helped explain his refusal to share data—he couldn’t fill the requests. Asked if he lost track of data he said: “There is some truth in that. We do have a trail of where the weather stations have come from but it’s probably not as good as it should be.”

Warming Trends


The interview with Jones is worth reading because Jones makes some public concessions that isn’t heard often from the IPCC crowd and the politicians associated with the warming controversy. For instance when is the last time you heard admissions that the warming trend from 1975 to 1998 was identical to earlier trends that could not be attributed to human causation? The BBC interview said:
Do you agree that according to the global temperature record used by the IPCC, the rates of global warming from 1860-1880, 1910-1940 and 1975-1998 were identical?

An initial point to make is that in the responses to these questions I've assumed that when you talk about the global temperature record, you mean the record that combines the estimates from land regions with those from the marine regions of the world. CRU produces the land component, with the Met Office Hadley Centre producing the marine component.

Temperature data for the period 1860-1880 are more uncertain, because of sparser coverage, than for later periods in the 20th Century. The 1860-1880 periods is also only 21 years in length. As for the two periods 1910-40 and 1975-1998 the warming rates are not statistically significantly different.

I have also included the trend over the period 1975 to 2009, which has a very similar trend to the period 1975-1998. So, in answer to the question, the warming rates for all 4 periods are similar and not statistically significantly different from each other.

Next Jones conceded that there had been “no statistically-significant global warming from 1995 to today. He said that the warming failed to be statistically significant “but only just.” He said: “I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level. The positive trend is quite close to the significance level. Achieving statistical significance in scientific terms is much more likely for longer periods, and much less likely for shorter periods.”

Since 2002 he also says there has been a trend toward cooling, not warming, but it was also not statistically significant. “The trend this time is negative (-0.12C per decade), but this trend is not statistically significant.”

Asked if “natural influences could have contributed significantly to the global warming observed from 1975-1998” Jones pleaded ignorance, saying this “is slightly outside my area of expertise.” He said that natural influences “could have contributed to the change over this period.”

Jones says he is “100% confident that the climate has warmed” but when asked how confident he is that humans are responsible his response is significantly weaker, saying only that “there’s evidence” that could be the case.

Medieval Warm Period

One of the problems for warming alarmists has been the Medieval Warm Period, which previously was widely believed to significantly warmer than today. Alarmists have worked very hard to make the MWP disappear and Michael Mann’s famous, but discredited “hockey stick” graph showed no MWP so that today’s temperatures appeared unprecedented. Whether or not such a warm period existed is thus important. Jones conceded: “if the MWP was shown to be global in extent and as warm or warmer than today (based on an equivalent coverage over the NH and SH) then obviously the late-20th century warmth would not be unprecedented. On the other hand, if the MWP was global, but was less warm that today, then current warmth would be unprecedented.”

It appears that Jones is skeptical of the MWP being global because: “There are very few palaeoclimatic records for [the tropical regions and the Southern Hemisphere].” As a result: “We cannot, therefore, make the assumption that the temperatures in the global average would be similar to those in the northern hemisphere.” Fair enough, if true. But neither can we assume that a similar trend didn’t happen, which is what the alarmists seem to do. A lack of evidence is a lack of evidence, not proof of an alternate theory.

This is like UFO theory. A UFO is an “unidentified” flying object. It simply means something in the sky, which can’t be identified. The lack of identification is used by UFO loons to claim that unidentified objects are then proven to be space aliens.

Jones is then asked: “If you agree that there were similar periods of warming since 1850 to the current period, and that the MWP is under debate, what factors convince you that recent warming has been largely man-made?” His reply is revealing: “The fact that we can't explain the warming from the 1950s by solar and volcanic forcing.”

Jones seems to assume that only solar and volcanic activity, outside of carbon dioxide emissions, can cause warming trends. His interview, at the very least, gives the appearance he is saying, that since he dismisses solar and volcanic activity as the cause of warming, then only human action remains. That climate change may be caused by dozens of factors interacting with one another doesn’t seem considered. Climate change may not be mono causal at all. It may well be that numerous causes, none of which are individually significant, could work in concert to create shifts in planetary climate.

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