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Wall Street Journal Again

Filed under: — david @ 3 February 2006

The Wall Street Journal has published another fair and balanced critique of climate change science and negotiations, in a Business World commentary by Holman W. Jenkins, Jr, here. A summary of the arguments is as follows:

1. It will never be possible to prove that global warming is real. In the same way, we point out, it will never be possible to prove that anybody died from lung cancer because of smoking. Did you actually witness that first DNA mutation?

2. The reasonable lay person cannot be expected to read a scientific paper, so the rational response is to ignore the issue.

3. A paper about frogs did not argue convincingly that people cause global warming.

4. People sometimes distort the truth (truly a shocking charge coming from the WSJ).

5. Global change negotiations are stalled in politics, so the science must be wrong.

Final thought: When climate does change, we’ll be able to fix it anyway.

138 Responses to “Wall Street Journal Again”

  1. 51
    Eric Swanson says:

    Re #38

    Wayne Byerly says he looked at 101 stations of weather data out of 212 for the U.S. He doesn’t discuss the use of any of the various corrections that have been shown to be necessary to the U.S. HCN data. These corrections are the result of problems such as station relocations and changes in time of day of observation. There is a heat island effect, which may produce a cooling as a station is relocated from a site in a town to a more rural area away from buildings. Also, he doesn’t mention the technique he used to average his data. Usually, some sort of gridding process is employed, as some stations will be close to others and reflect the same local conditions, while others may be spread widely apart. Selecting stations which have a long, continuous record may not give the best result, as missing data can be corrected for.

    The Idsos at have routinely produced a “Station of the Week” graph, which they select from the raw US HCN data. Their choices usually show little or no warming, which they claim, proves there is no warming trend. They also produced an analysis of this data, which they published in the GRL, as I recall. Their cherry picking is obvious and does not prove that there is no AGW. When they allowed free access to their data set, I often showed some of the obvious problems with their approach, posting on sci.environment. I gave up when they started requiring a paying menbership, since I didn’t wish to support their efforts. Without greater knowledge of Mr. Byerly’s stations, I could not assess what he has done, although I hope he has not repeated the Idsos’ errors.

  2. 52
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    Mr. Byerly (# 38), I like you am not a scientist, so I follow this method for making decisions. What are the consequences of
    (1) business as usual (increasing GHGs), when GW is not happening;
    (2) mitigating GW, when it is not happening;
    (3) business as usual, when GW is happening; and
    (4) mitigating GW, when it is happening.
    Concerned mainly about (3), I decided to reduce my GHGs & was willing to sacrifice, but found that I actually was saving money, without lowering my living standard, and am now on 100% wind power, saving about $1/month from that. So, (2) is not problem at all. Taking actions to reducing GHGs, such as moving closer to work/school/stores (I was doing that anyway since the 70s energy crunch), just makes all around sense, including reducing many other problems — acid rain, local pollution (kills fetuses, etc), military expenses & deaths to secure oil, and the list goes on. And (1) is just unwise.

    Here’s my GW odyssey. I saw the film, “Is It Hot Enough for You?” in 1990. I thought, “this sounds really bad,” especially the idea that my GHGs may be contributing (no matter how little) to floods in Europe & droughts in Africa. (Later I’ve learned how melting glaciers puts 40% of India & China at risk of starvation.) My heart had gone out to the victims even decades before in Biafra, etc., and I was horrified by the idea that I may have been contributing to their deaths all during that time, and to future deaths.

    Knowing the media people may have gotten it wrong, I wrote to a scientist interviewed in the film. He sent me the SCIENCE article about those precipitation changes over several decades. It had all the usual caveats, ending with something like, this fits what is expected, if GW is ever proved.

    I wasn’t waiting around for 95% certainty. I wanted to stop killing (if I was) from that point. Anyway the basics of GW made very good sense — about the natural GH effect & adding more GHGs. That doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand. We all know about leaving our car window up on a hot summer day.

    And, as mentioned, I have no regrets, only a joyful heart that I did choose to reduce my GHGs.

    For those who might be religious, the cardinal & capital virtues of prudence, justice, temperance, liberality/generosity (v. avarice), brotherly love, and, yes, diligence require that we mitigate GW. The U.S. Bishops have said so. It’s not a choice, like choosing one charity over another. We must.

    Unfortunately WSJ people & those in power are NOT religious by any standard in my estimation, & pretending to be so & fooling the American people is very bad, & saddens me.

  3. 53
    Dano says:

    Every few months the argumentation pops up that claims Urban Heat Islands (UHIs) account for all of the observed global warming on the planet. Even the melting permafrost under the tundra can be explained by that durn Fairbanks UHI. I learned some time ago that it is best to save a particularly good comment (with links) to save time in replying to these recurring arguments (UHIs, CO2 increase a net positive for plants, GCMs can’t hindcast – you know the ones).

    Who says some interests are afraid of recycling?



  4. 54
    Joel Shore says:

    Re #38 “Who am I? Just a near 80 year old man who has a clear memory of attending a meeting in about the 1960’s, and hearing a speaker tell us the earth was heading into another ICE AGE because we were putting too much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. My how ideas change in a few decades.”

    First of all, I doubt that anyone who knew anything about the subject in the 1960s was blaming anthropogenic CO2 for triggering another ice age. The idea that increased CO2 would lead to warming has been understood since at least the time of Arrhenius around 1900 (see for a good history of the subject).

    Secondly, it is true that because there are many different anthropogenic and natural effects competing in the climate system besides CO2 emissions, there was a time back in the 60s and 70s when some people thought that either or both of the natural effects (e.g., natural glacial-interglacial cycles) or the anthropogenic cooling effects (e.g., from pollutants…sulfate aerosols and such) would dominate and that cooling would occur. However, there was never any sort of consensus that this would be the case. In fact, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) did a study in which they concluded that it was too early to draw conclusions about whether the climate might warm or cool in response to the various forcings and that more research was needed. In contrast, some 30+ years and thousands of research papers later, the NAS now believes that global warming is a real problem and the time has come to take action. (See for more details.)

    This is how science progresses. I am only about half of your age but I can remember a time in which 64K was considered to be an unnecessarily huge amount of memory in a computer; that is, obviously, not true today. And, it does not mean that I should ignore the advice of computer professionals if they tell me that I should make sure to get at least 128Meg in a computer that I order today. Science, technology, and knowledge change over time.

  5. 55
    Wayne Byerly says:

    Re. #41. So far as I have been able to determine, those who claim global warming is so certain, have pretty much ignored actual temperature data from periods prior to about the 1970’s. Somebody correct me somebody if I am wrong on this. Seems to me nearly all the graphs we see showing global warming, begin the time period in about the 1970’s.

    [Response: Errrm… I really can’t understand how you can say this. See for example; which (as usual) shows the temperature record starting around 1860; or, which is the first page of the IPCC TAR summary for policymakers – William]

    For sure there has been warming since the 1970’s. About 1/2 of this warming was required just to get back to a normal temperature, since the 1970’s was the coldest period of the 20th century.

    [Response:No, it wasn’t. See the graphs linked just above – William]

    My procedure is very simple. Run a regression on the data. Year is “X” and annual average temperature is “Y”. When the data begins in the 1970’s it is immediatly biased for the abnormal warming in these last 35 or 40 years. But by beginning the data even as late as the 1940’s a completely different picture is presented. The 1940’s were another warm time, in many locations as warm or warmer than the 1990’s. It isn’t possible to present a valid picture of temperature trends with less than about 80 years of data. I’m sorry, but that is fact, and when the warmer periods of 80, 100, or more years are left out of the equation, the results are incorrect.
    I have data from “Danishds Meteorological Institute” presenting temperature data from locations in Greenland, The Faroe Islands and from Denmark showing temperatures in about 1940 as warm as any in recent decaded, then it cooled off until about the 1970’s. Shows much of what many of the US weather reporting locations also report.
    Remember the news stories in the summer of 2003 reporting that Europe was having the warmest summer in many, many years. Then a few months later it was reported that the 2003 summer in Europe was the warmest since 1500. Perhaps true, perhaps not, but the point is that it seemed nobody questioned what made the climate in about 1500 so warm??? Does anyone believe it was all the autos, airplanes, trucks, factories, air conditioning, etc., which caused excess carbon dioxide to warm the atmosphere in 1500. Strange this question never came up. Or the climate in about 950 to 1000 warm enough that parts of SW Greenland were settled by those from Nordic countries. I suppose that warming period was also caused by humans burning too much fossil fuels. A bit of common sense needs to be applied to some of these theories.
    Re. #48 My US data all came from Official Weather Reporting Locations
    I’ve not made any adjustments in the temperatures which were downloaded from these sources. Same with the data from locations outside the US.
    For the 47 locations with 80 or more years of data, and having a slight decline in average temperature over that span of time. The only criteria is used in selection of these 47 locations was that they have a minimum of 80 years of data. Included are some big cities, as from Central Park in New York City. (+2.57 degrees F. per century).
    For the 101 locations I mention having an average decline in annual average temperatures during 1990 – 2004. The only criteria used was an unbroken string of temperatures for those years. It just happened to be that these 101 locations represent 44 of the states. It could hardly be more representative. I might also add that for the years of 1998 through 2004 that same 101 locations have a temperature trend line of
    -23.21 degrees F., per century. Probably not a valid rate, but it sure isn’t getting hotter and hotter!
    I’ve only graphed several dozen of the hundreds of locations I’ve obtained data from. But I have graphed quite a number from not only the US but from those other nations mentioned. We continue to hear how the temperature is going up so dramatically in the last few decades and that it is only going to continue to get worse and worse. The inflamatory articles in the September issue of National Geographic is a good source for this sort of exaggerations.
    At any rate, from the several dozen locations I have graphed, I have yet to find even one location in which the rate of temperature increase in recent decades is anything like the graphs show in NG and other sources. It just hasn’t happened, or at least not more so than in decades of 80, 100 or more years ago. There were warming periods then too. I call them short term warming periods, and there are essentially an equal number of short term cooling periods, and based upon the data I have analyzed, we are likely in the midst of one of those short term cooling periods right now.

  6. 56

    Re #55 and “Re. #41. So far as I have been able to determine, those who claim global warming is so certain, have pretty much ignored actual temperature data from periods prior to about the 1970’s. Somebody correct me somebody if I am wrong on this.”

    You’re wrong on this. We have temperature station data back to the 1880s and proxies back for hundreds of thousands of years, more in some cases.

  7. 57
    Hank Roberts says:

    > #55, #41

    Wayne, you wrote: “So far as I have been able to determine, those who claim global warming is so certain, have pretty much ignored actual temperature data from periods prior to about the 1970’s”

    The FAQ and link column — right side of each page — will fill in that blank for you.

    Try here:

    Top level of that history is here:

  8. 58
    Dano says:

    I think Joel Shore brings up a good point in #54: how easy it is to carelessly disregard work because of past bad forecasts. Of course, we know this is just a tactic, but Joel has a good counterpoint, visualized here, From a 1954 Popular Mechanics.



  9. 59
    Coby says:

    Wayne Breyerly,

    I, and others, asked for your sources for data. You cited it above as coming from “Official Weather Reporting Locations”. I tried to locate this dataset, or other references to it via google:
    “Your search – “Official Weather Reporting Locations” – did not match any documents”

    Your use of capitals certainly gives it the appearance of legitimacy, as does your anecdote speak with authority. Unfortunately this is little reassurance when there are so many scientific institutions and papers that, as well as having some legitimate authority, give full citations for all data sets used and clearly and precisely describe their methods.

    Now, the deficiencies I mentioned above certainly do not mean you are no expert yourself even if they don’t show you are. But you stated that “So far as I have been able to determine, those who claim global warming is so certain, have pretty much ignored actual temperature data from periods prior to about the 1970’s”. This is problematic. It is not possible that anyone with anything more than the most superficial interest in this issue can not know that the reliable surface temperature record goes back almost a century and a half.

    Highly suspect accusations such as yours have another big problem. If the surface temperature analysis is so flawed, then why is it in good agreement with so many other completely different types of temperature indicators? You must also deal with:
    Satellite and Radiosondes:
    Borehole analysis:
    Glacial melt observations:
    Sea ice melt:
    Sea level rise:
    Proxy Reconstructions:

    Are these perceived trends all artifacts of Urban Heat Island? (That’s rhetorical, the answer is no.)

    I advise you to do more reading and less writing until you have a handle on the very basics of this large, complex and important issue, I would recommend starting here:

  10. 60
    Don Baccus says:

    Re #58 the photograph’s an urban legend, as described on Snopes.

    It’s a doctored photo of a submarine console (note how the top panel’s tilted to follow the curve of the pressure hull)

  11. 61

    re #58; the image is a joke that became a hoax. The FORTRAN language was not in existence in 1954, and the modern mixed case spelling of “Fortran” came much later. The monitor on the wall would not have been present in a 1954 computer room, and if it were you would not see the top of the obviously rectangular box from that angle. The presence of a steering wheel is beyond credibility.

    “The picture is actually an entry submitted to a image modification competition, taken from an original photo of a submarine maneuvering room console found on U.S. Navy web site, converted to grayscale, and modified to replace a modern display panel and TV screen with pictures of a decades-old teletype/printer and television (as well as to add the gray-suited man to the left-hand side of the photo)”

    It is pretty funny but unfortunately it is apropos of nothing at all.

  12. 62
    Joel Shore says:

    Re #55:

    (1) Here is a plot of the average global temperatures since 1860: As you can see, temperatures are clearly higher in the late 1990s than they generally were during the last peak in the 1940s. [Note that this plot only goes through 2000, but we now know that 2005 was basically the same warmth as 1998 which (as you can see) was a huge outlier at the time due to an incredibly strong El Nino…2005, by contrast, had only the tail end of a weak El Nino early in the year and was essentially “neutral” after that. I believe the temperatures for that 2002-2004 all lie between those of 1998 and the next warmest year previous to that.]

    (2) Plenty of work has gone into attempting to understand the oscillations of the earth’s climate system on a variety of time scales. Just because you aren’t knowledgeable about such work does not mean that it does not exist. And, the fact that other things besides anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions can cause warming does not negate the fact that anthropogenic GHGs can too. In fact, studying past responses of the climate system to various forcings helps us to understand the sensitivity of the climate system to the known forcing that is being applied to it by the elevated levels of GHGs.

    (3) You might find it worthwhile to understand the evidence for the idea of anthropogenic global warming. It is much more than just the fact that the temperatures have been rising significantly over the last 30 years or so. The IPCC website, that I provided one link into above, is one good place to start.

  13. 63
    Hank Roberts says:

    Thank you Don and Michael (you beat me to posting the Snopes link).
    As always, looking for sources is wise. “Trust, but verify” — R. Reagan

  14. 64
    Hank Roberts says:

    But I could’ve done better — here is the prediction I bet Coby was thinking of. This fits the comment Joel Shore made better:

    “When computers were first created, T.J. Watson founder of IBM, predicted, ‘We may need six computers world-wide, for government, etc.’ In 1977, Ken Olson, the founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, said, ‘There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home.’ And as recently as 1981, Bill Gates himself was quoted as saying, ‘640 K ought to be enough for anybody.’

    The linked doc is relevant — it’s about how to teach geotechnical engineers, a field certainly interested in where climate is going.

    Another comment, serendipitously, therefrom:

    “There are two approaches to a natural problem. They are the approach of the pure scientist and that of the engineer. The pure scientist is interested only in the truth. For him there is only one answer – the right one – no matter how long time it takes to get it. For the engineer, on the other hand, there are many possible answers, all of which are compromises between truth and time, for the engineer must have an answer now; his answer must be sufficient for a given purpose, even if not true. For this reason an engineer must make assumptions – assumptions which in some cases he knows to be not strictly correct – but which will enable him to arrive at an answer which is sufficiently true for the immediate purpose.” — Goulder (1948)

  15. 65
    Richard Ordway says:

    Wayne, You wrote “… have pretty much ignored actual temperature data from periods prior to about the 1970’s.”

    Wayne, Can you find a scientific study (that stands up) written in a longstanding peer-reviewed scientific journal to back yourself up?

    The answer is absolutely not. It cannot hold weight scientifically because it is wrong. Your information (not you necessarily) is scientific trash, “junk science” and may I dare say at this point…urban legend.

    If the information had viable holes in it…it would still be hotly debated (with actual evidence)in peer-reviewed journals around the world. It is not and has not been for quite a few years now…in spite of what the Wall Street Journal, the fossil fuel industry and their paid minions say.

    Dissenters such as Richard Lindzen have argued this case and their evidence has not held up scientifically in the journals. Either they had omission (like ignoring 3/4ths of the relevant evidence), cherry picking (such as only picking out areas that back up their claim and ignoring the rest, physically changing the known evidence, or very occasionally time simply proving their hypotheses wrong.

    Clearly Wayne, you do not understand the scientific method.


  16. 66
    Hank Roberts says:

    … and that’s not necessarily fatal, lots of us have trouble understanding the scientific method, at least in practice. The statisticians have a field day any time they survey published peer-reviewed journals, pointing out flaws in analysis — and they do it to each other as well.

    The method comes down to — nobody’s an expert outside a very narrow area of knowledge, and learning who to trust is especially hard in areas where there is a lot of opinion and spin and a great many “second-hand” sources of what — they will tell you — is authoritative info.

    The public pursuit of footnotes and fact-checking isn’t science either, but it’s one bit we can all contribute to.

    Of my favorite public health webloggers put it well recently (Blogger is down for maintenance, I can’t quote).

    He said, paraphrasing, that many of the things we do with language — posture, win points, snark, woo, charm, and so on — are language tools we agree to leave behind when we try to do science, to the extent we agree we are sharing a common search for what’s true and intend to help one another find that out, regardless of what we wish were true.

    We use only a subset of our language skills, doing science — and (my addition) we know that most of us, in hindsight, will have at best worried out a sliver of the truth for someone else to put together with another sliver.

    Science isn’t easy, or common. It seems to have been invented just once, in the ten thousand or more years humans have been humans. Most cultures never had a glimmering of how to do science, what the method is, and what we have to set aside of ourselves to find facts and face them.

    Checking what people tell you — “replicating the previous study” if you can do it, but at least looking up their references and reading the footnotes and testing whether you think they described where they started and what they assumed correctly — is our bit, I think.

    Or as I told someone recently, “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach; those of us who can’t do either, proofread and check references.” It’s honorable study.

  17. 67
    David H says:

    Re: #35, “Re # 20, who reasonably requested: ‘Show me the data!’ The data is all here at”

    Then no doubt I will soon have what I want.

    Michael Meacher was one of the strongest advocates of AGW theory when he was UK Minister for the Environment. When challenged about UHI in the CRU surface record he wrote, “The data are very carefully quality controlled and urban heat island effects have been removed.” But he did not show any data.

    So just to be sure, isn’t it reasonable to have a look at the raw station data and what CRU use to compile the surface record? Tell me where it is. There are almost as many looking for it as the Holy Grail.

    [Response: If you want the CRU data, their website is in the obvious place. If you’re interested in UHI, then an excellent paper is “Thomas C. Peterson (2003). Assessment of Urban Versus Rural In Situ Surface Temperatures in the Contiguous United States: No Difference Found. Journal of Climate 16: 2941–2959.” There is even a ppt version availabel via wayback:*/ – William]

  18. 68
    Stephen Berg says:

    “Stop the Gag on Global Warming”:

  19. 69
    Hank Roberts says:

    > 36, Singer, SEPP,

    Oh my goodness. I had really thought this was settled, although I’ve seen mention that there are officials in Russia and China proclaiming that they need to continue to manufacture CFCs and the ‘ozone hole’ story is just a US government plot.

    I hadn’t realized Singer and others are still saying basically the same thing.

    You know, this could be serious. For values of serious equal to fatal.

    Would you all please (sigh) start a thread for ozone/CFC science? I’d been thinking such a thread would be a museum. But it’s still politically alive. If the manufacturing of the stuff is in fact still going on — and I know the quantities measured in the stratosphere are higher than they were expected to be as of now and the problem’s not going away — that’s bad news.

  20. 70
    Dano says:

    So just to be sure, isn’t it reasonable to have a look at the raw station data and what CRU use to compile the surface record? Tell me where it is. There are almost as many looking for it as the Holy Grail.

    That’s great! We can start a whole new industry: random people using Excel to audit entire disciplines, despite their being unfamiliar with them. What the heck – nature is just ol’ numbers, right?

    I eagerly await plumbers, after they get home, looking at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation and telling the injuneers how to route the water more effectively. Homeowners can audit that same plumber by looking over his shoulder: “Hey buddy: if you keep your flux on the top of your toolbox, you can move faster. Time is money, you know.” We can audit everything in this way, if we are diligent. We have Google – that’s all we need. Who needs knowledge or wisdom to interpret stuff, anyway?



  21. 71
    Coby says:

    Re #67

    It took me all of 20 seconds to google “Climatic Research Unit”, find their homepage (first link, surprise) and click the “Data” link near the top of that page. I then click “Temperature”. That gets you here:

    Have fun.

  22. 72
    Coby says:

    Oh yeah, [insert ironic comment about Holy Grail here]

  23. 73
    Hank Roberts says:

    Coby, I hope David was pulling your leg — one Holy Grail (at most); one person looking for the data file?

    If not — David, had you tried and failed to find that data?
    Or were you using second hand info? Did someone tell you that data was hard to find, someone you trusted? (Where did you get the bad info?)

    Could be you were either misinformed, or misled. (The difference is intent; check if you will by taking the correct info to wherever you found the bad info — see if they will update what you read with the actual link.)

    Checking the sources of info — and misinfo — is tiresome, eh? Needed.

  24. 74
    J. Sperry says:

    Regarding your summary of the WSJ article, I don’t quite agree with the end of points 2 and 5. I find no justification for your depictions that “the rational response is to ignore the issue” and “the science must be wrong.” The essence of Jenkins’ article is the uncertainty of the science, not that the science is wrong. Asking for diligent persons to judge scientific claims and pay attention to public statements can hardly be called ignoring the issue.

    Furthermore, those who complain that “According to Jenkins GW is not happening, because atmospheric CO2 has only increased from .028% to .036%” miss the point. Jenkins merely points out the claims of CO2 increase, accepts these claims, and moves on to the next point. He doesn’t use this to disprove anything.

  25. 75
    jre says:

    Myanna Lahsen, commenting at Inkstain, is pleased that her study has engendered some serious discussion of the “uncertainty trough”, but cautions that “my study can be used as a cheap shot against modelers” and points to a comment posted on Prometheus as supplying needed perspective.
    I don’t know how she feels about Holman Jenkins’ take on her work.

  26. 76
    jre says:

    While I’m reacting, let me react to the very silliest part of Jenkins’ piece — its ending:

    A final thought that probably won’t please the environmentalists: Whatever the truth of climate change turns out to be, today’s vast investment in climate research will likely lead someday to technologies that really will allow us to alter local and global weather.

    Here we are treated to a
    1) Unsupported (and unsupportable) speculation about future advances,
    2) with a question-begging clause referring to “vast investment in climate research”,
    3) accusing unspecified “environmentalists”
    4) of a bad faith desire that climate-related problems not be solved!

    Did we already know that Holman Jenkins is a sophist and a ninny?
    Yes, but even forewarned, it grates on the eyes to read this tendentious hooey.

  27. 77
    David H says:

    Re: #67 William’s comment and #70 to #73

    And the link to the raw station data is?

    [Response: Just next to the link to that raw tobacco data you didn’t quite get round to posting. Read the Peterson paper yet? How about the ppt? – William]

    Coby, you found the web site. You can easily find the email address. Why not invite Phil Jones to comment?

    Dano #70 has the real answer. If the data was available there would indeed be an industry (for a while).

  28. 78
    David H says:

    William, why not just put the link up?

  29. 79
    Dano says:

    …the real answer[:] if the data was available there would indeed be an industry (for a while)

    Yes, the amateur nitpicking and quibbling industry, intended to obfuscate the discussion rather than clarify.

    The UHI quibbling industry doesn’t have much to stand on, given the sheer number of people looking at the issue from many sides, but the UHI recycling industry seems to be doing quite well.



  30. 80
    Pat Neuman says:

    Temperature and dewpoint data

    Link posted in a comment at RC’s Polar Amplification, for Western Region Climate Center (includes AK), and Desert Research Institute:

    Also see:

    103 Years of Twin Cities Dew Point Temperature Records: 1902-2005

    Plots of monthly, annual and daily high low temperature data at some U.S. climate stations from 1888 to current within the Midwest, Great Plains, Northwest and Alaska.

    NOAA NCDC has temperature data for the U.S. but there’s a user fee for non-gov employee users.

  31. 81
    Steve Latham says:

    Wow, folks have been active. Re #76 by jre: I also found that very weird (my second response was #18). My first response was angry, but then I wondered if he meant that environmentalists would be upset because people were purposefully adjusting climate to suit their desires. This might be seen as a more science fictiony analog of using dams to regulate rivers. As a wilderness advocate (and representing only a proportion of environmentalists) I tend to find altering hydrology to suit our own wants (e.g., growing rice in a desert) somewhat yucky, so I decided to mute my complaints about his environmentalist comment. I’m not sure that he intended to be more insulting than that.

  32. 82
    Steve Latham says:

    Re #69, Hank’s response to Tom’s helpful links (#36): I didn’t see anything recent in those links. I think the most recent was from 1998 (Singer’s brief response to a short article in 1997). The WSJ article was from 1992. Maybe a thread on this topic would be largely historical? But even so I think it could be illuminating.

    On a related note, if it is so obvious now how wrong Singer and his ilk were regarding the ozone problem, shouldn’t that terribly damage their credibility regarding AGW? If it is not so obvious perhaps that’s even more reason to review the topic and have an update.

  33. 83
    Eric says:

    I find no justification for your depictions that “the rational response is to ignore the issue” and “the science must be wrong.”

    “[Tony Blair] and many others also recognize that the problems associated with climate change (whether manmade or natural) are the same old problems of poverty, disease, and natural hazards like floods, storms and droughts. Money spent directly on these problems is a much surer bet than money spent trying to control a climate change process that we don’t understand.”

    This is advocating an approach only requiring action in response to short-term crises brought about by the larger, chronic problem. A purely reactive approach to symptoms as opposed to root causes is certainly tantamount to “ignoring the problem”.

    Now reread the section in the editorial with our “diligent layman” beating down that feckless strawman depiction of “global warming science”. Portraying it as merely a politically motivated ensemble of secretly uncertain practitioners is an implication that “the science is wrong”.

  34. 84
    Hank Roberts says:

    > 71-73 and “didn’t see anything recent in those (data)links”
    David. There’s data updated as of January 18 2006 at that link.

    This page:

    Look for these words:
    # Scientific papers that should be consulted for complete details and referenced if any of the datasets are used
    # Dataset terminology, file formats and downloads available
    Click “downloads” — that’s the link — |there|-

    The second table on that page looks more or less like this, to help you find it:

    Dataset ASCII Last updated Description
    TaveNH2v tavenh2v.dat28kb 2006-01-18 Northern Hemisphere
    average temp. 1856 to 2005
    TaveSH2v tavesh2v.dat28kb 2006-01-18 Southern Hemisphere
    average temp. 1856 to 2005
    TaveGL2v tavegl2v.dat28kb 2006-01-18 Global
    average temp. 1856 to 2005

    Now, in truth, I suspect you’re sitting at some skeptics’ website snickering about how much fun it is to play dumb, pretend you don’t see what’s available, and get big yucks out of wasting time.

    But _I_may_be_wrong_. At least nobody should be misled by

    It’s there, last date is January 18 2006, and you can work with the data.

    Good place to start for a school report, for example.

  35. 85
    Hank Roberts says:

    Oh, and if anyone knows how to put in a string of spaces or tabs in this software, please, tell me. It seems to hate white space, I tried to space out that table layout for the raw temperature data files.

    David was looking for raw temperature, which is current at the links.

    Steve was talking about ozone-skeptic pages, which indeed are archives of historical interest — there’s plenty of current info on ozone, and it’s at actual science pages. Sidebar has those. As far as I know as a casual reader, there are no scientists practicing who disbelieve in ozone/CFC chemistry as a field, and many studying the area.

  36. 86
    Hans Erren says:

    David was looking for raw temperature, which is current at the links.

    If there is a direct link to raw data, Dr. Jones would be violating WMO resolution 40.

  37. 87
    Almuth Ernsting says:

    Re: 3, 83 and Adaptation?

    There some irony in that certain people think we should focus only on adaptation whilst pumping the atmosphere as full of GHGs as we want – yet the people developing a coherent strategy for adaptation even to moderate GW are by and large environmentalists and those most strongly warning that GHG emissions must be curbed. At least that is the picture I am getting in the UK.

    In the south-east of England, for example, the worst drought in a century is devastating wildlife and, worst of all, threatening empty aquifers with salination (See here:,,1700110,00.html0 ).
    This part of the country is low-lying, subsiding anyway, and now threatneed by rising sea-levels. So what is the official response to the crisis? To push for building hundreds of thousands more homes, including in flood plains, allowing for one third of all treated water to be lost through leaks, politely ask people to switch the taps off whilst brushing teeth. Calls for a more efficient water supply system, water saving devices, and perhaps even a review of housing policy come by and large from a few scientists, and NGOs most of whom happen to be members of the Stop Climate Chaos coalition. I somehow doubt that the story is much different in the US!

    I would love to see examples of those people who profess to support ‘adaptation, not mitigation’ as the cheapest option getting down to the business of helping regions and communities adapt to even the present and certain near-future degree of climate change!

    Almuth Ernsting

  38. 88
    Hank Roberts says:

    Hans, the downloadable data sets are there. I expect we used a wrong word (“raw”) to describe them — an error in language, not a violation of WMO rules.

    What is the right word to describe them, please?

  39. 89
    Hans Erren says:

    here is the general workflow:
    1 daily observations -> 2 averaged monthly observations -> 3 homogeneity adjustment -> 4 gridding -> 5 global averaging
    1 and 2 are considered raw data and fall under WMO resolution 40 which says that licenced data is not to be freely shared.

    The proper terms to use are indicated on the CRU website. A general term would be “processed data” as distiction from “raw data”.

  40. 90
    Steve Latham says:

    Here’s a link relevant to the earlier discussion of effects on flora and fauna:

    Some species doing well, some not. Probably for most value sets the changes are negative overall, but I’m sure some folks could debate that.

  41. 91
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    RE #55 & “Then a few months later it was reported that the 2003 summer in Europe was the warmest since 1500. Perhaps true, perhaps not, but the point is that it seemed nobody questioned what made the climate in about 1500 so warm??? Does anyone believe it was all the autos, airplanes, trucks, factories, air conditioning, etc., which caused excess carbon dioxide to warm the atmosphere in 1500.”

    There are many things, Mr. Byerly, not only human GHG emissions, that cause warming. I guess it’s a male or Western trait that makes it hard to understand complex issues. Seems there’s this need to attribute everything to one factor & remain stuck in a linear causality mode. What we actually need is a more ecological perspective, which allows many variables & pos/neg feedback loops. I realize this goes against our Western mindset.

    This is what I’ve learned from the scientists: GHGs (human & natural) & solar radiation (whether impacted by orbital wobble or sun spots, etc.) impact climate. We cannot change the natural forcings, but we can change the human forcings — and a large chunk of those cost-effectively, without even a hang-nail’s worth of sacrifice. It just makes eminent sense to do so & avoid possible cataclysm.

    I understand the end-Permian extinction 251 mya, when up to 95% of life on earth died, was caused by global warming. Apparently high levels of vulcanism (etc?) caused the initial warming. When it got about 6 degrees higher than today, methane clathrates melted, burping out massive methane, sending the earth into a (finite) runaway warming for thousands of years. That can happen again, only this time we humans are pulling the trigger, and doing it faster than nature ever did (Quick-Draw McGraw). Apparently the projected high-end for 2100 is 5.8 degrees, and I’m not sure what it might be beyond 2100.

    And there are plenty of less dramatic cataclysms in progress right now, such as glaciers melting. Once they’re melted it means winter floods & bone-dry summers in many places, with no water to drink, much less irrigate crops. 40% of India’s and China’s populations are at risk of starvation when their glaciers melt. And WHO has estimated about 160,000 are currently dying from GW each year, with that number to accelerate greatly if we do nothing to reduce our GHG emissions.

    I know you are near 80 years old, and wouldn’t be around to see that massive starvation or runaway warming, but do you really suggest we should risk these, when mitigating GW saves us money & strengthens the economy? I can understand why people heavily tied into oil & coal & who don’t care a fig for future generations would keep harping against climate science findings, data, and projections. But why are other people doing that?

    I’m a social scientist, and I’m curious why people act the way they do. If the doctor were to tell someone he won’t remove the lump because it’s only 94% certain to be cancerous, the patient would likely go to another doctor & have it removed.

    Well, AGW reached 95% certainty in 1995, according to some studies. As mentioned earlier, I started reducing my GHGs well before that. Why would people play Russian Roulette, especially using a 20-shooter with 19 bullets loaded in, or even 10 bullets, or even one bullet (I can’t imagine even the toughest contrarian suggesting there isn’t at least one bullet loaded), and especially when they have to pay (in lost savings from efficiency/conservation) if they win & not shoot themselves in the head?

  42. 92
    Steve Latham says:

    Sorry, my last comment should have been on the “Groundhog Day” thread.

  43. 93
    Justin Rietz says:

    RE #91

    The glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica, on average, are increasing in mass ( and, and the average temperature in Antarctica is declining ( Now supposedly the increase in glacier mass is predicted by current global warming models. So which is it? Either you say they are increasing in mass per the models, or they are metling and that therefore the models are wrong.

    And I don’t think any of the GW models predict declining temperatures in Antarctica. All press references seem to be to the Western Antartica peninsula, which makes up about 10% of the total Antarctic continent.

  44. 94
    Mark A. York says:

    I’ll take time to point out that like George Deutsch, now resigned from NASA, Wall Street Journal editor James Taranto, and columnist John Fund also did not graduate from college. Two campuses of Cal State in cluding mine at Northridge. It’s a trend for these jokers.

  45. 95
    Dano says:

    Thank you for a different recycling than in #79 Justin.

    What is more important is what you “forgot” to mention (if indeed you understand the issue):

    Below 1500 meters, the elevation-change rate is ~2.0 ± 0.9 cm/year, in qualitative agreement with reported thinning in the ice-sheet margins. Averaged over the study area, the increase is 5.4 ± 0.2 cm/year, or ~60 cm over 11 years, or ~54 cm when corrected for isostatic uplift. Winter elevation changes are shown to be linked to the North Atlantic Oscillation.

    I wonder if this might be something to pooh-pooh or, even better for your purposes, ignore.

    Jus’ wondrin’.



  46. 96
    Justin Rietz says:

    Dano –

    It seems I missed something, and I wasn’t able to figure out what it was from your comment. Am I interpreting the data incorrectly? Would you please provide more detail?



  47. 97
    Ian K says:

    Re 93
    Justin writes: Now supposedly the increase in glacier mass is predicted by current global warming models. So which is it? Either you say they are increasing in mass per the models, or they are metling and that therefore the models are wrong.

    I’m not competent to speak on models but this apparent contradiction is easy to explain in general terms.
    Climate warming leads to warmer seas around (say) Greenland. Warmer seas mean more evaporation and the moisture laden air leads to more precipitation. Some of this extra precipitation will occur over the Greenland ice sheet where the temperatures (despite global warming) are still well below freezing point. This accumulating extra snow will lead to an increase in ice sheet mass.
    At the same time as this mass increase there can also be increased melting at the fringes of the ice sheet where air and water temperatures have increased with global warming. At the present stage of climate change mass accumulating at the centre of the ice sheet may exceed mass of ice melted.
    The problem is, as Hansen recently spelt out in his Keeling lecture, as warming continues there will probably occur a tipping point where melting at the fringes of an ice sheet pushes further and further to the centre combining with increased lubrication from melt water finding its way to the base of the ice sheet. These conditions will lead to rapid disintegration of the ice sheet and sea levels rises measured in metres or tens of metres.

  48. 98
    David H says:

    Re: #77 and # 89
    William, are you now prepared to do me the courtesy of accepting that the raw station data corresponding to the gridded data set from which CRU hemispheric and global averages are calculated is not openly available?

    With regard to your tobacco point, Sir Richard Doll’s data from his 1954 paper was never on the Internet protected by a password and as easy to disseminate as the station data, but do you have any evidence that either he or the BMJ refused to allow critics to access it?

    Would you also agree that a number of researchers with “peer reviewed” credentials have been refused access to the raw station data corresponding to the gridded data?

    Finally do you agree the issue of access to scientific data on climate change will be one of area of discussion at the recently empanelled committee of the National Research Council of the National Academies to study “Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Past 1,000-2,000 Years”?

    Incidentally when can we expect a thread on this development?

  49. 99
    James Hamilton says:

    Re: Comment 98 (David H)

    Mr. H.

    If you want access to the raw daily meteorological data that are used to produce the CRU homogenized gidded data sets you should take out your VISA card and buy it. Be advised you will need a large credit limit as these data are not inexpensive. This is not a conspiracy to keep large raw daily data sets from the public, but an attempt to recover some of costs associated with colecting these data. There are of course many routes whereby raw daily data may be acquired free for some regions of the world. However, these methods are labour intensive, and while well suited to undergraduate exercises that involve exploring the characteristics of daily and monthly data, these techniques would not lend themselves to a comprehensive audit of the homogenization and gridded procedures employed by CRU, NOAA, GISS and others. Alternatively, one could accept that CRU and similar organizations possess a level of expertise with these data, and the homogenized series and gridded products that are generated have merit. I have found this latter to be the case.

  50. 100
    Dano says:

    Re: current #99 [Hamilton]:

    Amen, brother. Well said.

    Re current #96 [Rietz]:

    Am I interpreting the data incorrectly?

    Yes and no. In the narrowest sense, you have highlighted one portion of the data, which is correct. The interpretation, however, lacks an overall sense of the big picture – that is: the implication of your comment is…is…well, what exactly? It can be interpreted (by someone without knowledge of such issues) as meaning there is no Arctic melting. Without explaining the information you provided, it is either meaningless or misleading.

    Would you please provide more detail?

    4. ,
    7. (the context for your comment above).

    It’s about context. Google doesn’t have a ‘context’ button (Google only gives you information).

    The issue is not, as is implied in your comment above, that there is no hi-lat melting.

    This is, simply, not the case.