Oh Noes. Yes, Global Warming. Part 1.

Oh Noes. Yes, Global Warming. Part 1.

What follows below is part one of a response to the Epoch Times articles.

I don't want to judge the source here, but I should first point out that the Epoch Times is not a scientific paper. They're privately owned, but they are closely linked to Falun Gong - the same people who brought you the Divine Performing Arts show*. I say again, I don't want to prejudice things, but we can't take their word for anything scientific. We'll have to examine their evidence and arguments. I should also mention that they have a lot of arguments. They seem to think that if they present enough small (but bad) arguments in favor of their claim. people will eventually believe them. I've heard this called shotgun argumentation: fire enough shot and you'll hit something.

The first argument Mueller makes in his article relies on the fact that scientists have been wrong before. So, he concludes, they're wrong this time. Well, that's the argument he would have liked to have made. Only, global cooling never had substantial scientific support. It was a popular theory that a few authors got rich with. For Mueller's sake, let us assume that it did have scientific support. It's now a discredited theory - that's a key part of Mueller's argument - but who discredited it? Oh, yeah. Scientists. And that leads directly to contradiction because we can apply the same argument form and say: scientists have been right before, therefore scientists are right in this case. We must reject this argument as being invalid.

Next Mueller appeals to our sense of conspiracy. He claims dissenting views on global warming are being suppressed:

What is causing the current global warming? CO2 is a word that is constantly repeated. Most politicians and the media leave no doubt about the CO2 problem.
However, the problem arises when opposing opinions are suppressed, or even denounced because of a hidden agenda. This occurs when a large manipulative campaign is launched...

Hilariously, his awkward writing makes it seem that this suppression is causing CO2 levels to rise, but that's neither here nor there. My actual reply to Mueller is that opposing opinions on global warming are not being suppressed. In fact, if anything they receive substantially more weight in the media than they deserve. Controversy is juicy, science is not. Shows like 60 Minutes love to hear dissenting views on global warming; oh, the outrage of a crackpot not being taken seriously. Dissent on global warming is exactly what an aging, conservative audience wants to hear: the commie-pinko green hippies are wrong! And what people want to hear they will listen to.

But again, to be extra charitable to Mueller, we'll assume that he's completely right. Let us say that dissenting opinions on global warming are being suppressed and denounced. Does that make global warming any less factual? No. Were we not to listen to global warming "debunkers", the actual objective state of the world would stay the same. Science doesn't ask for your faith, nor does it ask for your opinions. The universe doesn't care what you, or anyone, believes. And so, the suppression of evidence against something is not, itself, evidence against something.

So, what about those graphs? Since, according to Darryl, we can't rely on politicians being able to interpret them, we'll have to do so ourselves:

2000 Year Temperature Comparison

This graph shows the findings of ten separate, published, scientific studies. Click through to see which ones, and exactly how the graph was compiled. The black line is the eleventh, and is different from the others. It's not based on reconstructed global mean temperatures, but on actual instrumental data. As you can see (by how the lines converge upon it) it is very accurate. Be sure of this much: the spike in temperatures at the right of the graph is very real.

The blue line is Prof. M. E. Mann's study - the "hockey stick" graph. It's referred to under the first of the Epoch Times articles as being "manipulation or statistical error". They apply proof by name-dropping: "other scientists, especially Professor McIntyre of the University of Guelph in Toronto, demonstrated that this graph is based on wrong data assumptions and incorrect selection of statistical procedures." Except they did no such thing. And even had they shown Mann's study to be in error, they'd also have to (as this graph shows) show the same for the dozen or so other studies, using other data, that agree with the Mann interpretation (within their margins of error).

You can see, on the graph, that Darryl is right about temperatures being a bit warmer than usual during the Middle Ages. It's known as the Medieval Warm Period. But he's wrong about the temperatures then being warmer than modern temperatures. Mueller claims that

In the aforementioned "hockey stick" graph, the medieval global warming between 950 and 1450 was ignored completely. Yet, it still was published without this data in the 1996 U.N. report.

First of all, note that Mueller calls the medieval warm period "medieval global warming". This is a weak attempt to make the current climate changes appear cyclic. Simply: they are not. Not only that, but the MWP was not truly global - this has been known since the late 1980s. The IPCC summarizes recent research by saying "current evidence does not support globally synchronous periods of anomalous cold or warmth" during the MWP.

But also note that Mueller's idea of the hockey stick graph not showing the MWP is false. You can see the effects of the MWP on the blue line clearly, for yourself. The problem is that the Mann study doesn't show temperatures from before the MWP (proported to have started in the 10th century), and so the MWP is indicated by an initial downward slope, rather than a 'hill' in the graph

Part 2 is a work in progress.



*: and annoyed me endlessly by trying to give my fliers at the Victoria Street lights. I may carry a bit of a grudge.