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Global Warming and Scientific Truth

Last month, Richard Muller, professor of physics at UC-Berkeley, wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal arguing: “There were good reasons for doubt” about about being a global warming skeptic, “until now.” He also said there “are plenty of good reasons why you might be.”  For example, Muller wrote:

“As many as 757 stations in the United States recorded net surface-temperature cooling over the past century. Many are concentrated in the southeast, where some people attribute tornadoes and hurricanes to warming.

“The temperature-station quality is largely awful. The most important stations in the U.S. are included in the Department of Energy's Historical Climatology Network. A careful survey of these stations by a team led by meteorologist Anthony Watts showed that 70% of these stations have such poor siting that, by the U.S. government's own measure, they result in temperature uncertainties of between two and five degrees Celsius or more. We do not know how much worse are the stations in the developing world.

“Using data from all these poor stations, the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates an average global 0.64ºC temperature rise in the past 50 years, "most" of which the IPCC says is due to humans. Yet the margin of error for the stations is at least three times larger than the estimated warming.”

Later, Mr. Best explains "why you should not be a skeptic,, at least not any longer," writing:

"Over the last two years, the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Project has looked deeply at all the issues raised above. I chaired our group, which just submitted four detailed papers on our results to peer-reviewed journals. We have now posted these papers online at www.BerkeleyEarth.org to solicit even more scrutiny.

[. . . ]

"We discovered that about one-third of the world's temperature stations have recorded cooling temperatures, and about two-thirds have recorded warming. The two-to-one ratio reflects global warming. The changes at the locations that showed warming were typically between 1-2ºC, much greater than the IPCC's average of 0.64ºC."

In an op-ed in this weekend’s Wall Street Journal, Fred Singer, professor emeritus at the University of Virginia responds to Mr. Muller, explaining why he “remains a global warming skeptic.” Mr. Singer writes:

“But the main reason that I am skeptical about the IPCC, and now the Berkeley, findings, is that they disagree with most every other data source I can find. I confine this critique to the period between 1978 and 1997, thereby avoiding the Super El Niño of 1998 that had nothing to do with greenhouse gases or other human influences.

“Contrary to both global-warming theory and climate models, data from weather satellites show no atmospheric temperature increase over this period, and neither do the entirely independent radiosondes carried in weather balloons. The Berkeley study confined its findings to land temperatures as recorded by weather stations. Yet oceans cover 71% of the earth's surface, and the marine atmosphere shows no warming trend. The absence of warming is in accord with the theory that climate is heavily impacted by solar variability, and agrees with the solar data presented in a 2007 paper by Danish physicist Henrik Svensmark in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society A.

“Moreover, independent data using temperature proxies—various non-thermometer sources such as tree rings, ocean and lake sediments, ice cores, stalagmites, and so on—also support an absence of warming between 1978 and 1997. Coral data also show no pronounced warming trend of the sea surface, and there are good reasons to believe that reported sea-surface warming is an artifact of thermometer measurements.”

Not only does Mr. Singer provide a “fair and balanced” response to Mr. Muller, but he provides a well-reasoned justification for remaining a global warming skeptic. Thank you, Dr. Singer.

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