Climate change deniers cherry-picking in a fruitless debate
It is not surprise to me that the political party that embraces climate change denial also is the preferred party of creationists.
McMartin: Climate change deniers cherry-picking in a fruitless debate
Those with their heads in the sand need to start embracing the truth that climate change is real
BY PETE MCMARTIN, VANCOUVER SUN MARCH 19, 2013
It should be pointed out that the theory of evolution is just that, a theory.
And, if you happen to be the sort that believes ape men cavorted with Tyrannosaurus Rex 6,000 years ago — as many still apparently do —you’re welcome to disprove Darwin if you can. I will still think you’re a nut job.
Yet , despite over a century’s worth of scientific investigation and the overwhelming consensus among scientists that its basic premise is irrefutable, evolution still has its detractors. The wilful ignorance of creationism persists. To borrow a line from the creationists’ creed, good Lord.
Not that their refutation of science is problematic, particularly. They, and the Flat Earthers, are welcome to the 16th century. Their time is past, literally and figuratively. The greatest threat they pose now is to school curricula and the national mean IQ, both of which they would weaken.
Climate-change deniers are another thing altogether. Their refutations of the scientific consensus — which overwhelmingly finds that global warming and climate change are real and anthropogenic, despite what deniers say — do carry real consequences. The longer we dither over discredited arguments, and the longer our attention is distracted by the cherry-picking of deniers, the shorter time we have to find solutions to the very real dangers of climate change.
Their latest argument that global warming doesn’t exist comes from a recent communique from the British Met office, which hosts the National Climate Information Centre. The Met has digitized records of Great Britain’s climate going back to 1910, and its data for temperature records goes back to 1654.
One global-warming denier, David Rose of the Mail on Sunday, claimed that a “quietly released” (read “purposely hushed-up”) report by the Met office on Dec. 24 of last year showed that global warming stopped 16 years ago and that “there has been no statistically significant increase in the world’s average temperature since 1997.”
The “speed of global warming,” Rose wrote, “has been massively overestimated.”
“At the end of last year,” Rose wrote in a March 16 column, “the Met Office revised its ten-year forecast predicting a succession of years breaking records for warmth. It now says the pause in warming will last until at least 2017.
“Its source is impeccable. The line showing world temperatures comes from the Met Office ‘HadCRUT4’ database, which contains readings from more than 30,000 measuring posts.”
This wasn’t new ground for Rose: he had written as much in an earlier story in October, 2012. But the Met “report,” he wrote in his March 16 column, confirmed officially what he had wrote earlier.
His assertions quickly became the favourite posting point for climate-change deniers, and I speak from personal experience.
After I had written some columns about climate change in the last few months, several emailers took me to task by mentioning the Met “report” and the statistical proof it carried showing mean global temperatures had not gone up for the last 16 years. In Monday’s paper, one letter to the editor read:
“As the British Met admitted on its website last December 24, global warming stopped in its tracks 16 years ago, despite record CO2 emissions during that period, and stubbornly refuses to indulge the doomsayers’ predictions by starting up again.”
Well, for one thing, it wasn’t a Met “report,” and it wasn’t released under the radar so no one would see it. In rebutting Rose’s columns, the Met office issued a statement stating it had “not issued a report on this issue … We can only assume the article is referring to the completion of work to update the HadCRUT4 global temperature dataset compiled by ourselves and the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit.”
The Met office — in answering Rose’s request that it confirm that its records, as he put it, “do indeed reveal no warming trend since 1997” — replied:
“As we’ve stressed before, choosing a starting or end point on short-term scales can be very misleading. Climate change can only be detected from multi-decadal timescales due to the inherent variability in the climate system. If you use a longer period from HadCRUT4 the trend looks very different … Looking at successive decades over this period, each decade was warmer than the previous – so the 1990s were warmer than the 1980s, and the 2000s were warmer than both. Eight of the top ten warmest years have occurred in the last decade.
“Over the last 140 years global surface temperatures have risen by about 0.8ºC. However, within this record there have been several periods lasting a decade or more during which temperatures have risen very slowly or cooled. The current period of reduced warming is not unprecedented, and 15 year long periods are not unusual.”
In other words, the Met countered, Rose cherry-picked.
But it’s a fruitless debate.