Our society is be better served if the folks who author perspectives on complex topics like global warming actually have credentials to substantiate their thoughts. (The author states that he has no climate background.) A few obvious observations. 1) The notion that climate scientists with doctorate degrees aren't able to make any sort of valid account for urban heat islands is pretty simple-mided. The idea of urban heat islands is taught in entry level meteorology courses. The climate experts are well-aware of urban heat islands. 2) Surface land measurments are only one set of data that are used in the analysis of global warming. Heat island or not, they are not the whole picture. 3) Global Warming is just that - Global. The author uses one data point, Washington DC, as a basis for analysis. One data point on a very large planet would be like assessing one grain of salt from a bucket full of salt and drawing some sort of conclusion. 4) The author says that we should "throttle back on opinions" but he has done just the opposite by saying what he believes. Scientists generally don't give opinions. They use evidence to support findings. That's it.
Hey John, thanks for your comments. I'm not a climate scientist and took a whole paragraph to get that across in this blog. The blog was making the point that usually only certain things are reported such as the Times article while others are left out.
For your observations.. 1) Yes I know they take UHI into account. I even contact NCDC to ask if they did so, but also read a paper that came out in December 2012 stating those processes taking UHI into account in the Climate reports need work. It looks like it will be going in the right direction. 2) This blog wasn't about global warming, it was about people drawing their own conclusions from one set of data. I.E. 2012 State of the Climate Report. That's weather, not climate... I think you would agree. And yes, I know how much actually goes into a global temperature analysis. 3) I used D.C. as a point of reference to show the UHI effect in that it's warmer at night compared to daytime readings. Once again, not talking about global warming, but talking about the UHI and how much it's changed just in the past 10 years, even in old rural locations like Dulles used to be. With these changing rapidly, NCDC will need to keep up with the changes, even now in smaller cities across the country. 4) Once again, I was talking about relating weather with climate and "throttling back opinions" means every time a tornado or hurricane hits not to relate it to a climate process.
Finally, I agree it's warming! I live in D.C. and politicians live in D.C. I hope they know the importance to keeping the funding alive for something that will need to be funded for years to come. Can you agree with me on that?
Alex, thanks for your reply. Yes we agree that the New York Times didn't accurately report the temperatures for 2012. And we've all seen irresponsible attribution of a single event or season to a single cause - in this case, Global Warming. But you would be well-served to read the literature and understand how science works. The post by "Concerned Citizen" really gets to that point. You say that we shouldn't express opion but you wrote, "Does that mean I believe we are in an uncontrollable, upward sprial of global warming? No. I think it means we are in a period of warmer temperatures and we would be better served to throttle back on opinions and throttle up on facts. And fund more research." The preceeding sentences are nothing but your opinion. If you take the time to read the literature published in refereed journals, you'll find that the vast majority of climate scientists present evidence that Global Warming is happening and humans are the cause. I have not been able to find a climate modeller, who's model is showing anything but warming. Yes there is debate about how much, how fast, etc., but no one is showing cooling in the next 100 years. Like the "Concerned Citizen" suggests, we should not delay action because we need to further study how much warming is going to take place.
One thing that never ceases to amaze me when people discuss global warming is that they never mention the sun, the center of our Universe. It is proven throughout history, through historical records, that when the sun is active as it is now, the earth is warmer, when the sun is less active as in 1996 and 2009, colder weather prevails, and for a good part of the world, we can't forget those two incredible winters and fairly pleasant summers. 2013 is the peak of the current sunspot cycle, by the late 2010's, say 2018 or 2019, the sun is projected to go into a quiet period and there is some sort of maunder minimum coming up in 2030. If I were a betting man, I would say that around 2018 to the 2030 period, we will be a good deal cooler than we are now, and probably 2013 is unfortunately liable to make us suffer through another scorcher summer, but I bet 2014 and 2015 will be cooler and the winters will be longer and worse. When people discuss global warming, why is one of the obvious causes never mentioned--the sun. It does not take much to tip the scales as the earth is a lot more fragile than we would like to think, and that is what it is showing us with all the bizarre weather over the last few years. Bizarre if you grew up here in the 60's and 70's like I did.
Robert, the current Solar Cycle 24 has the weakest sunspot pattern since Solar Cycle 14, which had its smoothed sunspot number maximum of 64.2 in February of 1906.
Yay "broadcast meteorology community" esteemed scholar club! Spend less time on the application of brylcream and/or aquanet, and more time reading books!
Here's one for you: "A Vast Machine: Computer Models, Climate Data and the Politics of Global Warming" by Paul Edwards. Published by MIT Press.
This sloppy little article *was* a good way to make headlines, though.... I'm sure this page is getting a lot of hits....
Robert, you make an interesting observation about the sun. That said, do you think the folks with decades of years of experience & doctorate degrees in climate haven't taken this into account? Our society runs best when our experts study things for a long time and then come up with findings. Example. You or I might have something interesting to say about how to treat diabetes. But our opinions would only be relevant if they got published in something like "The New England Journal of Medicine." That's how science works - study, then results get published in scientific journals that have experts as gate-keepers. If we choose to throw out what the climate scientists are finding, then we must also throw out the findings of cancer researchers, chemists, etc. They all use the same methodology. We are all best served when our experts are in charge of the debate. Think of it. If you thought you might have a brain tumor, who would you ask about diagnosis and treatment - the nurse, the orderly who cleans up the room, or the expert researcher who has a doctorate degree in brain tumors and has been studying this topic for 30 years? I know who I would ask. The author of this article has a bachelor’s degree in meteorology, not climate science. I wish that his education had helped him distinguish what he knows from what he doesn't know. He's not a climate scientist. That’s like asking a nurse about brain surgery. The nurse knows more than most people about how the brain works, but is not an expert on brain surgery. The author of this blog has valid observations about several media outlets reporting that 2012 was the hottest year ever. This can't be said with only 118 years of data. But he unfortunately has no credentials in climate - he says that he’s never even taken a single class in climate. Do we trust his “opinion” about climate? I know that I don’t.
Understanding that moving beyond arguments from authority was a hallmark of modernity, I have no problem with your lack of credentials when it comes time to present evidence. (I always love the claims that a bunch of Nobel laureates believe in climate change, as if that were substantive evidence of anything other than their belief.) Of course, the amount of credence I give to your inferences as they stray further and further afield of the evidence will necessarily suffer from your lack of experience.
However, I am curious about your ultimate conclusion. Are you claiming that we should study more before acting to address climate change? If not, then what is the point; of course we will continue to study it while attempting to address it. If so, what if you are wrong, and we are headed over a tipping point? We hear rumbling on the tracks, wait, study the vibrations, and then discover that there is in-fact a train one foot away. At what point would you believe that there was sufficient evidence to suggest that there is global warming and that we need to address it. The people that have been studying it for decades have come to that conclusion; what, then, is your contribution to that discussion? An admonition that they need to study some more because, in your opinion, there are a couple of issues with a report in an article by a journalist.
I appreciate that you have taken that article to task for its omission of certain interesting tidbits about last year while celebrating others. However, the fact that a NYT article neglected some information does not mean that there is a lack of evidence concerning global warming. In short, your blog posting is one long and, admittedly, interesting non sequitur. Unfortunately, like the inadequate NYT article, it just gives ammunition to climate skeptics most of whose arguments are armed with little more than ignorance and doubt.
A notable aspect of a strengthened greenhouse effect is nighttime heat retention. Compare the planet Mercury, with its thin atmosphere and extremely steep temperature gradient, and Venus, a planet with a nighttime temperature that is hotter than Mercury's daytime temperature even though Venus is further from the sun.
Thank you so much! I truly appreciate your very good sense in this article. One thing I've observed is that there were no airports 117 years ago. One day, it was reported to be 102 degrees at Reagan National and in my shady backyard, about 8 miles away it was 95 degrees. There isn't a much hotter place than a large expanse of concrete, asphalt and jet
engines. Also, my Arlington yard is full of older foliage and many animal and bird species which appear unscathed by any "threat".