The problem with statistics.

The headline is Global warming waning? Hardly. 2010 was tied as warmest year on record. Meanwhile, a lot of folks in Europe and the United States and China and elsewhere see that assertion, look out their window, and wonder if someone is crazy.

No, not crazy. The problem is in statistics. 2010 had a very warm spring due to the Pacific temperature patterns known as the ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation). When a warm spring is averaged with a cold winter, you can get nearly any result you want, especially when you carefully choose your dataset, carefully choose the manner by which adjustments are made to ‘fix’ problems such as the urban heat island effect, select the baseline to use as a referent, and confuse actual temperatures with changes in temperatures. Mark Twain had some rather pointed observations about statistics with such a tenuous base as those needed to ‘measure’ global temperature that seem to apply here.

When you look at what kind of changes the climatologists are talking about in this ‘warmest year’ contest, you will find it is a matter of only a few hundredths of a degree. But, there is a very strong need to support a pre-ordained conclusion and it is strong enough that a straw man appears:

“There has been some notion people have put forth that the climate stopped warming in about 2005. This years’ results show that notion lacks credibility,” said David Easterling, who heads the Climatic Data Center’s scientific services division

The truth of the matter is that you have to get out to the very fringe crowd to find anyone expressing that notion. There is significant agreement that there has been global climate warming of about a degree over a person’s lifetime. The straw man is set up in order to evade the crux of the debate which about the cause of that small rate of change and what a change that is as slow as that means as far as what governments should do. That is not as clear an issue as some would like. The CSM article ends with the reality:

So far, the average annual temperature in the US has been rising about 0.12 degrees F per decade since 1895, while precipitation has been rising by around 0.18 inches a decade.

Compare that to the rhetoric you see in the rest of the story and elsewhere. National Geographic, for example, had a show about Death Valley where they examined the biosphere in that area ranging from 10,000 above sea level to hundreds of feet below (in underwater caves). The narrator consistently moaned about how living things were suffering from climate change. A century’s worth of temperature change could be found by just changing elevation by a few hundred feet so why was it so catastrophic?

It is the hyperbole about what some think might happen and their complete obliviousness to reality that muddies the debate. Integrity has been the first victim. That is why the climate alarmists are getting shrill as they are loosing their credibility in the public.

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