Odds and Ends

I must thank Michael Tobis for two pieces of reading that his blog recently pointed me to. First, a fantastic article by Bill McKibben, which everyone should print out and stick to their fridge. Here’s a taste:

Read the comments on one of the representative websites: Global warming is a “fraud” or a “plot.” Scientists are liars out to line their pockets with government grants. Environmentalism is nothing but a money-spinning “scam.” These people aren’t reading the science and thinking, I have some questions about this. They’re convinced of a massive conspiracy.

The odd and troubling thing about this stance is not just that it prevents action. It’s also profoundly unconservative. If there was ever a radical project, monkeying with the climate would surely qualify. Had the Soviet Union built secret factories to pour carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and threatened to raise the sea level and subvert the Grain Belt, the prevailing conservative response would have been: Bomb them. Bomb them back to the Holocene—to the 10,000-year period of climatic stability now unraveling, the period that underwrote the rise of human civilization that conservatism has taken as its duty to protect. Conservatism has always stressed stability and continuity; since Burke, the watchwords have been tradition, authority, heritage. The globally averaged temperature of the planet has been 57 degrees, give or take, for most of human history; we know that works, that it allows the world we have enjoyed. Now, the finest minds, using the finest equipment, tell us that it’s headed toward 61 or 62 or 63 degrees unless we rapidly leave fossil fuel behind, and that, in the words of NASA scientists, this new world won’t be “similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted.” Conservatives should be leading the desperate fight to preserve the earth we were born on.

Read the rest of the article here. Highly recommended to all.

The other link I wanted to share was a new publication entitled “Science and the Media”, just released by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (not to be confused with the American Association for the Advancement of Science – why all the acronym duplication?)

With contributions from everyone from Donald Kennedy to Alan Alda, and essays with titles from “The Scientist as Citizen” to “Civic Scientific Literacy: The Role of the Media in the Electronic Era”, I’m virtually certain that I will enjoy this one (sorry, I can’t bring myself to say things like “certain” without caveats any more). The 109-page pdf is available free of charge and can be accessed from this page, which also includes information on ordering hard copies.

In other news, the La Niña conditions in the eastern Pacific (see anomaly map above) have bumped this year’s temperatures down a bit, so January-September 2010 is now tied for the warmest on record, rather than being a clear winner. This analysis is from NCDC, however, and I’m not sure how they deal with sparse data in the Arctic (for background, see this post – a summary of one of the most interesting papers I’ve read this year). Does anyone know if GISS has an up-to-date estimate for 2010 temperatures that we could compare it to? All I can find on their website are lines and lines of raw data, and I’m not really sure how to process it myself.

That’s all for today. Enjoy the week, everyone.


16 thoughts on “Odds and Ends

  1. This is an excellent post!

    But the real issue ought to be why? Why is this happening?

    The answer will be found in the excellent book, “Plan C: Community Survival Strategies for Peak Oil and Climate Change” by Pat Murphy. http://www.amazon.com/Plan-Community-Survival-Strategies-Climate/dp/0865716072

    I challenge everyone to read his book from cover to cover and then send it to their kids and grandkids. Their future survival may be at stake if the United States and the World continue on the crazy paths blazoned by Big Business.

    Let me repeat what I’ve said before, which agrees with the above book. In the United States, Big Business controls the wealth, the news media, the government, and indirectly the populace through the media and government. The existence of Peak Oil and Climate Change is not in the best interest of Big Business, so the news media and government have been instructed to inform the public that they do not exist.

    After reading this book, you will understand why so many Americans go to such lengths to fabricate ridiculous arguments against solid scientific observations related to Peak Oil and Climate Change. People become and believe what they read in magazines and news papers and hear and watch on radios and televisions. When the majority of information related to Peak Oil and Climate Change has been corrupted by Big Business, we can expect a significant percentage of the population to believe and act accordingly.

  2. I don’t know if href html will work here but if it doesn’t just follow the url to see the great David Horsey cartoon.

    Here, I’ll embed it for you. -Kate

  3. Kate,

    The Climate Charts & Graphs blog maintains a listing of the major temperature records (GISTEMP, etc.) here. It’s slightly out of date (it doesn’t have September for NCDC) but it does have GISTEMP through September.

    I use an R script in my research that calculates averages for selected months, and also extrapolates the current year’s temperature to a projected annual mean, based on months to date. (The extrapolation is a linear regression of past annual means against Jan-Sep means, or whatever months you specify. It could be more sophisticated, e.g. using time series modeling, but this is a simple approach.)

    I modified it slightly to answer your question (hopefully introducing no new bugs), and to plot the results visually (it normally just writes out a data file). You can download it here, or run it in R directly using the command source(“http://www.princeton.edu/~nurban/dl/temp_extmo.R”).

    It computes a January-September 2010 average anomaly of 0.656 C for GISTEMP, compared to 0.612 in 2005 or 0.610 in 1998. For the 2010 annual mean it projects an anomaly of 0.642 C, compared to the historic 0.623 in 2005 or 0.566 in 1998. So according to GISTEMP, 2010 is on track to be the warmest year on record (by 0.02 C, according to my simple extrapolation). You can run it to see the graphs of the monthly vs. annual averages.

    If I had to guess, I’d guess that if you take the whole time series into account, the year will come in a bit lower than that based on the last few months, and 2005 could still end up the warmest in GISTEMP. We’ll see!

    Wow, thanks for uploading that, and for adding in all the comments (or perhaps you’re just naturally a thorough commenter when you write code? I know I’m not…) So it looks like the 2010 data from GISS, so far, is the warmest on record, but I agree – La Nina could kick it down a notch.

    I also found the Columbia page for GISS, which has the 12-month running mean – Hansen explains in his recent paper (which I summarized here) that it helps to cut out the sometimes misleading influence of ENSO, as a phase of the cycle can fall completely into one calendar year or be split between to. The graph was last updated Oct. 14th and shows that the 12-month running mean has barely changed since we set a new record high this summer. We have also just set new record highs for 60- and 132- month means. -Kate

  4. I should add that it’s not particularly meaningful whether 2010 is 0.02 C above or below 2005 and therefore “the warmest year on record” (according to GISTEMP). Such differences are very small. More relevant is that 2010’s temperature is consistent with the expected trend.

  5. The numbers at GISTEMP aren’t that complicated. Just use a basic spreadsheet for their raw data. Just eyeballing, Jan-Sep 2010 is warmer than Jan-Sep 2005, which may or may not be the record for that time period. The key is 2005 got warmer at then end. Just add up the 12 numbers to see which is higher.

  6. I added the comments before posting so people could understand what I did, and the plotting commands. Otherwise it’s basically the same as my existing code.

    Speaking of “the misleading effects of ENSO”, one interesting thing to do is to “correct” the temperature record, trying to estimate what the temperature “would be” if there were no ENSO. RealClimate discussed this idea in this post. I’ve been meaning to download the Multivariate ENSO Index and try this for myself some time. See Compo and Sardeshmukh (2010) for a related paper that finds a surprisingly large ENSO effect; this is likely controversial (and I am suspicious of such persistent global temperature deviations due to ENSO phase in the early record).

    Along related lines, Swanson et al. (2009) attempts to disentangle the anthropogenically forced component of the temperature signal from the natural variability. Conceptually it’s similar to “ENSO removal” except they use GCM simulations to estimate the statistical structure of the “natural variability” they’re looking to remove. (See also this RealClimate commentary.) Thompson et al. (2009) and Lean and Rind (2008) are yet other approaches.

  7. Good morning Kate, another excellent post. Thankyou for helping me exercise my neurons. A couple of quick things. Thank you to Nathan, my education and life experience leaves me adrift once in a while when the explanations get a little esoteric. I am pretty sure that I followed his reasoning and I love the “suspiscious”comment.
    We do need to check and re-check results, and ensure they pass the sniff test. If they don’t make sense or if they don’t follow the planned path, only two things can be wrong, method and theory.
    By the way, what do you call someone who believes the climate is changing, but isnt on either bandwagon? Thought I would ask.
    Roger, I am thinking that a good dose of RAH, Robert Anson Heinlen is in order. Just remember as you sit at your desk composing your riposte, that none of the things you have would be possible without CAPITALISM. The concept of all of these businesses and governments getting together and secretly running the world, to protect their vested interests is ludicrous. Take a stand Roger, refuse to assist these demons who are running all of the media, the government and affecting your life. Refuse to submit. Vote with your feet. Stop using and paying for these products and services that they produce. Get all of your freinds together and appeal to them to do the same. Reduce those massive profits by not buying. Then they won’t have the money to affect you in such a manner. Then you will be able to live your life in a safer better world. But Roger, it will be fun to watch you grub for food, build your own shelter, try to stay warm, (Iwould rather be hot than cold) Remember Rger, you are doing this for the children.

  8. winnipegman:

    The concept of all of these businesses and governments getting together and secretly running the world, to protect their vested interests is ludicrous.

    Not when there’s evidence. Here is a memo from the Koch family of oil tycoons inviting 200+ (yes, 200+) rich people to secret meetings to discuss how to promote “economic freedom”… and, of course, stonewalling of climate regulation. And US Supreme Court justices Scalia and Thomas are in too.

    This is what we, as a world, are running up against.


  9. What frank posted regarding the “secret meetings” was about a gathering of wealthy influential people to discuss how to continue to influence elections in the USA in June 2010. Also on the agenda were topics such as education reform and funding, government spending and how that will affect the economy. The 2 Justices he mentioned spoke at a similar meeting in 2006 and as near as I could make out, they were invited to speak, and that was the end of their involment. The judges are suppost to be apolitical?? I think it would be easier for most of them to stop breathing.

    I fail to understand how this “cabal” is running the world. If that is evidence…

  10. winnipegman:

    What frank posted regarding the “secret meetings” was about a gathering of wealthy influential people to discuss how to continue to influence elections in the USA in June 2010.

    winnipegman, which of the following 4 statements do you dispute?

    1. There are meetings involving 200+ rich people led by the Koch family.
    2. The meetings are held in secret.
    3. The Koch family denies meeting up with ‘grassroots’ Tea Party activists.
    4. …even though they did, in fact, meet up with Tea Party activists.

    The rich people may not exactly be running the world, but do you seriously think that there’s nothing wrong with the situation described above?


  11. Frank:
    1. Yes there were at least 200 “rich” people attending this session in June.

    2. Every attendee is asked to keep the agenda confidential. Not secret.

    3. (and 4.) So what? It was a political meeting. And I don’t recall that being an issue earlier. But seeing as you have brought it up, we are talking about the Right of the political spectrum. I would be very surprised if some of the “teaparty” political activists were not in attendence.

    As to there being something wrong, I find no more wrong in this forum they held than in having 200+ rich people gathering in a confidential meeting to discuss how to get left leaning politicians elected. It worked for Obama and Clinton.

    So I ask again, what is the big deal? Or, are we fearmongering in regards to the oh so famous right wing hidden agenda? Cherry picking sentences, mixing and muddling the facts, makes me very suspicious as to motive Frank.

    Lets get back to the topic at hand.

  12. winnipegman:

    I would be very surprised if some of the “teaparty” political activists were not in attendence.

    So you’re saying that it’s OK to astroturf? That it’s OK to secretly manufacture a political movement and pretend that it sprung up from the ‘grassroots’?

    I don’t recall Obama, Clinton, and Gore ever doing such a thing. Each time Obama, Clinton, or Gore starts any movement, they proudly put their name on it. So why can’t the Koch family do the same? Why are they so reluctant to associate their names with a ‘grassroots’ Tea Party movement which they themselves created? Why does the Koch family try so hard to hide their involvement?

    What do you think, winnipegman?


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