‘Climate is changing now; it’s changing here’


To the editor:

In a paper published just this week in the journal Theoretical and Applied Climatology, “Learning from mistakes in climate research,” the authors identify several “methodological flaws” of published papers denying human causes of global warming (a small subsample indeed, around 2 percent of research papers). They tried to replicate the results and find that these publications are “missing contextual information or ignoring information that does not fit the conclusions, be it other relevant work or related geophysical data. In many cases, shortcomings are due to insufficient model evaluation. …”

The ignoring of relevant information is known as “cherry-picking.”

In their letter to the Gazette of Aug. 27 (“Minuscule numbers to claim global warming”), the Boggses attempt to refute what I wrote in response to earlier letters by such cherry-picking.

An example is their use of the 2010 and 2014 temperature difference. 2014 was the warmest year in the instrumented record; 2010 was the second-warmest. A lot of denialists for a long time used 1998 in their arguments as a comparison because it was such an extraordinarily warm year; if the writers had used 1998 instead of 2010, the change would have been 0.09 °C rather than 0.02 °C. If they had used the year 2000 instead, they would have found 0.28 °C. The individual years’ differences are not really that important because of the planetary temperature’s natural variability; it is the trend that tells the tale. The trend has been up since around 1980, climbing about 0.7 °C during that time. Thirty-five of the 41 warmest years on the record occurred since 1980.

While the CO2 records and the temperature records are rising in tandem, the temperature bounces around more. Phenomena such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the Arctic Oscillation, El Niños, La Niñas, volcanic eruptions, variability of the sun — these all play some role in determining Earth’s temperature in addition to CO2.

As to Dr. Christy and the reanalysis, the raw satellite numbers must be adjusted to get a result for temperature. Several other researchers reanalyzed the Christy satellite data and found different adjustments from Christy’s to be necessary to obtain an unbiased result. That’s why scientists such as Dr. Christy publish papers openly, so others can critique the result. The reanalysis is consistent with a great deal of other data; the original is not. Which should one use? Dr. Christy chooses to stick with his original analysis despite the evidence.

As to Professor Bengtsson’s assertion, that was not in a published paper; it was a stated opinion. That opinion is at odds with the many effects of global warming we are seeing in the news and experiencing ourselves every day. Extreme storms, drought in our Southwest, a soggy Midwest with lower crop yields predicted, heat waves in Europe and Russia, sea-level rise threatening Norfolk, Virginia, temperatures last year in Australia so extreme they had to add colors to the temperature charts — these are real. If all that is “small” and not “noticeable,” what is? Climate is changing now; it’s changing here.

Yes, dear Ron and Debbie Boggs, the assertion that so many thousands of scientists could conspire and keep it all quiet for years is simply, truly delusional.

Gordon Aubrecht