Saturday, 22 December 2012

Cairns Post Letters from the Wingnuts #16: A newbie with old arguments

And so my attention turns to a name I didn't recognise on the Letters page, Mr Jim Skinner of Edge Hill, who starts off by getting confused about a recent denier meme:
The UK meteorology office published global temperatures that show an absence of warming since 1988.
Actually the denier meme is that it was the last 16 years, which would put it at 1996, but, as discussed in #15, it's not the UK meteorology office that said this but a Daily Mail columnist and blogger. The Met Office had explained to the columnist that he was being misleading, but he decided to proceed anyway. It's conduct such as that which makes me suspect that many deniers are being deliberately dishonest, rather than just being wrong.
Climatologists and others assume the absence of warming is an expected normal variation that has no effect on the global warming theory.
Yes, climatologists accept there are many factors in climate, and while carbon emissions push temperatures upward, other factors, at times, will push in the opposite direction. At other times, such as 1998, a number of factors will push temperatures upward and we will see a spike in temperatures.

Mr Skinner needs to learn that climatologists are right to think that even if there had been a complete lack of warming, or even a cooling period, it would not mean that rising CO2 concentrations do not create an upward force.
Why did they conceal this expectation when the global warming theory was first published?
They didn't conceal it. The idea that there would be variation around an upward trend was always part of the thinking.
Governments have wasted a lot of money by acting on false predictions about global warming and climate change.
Climate science predictions are becoming increasingly accurate as our understanding improves, but even Jim Hanson's early predictions in 1988 turned out to be pretty accurate. They're just misrepresented by deniers. There are some cases in which goofs have been made in predictions about local events, providing fodder for deniers. But then there have been findings that some things are worse than expected - sea levels are rising faster than predicted, and Arctic sea ice is shrinking faster than predicted.
These actions were ineffective.
He's right here, but for all the wrong reasons. Our collective response to climate change has been massively inadequate.
Carbon dioxide levels kept rising during the last 15 years, but the predicted rise in global temperatures did not happen.
Observed temperature rises are in line with predictions.
Unbiased scientists can no longer be confident that carbon dioxide is causing global warming.
Oddly enough, unbiased scientists don't agree with him.
They would realise that the absence of warming could be the start of a cooling period.
An absence of warming could indeed be the start of a cooling period. The problem for his argument is that there is no absence of warming, and even if there was a short cooling period we would still have a problem to address.
At present, there is no reason for concern about global warming or climate change.
Yes, it's not like sea levels are rising, global sea ice is decreasing, global land ice is decreasing, oceans are acidifying, or temperatures are rising. If any of those things were happening we should worry. Oh, wait...
A more serious problem is the increase in global debt by governments wasting money trying to prevent change.
Yes, the inadequate responses by governments have indeed not been good value for money. We need better policy, including a better designed carbon tax.

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