Global cooling?

WASHINGTON (AP) – Have you heard that the world is now cooling instead of warming? You may have seen some news reports on the Internet or heard about it from a provocative new book. Only one problem: It’s not true, according to an analysis of the numbers done by several independent statisticians for The Associated Press.

The case that the Earth might be cooling partly stems from recent weather. Last year was cooler than previous years. It’s been a while since the super-hot years of 1998 and 2005. So is this a longer climate trend or just weather’s normal ups and downs?

In a blind test, the AP gave temperature data to four independent statisticians and asked them to look for trends, without telling them what the numbers represented. The experts found no true temperature declines over time.

“If you look at the data and sort of cherry-pick a micro-trend within a bigger trend, that technique is particularly suspect,” said John Grego, a professor of statistics at the University of South Carolina.

Yet the idea that things are cooling has been repeated in opinion columns, a BBC news story posted on the Drudge Report and in a new book by the authors of the best-seller “Freakonomics.” Last week, a poll by the Pew Research Center found that only 57 percent of Americans now believe there is strong scientific evidence for global warming, down from 77 percent in 2006.

Global warming skeptics base their claims on an unusually hot year in 1998. Since then, they say, temperatures have dropped — thus, a cooling trend. But it’s not that simple.

Read the complete story by clicking here. Come back and leave a comment afterwards.

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Posted under climate/climate change

This post was written by qni_it on October 27, 2009

2 Comments so far

  1. WI Weather Buff October 27, 2009 7:31 PM

    I wish science would not become politicized.

    My take on Global Warming:

    I think those who want to advocate in favor of “believing in” Global Warming often overstate their case. That is unfortunate, because then it is too easy to refute their claims.

    I think (from what I have seen) the evidence for global warming is weak. That doesn’t mean it is non-existent. It means that we need evidence we don’t (maybe can’t) yet have in order to have a slam dunk proof.

    But I think the skeptics are wrong to demand a slam dunk proof. People have to make decisions based on incomplete evidence all the time. Is the stock market going to go up or down? Will my college major really provide me with the right skills? Will I still love the person I’m about to marry in 20 years? If I patent my invention and start a company to manufacture it, will there be enough demand for my product to pay back my start-up costs? Is my teenager mature enough to be a responsible driver? If I major in pre-law will I be able to get into law school? If I hire this person will they work well with the rest of my team?

    You don’t always have all the info you need to make a decision. SO WHAT? You still have to make a decision – somehow. If you’re wrong, you’re wrong. You can’t avoid making every decision that you don’t have complete info about. BUT – you try to weigh the pros and cons. If I turn out to be wrong, how bad will it be?

    So here’s the thing. If humans AREN’T contributing to global warming, but we (wrongly) believe we are and take measures to avoid it — what is the worst possible outcome.

    On the other hand, if human activity IS contributing to global warming but we (wrongly) decide NOT to take any measures to avoide it — what is the worst possible outcome of that?

    When I look at it that way, its a no-brainer.

    If we reduce carbon emissions, reduce our use of fossil fuels, work at making our lives “greener” — and it turns out that we didn’t have to … what’s the harm?

    But if we keep doing things that contribute to global warming and it turns out we shouldn’t have … we may do irreparable harm. We only have one planet. We can’t just collectively say, “Oops, bad choice,” 100 years from now and try again with a different Planet.

    So to me the right answer is: Whether or not we have complete evidence that human activities contribute to global warming — why don’t be BEHAVE as though global warming is something we need to address?

    If we’re wrong — oh well. It could be worse. If we work this situation the other way (behaving as though we DON’T need to change our activities to avoid global warming) … well, the consequences would be very very bad.

    So I’ll take Door #1 (ACT as though global warming IS a real threat, even if we don’t have complete info about whether that is true or not).

    Meanwhile we can continue to study it and improve our knowledge about it.

    Wouldn’t it be GREAT if our Grandchildren were able to tell our Great-Grandchildren, “You know, your great-grandparents made some sacrifices to try to prevent global warming because they wanted to leave you a better Planet … and it turns out, they didn’t have to! But they cared enough to want to do the right thing for future generations. Their hearts were in the right place, even if they didn’t know as much as we know now.”

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