Do you really want to know if global warming is real?

About a year ago, I thought that Climate Change Deniers had lost the argument.

I thought that we were all moving on to answering more interesting questions, such as what to do about it.

But it seems I was wrong. It seems that in this post-truth world, climate change deniers are uninterested in reality – preferring instead alternative facts.

I am left speechless in the face of this kind of intellectual dishonesty.

Actually I am only almost speechless. I intend to continue trying to empower people by fighting this kind deception.

Rather than trying to woo people over to my view, my aim is simply to offer people the chance to come to their own informed opinion.

See for yourself

As part of my FREE University of Chicago Course on Global Warming, I have been using some astonishing FREE software. And its FREE!

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The ‘Time Series Browser’ allows one to browse a 7000 station subset of our historical temperature records from meteorological stations around the world.

  • The data are the local station temperatures averaged over 1 month, 1 year or 1 decade. Whichever you choose you can also download this data into a spreadsheet to have fun with on your own!
  • One can select sets of data based on a variety of criteria – such as country, latitude band, altitude, or type of geographical location – desert, maritime, tropical etc. Or you can simply pick a single station – maybe the one nearest you.

Already this is enormously empowering: this is the pretty much the same data set that leading climate scientists have used.

For this article I randomly chose a set of stations with latitudes between 20°N and 50°N.

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The bold dots on the map show the station locations, and the grey dots (merging into a continuous fill in parts) are the available locations that I could have chosen.

The data from the selected stations is shown below.  Notice the scale on the left hand side runs from -10 °C to + 30 °C.

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In this form it is not obvious if the data is warming or cooling: And notice that only a few data sets span the full time range.

So how do we discover if there are trends in the data?

The first step

Once you have selected a set of stations one can see that some stations are warm and others cool. In order to be able to compare these data fairly, we subtract off the average value of each data set between 1900 and 1950.

This is called normalisation and allows us to look in detail at changes from the 1900-1950 average independent of whether the station was in a warm place or a cold place.

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Notice that the scale on the left-hand side is now just ± 3.5 °C.

The second step

One can then average all the data together. This is has the effect of reducing the fluctuations in the data.

One can then fit a trend-line to see if there is a recent warming or cooling trend.

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For this particular set of stations its pretty clear that since 1970, there is a warming trend. The software tells me it is approximately 0.31 ± 0.09 °C per decade.

What I have found is that for any reasonably diverse set of stations a warming trend always emerges. I haven’t investigated this thoroughly, but the trend actually seems to emerge quite clearly above the fluctuations.

But you can check that for yourself if you want!

Is it a cheat? No!

You can check the maths of the software by downloading the data and checking it for yourself.

Maybe the data is fixed? You download the source data yourself – it comes from the US Global Historical Climatology Network-Monthly (GHCN-M) temperature data-set.

But accessing the raw data is quite hard work. If you are a newbie, it will probably take you days to figure out how to do it.

There is more!

This ability to browse, normalise, average and fit trends to data is cool. But – at the risk of sounding like a shopping channel advertorial – there is more!

It can also access the calculations of eleven different climate models.

For the particular set of stations that you have selected, the software will select the climate model predictions (a) including the effect of human climate change and (b) without including human-induced climate change.

For my data selection I chose to compare the data with the predictions of the CCSM4 Climate model. The results are shown below

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You can judge for yourself whether you think the trend in the observed data is consistent with the idea of human-induced climate change.

For the particular set of stations I chose, it seems the CCSM4 climate model can only explain the data by including the effect of human-induced climate change.

But Michael: this is just too much like hard work!

Yes and no. This analysis is conceptually challenging. But it is not crazily difficult. For example:

  • Schoolchildren could do this with help from a teacher.
  • Friends could do it as a group and ask each other for help.
  • University students could do this.
  • Scout groups could do it collectively.

It isn’t easy, but ultimately, if you really want to know for yourself, it will take some work. But then you will know.

So why not have a go?  The software is described in more detail here, and you can view a video explaining how to use the software here.

[January 28th 2017: Weight this morning 71.2 kg: Anxiety: Sick to my stomach: never felt worse]

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8 Responses to “Do you really want to know if global warming is real?”

  1. Brett Keane Says:

    Trendlines are deceptive on a cyclic phenomenon, a misuse of statistics. We, the deplorables, also have the unadjusted data. This is about to supplant your marxified stuff. Tjme to wake up!

    • protonsforbreakfast Says:

      Brett

      I would be interested to see your analysis and curious as to why you think this pretty linear trend is cyclic: what is your evidence.

      Or perhaps you could use the time series browser to show me the set of stations that shows something different. The particular set of stations is captured in the URL of the browser and so you can share any particular analysis.

      Alternatively, just look at the Arctic Sea Ice.

      All the best

      Michael

  2. Hivemind Says:

    For somebody that’s speechless, you do waffle on so.

    You probably already know this, but you are using “homogenised” data (mainly) from NOAA and NASA GISS, although it is also done in Australia, UK and NZ. They take raw data, which doesn’t show a warming trend, and modify it through a bunch of secret methods until it shows strong warming.

    The raw data has been very carefully hidden so people like you and me can’t find it and get confused into thinking there actually isn’t any warming.

    • protonsforbreakfast Says:

      Hivemind

      Firstly, none of the methods are secret: they are all published. Why don’t you do the work and present your analysis? All the data are out there for you.

      And I see that you don’t mention the privately-funded Berkeley Earth Science Temperature estimate which began with Richard Muller (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_A._Muller) who stated:

      “When we began our study, we felt that skeptics had raised legitimate issues, and we didn’t know what we’d find. Our results turned out to be close to those published by prior groups. We think that means that those groups had truly been very careful in their work, despite their inability to convince some skeptics of that. They managed to avoid bias in their data selection, homogenization and other corrections.Global warming is real.

      So are you saying that the Earth isn’t warming? Are you saying that the Arctic Sea Ice isn’t melting? That’s an interesting position. Good luck defending that,

    • Marco Says:

      I am sure Hivemind knows that GISS does not deliver any of the data that our host used, even though what Hivemind writes suggests the exact opposite. Now, if Hivemind really *does* think that our host used any data that came from GISS, he’d better get better educated on this topic, before making even more of a fool of himself.

      Also quite amazing is that he claims “secret methods” are used, when GHCN has a clear description what type of processes are used:
      https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/ghcnm/v3.php?section=homogeneity_adjustment
      It’s even made its way into a scientific publication! Perhaps Hivemind meant to say “methods that I do not have the ability to understand, so I’ll call them ‘secret’..”?

      And if Hivemind wants raw data, here he can find a LOT of raw data:
      http://berkeleyearth.lbl.gov/station-list/
      (there are other places with plenty of raw data also, but those are even more work to collect)

      One can also get raw data through GHCN-v2, but that data stops in 2011. Still, that should be good enough for anyone to check that homogenization hardly does anything with the global or even regional trends…

      • protonsforbreakfast Says:

        Thanks for those comments: really helpful.

        Sorry for the delay in approving but I have been away.

  3. teddnet Says:

    Ever since my geography and physics lessons in the seventies, I’ve been comfortable (is that the word? I mean that I have for decades accepted the paradigm) with the idea that if we pump enough CO2 into the atmosphere and manage to change the concentration of CO2 such that we can measure it, then we would expect climate change. The direction and rate would be for others to work out. The alternative is just ridiculous- that we hordes of humans can do everything, literally everything, in our power to change the CO2 concentration and FAIL to change the climate, has always seemed ridiculous to me. So for your denying readers, what is the alternative hypothesis? I mean never mind any cyclical stuff that we can’t control- given that they probably don’t deny the tonnage of CO2 emitted, what is their actual prediction of the effect of this emission?

    Reading the above conversation it’s like talking to a creationist on the beach at Charmouth and listening to them denying the process of fossilisation while standing on a rock full of ammonites

  4. teddnet Says:

    http://www.insidedorset.co.uk/things-to-do/fossil-hunting-in-dorset/

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