The Telegraph, not content with embarrassing themselves by credulously printing an absurd denialist screed by Christopher “asbestos isn’t harmful” Booker, has decided to double down on its idiocy and close the year out by running a few more denialist “arguments”. I’m not entirely sure what the point here is, aside from hoping for a bump in traffic. It’s a sterling example of how utterly lazy and intellectually dishonest newspapers have become that this list is presented as factual, when a cursory examination shows how stunningly inaccurate when not outright mendacious it really is.
Temperatures are falling, not rising
As Christopher Booker says in his review of 2008, temperatures have been dropping in a wholly unpredicted way over the past year.
This argument- that 2008 was ostensibly cold, ergo the planet isn’t warming- is actually presented three different times (1, 3, & 6) as though it were three separate refutations of anthropogenic warming. Although it is probably too much to expect denialists to examine such “facts” in terms climatological and/or statistical relevance, one would hope that they are at least capable of counting. In any event, this is a classic example of confusing weather for climate. Weather events such as the La Niña that occurred during the first half of 2008 can and do overwhelm the anthropogenic warming signal on such small timescales.
And there was nothing “unpredicted” about the La Niña cooling. James Hansen, writing on January 14th of 2008, noted, “[T]he surface temperature anomaly for July-December, shows that the La Nina equatorial cooling is strong in the second half of the year. The La Nina should thus continue to affect global temperatures into 2008.” He later predicted, “Based on these considerations [solar minimum and La Niña conditions], it is unlikely that 2008 will be a year with an unusual global temperature change, i.e., it is likely to remain close to the range of (high) values exhibited in 2002-2007.” As noted previously, initial analysis has 2008 as the ninth warmest on record for GISTEMP.
The Met Office was more explicit, writing on January 3rd, 2008:
2008 is set to be cooler globally than recent years… but is still forecast to be one of the top-ten warmest years… Global temperature for 2008 is expected to be 0.37 °C above the long-term (1961-1990) average of 14.0 °C, the coolest year since 2000, when the value was 0.24 °C… For 2008, the development of a strong La Niña in the tropical Pacific Ocean will limit the warming trend of the global climate.
By the Met Office’s initial analysis, 2008 was indeed the tenth warmest year on record, coming in at ~.31C above average.
[1 cont.]Last winter, the northern hemisphere saw its greatest snow cover since 1966, which in the northern US states and Canada was dubbed the “winter from hell”. This winter looks set to be even worse.
Climate, once again, is not weather. And the US and Canada are not the world.
The earth was hotter 1,000 years ago
Evidence from all over the world indicates that the earth was hotter 1,000 years ago than it is today. Research shows that temperatures were higher in what is known as the Mediaeval Warming period than they were in the 1990s.
The earth’s surface temperature is not at record levels
According to Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies analysis of surface air temperature measurements, the meteorological December 2007 to November 2008 was the coolest year since 2000.
Actually, the GISS statement continues, “It was the ninth warmest year in the period of instrumental measurements, which extends back to 1880. The nine warmest years all occur within the eleven-year period 1998-2008.” Being one of the ten warmest years on record is pretty much the definition of “at record levels”. Anthropogenic warming doesn’t increase monotonically- every year won’t be warmer than the one immediately preceding it.
[3 cont.]Their data has also shown that the hottest decade of the 20th century was not the 1990s but the 1930s.
No, it does not. And humorously (though via the Met, not GISS), from the Telegraph itself: Last decade is the warmest on record, scientists say.
Ice is not disappearing
Arctic website Crysophere Today reported that Arctic ice volume was 500,000 sq km greater than this time last year.
That isn’t surprising considering that massive melt that 2008 experienced (the sea ice season ends before the calendar year)- as WMO states, “Because ice was thinner in 2008, overall ice volume was less than that in any other year.” As we saw earlier in the year, record melts lead to record rebounds. The multi-year downward trend is clearly evident and statistically significant.
[4 cont.]Additionally, Antarctic sea-ice this year reached its highest level since satellite records began in 1979.
This recent “increase” is not statistically significant, nor does it contradict anthropogenic warming. Additionally, when the record is extended further back, Southern Hemisphere sea ice is probably decreasing overall. But quite simply, the relative dearth of information about Antarctic conditions makes any attempt to refute the broader scientific conclusions about anthropogenic warming a fool’s errand at best, and deliberate misdirection at worst.
[4 cont.]Polar bear numbers are also at record levels.
In the words of UCN/SSC Polar Bear Specialist Group Chair, Dr. Andrew Derocher:
The various presentations of biased reporting ignore, or are ignorant of, the different reasons for changes in populations. If I thought that there were more bears now than 50 years ago and a reasonable basis to assume this would not change, then no worries. This is not the case.
The bottom line here is that it is an apples and oranges issue. The early estimates of polar bear abundance are a guess. There is no data at all for the 1950-60s. Nothing but guesses. We are sure the populations were being negatively affected by excess harvest (e.g., aircraft hunting, ship hunting,self-killing guns, traps, and no harvest limits). The harvest levels were huge and growing. The resulting low numbers of bears were due only to excess harvest but, again, it was simply a guess as to the number of bears….
Comparing declines caused by harvest followed by recovery from harvest controls to declines from loss of habitat and climate warming are apples and oranges. Ignorant people write ignorant things.
A report by the UN Environment Program this year claimed that the cause of melting glaciers in the Himalayas was not global warming but the local warming effect of a vast “atmospheric brown cloud” over that region, made up of soot particles from Asia’s dramatically increased burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.
False. While the Himalayas are believed to be melting faster than expected due to anthropogenic warming alone because of anomalous regional warmth created by soot pollution, the “warming by haze” is in addition to enhanced greenhouse warming, not instead of.
Temperatures are still dropping
Nasa satellite readings on global temperatures from the University of Alabama show that August was the fourth month this year when temperatures fell below their 30-year average, ie since satellite records began.
And once again we’re back to confusing weather and climate, and once again pretending that 2008 was somehow “cold”. What do the UAH data say after August? I think you know what’s coming: September: +.16C, October: +.17C, November: +.25C, which by the tortured logic of denialists must mean that warming is accelerating at an astounding rate.
[6 cont.]November 2008 in the USA was only the 39th warmest since records began 113 years ago.
The USA is only a tiny fraction (~ 1.88%) of the planet. Global temperatures, again, were .25C above average for the month of November according to UAH. I would profess disbelief that denialists could be duped into mistaking a fraction of the planet for the whole, but we’ve seen it twice now (1 & 3) already.
I don’t expect any better from the likes of Chris Booker, but what about the Telegraph’s editors? Do they have no duty to their readers to fact-check this rubbish before printing it?