Archive for March, 2013

Bill English’s weasel words on weather, climate and drought

March 15, 2013

Oh Boy,

Another somewhat uninformed post from our friend at Hot Topic.

Gareth, You really have to learn that a single weather event or even a series of weather events are not proof that the climate is changing and most certainly cannot be blamed on or in any way validate the yet to be proven Anthropogenic Global Warming Theory.

Just try looking at the data over a minimum of 15 years if you want to assert that the planet is actually warming, and then try and find some empirical reason why we should blame that on CO2 instead of just natural climate fluctuations.

Here’s how to do it.  Of course Gareth it does assume that you know what the “Least Squares Regression” method is and you understand the meaning of “uncertainty” in the statistical sense. If you enroll and study statistics in a first year University course, you will find the subject covered admirably.

Step 1. Get the monthly mean global surface temperature anomalies since January 1997 from the Hadley Centre/CRU. The data, freely available online, are the U.N.’s preferred way to measure how much global warming has happened. Or you could use the more reliable satellite data from the University of Alabama at Huntsville or from Remote Sensing Systems Inc.

Step 2. Put the data into Microsoft Excel and use its routine that calculates the least-squares linear-regression trend on the data. Linear regression determines the underlying trend in a dataset over a given period as the slope of the unique straight line through the data that minimizes the sum of the squares of the absolute differences or “residuals” between the points corresponding to each time interval in the data and on the trend-line. Phew! If that is too much like doing real work (though Excel will do it for you at the touch of a button), find a friendly, honest statistician.

Step 3. Look up the measurement uncertainty in the dataset. Since measuring global temperature reliably is quite difficult, properly-collated temperature data are presented as central estimates flanked by upper and lower estimates known as the “error bars”.

Step 4. Check whether the warming (which is the difference between the first and last value on the trend-line) is greater or smaller than the measurement uncertainty. If it is smaller, falling within the error-bars, the trend is statistically indistinguishable from zero. There has been no warming – or, to be mathematically nerdy, there has been no statistically-significant warming.

Step 5.  If there is warming greater than the measurement uncertainty in you results from above, then you should look for some empirical evidence to show that the warming you found with your calculations above is different from say the Medieval Warm Period or the Roman Warm Period or even the Holocene Maximum. Basically, the only anthropogenic CO2 in those days was from itinerant sword sharpening.  So good luck on that one.

Bill English for all his faults knows that, but Russel Norman and Kennedy Graham seem to have forgotten.  Maybe they should re read their PhD’s, that is if they didn’t buy their degrees off some web site somewhere.

Gareth,  all that you are saying so far is demonstrably absolute nonsense and we haven’t even got on to Lord Christopher Monckton yet!

How about you start putting some facts into your posts instead of your one sided opinion.  All you are doing at the moment is scaring little old ladies and the very gullible.

Dear Russell,

Did you know that the esteemed chairman of the IPCC admitted that there had been no global warming for the last 17 years? Also the British Met Office agrees with this, in fact they are not expecting any warming until until 2017!–Cycle-25-need-worry-NASA-scientists-right-Thames-freezing-again.html

So you plonkers at the AGreen Party, you better straighten up your act in a BIG way. If there is no Global warming then its very dumb to claim that Hurricane Sandy and the drought in NZ on a non existant event! 


Here is Gareth’s post in its entirety.

You are all welcome to comment below as it appears that Gareth chooses his commenters very carefully on his site;  just no obsenities please.

Bill English’s weasel words on weather, climate and drought

by Gareth on March 14, 2013

Occasionally — but only occasionally — the political pantomime that is parliamentary question time throws up something interesting. Yesterday, NZ’s deputy prime minister Bill English managed to dig himself into a drought-ridden hole, only to emerge looking like a climate denier. Green Party co-leader Russel Norman tried to get English to expand on his earlier comments that the government would not be able to help farmers hit by increased incidence of droughts, which led to this astonishing little exchange [Hansard transcript here]:

Dr Russel Norman: Does he agree with the Government’s own research body the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) when it states: “Droughts are projected to become more frequent and more intense under climate change.”?

Hon Bill English: I would not want to question the scientific effort that has gone into that, although there is always uncertainty about these predictions. I recall similar predictions made by similar scientific bodies in Australia just 4 or 5 years ago and it has not stopped raining since.

Astonishing stuff. English gets the uncertainty issue completely wrong1, and then manages to insult Australians who have been suffering through their hottest summer ever. Here’s a little chart from the Aussie Climate Commission that he might find helpful.

The Angry Summer Map480

This is what NIWA has to say (pdf):

The most likely scenario sees farmers in most North Island regions, as well as those in eastern regions of the South Island — especially Canterbury and eastern Southland – spending 5-10 per cent more of the year in drought by the middle of this century. This means that if you spend an average of 10 per cent of your time in drought at the moment, by 2040, you might expect to spend as much as 20 per cent — although this figure will naturally vary from year to year.

Throughout the exchange with Norman, the deputy PM seemed extremely loath to use the words “climate change”, and instead made extensive references to cycles and weather patterns. In a later supplementary question, Norman asked him if he accepted that “human-induced climate change is real?”

Hon Bill English: It may well be, but I am not sure what that has got to do with this particular question.

Weasel words, at best. English wants to ignore the clear advice the government is receiving from the Crown Research Institute tasked with studying the issue, and can’t bring himself to directly accept the reality of anthropogenic climate change. You’d think it would be a simple matter for a senior politician to take reality at face value and act accordingly, but that seems be something that English and his cabinet colleagues find difficult in lots of areas…


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