Sunday, March 22, 2009

Where Does My AGW Skepticism Originate?

For those of who have discussed this with me, you know that I have discounted MAN-CAUSED global warming for a long time. In fact, based on things like the Surface Station Project, I wonder if we have any way of providing a long term climate record sufficient enough to say anything about climate trends. If you don't know, Anthony Watts (whose blog is a daily read for me) started a project to physically survey each of the climate stations in the United States Historical Climatological Network. He has completed 854 of the 1221 stations. He has found the following using the NOAA criteria for assessing the error in the data:

  • 11% of the sites have errors less than 1 degree C
  • 20% of the sites have errors between 1 and 2 degrees C
  • 58% of the sites have errors between 2 and 5 degrees C
  • 11% of the sites haves errors greater than 5 degrees C
Now, we have been told that an increase in the global temperature by 2 degrees C will lead to all kinds of disasters. I don't think that I have been sufficiently convinced that a global temperature has any meaning. However, for the sake of argument, I will go with that assumption for the moment. In the U.S. (where the best climatological data is found because we have $$ for it), 69% of the sites in our historic record set have errors greater than 2 degrees C. So, we can't measure temperature in the U.S. to a point where we can distinguish between measurement error and the catastrophic temperature signal. Combine that this presentation on the debunking of the famous "hockey stick" by Steve McIntyre, and it leaves me very skeptical that man is changing the global temperature by taking an SUV to soccer practice.
  • Do I think that the earth warmed in the 20th century? Yes.
  • Do I think that the warming was the result of man's emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases? No.
  • Will the earth be cooler or warmer 50 years from now? Yes.
Here is the point. Climate changes all the time, and there is very little if anything we can do about it (unless we figure out a way to control that big ball of fire in the sky). Today's climate is not perfect and tomorrow's won't be either. The best way (i.e, the cheapest and most proven way) to deal with a changing climate is to adapt. Here is what I mean:
  • If it's brutally hot in the summer where you live, move or live in a house with AC.
  • If it's brutally cold in the winter, move or live in a house with a good heating system.
These things are what humans have done throughout history. Why should we be any different?

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