Irregular Climate podcast 8: Journalismgate, prawngate and rock n roll

The Irregular Climate podcast have just posted Episode 8. In this week, Dan Moutal looks at the real scandal of Climategate: Journalismgate. He touches on how Cuccinelli continues his witchhunt against Michael Mann and outlines all the gory details of Prawngate. Note: Dan is the one who started the Facebook page supporting John Abraham (which now numbers around 300 members). In this week's podcast, Dan also gets a little creative with some rock 'n roll which I must admit had me smiling.

For the skeptic debunk of the week, I take a new look at an old argument. I'm actually writing a new blog post on the subject which I should post over the next day or so - the podcast debunk is a lean and mean version. You can get more details at Did global warming stop in 1998 but here's my transcript from the podcast if anyone's interested.

Skeptic Debunk of the Week

Most climate skeptic arguments, maybe all of them, have one thing in common - they neglect the full body of evidence and cherry pick just the bits of data that give the answer they want. There's one argument that's so misleading, it requires 3 levels of cherry picking. This argument is "global warming stopped in 1998".

The first cherry pick is that it relies on a single temperature record from the Hadley Centre in the UK. This record shows unusually warm temperatures in 1998, caused by the strongest El Niño on record. However, the Hadley record doesn't cover the whole globe. Some of the missing regions happen to be where the fastest warming is occuring. Temperature records that cover the whole planet find that 2005 is the hottest calendar year on record. The hottest 12 months on record were June 2009 to May 2010.

The second cherry pick is that it assumes a climate trend by comparing single data points. If you want to work out what climate is doing, you've got to look at all the data. Effects like El Nino exchange lots of heat between the ocean and the atmosphere, so surface temperature jumps up and down from year to year. To work out the long-term trend, scientists use statistical techniques like moving averages or linear regression. These show that surface temperatures continue to rise since 1998.

The third cherry pick is that this only looks at air temperature. The atmosphere is just one part of our climate. Over 90% of global warming actually goes into the oceans. If you really want to know if global warming continued past 1998, you need to look at all the heat building up in our climate. When we add up the heat going into the oceans, warming the land and air, and melting the ice, we see that the planet continues to build up heat. Global warming clearly continues past 1998.  

And by the way, thanks to John Russell who offered some useful audio tips for the podcast recording. Either that, or he's just winding me up by having me pad my office with blankets and pillows while I record. :-) Hopefully the audio quality is continuing to improve (now I have to figure out how to get rid of that low frequency hum in the background - perhaps a few more blankets over the computer).

Posted by John Cook on Sunday, 18 July, 2010

Creative Commons License The Skeptical Science website by Skeptical Science is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.