Sunday, July 5, 2009

Real Climate vs Climate Science

There is a form of ongoing debate ocurring between Real Climate and Roger Pielke Sr about recent predictions in regard to what is going on with the current climate.

Basically the debate resolves around the comment
Some aspects of climate change are progressing faster than was expected a few years ago - such as rising sea levels, the increase of heat stored in the ocean and the shrinking Arctic sea ice. “The updated estimates of the future global mean sea level rise are about double the IPCC projections from 2007″, says the new report. And it points out that any warming caused will be virtually irreversible for at least a thousand years - because of the long residence time of CO2 in the atmosphere.”

Now it is an illustration of the way in which the debate is twisted that Roger Pielke begins the debate by pointing out that the conclusions drawn in that paragraph are not tenable, and provides graphic evidence to the point. (As an illustration if you look at the gradient of sea level records the most recent measurements (from the Jason satellite) have, over the time period from 2002, a shallower gradient than those from the TOPEX satellite that preceded it. (Note this is a corrected paragraph - I had written temperature instead of level, my apologies).

However, Gavin, over at Real Climate, changes the focus of the argument, from the error in the original conclusion, to interpreting the change in only the last couple of years as being a positive conclusion by Roger, and claiming that it is inaccurate because it is made over too short a period.

But the original conclusion, derived over this short time interval, is one made by the alarmists, so that, in reality the criticisms that Gavin is advancing argue against the conclusions that he is touting, rather than the criticisms of them. (Although it must be noted that the criticism that the report distorts data in its interpretation also holds true if one looks at the longer picture). It cannot be acceptable to sieze on short term changes - such as the transient drop in ice area - and accept the two-year interval over which this occured - but then deny the evidence, over the longer period, that this is purely transitory, on the criticism that the longer period is too short to allow a realistic conclusion (after drawing one from the shorter interval).

The criticism made of the conclusion that the climate changes are accelerating is not born out by the evidence, and such evidence as there is argues against the conclusions. It is a pity, therefore, that the conclusions are getting the scale of publicity and acceptance that they are.

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