The article states, in its summary
A good-faith effort has been made to determine average global temperature using the instrumental record, with increasing accuracy and precision as the data become more comprehensive. For sure, the average temperature of the atmosphere has been rising for most of the last 50 years. This is consistent with the greenhouse theory, though one cannot rule out with complete certainty that other factors—variation due to sunspot activity, or the last gasp of a long warming trend caused by variation in the Earth's orbit—might also be contributing to temperature change.OK, let’s start there and progress, because the e-mails and sections of code that are being revealed show that the “good-faith” bit is already somewhat of a stretch. But before I get there let me explain a couple of things that may not be that well known. To begin with there are not that many places that actually monitor the temperature of the globe, or are used as the sources of record. The two that have been most consistently used are that run by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) and that of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia (CRU) affiliated with the British Met Office, though there is a third at the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) which is part of NOAA. (This last tends to run very close to the GISS values). The British Met Office, in trying to ameliorate the mess that has suddenly been dumped in their lap has tried to explain how these records are made.
However, at the moment, having (I suspect) taken a look at the reality of mess that was the code that was being used at CRU the Met Office has decided to clean its slate and start over, which is a commentary in itself.
The Met Office plans to re-examine 160 years of temperature data after admitting that public confidence in the science on man-made global warming has been shattered by leaked e-mails.
The new analysis of the data will take three years, meaning that the Met Office will not be able to state with absolute confidence the extent of the warming trend until the end of 2012.
Unfortunately this does not address the underlying issue – and which Peter Kelemen fails to grasp. It is this. There has been a clear pattern of global warming and cooling in about 1,000 to 1,500 year cycles for some millennia. From about 1350 to about 1850 the globe was in a period called a Little Ice Age. There are literally hundreds of scientific documents that record this. The ones that I am more often prone to quote are collected in Jean Grove’s Book The Little Ice Age. The world started coming out of this colder time about 160 years ago, so the Met Office survey is going to show that the globe has, yes indeed, been warming over that time frame.
But the question that gets neglected in that reaffirmation is based on the reason for the warming. Because if indeed the world is naturally going through this cycle, then the Anthropogenic part of AGW becomes questionable. Carbon dioxide levels were not changing as this part of the cycle started – they are not thought to have been a significant factor until around 1980, by which time the globe had been warming for over a hundred years. (And in the 1960’s – which is where Peter would have us consider that greenhouse effects started to have an impact - the world was apparently (according to the now questionable record) in the midst of a cooling period that lasted from about 1940 to about 1970).
Further, before the Little Ice Age there is considerable evidence that the globe was warmer, on average, than it is now. And in that period life did not come to an end. There was no great invasion of the sea over vast areas of land. Yes, there were droughts in places such as Southern California but there was no great eruption of methane from the melting tundra, as has been prophesied as an example by many of those now writing about the terrors that Global Warming will bring. The period was known as the Medieval Warming Period, and even Dr. Mann, in a paper published last week, has finally admitted to its existence.
The implication in the statement in Popular Mechanics is that it is the greenhouse effect that is driving climate change, and that the natural effects are merely assisting in encouraging the change. In reality it is the other way around. As lots of scientists have pointed out, over most of the history of the Earth it is only after the temperature has risen that carbon dioxide levels rise, not, as many AGW proponents would have it, the other way around.
The recent halt in the rapid rate of global warming that we saw until 1998 points out the errors in accepting the arguments of advocates of AGW such as Dr Hansen, whose predictions had the average temperature increase due to the greenhouse effect already over 1.1 degrees C, when in fact it is around 0.5 degrees C, below the level that Dr Hansen had predicted it would reach only if carbon dioxide levels were dramatically reduced in 2000, which they were not.
I suspect that we will see many similar articles by apologists for the AGW crowd of the ilk of the Popular Mechanics article in the coming weeks. We can only hope that those reporting on the issue become a little more dispassionate in their reporting. Unfortunately based on the record to date I would not place any money on it happening – but regrettably, with the money being committed to the climate change business, the world is not likely to have that luxury.