[Vision2020] Some reasons I'm skeptical about anthropogenic globalwarming

Sunil Ramalingam sunilramalingam at hotmail.com
Thu Dec 10 12:11:04 PST 2009

Wow Gary,

I really agree with your sentiment. Right on! What a great post. Me too. I couldn't agree more.

Yours in brotherhood and agreement,


From: lockshop at pull.twcbc.com
To: godshatter at yahoo.com
Date: Thu, 10 Dec 2009 11:52:59 -0800
CC: vision2020 at moscow.com
Subject: Re: [Vision2020] Some reasons I'm skeptical about anthropogenic	globalwarming

Thanks for a well reasoned and well presented post. 
I, for one,  appreciate it.
As to the whole pariah thing, while I'm sure you 
need no reassurance from me, I wouldn't 
give it a second thought. Any post that breaks away 
from the usual chorus of "me too" 
and "I couldn't agree more" comes as an 
extremely welcome change.
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Paul Rumelhart" <godshatter at yahoo.com>
To: "Vision2020" <vision2020 at moscow.com>
Sent: Thursday, December 10, 2009 10:41 
Subject: [Vision2020] Some reasons I'm skeptical 
about anthropogenic globalwarming

> Since I feel I've basically made myself into a pariah on this list 

> because of my skepticism towards anthropogenic global warming, I 
> I'd go whole hog and totally alienate myself from all 
> people by expanding upon my opinion by giving more detail 
and examples 
> of why I'm skeptical.
> A Note About 
> Someone who is skeptical about a subject is not the 
same thing as a 
> "denier" or a "contrarian".  A "denier" would be 
someone who is 
> unequivocally stating that the subject is 
incorrect.  A "contrarian" 
> would automatically be stating the 
opposite conclusion is true, no 
> matter what was said.  A skeptic, 
on the other hand, is merely 
> expressing doubt about the topic.  

> Thus, I will explain some of my doubts.
Climate vs. Weather
> Weather and climate are different, yet 
related, topics.  In effect, 
> climate is an aggregation of weather 
data over a large period of time.  
> How warm is the Earth, 
today?  Right here, it's very cold.  There are 
> blizzards in 
the mid-west.  In Tokyo, it's 52F.  In Sydney it's 77F.  
These temperatures change quickly over time.  If you took an average 

> temperature right now at every weather station on the globe, how good a 

> representation of the Earth's temperature would it be?  There are 
> parts of the globe that are a large distance away from a weather 

> station.  In some places, you may be a short drive from 
several.  Factor 
> in the temperature of the water in the oceans in 
various spots and at 
> various depths and the temperature of other bodies 
of water such as 
> lakes and rivers and the temperature at various 
altitudes in our 
> atmosphere, and you have a confusing jumble of data 
that you're trying 
> to coalesce into one number.
> How 
useful is that number?  It's presumably useful for long-term trends, 

> but may not tell you much on it's own.  How long-term?  A few 
days?  A 
> few months?  A few years?  A few decades?  
Longer?  How chaotic is the 
> system?  Does that number change 
fractionally from hour-to-hour, 
> day-to-day, or month-to-month?  
Does it jump all over the place?  If you 
> had a thermometer that 
was connected to all of these data sources and 
> more that could show you 
the exact averaged temperature at any moment, 
> what would it look 
like?  Would the needle be rock-solid or would it be 
> vibrating 
like mad?
> I've learned from playing around with the NCDC global 
> datasets that more information does not automatically lead 
to clearer 
> conclusions.
> The State of the Data Past 
1850 or So
> Unfortunately, we don't have data going back before 
about 1850 that is 
> global in scope.  That's about 160 years, which 
is a small fraction of 
> the amount of time we should be looking 
> The current global temperature data that we do 
have available comes from 
> three places and covers data from around 1850 
onward.  Some of it comes 
> from NASA's Goddarad Institute for Space 
Studies, some of it from the 
> NOAA's National Climatic Data Center, and 
some of it from the CRU at the 
> University of East Anglia, which is the 
victim of that data hack (or 
> whistle-blowing event) that hasn't been 
all over the mainstream media.  
> The CRU and NCDC datasets are 
averaged data for the month for each 
> station.  I haven't looked at 
the GISS data yet, so I don't know if it's 
> averaged by month or 
> I won't belabor the point about my current mistrust of the 
CRU dataset 
> too much, suffice it to say that since they have "lost" the 
original raw 
> data and don't have methodologies posted that I can find 
about how they 
> made it into their current "value-added" set of data, so 
I'm pretty much 
> discounting it completely.
> I am 
somewhat familiar with the NCDC's dataset, since that's the one 
> I've 
been playing around with plotting. There are stark differences 
> between 
the raw dataset and the adjusted dataset.  Sometime in the 
> future 
I'll have some nice plots that will show these adjustments.  
However, at least we have access to the raw data.  I did dig around on 

> the net a little, and came across this: 
> http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/img/climate/research/ushcn/ts.ushcn_anom25_diffs_urb-raw_pg.gif  
> Take a look at that graph, and think what 
would happen if you took any 
> old mp3 file and plotted it's waveform as 
if it's global temperature 
> data, then applied that adjustment to 
it.  What would it show?  Yep, you 
> guessed it, global 
> I'm not familiar with the GISS dataset, so I can offer 
no conclusions 
> about it's trustworthiness.
> Another 
problem is that the stations that provide this data move around 
> or 
change in some other way over time.  What used to be an isolated 
station perfect for measuring weather gets a parking lot put in next to 
it, raising the temperature by 1C.  A station gets moved behind a 
building, too close to an exhaust fan for the air conditioning.  You 

> name it, it's happened.  Look at http://surfacestations.org for an idea 

> of the quality of data we're getting from these stations.  Take a 
> look at the pie chart labeled "USHCN - Station Site by Quality 
> Notice that with 82% of the sites surveyed, 69% of them 
are categorized 
> as having an error bar of >= 2C, 61% of them as 
having an error bar of 
> >= 5C.  That's in the US, I don't 
know how other countries stack up.
> The State of the Data Before 
1850 or So
> Well, there isn't much.  Not that I've 
seen, anyway.  There are probably 
> temperature records that go back 
farther than that, but they are 
> sparse.  Before that, it's 
anecdotal.  Descriptions of storms, bad 
> winters or good summers, 
etc.  Go far enough back, and there is no data 
> whatsoever produced 
by man.
> This only gets you back a short amount time compared to 
the time frame 
> of the Earth.  It's just a blink of an eye, 
geographically speaking.
> Temperature Proxies
So how do we graph temperature going back before 1850?  Using 
temperature proxies.  These are measurements that are only indirectly 

> related to temperature.  These are things like tree ring growth, 
> growth, composition of snow, and others.  You basically take 
> natural process that can be measured currently that has a history 
> growth fluctuations over time and try to determine based on what 
> those fluctuations what the past was like.
> The 
simple example, which is central to some of the debates about the 
> CRU 
email hack, is tree rings.  Trees grow better in certain temperature 

> ranges, and they grow a new ring every year.  So you can go back 
> measure the size of the rings to get a basic determination of how 
> the tree grew that year.  That, presumably, gives you some 
idea of what 
> the temperature record was like in the past.

> The problem with this is that temperature is not the only variable that 

> affects tree growth.  There are other factors which affect this, 
such as 
> moisture, tree placement (how much competition it has for 
> disease, soil composition, and who knows how many 
others.  You can 
> measure tree rings on a lot of trees to try to 
average some of these 
> factors out that affect individual trees, but you 
are still stuck with a 
> few that should be taken into consideration, 
such as moisture or 
> rainfall.  How much each of these factors 
affects trees varies by the 
> kind of tree that is being sampled.

> You take your tree ring growth chart and your reconstructed 
> and you run them against known temperatures for that 
region (1850 to 
> present, if the temperature record there goes back that 
far), and 
> compare the data points.  If there is a good fit, then 
you have some 
> validation that the proxy you are using might be 
correlated with 
> temperature.  This is still doubtful to some 
degree, because we only 
> have a temperature record that covers about 160 
years, which may or may 
> not be really accurate.  These proxies are 
being used, by looking at 
> fossils of trees, to go back one or two 
thousand years.
> The controversy about "hide the decline" that 
you may have heard about 
> has to do with tree rings for pine trees in 
Yamal in Siberia.  
> Apparently, if you compare the reconstruction 
with current temperature 
> records, you get a pretty good fit until about 
1960 or so.  After that 
> point, the reconstructed temperature falls 
off while the temperature 
> record goes up.  The trick to hide the 
decline had to do with splicing 
> the temperature record onto the 
reconstructed temperature record at 1960 
> and smooth the curve, then cut 
it at 1960 in order to make the curve 
> that ends at 1960 appear to be 
curving up instead of down.  There is a 
> good explanation of this 
> http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/11/20/mikes-nature-trick/  In my 
> opinion, that discrepency (50 years over 
at most 160 years don't fit) 
> should have signaled to them that that 
proxy was not a good proxy for 
> temperature.  Instead, they tried 
to make it appear that it fit better 
> than it did, so that they could 
show that the remainder of the 
> reconstruction record before 1850 was 
more valid than it would otherwise 
> appear to be.  Another 
criticism I've seen about this study is that they 
> used a small number 
of trees to get their data points.  Twelve trees, I 
> think.  
That's obviously not enough to get an accurate reconstruction, 
> even if 
tree rings are a good proxy for temperature.
> The Medieval Warm 
Period and the Little Ice Age
> Why did they try so hard to make 
their reconstruction look better than 
> it did?  Because they wanted 
to minimize the "Medieval Warm Period" and 
> the "Little Ice Age".  
This came out in the hacked emails.  Here is an 
> explanation of 
this from a blog post: 
> http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/12/06/american-thinker-understanding-climategates-hidden-decline/  
> The MWP was a period of time 
(about 800 - 1300 AD) during which the 
> temperature of the Earth 
appeared from historical writings to be at 
> least as high as the current 
temperature or even higher.  The LIA was a 
> period of time from 
about 1500 or so to 1850 during which temperatures 
> were low and slowly 
climbing, with minimal temperatures at various 
> points interspersed with 
periods of slight warming.
> There is evidence that both of these 
phenomena were global in scale, 
> although the exact periods of time 
change a bit in different areas of 
> the Earth.  You have the 
Vikings colonizing Greenland and farming there 
> for 400 years, and you 
have various other measurements that coincide 
> with this.  The 
Wikipedia article on MWP has a handful of them: 
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medieval_warm_period  For example, here is 
> a link to a description 
of an article that was published in Nature that 
> describes how the 
Indo-Pacific Warm Pool may have been as warm during 
> the MWP as it is 
today: http://www.physorg.com/news170598165.html
> So why try to minimize the MWP and the 
LIA?  Look at how it frames the 
> debate.  If it was naturally 
warmer one thousand years ago than it is 
> now, and we're recovering from 
a severe cold bout that has lasted 600 
> years, then global warming can 
be seen as a natural correction to the 
> LIA.  Furthermore, life 
during the MWP was prosperous, not some sort of 
> hell on earth that 
killed billions.  It's much more profitable and much 
> more 
ego-building to show that you are trying to save the world from a 
mistake that we as a species has made, since we can presumably do 
something about it.  That's why I am skeptical of these tree ring 
proxies and our ability to state with any confidence exactly what the 
temperatures were like.  
> Conclusions
Well, I was going to write about Climate Model accuracy, Milankovich 
Cycles, the Maunder Minimum, the Earth's history of Ice Ages and a few 
other topics, but this has already turned into a book.  Look them up if 

> you're curious.  
> So, basically, I'm doubtful of 
the following things, to one degree or 
> another:
> Our 
ability to accurately graph global temperature with accuracy over 
extended periods of time and have it mean much.
> The 
"adjustments" made to the three basic datasets that we use for 
> plotting 
> The accuracy of our current temperature 
measurements used in these datasets.
> Our ability to accurately 
reconstruct temperature before 1850 based on 
> various temperature 
> The predictive ability of tree-ring proxies in 
particular and their 
> explanatory ability for past temperatures.

> The removal of the Medieval Warm Period from the temperature record, 
> indeed our general idea of what temperature has been like over the 
> 2000 years.
> Now, on to what I'm not saying.  
I'm not saying that the Earth is not 
> warming.  It seems pretty 
clear that it is warming, or has been since 
> 1850, generally 
speaking.  I'm not saying that carbon dioxide does not 
> have an 
affect on temperature, or that man is not having an affect in 
> other 
ways as well.  I'm not saying that massive amounts of CO2 aren't 
harming our oceans.
> But I am skeptical about the science being 
"settled", and I'm skeptical 
> that we have enough of an understanding of 
the problem to warrant the 
> massive media campaign that is currently 
going on and the massive 
> expenditures that could come out of 
Copenhagen.  There is room for doubt 
> here about a lot of 
things.  Let's do more science.
> In twenty years, when it's 
all been proven and it turns out that the AGW 
> hypotheses were correct, 
will I feel like an idiot for being skeptical 
> of it now?  
No.  In my opinion, the question is still up in the air and 
> I 
won't feel even a little bit chagrined then for doubting some of their 
conclusions now.  How would some of these scientists handle the opposite 

> answer 20 years from now, I wonder?
> Paul

> My apologies for the long post.
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communities of the Palouse since 1994.   


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