Thursday, January 15, 2009

To the Children

It generally happens every winter, but this winter seems to be a little more extreme. Global warming skeptics seem to understand that it's a lot easier to get their misinformation implanted and integrated into the human cranium when there are icicles hanging off its appendages.

Even though global records by NOAA show seven of the eight warmest years on record have occurred since 2001 and that the ten warmest years have all occurred since 1995, we still have "so called journalists" giving the" earth is cooling" meme credibility.

Thanks to Real Climate, here is a good example from a recent Lou Dobbs show on CNN:

"With the axing of the CNN Science News team, most science stories at CNN are now being given to general assignment reporters who don't necessarily have the background to know when they are being taken for a ride.

On the Lou Dobbs show (an evening news program on cable for those of you not in the US), the last few weeks have brought a series of embarrassing non-stories on 'global cooling' based it seems on a few cold snaps this winter, the fact that we are at a solar minimum and a regurgitation of 1970s vintage interpretations of Milankovitch theory (via Pravda of all places!).

Combine that with a few hysterical (in both senses) non-scientists as talking heads and you end up with a repeat of the nonsensical 'Cooling world' media stories that were misleading in the 1970s and are just as misleading now. (clip)

INES FERRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Will the day after tomorrow bring a deep freeze like that shown in the movie? Research more than 50 years ago by astrophysicist Milanchovich (ph) shows that ice ages run in predictable cycles and the earth could go into one.

How soon?

In science terms it could be thousands of years. But what happens in the next decade is still up in the air. Part of the science community believes that global warming is a man-maid threat. But Dennis Avery of the Hudson Institute predicts the next 20 to 30 years will actually bring cooling temperatures.

DENNIS AVERY, HUDSON INSTITUTE: The earth's temperatures have dropped an average of .6 Celsius in the last two years. The Pacific Ocean is telling us, as it has told us 10 times in the past 400 years, you're going to get cooler."

For those unfamiliar with Dennis Avery, he is a rather recent convert to the bandwagon idea of global cooling, having very recently been an advocate of "unstoppable" global warming. As for his great cherry pick (0.6º C in two years - we're doomed!), this appears to simply be made up.

Even putting aside the nonsense of concluding anything from a two year trend, if you take monthly values and start at the peak value at the height of the last El Niño event of January 2007 and do no actual trend analysis, I can find no data set that gives a drop of 0.6ºC. (clip)

In reviewing the rest of the show hosted by Lou Dobbs, the scientist at Real Climate concludes:

"This is not the old 'balance as bias' or 'false balance' story. On the contrary, there was no balance at all! Almost the entire broadcast was given over to policy advocates whose use of erroneous-but-scientific-sounding sound bites is just a cover for their unchangable opinions that nothing should ever be done about anything. This may make for good TV (I wouldn't know), but it certainly isn't journalism. "

In the meantime, coal lobbyist are working overtime in Washington even as Obama's pick for Energy softens his stance before the Senate. And reporters in North America write stories of how interest in global warming is cooling off , and Australian reporters write about Giving Up on Climate Change.

Yet, here in Texas, we just went through one heck of a dry year. San Antonio has had the driest 16 month period on record. And Austin got less than 17 inches of rain in 08 (less than half the average). And remember, even though 08 was the coolest year of the new century, it was still the 10th hottest on record.

As I visited with a Senior VP of a major American Corporation yesterday, we discussed how the politics of climate change has still not made its way into business or into our lives.

We still hope, like those at the Hudson Institute, that indeed maybe all those scientists, all those Academies of Sciences, all those Science organizations are wrong, and that a couple of dozen right wing idealogues are right.

But if we do, if we continue to kick this can down the road,

In 30 years, when the horrible truth becomes the reality,

there won't be much left,

that we can do,

or that we can say,

to the children.

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