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Climate Change News & Information 5/28/08

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Climate change has been documented on continental scales, according to a new study published in a recent issue of Nature.

In the study in this week’s journal Nature, Rosenzweig and her colleagues compiled data on about 28,800 plant and animal systems and 829 physical systems, all of which showed documented changes over the past few decades.

The study found that 95% of the observed physical changes, and 90% of the biological changes, are consistent with warming temperatures.

But what would a climate change article be without a ridiculous quote by a denyer in the blind pursuit of a “he-said she-said” story? Never fear, USA Today proudly demonstrates its lack of journalistic integrity:

Michaels says that there has been no warming since 1997 and that a recent study, also published in Nature, found that global warming isn’t likely to get started again for at least another 10 years.

That would be Pat Michaels, who works at the Cato Institute, a right-wing “think-tank”. Cato’s funding is similar to other ideological propaganda outfits like Heartland and Independence: plenty of Big Energy money goes in, climate change opinions come out. Rosenzweig and her colleagues worked on over 29,000 systems to come to their conclusion. What kind of dataset can the Cato folks point to to back up their claim? Good luck finding it. What is the real story on warming trends? See the next piece of information below.

*****

A very well written post at Good Math, Bad Math addresses the real story on global temperature trends. In summary fashion: Denyers can make it look like global warming stopped by using a deliberate mis-sampling of the data. Want something a little more technical? Okay, it all deals with periodic trend sampling. From the post:

That is, take every two-year interval, and compute the difference between the two years. (So, for example, to look at two year trends since 2000, you’d look at (2000-2002, 2001-2003, 2002-2004, 2003-2005, etc.) To look for strong trends in this way, you need to be sure that you’re capturing the right phenomena – because climate is chaotic, if you look at a period of time that’s too short, you can see a lot of noise. So, for example, you might look at every 2 year trend, every 4 year trend, every 6 year trend, every 8 year trend, and every 10 year trend.

With me so far? Guess what Pat Michaels and other denyers do. They look at all those trends, then identify the one variation that “shows” global warming “stopped”. All the other samplings show something different though. But they don’t include those samplings in their discussion because it doesn’t fit their ideological set-up.

As Mark Chu-Carroll (post’s author) points out, what denyers like Pat do is look at the data and try to figure out a way to mold it to fit their preconceived notions, which isn’t what science is all about. Their habitual data manipulation is unethical and undermines any coherent, honest argument against human-forced climate change.

*****

The US Dept. of Agriculture has released a report, “The effects of climate change on agriculture, land resources, water resources, and biodiversity in the United States“.

Here is a short list of overarching conclusions (from the Executive Summary):

1. Climate changes – temperature increases, increasing CO2 levels, and altered patterns of precipitation – are already affecting U.S. water resources, agriculture, land resources, and biodiversity (very likely).

2. Climate change will continue to have significant effects on these resources over the next few decades and beyond (very likely).

3. Many other stresses and disturbances are also affecting these resources (very likely).

4. Climate change impacts on ecosystems will affect the services that ecosystems provide, such as cleaning water and removing carbon from the atmosphere (very likely), but we do not yet possess sufficient understanding to project the timing, magnitude, and consequences
of many of these effects.

5. Existing monitoring systems, while useful for many purposes, are not optimized for detecting the impacts of climate change on ecosystems.

There is plenty more in this paper. Grab a piece or two (sections divided into small pdfs) and read the important results if you can. I’ll bring up important points as I make my way through it.

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One thought on “Climate Change News & Information 5/28/08

  1. An article on the USDA report showed up at the Denver Post:

    http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_9397195

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