Michael Duffy has followed up his radio show that misrepresented the science of global warming with more of the same. He had Bob Carter on this time and Carter trotted out all the favourite falsehoods of the global warming sceptics. Actually, Carter complains about being called a sceptic:
Such persons, and myself as you introduced me, are often termed ‘sceptics’ and that’s meant to be a term of denigration, but I’m a scientist…it’s my job to be a sceptic, Michael, and those who are not sceptical towards human-caused global warming or, indeed, towards any other fashionable environmental concern, are acting in unscientific manner…religious, even.
If “global warming sceptic” has become a term of denigration, it’s because of the way they have conducted themselves, dismissing real science on the flimsiest of grounds. I guess I’ll use the more accurate “global warming denialist” to describe Carter.
Carter offers up the usual misrepresentations of the science: urban heat islands contaminate the surface record (no they don’t), equivocation about the word “consensus”, the “hockey stick” is broken (no), ice cores show that warming precedes increases in C02 (only partly), the IPCC summary does not reflect the body of the report (yes it does).
One particular misrepresentation is particularly troubling. Carter claims:
[the surface record] conflicts with independent estimates or measurements that we have of changing temperature made in the atmosphere by satellites and weather balloons. They show very little net change over the last 30 or 40 years.
But the satellite data shows significant warming over the past 30 years. The only discrepancy is that some analyses find only half as much warming as the surface record, while others show a similar amount of warming. It is wrong to pretend that disagreement somehow proves that there hasn’t been any warming.
I remonstrated with Carter when he made similar claims in a Tech Central Station article last year. Here is what he wrote in reply:
There is no conflict between the two following statements, and I stand by both of them.
“There is indeed a small, statistically significant trend.(in the MSU data as analyzed by e.g. Christy et al., 2003)”
“The (MSU data) show virtually no long-term trend of temperature increase despite the increased carbon dioxide levels over the last 25 years”
The first is a statistical statement. The second is a statement of scientific judgement which takes into account, amongst other factors, the statistical result.
The sort of technical detail in which you are seeking to discuss the MSU data is most usefully conducted in the relevant professional journals. For reasons of length as much as any other, it is in general not possible to go into such details in an editorial piece written for the general public. That accepted, of course it becomes even more important that the writers of such pieces take particular care with their words. That I have tried to do, and I am sorry if it has not been to your satisfaction.
By coincidence, an interesting new article on MSU results has just come out in Nature (attached). It adds some weight to your evident belief that atmospheric temperatures are rising. On the other hand, many will be concerned that it has proved necessary to selectively manipulate the data to achieve the result. Earlier attempts to make such corrections are acknowledged to have failed.
I shall be interested to see what the expert atmospheric scientists make of Qiang’s study, whilst rather doubting that it will prove to be the last word on the subject.
As I said last time, what one makes of the MSU results (i) depends upon the date and authorship of the paper one chooses to trust; (ii) requires that allowance be made for exceptional events such as the 1998 El Nino; and (ii) will be much clearer when we have another 20 years of data.
So Carter is well aware that the satellite data shows warming but did not mention this on the radio show.
John Quiggin has more on the Duffy and Carter show.