A Few Things Ill Considered

It’s cold today in Wagga Wagga

This is just one of dozens of responses to common climate change denial arguments, which can all be found at How to Talk to a Climate Sceptic.


Objection:

It was way colder than normal today in Wagga Wagga, this is proof that there is no Global Warming.

Answer:

Does this even deserve an answer? If we must…

The chaotic nature of weather means that no conclusion about climate can ever be drawn from a single data point, hot or cold. The temperature of one place at one time is just weather, and says nothing about climate, much less climate change, much less again global climate change.


This is just one of dozens of responses to common climate change denial arguments, which can all be found at How to Talk to a Climate Sceptic.


“Its cold today in Wagga Wagga” was first published here, where you can still find the original comment thread. This updated version is also posted on the Grist website, where additional comments can be found, though the author, Coby Beck, does not monitor or respond there.

Comments

  1. #1 Sarah
    September 8, 2008

    In other words, Global Warming proponents citing places on Earth experiencing historical high temperatures should not be doing it to support their Global Warming case?

    Side note: I noticed that almost everything in the skeptic guide can be used against Global Warming believers as well as skeptics.

  2. #2 Sophismata
    September 8, 2008

    I dont think “examples” are used to “support their GW case”. Perhaps in low-level, popular science shows. But in general the CW case is made with global temperature means.

  3. #3 Zig
    December 28, 2008

    The first comment by Sarah is so absurd. When people talk about record temperatures, they are averaging at least a whole year, not a single day. I think Sarah should have payed more attention in school, if she went to any.

  4. #4 paul
    December 29, 2008

    Excuse me Zig, what kind of a comment is that? Flat-out insulting people like that is not really the way, on this site or anywhere. Especially not so carelessly that in a phrase in which you suggest, without any evidence at all, that Sarah might not have gone to school, you write payed instead of paid.

    Maybe we can stick to the point. The comment is not absurd. If the evil, grandchild-hating deniers can’t quote record or unusual lows, then surely it stands to reason that AGW proponents can’t quote statistically similar record highs either. Do you disagree with this?

    Further, Sarah didn’t say daily temperatures, she said historical high temperatures – you just assumed she was referring to a period shorter than a day. Rather than ask to clarify, you just went ahead and insulted her.

    You say: “When people talk about record temperatures, they are averaging at least a whole year, not a single day.”

    What exactly do you even mean? When “people” talk about record temperatures, all you can say about such people is that they are, erm, talking about record temperatures. It is up to them whether they discuss periods of one day, one month or a thousand years. If you meant a specific subset of these discussions that would make sense of your comment as a whole, maybe you should have been more precise and pointed this out, rather than spend your time levelling baseless insults.

    And anyway, choosing the correct period of time over which to average is a non-trivial question.

    http://scienceblogs.com/illconsidered/2008/09/signal_vs_noise.php

    You may have information which which I don’t in order to understand this process so much more than I do. Please enlighten me, I’m all ears.

    But it’s not that simple though is it. For example, record temperatures for a day are not just obviously irrelevant. Whilst one isolated incident is likely insignificant, a large cluster of independent daily records (high or low) can most certainly be significant. So you cannot just rule out all daily temperatures in one wave of the hand. Is that what you meant, or did I misunderstand?

  5. #5 rich
    January 1, 2009

    I think what is missing in this article is that the issue isn’t about local historical highs or lows but that the issue is the difference between climate and weather.

    Being cold in Wagga Wagga (or historically hot) is an example of localized weather and is not an indicator or predictor of global climate.

    To be honest, the entire “How to Talk to a Climate Sceptic” could be simplified to two words, “You Don’t”. I’ve found that single and narrow minded individuals, who purposely choose to make up their minds without looking at any of the evidence or data, are impossible to be convince from their own delusions.

    60% of Americans believe that the Earth is 6,000 years old. If we cannot even convince them of the age of the planet then how will we get them to believe that the climate is changing.

  6. #6 paul
    January 1, 2009

    Rich, I find your second paragraph absolutely remarkable. You state directly that discussion on this topic is beneath you and then accuse those who disagree with you as being “narrow minded individuals”.

    I don’t disagree with this in principle. I’m not one of those who thinks the earth is 6000 years old – but, in that domain, you may be aware that Dawkins and Gould agreed, despite their differences, that they would never debate the creationists. This is something I agree with – there are debates to be had within the field of evolutionary biology, but not between this field and creationists.

    Are you suggesting that the climate change issue is as settled as that? Without even getting into specific climate issues, there two meta-reasons why it is not. Consensus and falsifiability.

    Climate change is an untested theory – I’ve been into this on this site, and there is no way of avoiding it, it does not make (and has not made) any falsifiable predictions.

    http://scienceblogs.com/illconsidered/2008/09/arctic-sea-ice-recovered-in-2008.php#comment-1205648

    http://scienceblogs.com/illconsidered/2006/04/hansen-has-been-wrong-before.php#comment-1271134

    And the notion of consensus is, to put it mildly, simply not true. Have you seen this?

    http://scienceblogs.com/illconsidered/2006/02/there-is-no-consensus.php#comment-1256141

    We can argue exactly how many scientists are involved, and what their qualifications are of course. And you can disagree with these people sure. But you are not saying this at all. You are saying that this untested theory is beyond discussion with these often distinguished scientists who disagree with your view.

    If you can outline why you think your view is valid, I’m all ears. You have obviously made a thorough review of the science to come to your firm conclusion, so what is the evidence that made you think this issue is in fact beyond debate?

    And you say that “the issue is the difference between climate and weather”. I’ve heard this imprecise kind of reasoning on this site a number of times. We can begin to evaluate whether this is a sensible point of view if you provide a definition for these two. Would you mind providing one please so I can try to independently arrive at the same conclusion as you?

    Or maybe you think I’m just pushing my “own delusions”, in which case you’ll ignore me. I’ll let those reading decide who in fact then is being “narrow minded” and “ignoring evidence”.

  7. #7 Mrs. W
    January 3, 2009

    Pardon me for committing a fallacy of overgeneralization, but I observed this and wondered. My husband mentioned, when everyone was discussing the unusual amount of snow in the area and it’s impact on the theory of global warming, that ocean currents have a lot to do with local weather patterns. I decided to look at a ocean current map to see what I could learn. http://www.coconutstudio.com/Coconut%20Origins_files/curentts_winds_marine_bio.jpg

    We live in Seattle, and you can see what kinds of currents come to our area. Cool currents, bringing increased precipitation from the melting Arctic polar caps. That would explain our unusual amounts of snow. Now, look at the US east coast, which has been complaining of record breaking heat waves. Their oceans are fed by a warmer current coming from the equator.

    I’m not sure if this has anything to do with the climate change theory, of if this is simply a yearly instance. Just thought it was an interesting observation.

  8. #8 Richard
    March 2, 2009

    Paul, climate is weather averaged over time. 30 seconds with Google confirms this.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate (See first sentence)

    http://www.cpc.noaa.gov/products/outreach/glossary.shtml#C

    http://www.weatherwizkids.com/climate.htm

  9. #9 William Pinn
    April 15, 2009

    Talk about a double standard! When the North Pole loses some ice, you don’t declare it is only a single data point, but rather you blame global warming. This is just one more reason to be skeptical. If you want to convince me “it is global warming” that causes the polar bears to flee, then you better be consistent and blame global cooling for the unusually cold weather in Wagga Wagga. Or admit they are both single data points.

  10. #10 coby
    April 16, 2009

    William, if you can not see the distinction between a single cold snap in one region and a dramatic and pervasive 30 trend over the entire north of 60o region then you are uneducatable on this subject.

  11. #11 Betula
    April 16, 2009

    I believe the word is “ineducable”

  12. #12 coby
    April 16, 2009

    Thanks, that’s the word I wanted!

  13. #13 Alan
    February 19, 2010

    Wagga Wagga like most of SE Australia has been suffering severe drought for almost 10yrs, the worst on record. The last 2 weeks they have had 200mm above average rainfall. There are plenty of farms for sale if any “skeptics” want a bargain.

  14. #14 crakar
    February 21, 2010

    Just so i am clear here Al, drought is caused by AGW, above average rain that breaks the drought is caused by AGW, is that right?

    By the way i am holding holding off for the booga booga to crash the coastal property market, although i am sure the bankers and politicians will beat me to it.

  15. #15 Brunnen
    March 9, 2010

    “Wagga Wagga like most of SE Australia has been suffering severe drought for almost 10yrs, the worst on record. The last 2 weeks they have had 200mm above average rainfall. There are plenty of farms for sale if any “skeptics” want a bargain.”

    Too bad it’ll take another 20 years for the issue to be considered a change in climate. Right now it’s just some weather and nothing to be concerned about.

    Oh no, wait, that only applies to trends that don’t support the AGW case…

  16. #16 mandas
    July 8, 2010

    Apparently its quite hot on the eastern seaboard of the USA at the moment – which is to be expected given it is summer and all.

    I thought it would be interesting to go back and read what the deniersphere was saying in January. Here’s one interesting thread and post from our favourite regional tv weatherman

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/01/06/the-frigid-hit-parade-over-1200-new-cold-and-snow-records-set-in-the-last-week-in-the-usa-more-in-progress/

    Wonder what if he has anything to say about the weather at the moment? I will stand by for further developments.

  17. #17 skip
    July 8, 2010

    I had the exact same thought the last few days but I think its imprudent to even go there tongue-in-cheek. Deniers (fairly, in my view) smell heads-I-win-tails-you-lose bullshit when it comes to extremes of weather as “evidence”, so don’t give them any ammo.

  18. #18 crakar24
    September 29, 2010

    http://www.weatherzone.com.au/news/adelaides-coldest-winter-in-13-years/14877

    I had a few words with “you know who” about this some time ago. I will leave it here for him to read when he gets back.

    I can here it now, but, but, but, you are still wrong crakar!!!!!

  19. #19 skip
    September 29, 2010

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/28/us/28brfs-001.html

    Weather.

    What non starter it is.

  20. #20 crakar24
    September 29, 2010

    According to my math 113F is about 45C, thats what we in Adelaide call a cool change.

  21. #21 skip
    September 29, 2010

    Before I retire for the evening . . .

    the point?

  22. #22 adelady
    September 29, 2010

    Coldest winter in 13 years. Thanks a lot. Even my youngest was in high school by then.

    I want a real winter, like when I was a kid in high school 50 years ago.

  23. #23 crakar24
    September 30, 2010

    High school 50 years ago hmmm means your are about…..they say you should never ask a lady her age so i will stop here. :-)))

    Here is some more meaningless info to follow my post 18, Adelaide for Sept was the coldest in 18 years, it was also the wettest for either Adelaide or SA (cant remember)since 1975 and for the entire nation it was the wettest Sept on record.

  24. #24 adelady
    October 1, 2010

    You don’t have to ask, I’m very happy to be over 60. There are some things about growing up when I did that might have been better. (Pre 1975 womanhood had many drawbacks.)

    But by and large I reckon I’ve had an easier time of it than any eventual grandchildren will do.

  25. #25 crakar24
    October 17, 2010

    You know i reckon it is cold in Wagga Wagga today

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/10/16/3040181.htm

  26. #26 Chris S.
    December 6, 2010

    Keeping a close eye on this: http://www.bom.gov.au/products/IDR644.loop.shtml

    What do you reckon Aussie peeps – the weather gonna come to your rescue?

  27. #27 mandas
    January 14, 2011

    Hi crakar

    Yes, it appears that it was quite cold in Wagga Wagga on some days this spring. But it now appears to be a fairly typical summers’ day – 35 degrees.

    And unfortunately, it would appear that coby’s title to this thread – ‘It’s Cold Today in Wagga Wagga’ – is going to occur less and less frequently as AGW takes effect. Especially as Tmax is rising and there are an increasing number of hot days each year occurring in Wagga Wagga.

  28. #29 crakar24
    February 9, 2011

    I thought AGW meant Australia would get more droughts….well thats what all the experts told me.

  29. #30 mandas
    February 9, 2011

    And they were right.

  30. #31 skip
    February 9, 2011

    Eh, I don’t know.

    What are the Southern Australian DroughtMax numbers since 1900?

  31. #32 adelady
    February 10, 2011

    crakar, what is this thing about droughts and floods?

    I have no trouble believing in other aspects of life that anything that can do wrong, will go wrong, and at the worst possible time, namely making other things that are already going wrong worse rather than better.

    What’s so difficult about the notion of all events becoming more extreme? More and worse droughts _and_ more and worse floods.

  32. #33 Wow
    February 10, 2011

    “I thought AGW meant Australia would get more droughts.”

    And it’s been getting them.

    Do you never remember the news for more than half an hour?

  33. #34 Wow
    February 10, 2011

    “In other words, Global Warming proponents citing places on Earth experiencing historical high temperatures should not be doing it to support their Global Warming case?”

    Yes. Just as well for their case they haven’t done this and that their case doesn’t rely on this anyway.

    Now, please also tell the economics alarmists that cold weather should not be used to support their anti-science terrorism case.

  34. #35 Wow
    February 10, 2011

    “Too bad it’ll take another 20 years for the issue to be considered a change in climate. Right now it’s just some weather and nothing to be concerned about.”

    Oh, no, that’s the case for the last 150 years! So I guess that paul, sally and ickle ole cracker-ass will not wait for another 20 years to be proven wrong yet again…

    Nah, deny, deny, deny is all they know and all they want to know.

  35. #36 mandas
    February 18, 2011

    “…..Wouldn’t it be nice to be in a profession even if you are wrong over 60% of the time you still get paid…..”

    Yeah – you could be a Fox news commentator.

    “….What does it mean when there is a 30% chance of rain and it rains?….”

    Which part of the sentence don’t you understand? It means there was a 30% chance of it raining – and it rained. A bit like a die. There is a 16% chance of a 6 being rolled. And 16% of the time that is what happens. Perhaps you can explain your confusion better.

    “….I wish I could do that on the stock market…..”

    You can. And 70% of the time you will lose your money.

    “….Being able to predict what the weather will do beyond an hour seems near impossible for our forecasters to nail down….”

    Oh really? Yesterday they predicted that today’s weather in Adelaide would be mid twenties with occasional showers. And guess what?

    “….How in the world can they possibly predict global warming….”

    So you don’t know the difference between weather and climate then? Guess you must be one of those deniers that looks out the window, sees snow, and proclaims that global warming is all a lie.

    “….By the way, did any of you check out the freezing temperatures that slammed the United States?….”

    So you ARE one of those deniers that looks out the window and sees snow etc. By the way, did you know that it gets cold in the United States in winter? And by the way, did you check out the record high temperatures and record heat wave in Sydney this summer? I guess that’s why they call it GLOBAL warming – and the inconsequential 2% of the world’s surface that we call the United States is only a very small part of the whole picture.

    But do go on – please.

  36. #37 Chris S.
    June 7, 2011

    Linkspam above: #37

    In before the Wow!

  37. #38 coby
    June 7, 2011

    Chris, that’s probably only because I just today asked him to give me a chance to get it first! Now, we are left to look at your comment instead of his, and wonder what the heck are you talking about! ;-)

  38. #39 Wow
    June 8, 2011

    I’m hoping one day one of the linkspammers will answer why they do it.

    It’s not like having a stream of turkish will get people to click on the name to see what the post is on about. Neither are the “This site is really great” linkspam. Still no reason why someone would click on the name. And the “You need a loan to pay for global warming” links are at least honest about it: they’re saying they want you to look at some business. But still no reason to click.

  39. #40 Chris S.
    June 8, 2011

    coby sez: “Now, we are left to look at your comment … and wonder what the heck are you talking about! ;-)”

    Wouldn’t be the first time…

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