A Few Things Ill Considered

Some Sites Show Cooling

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:

Some stations, in the US for example, show cooling trends. If there really were global warming, it would be warming everywhere.

Answer:

Global Warming refers to the long term increase in globally and seasonally averaged surface temperatures. It is not the case, nor is it expected, that all regions, let alone all weather stations, on the globe will show the same changes in temperature or rainfall patterns. There are in fact many stations that have shown cooling, and some small regions have also shown modest cooling. This is not a contradiction that invalidates global warming theory, it is merely the result of regional variation and an example of how varied and complex the climate system is. 

The contrarian website, CO2 Science, makes this fallacious argument part of its homepage by featuring a "Station of the Week" that has exhibited trends differing significantly from the global one.  Given the effort and technical content of that website, and the fact that they prominently display this intellectual sleight of hand, I think it is safe to say that they are simply being dishonest.

All of the various global temperature trend analyses agree that the average temperature is showing significant warming.

These analyses agree with the expectations of climate theory, as well as all the other lines of evidence.


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.


“Some Sites Show Cooling” 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 Jaenus
    January 29, 2009

    Here’s where I could use a similar argument you have used before to counter your argument.

    What if I said: It can’t be caused by humans unless you can explain how the regional trends in climate relate to regional trends in human activity. If you can’t show a trend, then you can’t say that it is caused by humans.

    You said often before that if we can’t come up with an explanation for the possible natural cycle, then it must be that humans caused the global warming.

  2. #2 coby
    January 29, 2009

    You are misunderstanding the argument. If we have a reasonable explanation then an appeal to some mysterious “other” cause is not convincing.

    Larger regional variations are explained by current theory, smaller ones are much more chaotic in nature but the theory is about global changes so rejecting it until it explains small regional changes is hardly reasonable.

  3. #3 Jaenus
    January 29, 2009

    I am fine with saying that the human influence in global warming is “reasonable”. I am not fine with saying that there is no possibility of another explanation – even if we don’t know this alternative explanation.

    As far as hypothesis testing is concerned, you can only statistically reject a null hypothesis. The only testable hypothesis is that humans “caused” global warming. Thus, the only possible conclusion of such a test is that we cannot reject that humans caused global warming. I am fine with that. I am not fine with saying that we have “proved” humans “caused” global warming.

  4. #4 Jaenus
    January 29, 2009

    A comment with regards to your point about “weather vs climate”. Even if I don’t really see your point about weather vs climate, my greater claim is that we don’t understand very much about climate. My claim is that we know less than 10% about climate. Do you have a different claim about how much we know about climate? How far would you go?