[Update: I am closing this thread as it is now over 500 comments long. However, because the discussion is still ongoing it will continue on this post. There is also the possibility of Chris S coming back with his own analysis of Richard's data.
This is a quick summary of what we can conclude thus far.
Richard thinks he is a sceptic. I am sorry to say that he is not. A sceptic considers all available material and evaluates evidence objectively. We know Richard does not do this because he has several times cited material that he admits himself he has not read. A sceptic will consider all relevant lines of evidence with equal rigour. Richard does not do this as evidenced by his dismissal of current global warming because of an alledged dearth of long temperature records from tropical weather stations simultaneous with his confident statement that it "seems the temp run up to the MWP was just as rapid as this one is", an unsupported, and unsupportable, statement. A sceptic will not engage in evasion, obfuscation and shifting of claims, they are able to focus and think critically and rationally.
Original post follows]
I spent some time in the comment threads over at ClimateEtc trying to defend the use of the term “denier”. I confess that I use it too often and too quickly but I’ll be damned if it is not simply the most accurate word sometimes. That was the point I made and it didn’t go over too badly. Anyway, that is not my topic here.
One fellow challenged me to give a serious look at the arguments on this page so I did and thought I could expand on my answer to him here. I only watched the first video of two there and this is more or less what I answered over there.
If I may summarize for interested readers who do not want to follow the link and spend the 6 minutes required: the author of the page is using temperature data from a station(s?) in southern ontario to show primarily two things: one is that summer temperatures are not increasing, only winter temperatures are increasing therefore it is not in fact getting warmer it is only getting less cold (there is no argument that the seasonally averaged trend is rising); two is that the slight averaged rise is extremely small compared to the daily and seasonal temperature fluctuations. It is very nicely done, clearly presented graphics that support the argument well. I dislike the outraged tone and unecessary insinuation that this is something being delibrately hidden and that the usual CRU and GISS global trend graphs are a deception.
But despite being well supported, the first argument itself is flawed in at least two fundamental ways. Firstly, the whole thing is an analysis of southern ontario versus the GISS global temperature analysis. This is simply inappropriate, drawing a global conclusion from a single small part of the globe. Secondly, it is not a convincing point that just because it is only “less cold” (also known as warmer, no?) in the winter and not warmer in the summer that therefore it is unfair to say the climate overall is warming. Everyone involved in global temperature analyses defines what they mean when presenting average temperatures, and that is typically defined as globally and seasonally averaged temperatures. It is not unknown, or known but covered up or ignored that seasons may respond differently. I don’t know if the page’s author is actually correct in this particular summer/winter claim, it certainly seems plausible. But regardless, an average is an average, this is simple statistics, not a trick.
I do know that that aside from seasons, another observational feature is that nightime and daytime anomalies are different, nightime is warming faster. This is actually strong evidence that it is in fact an enhanced GHE we are looking at and evidence that it is not solar forcing. These are interesting details, but they do not in anyway make the average temperature trend deceptive or inconsequential.
The second argument is what’s known as an arguement from incredulity. The trend looks so small, 0.8oC over 100 years, when the temperatures flucuate 10’s of degrees in a single 24 hr period, more than
100 degrees C 70 degrees C summer to winter in some places. But that does not mean one’s incredulous intuition is right! Any scientist involved in the study of ecosystems will tell you how incredibly sensitive some organisms can be to tiny changes in their environment, it is the opposite of inconceivable that the entire biosphere will be similarily vulnerable. But for me the strongest evidence that small flucuations can have tremendous impact comes from the ice core and sediment records of the glacial/interglacial cycles. Here we can see that the difference between the climate the globe has today and one where kilometre thick ice sheets extended well into the continental US is a mere 5oC in the global average temperature! 5 degrees, heck a good Chinook wind could make the temperature go up 4 times that between the time I left for school as a boy in Alberta and the time I got home. But when you are talking about climate, and not weather, 5oC is, apparently, huge.
If jrwakefield comes over here, please everyone try to be nice!