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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Worth A Thousand Words?

Or so they say of a picture.

Knowing some of our regulars here take a very skeptical stance towards global warming, AKA climate change, I can only give them the latest Weapon of Mass Diffusion, a xkcd infographic (it is just too big to embed it here).

Graphic communication is sure effective. But is it convincing enough? You tell me.


19 comments:

Bret said...

I'm not convinced.

I've seen a LOT of graphs similar to that one and they didn't convince me either.

And to be specific, I virtually certain that the world is indeed warming, I just don't believe it to be a problem. After all, I didn't move to San Diego from much farther north because I hate warmth.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

---
And to be specific, I virtually certain that the world is indeed warming,
---

Oh, so you are absolutely convinced, as far as it matters.

Bret said...

And to be more specific, I believe the details of the infographic are misleading at best and probably just plain bogus. For example, the actual temperature records shows the vast majority of warming to date occurring by 1998, with only a small increment of warming after that, whereas the infographic has the majority of warming after 1998. In other words, warming flattened significantly during the last couple of decades whereas the infographic shows it accelerating.

Clovis e Adri said...

And the prize goes to... Bret!

I was waiting for someone to notice.

I suspect he, upon drawing his "real data curve" (1860 onwards), mistook predictions for the actual data.

If you look at the references he used, the only one with post-1990 data was IPCC HadCRUT4, and the line there is definitely not the one he drew.

But how many people will check that?

Bret said...

I see. You were trying to rile us skeptics up out of our general apathy. And you succeeded, at least with me. Congrats! :-)

I've seen a lot of misleading infographics on climate. This definitely was NOT the worst. In the popular and social media, things are at least as much about the narrative as they are about actual information, and this infographic is pretty near the sweet spot of the catastrophic climate change narrative. Nobody really cares that it's not particularly accurate.

Hey Skipper said...

I'm unconvinced for many reasons, but here are two:

The assertion that climate changes in Europe were regional. This is known how?

Also, I happened to get a fair distance into Decline and Fall of the Roman empire. (Available from the Gutenberg Project at no cost.)

Search volume for the word "ice".

You will find a two page discussion of wild changes in European climate, based on contemporary primary sources. Were are they in the climate record?

Clovis e Adri said...

Skipper,

They surely have records of that 'little ice age', and speculation that it weakened the Empire is rife.

I've found a more complete discussion of weather throughout much of the Roman period here.

I could use some little ice age these days too.

Hey Skipper said...

Clovis -- thanks for that second link; it was quite interesting.

Among other things, it highlights the fact that climate changed within the same time periods for which AGW is now getting the blame, but without any attribution (except for volcanoes in some cases).

Out of curiosity, what is your take on AGW?

Clovis e Adri said...

Skipper,

I am far from having a closed opinion on the subject, neither I spent time enough reviewing its many different aspects.

But in short, I think that most probably our present warming is human induced, though I don't buy any of the late time models and view the subject as representative of the perils of our decaying standards in science (and science communication).

Hey Skipper said...

But in short, I think that most probably our present warming is human induced ...

It seems obvious enough that adding CO2 to the atmosphere, ceteris paribus, will make things somewhat warmer. IIRC, if the feedback value for CO2 is 1, a doubling of CO2 will cause 2ºC warming. Noticeable, but not serious, and scarcely anything to upend our economy over.

I'm thinking of inventing a game: Denialist v. Alarmist. The rules go something like this. Pick any AGW prediction that is supposed to come to fruition by 2020 (arbitrary, but I figure it far enough out to expand the paltry entry list, and close enough to judge).

Then compare what actually happened against that mythical beast, the climate change denier, or the AGW prediction. If the outcome is closer to no change at all than to predicted, then that round goes to the Deniers; if the other way, for the Alarmists.

Round 1: James Hansen's sea level prediction.

While doing research 12 or 13 years ago, I met Jim Hansen, the scientist who in 1988 predicted the greenhouse effect before Congress. I went over to the window with him and looked out on Broadway in New York City and said, “If what you’re saying about the greenhouse effect is true, is anything going to look different down there in 20 years?” He looked for a while and was quiet and didn’t say anything for a couple seconds. Then he said, “Well, there will be more traffic.” I, of course, didn’t think he heard the question right. Then he explained, “The West Side Highway [which runs along the Hudson River] will be under water. And there will be tape across the windows across the street because of high winds. And the same birds won’t be there. The trees in the median strip will change.” Then he said, “There will be more police cars.” Why? “Well, you know what happens to crime when the heat goes up.”

If memory serves, at its lowest, the West Side Highway is 9' above mean tide.

Over the last 160 years, the Hudson River has risen linearly at 11" per century. Since Hansen made his prediction, the river has risen, but not 9', or 5', or even 1', but rather 2.5".

The same birds are there, and crime has gone down.

Score one for the Denialists.

Above I mentioned extending the suspense date so as to widen the field of predictions. That's because there are so darn few testable predictions in the first place. I don't think I've seen a prediction that should have come true by now, and was true.

Do you know of any?

Hey Skipper said...

Now on to my next beef: Propaganda.

A breathless NYT "science" article assures us:

For decades, as the global warming created by human emissions caused land ice to melt and ocean water to expand, scientists warned that the accelerating rise of the sea would eventually imperil the United States’ coastline.

Now, those warnings are no longer theoretical: The inundation of the coast has begun. The sea has crept up to the point that a high tide and a brisk wind are all it takes to send water pouring into streets and homes.


All of which is true, by the way.

But. The article references a sea level rise plan for the area. In that plan is a tide level chart (fig 2.8) that shows a linear sea level rise of 1 foot over the last 100 years.

One of two things must be true. Either what ever was causing sea level before AGW has dovetailed perfectly with AGW, or AGW is not yet a significant contributor.

Don't look to the NYT for an answer.

erp said...

What about the ice age predicted by scientists in the 1970's?

As for the question above. It's more likely that the fact of it was used to launch the AGW myth rather than it coincidentlty dovetailed with it.

Clovis e Adri said...

Skipper,

---
It seems obvious enough that adding CO2 to the atmosphere, ceteris paribus, will make things somewhat warmer. IIRC, if the feedback value for CO2 is 1, a doubling of CO2 will cause 2ºC warming. Noticeable, but not serious, and scarcely anything to upend our economy over.
---
The feedback value is actually a long list of "if"s. It not only depends on many unknown things, but it may depend differently on those many things at different values and concentrations of CO2, as well as temperatures.

Therein lies the problem - both for 'alarmists' and 'denialists' who often give statements they can not really back up.


---
I don't think I've seen a prediction that should have come true by now, and was true.
Do you know of any?
---

The first time I've paid real attention to GW was by 2004. Back then, you could take a look at temperature predictions of their models given in the begin of the 90s and compare with data up to 2004, and they were good enough. Just picture yourself looking at these graphs in 2004.

Suppose 20 years from now the Hudson river is on a roll, flooding the West Side Highway for a whole year. Will Mr. Hansen be vindicated? Per your game, maybe.

But then 20 years more will pass and maybe the same birds will be back, West Side Highway may be dry and running, and crime will keep lower and lower because the robots won't be assaulting anyone - then what?

As I said, I don't buy any late time models yet, and so the predictions you look for.

Bret said...

The cataclysmic predictions had to be made to get people's attention. If Hansen, et al just said,

"Oh. By century's end the average global surface temperature will be 2 to 3 degrees hotter than it is now,"

the response of nearly everybody would've been,
"Yeah, so?"

"And, by the way, in your lifetime it's already 1/2 a degree hotter."

"Oh, I didn't even notice."

To get people's attention they had to say things like "Hurricanes! Floods! Etc.!" or nobody would possibly care. They did their little fibs in the service of the "Great Cause." But they've played those cards and so nobody really cares now. Note that it's nearly a non-issue in this presidential campaign. Compare that to 8 years ago when Obama was gonna heal the world.

Bret said...

OMG! Climate Change will adversely impact coffee production!!!!!!

WE'RE DOOMED, I TELL YA!

DOOOOOOOOOOOOMED!!!

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

You mean, *you* are doomed.

I will buy a coffee farm down here and everything single seed it produces is mine, only MIIIINE!!!!

Uh, well, I guess I can give you a cup of coffee. Now and then. For, let us say, $1000 per gram... I can't wait for this global warming thing to get real!

Hey Skipper said...

[Clovis:] The feedback value is actually a long list of "if"s. It not only depends on many unknown things, but it may depend differently on those many things at different values and concentrations of CO2, as well as temperature

Therein lies the problem - both for 'alarmists' and 'denialists' who often give statements they can not really back up.


I agree, but the problem isn't symmetric. After all, it could have been that climate scientists didn't know enough, and due to that lack of knowledge, underestimated the amount of warming. But exactly the opposite has happened -- even with the latest El Niño -- global temperatures are undershooting all the models, no matter the time span.

For periods of time longer than about 20 years, the observed trends from all data sources fall beneath the lower bound which contains 95 percent of all model trends and in the majority of cases, falls beneath even the absolute smallest trend found in any of the 102 climate model runs.

That is a much different kind of wrong than if the opposite was the case.

Suppose 20 years from now the Hudson river is on a roll, flooding the West Side Highway for a whole year. Will Mr. Hansen be vindicated? Per your game, maybe.

Yes, of course he would. But given that Hudson River level change has been linear for as long as there have been records, and is something like two orders of magnitude less than Hansen predicted, then on what basis should I expect his vindication in 20 more years?

Perhaps if I could find correct predictions that should have come true, or at least substantially true, by now then it would make sense to consider Hansen differently.

But so far as I can determine with my google-fu and the time I've spent, there aren't ANY. Arctic ice, global ice balance, hurricane frequency, climate refugees, sea level, you name it -- the few that there are, are all wrong.

Which is why doom predictions are 50 to 100 years out. It hides the apparent fact that climate scientists have no idea what is going on in the next 10 -20 years, yet somehow they are geniuses at the end of the century.

(And it also explains why celebrity doomists, such as, say Pres. Obama, buy beach front property without a hint of irony.)

Hey Skipper said...

Clovis, you probably aren't old enough to remember the Club of Rome and its product, The Limits to Growth.

I am -- it got shoved down my throat in college. It had every bit of the mantra that today's climate catastrophism does, but it made a very critical error: concrete, near term predictions.

Which proved so epically, hysterically wrong in their total wrongness as to render even Harry envious. Yet despite that, there are people who insist it is right, but just not yet.

erp said...

Speaking about Obama's beachfront properties, I'd be willing to bet there's a choice Cuban beachfront property and probably mountain top property as well ready and waiting for his pleasure as we speak and I wouldn't rule out that a lot of celebrity Cuban enthusiasts have their little bits of paradise ready for them as well.