Global Warming Continues
Dec10

Global Warming Continues

With apologies to Michael Mann, here’s a video that shows that global warming skeptics both, a) have a sense of humor, and, b) have a fair amount of time on their hands. On the serious side, though, the “decline” that is the heart of this cute little ditty and video isn’t all the skeptics are cracking it up to be. No one denies that global temperatures, measured by a variety of methods, have declined slightly over the past decade. That said, 1998 was the warmest year in recorded history. So the decline, which climate scientists attribute to a number of factors, is from a very high starting point. And every year since 1998, while slightly cooler than that benchmark year, has been one of the warmest years in history. In fact, according to the World Meteorological Organization, the decade from 2000 to 2009 is the warmest in the modern record, and 2009 “is likely to rank in the top 10 warmest on record.” According to WMO, “This year [2009] above-normal temperatures were recorded in most parts of the continents. Only North America (U.S. and Canada) experienced conditions that were cooler than average. Given the current figures, large parts of southern Asia and central Africa are likely to have the warmest year on record.” WMO also states that, “The decade of the 2000s (2000-2009) was warmer than the decade spanning the 1990s (1990-1999), which in turn was warmer than the 1980s (1980-1989). Does anyone sense a trend...

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Climate Change & Climategate
Dec10

Climate Change & Climategate

More than 30,000 people are gathered in Copenhagen to discuss, negotiate, and act on global warming. A treaty to control the emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide is not likely to come out of this UN meeting, but progress toward such a treaty is. The amount of money developed nations should contribute to developing nations to help them adapt to the global warming that is already inevitable is another major topic being discussed. C&ENtral Science is carrying blog postings from Senior Correspondent Cheryl Hogue, ES&T Editor-in-chief Jerald Schnoor, and others attending the Copenhagen meeting. Meanwhile, climate change skeptics and deniers are all atwitter about thousands of purloined e-mails and other documents from a computer at the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit (CRU). They have culled through the e-mails, some of them nearly two decades old, and found what they have proclaimed to be paydirt: clear examples in their collective mind of climate change researchers cooking data, suppressing contrary research, and sullying the peer-review process. They’re calling it “climategate,” of course. (The e-mails are posted at a number of sites. One of the most convenient to use is http://www.eastangliaemails.com.) The vast majority of the e-mails are innocuous and/or banal. They are shop talk among climate scientists around the world. Like most shop talk, it is unguarded and sometimes less than sophisticated. A few e-mails mention data manipulation that is being interpreted by the skeptics as nefarious but which appears to be no more than trying to correlate disparate data sets collected by a number of different methods. A couple of e-mails discuss whether editors of two journals are using the peer review process appropriately. Some of the e-mails are disappointing, to say the least. In at least one of the e-mails, Phil Jones, director of CRU, asks Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University, to delete e-mails, apparently to prevent them from being discovered by a freedom of information request. Jones clearly acted improperly in this instance; he has temporarily stepped down from his position at CRU while an investigation is being conducted. In another one of the e-mails that skeptics have seized on, Jones writes to Mann, “The other paper by MM is just garbage—as you knew. De Freitas again. Pielke is also losing all credibility as well by replying to the mad Finn as well—frequently as I see it. “I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow—even if we have to redefine what the peer review literature is!” What to make of this? You can see that the tone...

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