By JR on Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Climate scientists have refuted skeptics' arguments against 2014 'warmest year' claim?
Below we actually find a fairly encouraging article. We find some recognition in the media that there are a lot of people who question global warming and who question the "2014 was the hottest year" claim.
The writer is still in the grip of the Warmists, however, and maybe he has to be to keep his job. The key point he misses is how small the temperature differences are that lie behind the Warmist claims. I don't expect a modern-day American journalist to understand statistical significance, or the fraud implied when a scientist ignores it, but the fact that temperature differences over recent years can only be found in hundredths of one degree should be comprehensible. I think most people should see that such differences are infinitesimally small and unlikely to mean anything. That, after all, is what statistical significance tells us in this matter.
So the writer is thrashing about in discussing more minor points and missing the main issue -- that the year to year differences in temperature are too minute to be even worth discussing. We actually live in a time of exceptional temperature stability
On January 16, two U.S. climate observing agencies jointly announced that 2014 was most likely the warmest year on record worldwide, beating previous record years such as 1998, 2005 and 2010. The announcement signaled the death knell of the argument that global warming "stopped" in 1998, which has been a popular rallying cry for climate change contrarians, from blog posts to speeches on the Senate floor.
With such high stakes, climate skeptics have been vigorously pushing back against the data, saying that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA downplayed the uncertainties in their records and misled the public.
Headlines like "2014: The Most Dishonest Year on Record" have been posted on climate skeptic blogs, such as Watts Up With That, and a commentator for the popular British newspaper The Daily Mail all but accused NASA of lying to the press and the public about global temperatures, despite the open discussion of uncertainties both in NASA's press materials and during a press conference with audio that is publicly accessible.
The skeptics have focused mainly on one table in the temperature report issued on Friday, which explains the uncertainties involved in declaring 2014 the warmest year. The table would appear to indicate that 2014 only has a 38% chance of being the warmest year in NASA's data set, which isn't that convincing at first glance, and a 48% likelihood according to NOAA's data. (Each agency uses slightly different methods of calculating global average surface temperatures.)
Here is how the Daily Mail discussed the temperature record in a story published on Sunday. "The Nasa climate scientists who claimed 2014 set a new record for global warmth last night admitted they were only 38% sure this was true." The story portrayed NASA as backing off their claim that 2014 was clearly the warmest year on record according to its data set.
But NASA did no such thing.
NASA and NOAA scientists say they have not changed their tune about 2014, since the data clearly shows that it was most likely the warmest year to date since instrument records began in 1880. Furthermore, they argue that climate skeptics are twisting the meaning of uncertainty ranges and making it seem like there is far less confidence in temperature data than there actually is.
Climate science debates occur every day in the blogosphere and on cable news shows, but this particular fight about a major temperature record (and therefore, major news story) highlights the extent to which many boil down to mere contradiction and rejections of facts, rather than arguments based on competing lines of evidence.
Mashable reached out to Gavin Schmidt, the director of NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS), who helped make Friday's announcement and has been a target of the vigorous pushback from the climate skeptic community. Schmidt is mentioned several times in the Daily Mail story.
Schmidt told Mashable that NASA is not backtracking from its conclusion that 2014 was the warmest year in its records, and that climate skeptics — (some prefer to call them "climate deniers") — misunderstand the characterization of uncertainty that NASA provided on Friday.
Schmidt says there is, of course, some uncertainty in the global temperature data, which NASA has long acknowledged. But even when these uncertainties are considered, the data still shows that 2014 was most likely the warmest year.
"No-one disputes that there are uncertainties in estimating the global mean temperature anomaly — issues of spatial coverage, measurement practice changes over time, movement of stations etc. and we estimate that any one year's value comes with an uncertainty of about plus or minus 0.05 degrees Celsius, or 0.09 degrees Fahrenheit," Schmidt said in an email.
"2014 *is* the warmest year in the GISTEMP, NOAA and Berkeley Earth analyses," he said [But only the warmest by a few hundredths of one degree], referring to different data sets kept by different groups of scientists, including the one kept by his center and known as "GISTEMP."