[extropy-chat] CLIMATE: Worlds First Global Thermometer

Mike Lorrey mlorrey at yahoo.com
Fri May 20 22:15:49 UTC 2005


World's First Global Thermometer 
Friday, May 20, 2005
By Steven Milloy
As the Northern Hemisphere enters the summer season and natural global
warming occurs, it’s a good time to consider the concept of global
temperature — perhaps the most talked about, but least understood,
component of the global warming controversy.

Since 1988 when National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
researcher James Hansen launched global warming alarmism with his
congressional testimony that manmade emissions of greenhouse gases were
warming the Earth’s atmosphere, global warming has been a hot topic.
The controversy only heightened with the advent of the so-called
“hockey stick” graph that purports to show a dramatic rise in global
temperature during the 20th century.

At JunkScience.com, we’re trying to shed light on the problem of
relying on global temperature as an indicator of global warming by
developing and displaying the world’s first (almost) real-time global
thermometer. http://www.junkscience.com/

We gather temperature readings from about 1,000 surface-based
temperature stations around the globe, calculating an average
temperature, which we call the “global mean temperature” (GMT).

We use “raw” temperature data that isn’t statistically massaged to
account for seasonal variation or for the urban heat island effect —
the phenomenon caused by the heat-retaining properties of concrete and
asphalt in urban areas that is known to artificially increase local
temperatures. We display the current GMT and maintain old GMTs to track
weekly, monthly and, eventually, annual trends.

>From what we can tell, our data track pretty well with the temperature
estimates published by other climate researchers, which are available
only weeks to months after the data are collected. 

At the time of this column, the GMT — according to our calculations —
is roughly 62 degrees Fahrenheit. So what does that mean exactly?

We’re not really sure. First, global temperature is a contrived
concept. There is no magical point in the Earth’s atmosphere to place a
thermometer and take the planet’s temperature. Moreover, if you live in
a polar or tropical region (or almost anywhere for that matter), a GMT
of 62 degrees F is patently meaningless — what matters is what’s going
on outside where you are.

Our GMT is based on surface records. But if you look at a map of
weather stations around the globe, you’ll readily see the built-in bias
of temperature readings from surface-based weather stations.

The overwhelming majority of surface-based weather stations are
land-based — relatively few temperature readings come from ocean-based
facilities, resulting in a major upward bias in available temperature
data since about 75 percent of the Earth’s surface is water.

An additional bias arises from the fact that there is more land mass
and, therefore, more surface temperature stations in the Northern
Hemisphere than in the Southern Hemisphere.

There’s an even further bias introduced by the tendency of land-based
weather stations to be located in more heavily populated areas, which
are subject to the urban heat island effect. Relatively speaking, not
many temperature readings come from the wilds of northern and central
Asia or eastern Africa, for example.

There are alternatives to the JunkScience.com-calculated GMT — none,
however, are available in real-time.

The National Climactic Data Center collects temperature data from about
3,000 surface-based weather stations. But researchers often try to
statistically adjust these data to account for the urban heat island
effect, which produces results that are more statistical mysteries than
true averages of global surface temperature readings.

Other researchers calculate GMTs from data collected by satellites and
weather balloons. These data measure atmospheric temperatures from all
around the Earth and don’t suffer from the same biases as the surface
temperature data. It’s important to note that without the upward bias
inherent to the surface temperature data, the satellite/balloon
temperature measurements show no significant increase since data
collection began 30 years ago. 

Global warming alarmism is largely based on the notion that global
temperatures have increased since the 19th century industrial
revolution due to manmade emissions of greenhouse gases, primarily
carbon dioxide. The infamous hockey stick graph tries to dramatize the
alleged increase in temperature by going back 1,000 years.

But the pre-20th century GMTs in the hockey stick graph for the most
part don’t come from thermometer readings. Instead they are
guesstimates of GMTS based on geographically and temporally scattered
data scavenged from tree rings, ice cores and other dubious proxies for

Whether calculated in real-time or two months after-the-fact,
surface-based calculations of GMT are inherently and impossibly biased.
In this light, the hockey stick’s GMTs over the last 1,000 years are
near worthless — yet it is this very data that are being used to drive
global warming hysteria.

We hope that the JunkScience.com global thermometer will help demystify
the flawed science that has led to the present state of climate
clamoring. Remember, just 30 years ago, early climate alarmists were
actually fretting about global cooling.

It’s shocking that our government may commit us to potentially harmful
energy and policies — like the international global warming treaty
known as the Kyoto Protocol or the legislation introduced in the U.S.
Senate by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., —
based on such an elusive, if not meaningless, concept as global


Mike Lorrey
Vice-Chair, 2nd District, Libertarian Party of NH
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.
It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
                                      -William Pitt (1759-1806) 
Blog: http://intlib.blogspot.com

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