Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Vincent De Roeck & the climate change hoax

While the leading politicians grow older and older, it's time for a younger generation to stand up and take over from the present generation. One of the young people walking the trail towards national politics is 23-year old Vincent De Roeck, A Belgian liberal with libertarian influences who is involved in several political groups around the liberal party VLD.

De Roeck is president of the think thank Nova Libertas; vice-president of the LVSV (a student organisation of Flemish liberals, where several liberal ministers started their career). For at the moment he's still unknown to the general public, it might be a good idea to have a look at who is. On his personal website he introduces himself as follows:
I'm a student (law & political sciences) and for years have been publishing and been engaged in politics in Flanders and abroad. As a young dynamic force I’ve put my shoulders below many successful projects. Above that, i’m definitely not an intellectual nobody. Not without a reason in 2007 the well respected American magazine National Review called me a ‘prominent intellectual’ for my razorsharp analysis of Belgian politics and of the negative impact of the actions taken by the central banks during the credit crunch.
Clearly De Roeck is someone who will have interesting thoughts to share, and on the weblog In Flanders Fields (a central meeting blog for a lot of liberal visions) he gave his opinion on the subject of climate change. A subject on his website he calls a hoax:

Devaluatie van een Nobelprijs (Devaluation of a Noble Prize).
(As usual, my translations, J)

For a while already, climate has become an important issue in the media and thereby also in politics. With Al Gore winning the Noble Prize and an Oscar for his pseudo-scientific documentary 'An Inconvenient Truth' the eco-militants have won a battle. Suddenly, documentaries on the miserable life of the Indian children living on the streets are considered to be no more valuable than a computer simulation about the weather. Suddenly, the international achievements of world leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela & Kofi Annan are placed on the same level as the capers of a failed politician who's no more than a demagogue without scientific support.

Because of the orchestrated media-hype & mindless group-behavior of the doomsday-prophets in our media, nobody doubts the accuracy or correctness of "global warming". Nobody asks real questions any more. Some interesting op-ed's and critical thoughts on this climate-hype can be found here

[I’ve cut the other two links on his site because they are dead. Here is a starting point for more info on Lomborg]

I rarely write on the subject of climate change. Not because i wouldn' know anything about the subject; in contrast to most climate-prophets i actually took some biology classes; but simply because i don't care.
[According to his website, De Roeck is a master student in law. Seems he's refering to his biology class in high school ?

Frankly i don't care what happens to this planet. I'm terribly annoyed when seeing the behavior of scientists and politicians who crave for media attention. Nobody seems to care what the content of the message is as long as the message itself, no matter how wrong it is, is hailed with cheering and applause. It looks like an abundance of knowledge is not what scientists or politicians suffer from, but this fact doesn't bother opinion-makers at all.

Everybody talks about “global warming” while it is a scientific fact that Europe will suffer “global cooling” just because the first fundamental change in climate will be the halt of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NOA)
[actually, IPCC considers such a halt to be “very unlikely” and it's definetely not the first change that will happen] whereas this NAO is what keeps Europe’s temperatures high. New York is on the same latitude as Madrid but during winter it has plenty of snow and a harbor that freezes over.

Another piece of scientific nonsense is the human nature of climate change. Scientific research revealed man is responsible for no more than 5% of the emission of Greenhouse and other gasses that harm our environment. Those same scientists say 5% is a neglectable number.

[De Roeck misses the point the rise accumulates, p.ex for CO2 from 280 ppm to 390 nowasdays, much more than 5% that is.

The Brussels based Ludwig von Mises Institute Europe, in which I’ve been active for a while, follows the vision of the American Cato institute [a libertarian thinkthank, considered one of the better known
astroturf groups. Because of Cato's obvious far from centre position, De Roeck should be aware an exxon funded thinkthank maybe isn't the best possible source for gathering objective information J.]
, which is very critical towards the attempts of eco-fascists to use the media for spreading its lies towards to the general public in an attempt to force taking actions against the emission of GHG’s, even though there’s no scientific reason to do so. Annette Godart, president of LVMI-Europe, wrote an analyses entitled “Climate change: a hot item that requires cold" in which she writes :

Annette Godart Ludwig von Mises Institute global warming
Anette Godart
At the moment, climate change is one of the most discussed topics in the world. It seems, that even on Mars the Southern icecap is in danger and that Neptune appears to be warming too. [i've already adressed the 'argument' that other planets are warming too]

It is a very serious question, no doubt, and the safest way to discuss this, is to let it be examined by the capable scientists. But the problem is the fact, that a lot of emotions and opinions are blurring the outcome. It should not be the first occupation of politicians, but it is. I have only one question and I discovered, that people pay more and more attention to that fact.

Between 1350 and 1700 there was a period, called “the Little Ice-Age”. That is a common fact. (Though in the 20th century there was a period of cooling too). Josef Reichholf, biologist and director of the zoological State collection has written an article about the topic. In the article “Wärme tut gut”
[translated : "heat does well" J.], he explains, that the climate change came quite suddenly, so suddenly, that the people were thinking of a punishment from God. The high tides were stronger in that period than those we ever knew in the 20th century. Storms were so strong, that they shaped the islands and Halligen between the Netherlands and Denmark. Temperatures could be measured at that period and dropped under minus 25 degree Celsius. People froze to death in their homes. Glaciers were growing longer, wolves came from the North etc.

In the Middle Ages on the contrary, the climate was so warm, that figs were growing in Cologne, Germany, and wine was produced in Bavaria, England, Belgium and the southern part of the Netherlands. Then, in 1700, that period of the “Little Ice-Age” stopped. The circumstances were not different from the period in 1350: no airplanes, no industry, no cars, no central heating and no pollution. There is research going on concerning this phenomenon. The Max Planck Institute of Darmstadt showed, that for example the sun was presently at an 8000 year solar max, which might explain the global warming.
[yes, the same old "it's the sun stupid !" meme]

By looking back in history, this piece of text shows us that causality between human factors and the environment are much less convincing than generally presumed in the media.

of course, this conclusion cannot be made from that piece of text. One needs to look at all factors influencing climate

From an Oscar-comittee I can understand it doesn’t pay too much attention to scientific truth because movies more often aren't depicting reality, but for a Noble Comittee there exist no excuses. A scientific institute that literally insults all previous nominees and mocks their achievements by giving Al Gore the Noble Prize, a cheating failure without any scientific grounds to stand on, and without any social surplus. This is a nice demonstration of the devaluation of the Noble Prize

I am a bit surprised by the high level of hybris in this post as De Roeck seems to very confident in calling a subject he doesn't know anything about 'unscientific'. Above that, De Roeck clearly fails to make distinction between Al Gore and climate science, even though those two clearly are separated subjects.

I hope Vincent De Roeck will make the effort to have a closer look at the scientific reality instead of copying faulty skeptical arguments the astroturf groups fabricate to misguide the public; and that he'll learn to be just as critical towards a source when the presented material says just what the personal bias wants to hear : rejecting science but using the thoughts of a polical thinkthanks instead, common Vincent, do you seriously wanna do that !? Reversed, it would mean basing your 'scientific' vision on reports produced by Greenpeace & Friends Of TheEarth kind of groups... The chance the info presented is going to be one-sided is high.

Yet as I know today Vincent is still a young puppy, i don't want to be too harsh : yes, young Vincent has a lot to learn on the use of sources, but i'm confident he will adopt this knowledge and in future will not just excel in biology, but will know his climate change just as well as he knows his goat.

Vincent De roeck know your goat Biology for beginners

Friday, 26 December 2008

Inhofe 650 : Hans Labohm deserves donkey ears

Hans Labohm Heartland Institute Global Warming klimaat
In my previous post i had a closer look on the Heartland Institute, and today i want to focus on something written by one of the people Hearland (and Inhofe) consider to be a global warming expert : Dutch economist Hans Labohm.

The Dutch libertarian website vrijspreker.nl has an enviromental section in which non-surprisingly ALL environmetal subjects are contested and of course every environmental issue is created by power hungry politicians helped by those suspicious people called scientists and spread with the aid of the propagandic left-wing press.

The climate skepticism expressed consists of copying all the erroneous claims moving around the net, and i'm not gonna waste my time having a closer look on them. Instead I want to have a closer look on one specific thing posted on the site : a user called Jimmy raised the question "why do almost all libertarians think global warming is a hoax?"

Well known skeptic Hans Labohm sent an article to vrijspreker.nl in which he formulates his answer to this question. For allover the world he's cited as a prominent skeptic, I think Labohm's mind-numbing answer is "interesting" (or should i say depressing?) enough to deserve a translation in English (my translation):

Why do almost all libertarians think global warming is a hoax?
It’s a good question. Throughout the years, I’ve been asking myself the same question. Indeed, it’s remarkable that a lot of national and international organizations and websites that are critical on the subject of climate change, are from the liberal or libertarian political side. Yet luckily they’re not the only ones.
I’m an active member in Dutch and international networks of climate skeptics. We exchange information on the newest insights in climate science and the climate debate. But we hardly ever talk about politics.
From the occasional signals sipping through in the scientific correspondence I have gotten the feeling that –from a political point of view- the center and right political views are the most represented in our movement.
Most participants in the debate however probably will not know the answer to the question what ‘libertarianism’ is, or won’t even know this word. They simply don't have enough interest in politics.

In our Dutch circle, there are also (green)left people. They probably belong to the most fanatic skeptics. They have to watch with their own eyes how the Dutch left parties blindly accept the warming dogma. They fear soon the dogma will break because the measurements will disprove the AGW-hypothesis.
When this happens –and they are convinced it will- they expect this to have a negative impact on the credibility of their beloved political parties. The recent graph below shows there has been absolutely no correlation between CO2 and temperature for the past decades.

This graph can be completed with graphs on different timescales. No timescale will reveal a correlation. This implies there’s no reason to suspect causality.

Hans LAbohm klimaatverandering klimaatscepticus fraude

Of course this statement is completely false : the timeperiod of the graph presented here is way too short to draw ANY conclusion considering the correlation between CO2 and temperature (read tamino's post on how long a the timeperiod has to be to overcome the signal noise and my post 'a layman's guide on cherry-picking" to understand why they deliberately are using a period that is too short). L

Labohm himself further on this post will admit that of course there IS a corelation and will be presenting graphs in which the correlation is bloody clear. His statement here is nothing but a very foolish attempt to be deliberately misguiding

To be noted is that it’s about a rise of CO2 in the atmosphere. Generally presumed is that mankind is responsible for a 4% rise in emission, the rest comes from natural sources.
Actually atmospheric CO2-levels have risen from 280 ppm in 1850 to 390 nowadays. Try calculating yourself how much the total rise was ...

Jimmy writes : “at least it should be possible that earth’s temprature is rising because of the gigantic emissions made by mankind ?”

Indeed, this claim is part of the AGW-dogma, but as said doesn’t seem to be confirmed by the actual measurements (see graph) Further on, Jimmy notes “…the only people still denying are FoxNews, Simon Rozendaal [dutch libertarian journalist], the Klimatosoof [Dutch denialist website] and populist right wing blogs (and I’m not even sure about Fox)”

This is incorrect. I’ve done a lot of research and written on the subject. I’m not going to repeat everything but point to this paper :

the SPPI is a well known exxon funded astroturf group polluting the scientific debate in an attempt to create confusion among the public. Labohm's article for SPPI is rubbish.

Jimmy ends with saying “blind belief is a sign of stupidity. Blind denialism doesn’t seem any better” I totally agree with him, but that’s something you can’t blame climate skeptics. A last reference to demonstrate this :‛Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate’ http://www.sepp.org/publications/NIPCC-Feb%2020.pdf

SEPP is the personal organisation & website of S. Fred Singer, a man with a history of, well err, basically denying every possible environmental problem -RealClimate adresses some of the (many!) problems with this text. Good science it is not. Not even close.

Singer was paid 143.000 US$ for fabricating the nIPCC. The fraudulent report is 27 pages, meaning Fred Singer earned 5300 US$ per page.

The very first comment on Labohm's incredible attempt to be as scientificaly misguiding as possible reads :
This surprises me ! How on earth is it possible such a simple graph which clearly demonstrates the lack of correlation hasn't reached the front pages of the media ?
So while from a scientific point of view Labohm's post may be total nonsense, it's still more than good enough to reach it's goal of misguiding the public. Mission accomplished.

Later on, after severe criticism in the comments section of the article, Labohm defended himself by writing an extra post, which reads :
In his reaction, Mathijs Romans suggest the graphs I used were selectivily picked in an attempt to demonstrate there’s no correlation between CO2 and temperature rise. I’ve heard this accusation before. [i lol'd-J.] In my first post I wrote my claim is not just true for the past decade of which I showed the graph [actually Labohm specifically wrote ‘several decades’ while showing a graph of the last decade-J.] But the same is true for other timescales. But Mathijs is right, I didn’t show any visual proof for that.Therefore, I hereby present extra evidence to support my claims :
Hans Labohm vrijspreker libertarisme klimaatsceptici

And indeed Labohms presents yet another irelevant graph in an attempt to be misguiding. The graph depicts an irelevant timescale : p.ex. you cannot compare present day climate with a geological era where there weren't any trees yet. It's comparing apples and oranges.

Below is a graph Al Gore showed. Correlation ? Yes, it might give this impression. But as i said before, Al gore doesn’t mention temperature rises before CO2-concentrations do. He’s reversed the causality. But because the horizontal scale is too small, it’s hard to see. Yet is is. It’s also written in the IPCC-reports.
Hans Labohm IPCC climate change hoax

The correlation Labohm denied in his first post is pretty clear now, isn't it ? Anyone wants to guess why he didn't present it in his first post ?

Above that, in a clear attempt to distract the attention and alter the subject, he presents the same ol' CO2-lags story, which scientists are well aware of and is explained here

Below is a graphic over several decades.Correlation ? No, not at all ? Do also notice the sharp decline in temperature in 2007, which wasn't predicted by models.
Actually, the graph doesn't even support his claim. Above that, despite a La Nina was formed (which has a cooling effect) 2007 ended as one of the warmest years ever recorded.

Mathijs further on in his comments remarks that CO2 emissions are cumulative, implying we have to be careful anyway. Apparantly, he presumes CO2-levels in the atmosphere are rising and this is a result of emissions made by mankind. My first reaction to this is :
so what ? After all, in my vision CO2 has little or no effect on earth’s temperature. My second reaction is : is it really true that in the past centuries CO2-concentrations only have been rising ?

When you read the IPCC-reports, you see they accept this for granted. But is it ?What follows is very disputed in the scientific community, yet the possibility cannot be ruled out that the measurements to be shown below could be correct.From around 1960 atmospheric CO2-levels are measured on the volcano Mauna Loa in Hawaii, and they show a steady rise. Before this period, many renowed scientists have performed hundreds of thousands of measurements using different methods than on Mauna Loa : the so-called chemical methods. Some of those scientists won Noble Prizes. So they belong amongst the best scientists of their time.

A few years ago, German climate expert
[actually a high school teacher -J.] Ernst-Georg Beck has gone through all those measurements which resulted in the graph below. It shows high levels in the 1820’s and 1940’s. According to this graph, a CO2 rise can be flowed by a sharp decline. How this is possible ? That’s unknown
In the comments section of my post "what does it take to be called a scientist?" Eli Rabett refers to posts by Engelbeen (here and here) and himself which clearly demonstrate that the measurements used by Beck are problematic, p.ex. : there is too much local interference when measuring CO2-levels inside a city, as you want to measure the levels in the atmosphere, and not what your neighbours stove is emitting.

Those problems with those early measurements have been well known for a very long time and actually were one of the main reason's to start measuring on a remote place like Hawaii. Becks graphs are totally worthless

The dots in the graph below show the levels IPCC is using. In other words : the graph presented here contradicts what IPCC and all AGW-adepts claim.

The scientific debate on the subject is still open. So we have to be carefull with conclusions. But IF –and I emphasize IF- these measurements are correct, then it’s a devastating defeat for the AGW-hypothesis.
This is a fine example of the process of manufacturing doubt

If the AGW-hypothesis is wrong, then what could be a correct explanation for the fact temperatures have been rising since 1850?
Once again this a deliberate attempt to be misguiding. There's a very good reason why Labohm selects a graph that doesn't show the period after 1980 : because then it'd be absolutely clear it's not the sun

Will temperatures in future keep rising, as Mathijs suggests ? If you listen to climatologists, then the answer to the questions is affirmative. Yet a lot of astrophysics expect that soon –around 2012- we’ll be heading into a new small ice-age, comparable with the Dalton Minimum of the beginning of the 19th century. Did you ever read that in the media ?
Well, maybe that's because there's problems with the claim Labohm makes, see p.e.x this post by tamino which shows solar variation simply cannot account for the changes.

Allover his posts Hans Labohm is trying his best to be as deliberately misleading as possible. There's no way he's unaware himself that the facts he presents are misguiding. The conclusion therefore is very hard : Hans Labohm is a fraud. If life were a classroom, Labohm would be standing in the corner wearing donkey ears, for an ass, that's what he is.

UPDATE : seems he's using the same misleading argument over and over again. Did i mention Labohm is a fraud ?

The Heartland Institute

One of the best known skeptics in the Low Countries is economist Hans Labohm, a man with a long history of membership in all sort of think-thanks, and a man who made it as a "climate expert" for the Heartland Institute, a libertarian thinkthank notorious for being one of the most intellectual dishonest groups polluting the climate change debate.

Heartland is one of the hosts of the infamous global warming quiz i mentioned before, but they do have a long record of more serious fraudulent efforts in distorting the AGW debate, and receive lots of funding to do so.

Ecological writer Dave Hansford wrote an article in the New Zealand Listener in which he claims :
ExxonMobil’s reports show it has granted $791,500 to Heartland since 1998
The article sure didn't please the Heartland Institute's co-founder and president Joseph L Bast as can be seen in this letter he wrote to the magazine, ending with :
Joseph L. Bast Heartland Institute global warming is a myth
Joseph Bast
I don't know how writers like Hansford sleep at night. If he has even a shred of personal integrity, he should apologise for his attacks on the growing number of scientists who say the threat of global warming has been over-sold, and promise to never again write on this subject. And his publisher should accept nothing less.
This is an remarkable agressive answer. And a question to censor the opinions of the author. The freedom loving libertarian seems to have double standards on what freedom is.

Heartland's latest effort was this report, which fits in a long history of organised denialism : in the past they p.ex. organised this "conference" on climate change, because they felt that :
Actual surveys of climate scientists and recent reviews of the scholarly literature both show the so-called “skeptics” may actually be in the majority of the climate science community. They do not lack scholarly credentials or scientific integrity, but a platform from which they can be heard. Their voices have been drowned out by publicity built upon the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an entity with an agenda to build support for the theory of man-made catastrophic global warming.
To make sure to be able to give a platform to those poor scientsists, Heartland sent mailings like crazy to any scientists they could get an adress from inviting thousands to come to the past conference and offered payment to the visiting scientists (which is very unusual on normal conferences). It was an enormous succes, as this article in the New York Times reports :
The meeting was largely framed around science, but after the luncheon, when an organizer made an announcement asking all of the scientists in the large hall to move to the front for a group picture, 19 men did so.

In my office alone, there are more scientists agreeing with AGW.

And those 19 are the same names appearing everywhere : Singer, Spencer, Soon, etc. Men whom lost any scientific credibility long time ago and have spent most of their efforts in producing noise to pollute the scientific debate.

The lack of scientists wasn't all that much of a problem though, because the aim of the 2007 conference was very clear, as Heartlands website stated :
The purpose of the conference is to generate international media attention to the fact that many scientists believe forecasts of rapid warming and catastrophic events are not supported by sound science, and that expensive campaigns to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are not necessary or cost-effective.
So it wasn't about science at all, it was nothing but PR.

Despite having a conference without scientists, just like Inhofe, Heartland published a list of 500 scientists whom's work according to Heartland supposedly refutes AGW. Many honest scientists were shocked to find out their names appeared in this fraudulent "Heartland 500" which makes statements opposite on what their work actually is concluding.

In response to the story on Desmogblog that many of the 500 demanded their names to be removed from that list, Heartland released this statement :
In response to the complaints, The Heartland Institute has changed the headlines that its PR department had chosen for some of the documents related to the lists, from “500 Scientists with Documented Doubts of Man-Made Global Warming Scares” to “500 Scientists Whose Research Contradicts Man-Made Global Warming Scares.”
Or in other words : like it or not, but Heartland will abuse your name, even if everything you do demonstrates they are wrong. It's one of the many things demonstrating Heartland's dishonesty.

No better way to demonstrate the totally ridiculousness of the list, than the fact that according to Heartland even Michael "hockeystick" Mann's work demonstrates there's no AGW. I'm not fooling ya, he does appear on the list. Pretty mind numbing, isn't it ?

Heartland's history of climate change denialism isn't over yet, as next year they'll have a new conference where no scientists will come demonstrating AGW is a hoax.

The speakers will be the same ones as ever . Some people will never learn.

Thursday, 25 December 2008


Being announced since spring, last week the federal government finally launched its new website on climate change. (Mind there's no English version for all links given in this post)

The website starts with a small explanation for the bigger audience what climate change is (i would've loved to see it being more expanded) and what the impacts could be.

More interesting is the second part, which adresses the Belgian climate policy (framed in the International conventions, and standing above the regional policy) and points to all raports presented by and actions taken by the goverment. An essential section for scientists and policymakers, but probably not immediately a cup of tea for the bigger crowd, as i suppose civilians probably will be more interested in what this policy means for them individually.

The final section of the website looks at the financial translation of a number of actions the government defined : in Belgium civilians can get tax-reductions in case of buying a new (clean) car or improving the energy-efficiency of their houses.

For cars, since july 2007, a tax-reduction is given when :

  • Stoot uw wagen minder dan 105 g CO2/km uit, dan krijgt u een korting van 15% op de aankoopprijs inclusief BTW, met een niet-geïndexeerd maximum van 3.280 euro (2008: 4.350 euro geïndexeerd).
  • Stoot uw wagen 105 g/km tot 115 g CO2/km uit, dan krijgt u een korting van 3 % op de aankoopprijs inclusief BTW, met een niet-geïndexeerd maximum van 615 euro (2008: 810 euro geïndexeerd).
  • Een korting van 150 euro niet-geïndexeerd (2008: 200 euro geïndexeerd) wordt toegekend bij de aankoop van een nieuwe wagen met een dieselmotor die een roetfilter heeft die maximum 5 mg deeltjes en 130 g CO2/km uitstoot.
in English (my translation):
  • emission below 105 g CO2 gives you a 15% discount on the total (VAT inclusive) price of the car. With a maximum of 3.280€ (+/- 4500 US$) and this sum is indexed
  • between 105 & 115 g CO2 still gives tou a 3% discount.
  • 150 € discount (indexed) when buying a car on diesel with maximum emission of 130 g CO² AND a maximum emission fo 5 mg fine dust (with levels much higher than allowed by legislations, 'fine dust' is a major enviromental problem in Belgium, and an ever growing concern for it's becoming clearer there's a huge risk of lungcancer associated with it)

The website with a closer look at Belgian eco-policy on cars can be found here. You can have a closer look at how your own car is performing here. Or you can immediately have a look at the page with all available car models on the Belgian market and how they perform (website or pdf-brochure)

The rules for getting a tax-reduction by taking action to increase the energy-efficiency of houses is a little more complicated. There's a good pdf-brochure though.

summarized, these things give you a discount :
  • installing an energy friendly type of boiler/furnace
  • placing a geothermal heatpump
  • installing double glazing
  • placing new isolation on the roof
  • installing a thermostate with a timer
  • doing an energy-audit
  • installing photovoltaïc module
  • installing a solar thermal collector
All in all, the Belgian government does do some actions to encourage the public to do their share of the job.
And the klimaat.be website does prove to be a good starting point for who does want to do so.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Inhofe's 650 : what does it take to be called a scientist ?

The Inhofe 650-list is a clear case of the use of the authority-argument. The subtitle is :
More Than 650 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims
The list is an update of 2007 Inhofe 400-list, where the same idea was expressed as :
Over 400 Prominent Scientists Disputed Man-Made Global Warming Claims in 2007
If you do want to use such an authority-argument (imho never the best one anyway), then one would think it is necessary the people used do have some authority on the subject.

So it's a bit strange to see that there's a lot of economists on his list. Do they have any authority in the field of climate science ? What about a Philosopher ?

But even in the field of the people who one way or another can be linked to "exact" sciences, there's still room for questioning the authority of the scientists Morano mentions : how about someone who by no means can be considered an international scientist for nor does he have an academic diploma, nor did he ever work as a scientist. Someone like Ferdinand Engelbeen.

Engelbeen writes on his personal website :
After Technical Highschool, obtained a Bachelor Degree in Industrial Chemistry at the Institute of Technology in Antwerp in 1965.
In Belgium, people with this practically orientated degree are granted the title 'technical engineer' (ing), not to be confused with academic engineers (Ir.). It might be a bit confusing for foreigners, and Engelbeen does add to this confusing by often introducing himself as "a process engineer".

Yet, in my opinion it's Morano who is "using" Engelbeen for his own political agenda and Engelbeen himself isn't that much to blame for the confusion. After all, the latter always has been open about his background and doesn't pretend to be more than an amateur, p.ex. on this forum where he introduces himself in his first post with the words :
Ik ben geen wetenschapper in de strikte zin van het woord, maar redelijk wetenschappelijk aangelegd en volg het debat over het klimaat al ruim 30 jaar.
in English (my translation) :
I'm not a scientist in the strict sense of the word, but i have some talent for it and folow the climate-debate for 30 years
In Inhofe's report, Morano cites something Engelbeen wrote on his personal homepage. Which is the very same website Engelbeen gives a short biography of his life. Morano apparantly didn't do much effort profiling his "scientists" when compiling his list, for he easily could've known Engelbeen isn't a scientist, and certainly no scientist to be used as an authority.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

De hockeystick (Dutch only)

Een van de onderwerpen die maar blijven terugkeren wanneer er over het klimaat wordt gesproeken, is de beruchte "hockeystick" van Michael Mann et al. en dan specifiek het al dan niet vermeend fout zijn van die curve.

De website klimaatportaal geeft een uitstekende nederlandstalige resume omtrent het onderwerp. Verplicht leesvoer !

Klimaatportaal concludeert :
De suggestie dat de vermeende onjuistheid van de hockeystick de pijler onder het bewijs van de opwarming zou wegslaan en daarmee de pijler onder de onderbouwing van het Kyoto Protocol, is onjuist.


Gemiddelde temperaturen op het Noordelijk Halfrond gedurende de
tweede helft van de 20ste eeuw waren zeer waarschijnlijk hoger dan in enige andere 50-jarige periode in de laatste 500 jaar en waarschijnlijk de hoogste in tenminste de afgelopen 1300 jaar
Op de website van het klimaatportaal worden onder de FAQ's nog een hoop andere veelgehoorde skeptische argumenten becommentarieerd.

een absolute aanrader is ook deze (Engelstalige) post op de Open Mind blog.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Inhofe's 650 list misrepresents Belgian climatologist

Marc Morano in his '650 skeptics' list copies a misrepresentation, made last year, of the words of Luc Debontridder, scientist at The Belgian Royal Meteorological Institute.

Morano's report writes :
Climate scientist Luc Debontridder of the Belgium Weather Institute's Royal Meteorological Institute (RMI) co-authored a study in August 2007 which dismissed a decisive role of CO2 in global warming. The press release about the study read, "CO2 is not the big bogeyman of climate change and global warming.

This is the conclusion of a comprehensive scientific study done by the Royal Meteorological Institute, which will be published this summer.

The study does not state that CO2 plays no role in warming the earth." "But it can never play the decisive role that is currently attributed to it," Luc Debontridder said according to the August
2007 release.

"Not CO2, but
water vapor is the most important greenhouse gas. It is responsible for at least 75 % of the greenhouse effect. This is a simple scientific fact, but Al Gore's movie has hyped CO2 so much that nobody seems to take note of it," Debontridder explained. "Every change in weather conditions is blamed on CO2. But the warm winters of the last few years (in Belgium) are simply due to the 'North-Atlantic Oscillation'. And this has absolutely nothing to do with CO2," he added.
Source for Morano is a website of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition, a well known group of skeptics who produce more noise than actual science.

Their website points to articles in two Belgian newspapers, one being on the website of "De Morgen" which is no longer online. The other article is on the (paid section) website of "De Standaard". I bought entrance to the article in which to my surprise Debontridder actually denies minimalising the role of CO2 (i'm not quoting the exact text, to not violate copyrights).

Moreover, Debontridder states in this article in De Standaard that what happened is that yet another Belgian Newspaper (Het Laatste Nieuws (HLN)) grossly misrepresented him and the RMI report.

The article of HLN also disappeared from the net, but the story was quickly picked up by well known Flemish climate skeptics, like the aforementioned Jos Verhulst and they copied the news in a forumpost on politics.be so we can still see what was written back then.

In HLN, Debontridder was quoted saying :

"... nu moeten we toch eens terug naar de échte realiteit. De hele reeks warme winters die we de laatste jaren hebben gehad, bijvoorbeeld, zijn simpelweg een gevolg van de Noord-Atlantische schommeling. Dat heeft nu echt eens niks met CO2 te maken".
Over de 'global warming-storm' ofte media hype zou hij hebben gezegd: "
Over enkele maanden hoor je er niks meer over. Precies doordat er zo overdreven op die CO2 werd gefocust, en alles op één hoop werd gegooid"
in English, my translation :

"... now we really need to enter reality again. the series of long winters we have known are simply a result of the NAO. It's totaly unrelated with CO2."
About the global warming hype he [Debontridder] said : "in a couple of months you won't hear about it any more. Just because everything was focussed on CO2."

People with a little bit of background on the subject will probably quickly understand by themselves how and where the confusion has risen. And how Debontridder could've gotten so misrepresented.

In an article (in Dutch) with Belgian magazine Knack, Debontridder leaves no doubt what his opinion on the subject is.

Some key passages (my translation) :
Luc Debontridder Inhofe 650 global warming misrepresentation
Luc Debontridder
"CO2 isn't the big cause of global warming" is what newspaper HLN concluded. "A complete misrepresentation", climatologist Luc Debontridder of the RMI says.


"as a scientist, i'd be absolutely crazy if i'd be saying CO2 isn't the main cause of global warming"


"RMI's new climate report has been wrongly interpret. Earth's warming of the past 20 years is caused mainly by CO2"
Later on, the Knack-article has a closer look where the confusion comes from and explains that without greenhouse gasses it would be minus 18 °C. Debontridder explains wator vapour is the most important GHG, but unlike what the NZ-coalition wants to insinuate, Debontridder is not minimalising the role of CO2 :
"The increased greenhouse effect is causing problems and of 60% of the effect comes from CO2"
Debontridder concludes :
"we cannot go on, following a busines as usual policy like this, but there's no need either to needlessly frighten the public. Bruges will not be on the coastline by 2050."
I think it is clear Morano's claim that Debontridder is a "climate-skeptic" is incorrect. Something Morano could've known without speaking Dutch, because the misrepresentation had already been mentioned on Michael Tobis' initforthegold blog

UPDATE : do also read how this post lead to a quote-mined erratum in the Inhofe 700

Saturday, 13 December 2008

The Climate Change Performance Index 2009

The non-profit organisation Germanwatch yearly publishes a report in which they evaluate the actions to beat AGW taken by the 57 countries that are responsible for >90% of all CO2-emissions.

The methodology used is explained in this pdf

This year, Belgium dropped from the 15th to the 25th position.
The negative result mainly comes from the fact Belgium's policy was judged to be catastrophical (5Oth position on 57 countries)

Germanwatch, as to be expected from a NPO, has a very harsh conclusion :
The Climate Change Performance Index therefore does not have any winners this year. Due to the lack of will to engage themselves more strongly to avoid dangerous climate change, none of the countries achieved positions one to three. Position four to ten of this year are made up by Sweden, Germany, France, India, Brazil, the United Kingdom and Denmark.
The last three positions are for Saudi-Arabia, Canada & the USA

The report isn't very hard science, but does give some rough overview of how different countries are acting. It can be found here (pdf)

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Inhofe's 650 : on Hajo Smit

A couple of days ago, over at Desmogblog they already mentioned that senator Inhofe's sidekick and communications director Marc Morano after having claimed 400 scientists disagree on global warming, would be presenting yet another list with this time 650 scientists (supossedly) dissenting global warming.

The list of 400 was a melange of the usual suspects with a number of people with no scientific backgrounds. Not to forget the power of quote-mining to finalise the list.

The new list is online here (warning 257MB pdf)

The conservative Prison Planet website has an article on it already, with a preview and some quotes.

As i'm sure in the blogosphere there'll be enough attention going to the release (Deltoid seems to be first), i'm gonna stick to having a closer look at one single name on the list, because i suppose not everyone speaks the Dutch language.

Prisonplanet writes :

“Gore prompted me to start digging into the science again and I quickly found myself solidly in the skeptic camp…Climate models can at best be useful for explaining climate changes after the fact.” - Meteorologist Hajo Smit of Holland, who reversed his belief in man-made warming to become a skeptic, is a former member of the Dutch UN IPCC committee.

Hans Jolmer (Hajo) Smit runs a blog called freewriter.nl and also made a guest post on GroenOpWeg in which he has given some comments on the subject of global warming. Let's start by having a closer look at what he writes at his website:

Hajo Smit Climategate
Hajo Smit

Apparantly the movie TGGWS reached it's goal to start an earnestly polemic and, as we know now, a non-misleading one towards Al Gore's movie.

Given the fact the movie consists of no more than misleading arguments, Smits remark is painfully inaccurate.

  • Smit's post on the Dutch political party PVV :
Hajo Smit links to an article in the Dutch Newspaper De Telegraaf in which the PVV states (my translation of the article) :
PVV announced on Monday to be "shocked" that 70.000 students "have wrongly been told that the North Pole is melting" and "that there is an alarming climate change going on"

"Our children have to learn to spell and to do calculus, and not that some pitiful
polar bears are living on melting ice because we are taking the airplane to go on holidays" said MP Martin Bosma in a question in parliament to the deputy-minister of education.

"Education has to be neutral and should not mingle with unproven theories. The climate problem is an issue, just like acid rain, in ten years noone will talk about anymore. It's a pity it's costing billions" Bosma says.
Smit's conclusion on this text of PVV is (my translation) :

[therefore] i say with all my heart : vote PVV ! For a better climate and a better economy. Nonsense kills us and the whole climate-story indeed is nonsense
He ends his post with saying "do you still doubt the climate problem, then watch this video's" :Professor Fred Singer on Climate Change Pt 1
Professor Fred Singer on Climate Change pt 2


People who don't know the S. Fred can p.ex. try checking out
Desmogblog. Singer is a man who's made a career of nay-saying, no matter the subject.

I'm not go in full detail on Smits other posts, because i suppose that the picture is starting to get clear.

  • Kannibaliseren op oud klimaatnieuws
A post in which he critisizes a CNN's post about polar bear cannibalism Polar Bear global warming klimaatverandering

Smit refuses CNN's claim that the arctic ice is in it's second lowest minimum (after the 2007 record) and claims the arctic ice has grown with 9 %.

A fact he thinks not to be very important (and i'm not necessaritly disagreeing on that) but he writes :

“Polar bears resort to cannibalism as Arctic ice shrinks” in plaats van het enige juiste: “Zeeijs noordpool weer 9 procent gegroeid”.
In the quote, he says the only correct title for the CNN-piece should've been :

"Arctic ice grew 9% again".
Which he supports by linking to Wattsupwiththat which ran this post. Whereas it's clear that 2008 is clearly following the downward trend that can be seen in arctic ice, and 2008 will have the second lowest ice-extent in the records. Comparing single years has nothing to do with climate science.

  • Trendbreuk berichtgeving klimaatverandering?
A link to a video of Dutch Television Channel RTL4 which claims the Dutch Delta Commision on http://www.geschiedeniszeeland.nl/topics/ramp_36.jpgg sea-level rise is exagerating the scientific conclusion and deliberately is alarming so the public will not resist actions. Dutch Global warming and Dutch delta worksblogger Bart Verheggen already has some posts on it :Does the deltacommision exaggerate ?

Hajo Smit ends with quoting Hans Labohm, the Dutch contrarian libertarian who is one of the libertarian think-thank The Heartland Institute's global warming experts.

Given the fact the Heartland Institute is one of the most intellectual dishonest players in the climate change field, it's not really an honor to be called an expert by this thinkthank. Not the best source to quote imho.

His fifth post is a link to this clip that claims temperatures drives CO². In yet another post he presents the lay reader this skeptics handbook by Joanne Nova on "childrens level" (allover his blog, Smit is incredible arrogant) : well, Smit is correct to say the level in that paper is a disaster. It's very odd that someone with a degree isn't able to see linking to such a thing is ruïning your credibility.

In his guestlog on GroenOpWeg, Smit claims the debate isn't over as is proven by websites like Joe d'Aleo's Icecap and the even more infamous junkscience.com by Steven Milloy. Two sites that have not been known to be the most reliable sources in the world (follow the links). To say it politely.

Later on in the article he links to David Archibald's claim CO² is good for you and agrees with the infamous Australian Lavoisier group. Once again sources with very
low reliability.

i wouldn't call Hajo Smit's opinion on climate change all that important.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Fun Quiz

Monte Heib global warming quizTo test your knowledge on the field of climate change, i can totally recommend Monte Heib's The global warming test.

It's the biggest piece of crap i've read in a very long time.

In only ten questions or so, the quiz gives an excellent overview on some of the most frequently used fallacies to miguide the audience. It's all about red herrings.

I wanted to make a post on the quiz, but coïncidentally i found out that the excellent Greenfyre blog today is having a closer look at it. Which saves me the trouble of doing the same thing.

This test is so poorly set up you'd think it fools noone, but i discovered the existence of it because in a discussion some sceptics used it as a "proof" AGW isn't harmfull. Which means the quiz manages to misguide some people, just as it's original aim was.

This piece pleased the American libertarian thinkthank The Heartland Institute so much they decided to host a copy of it. Which demonstrates Heartland isn't looking for scientific truth or a balanced honest view on the subject of climate change.

The animation shown here is used in the first version of the quiz that appeared on the net, in an attempt to misguide the public into linking present day warming with the end of the ice age (even though the animation stops 8000 years ago ...)

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Carbon Capture & Storage in the Netherlands.

Earlier this week, the Dutch ministry VROM (responsible, among other things, for the environmental policy), in a combined effort with the ministry of economy, released a press release that they'll spend no less than 60 million € for two CO² underground storage pilot projects in the Netherlands.

The aim as stated in the press realease is clear :
The aim was to develop two separate projects each enabling at least 2 million tons of CO2 to be stored over a maximum ten-year period. The state will pay for each tonne of CO2 stored.

The first selected project is designed by Shell Holland. The company has created a website (Dutch only) which explains their plans in Barendrecht. The FAQ could be interesting for who wants to learn some more on the subject. This pdf (Shell brochure, Dutch only) also gives a nice overview of what sequestrion is all about.

The second pilot comes from a consortium called GTI Zuidoost, which according to my information, will look for the storage possibilities in abandonned mining facilities in the province of (Dutch) Limburg.

Even though personnally i'm not convinced CCS is the answer to comabt AGW, as a geologists i'm very interested in what the results of the projects will be. Yet, to really decrease CO2-levels in the atmosphere, i'm convinced there's only one possible route to follow : decrease emissions.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Nature Indicators.

In an area like Flanders with a population density of 445 inhabitants/km² it is clear nature is under high stress because of all sort of environmental issues.

Nature report
In a previous post i mentioned the Flemish environmental policy is monitored by the MIRA-reports which make an inventary & evaluation of the policy.

For Nature, similarly, the Flemish Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO) publishes a two-yearly Natuurrapport (in Dutch) which gives an overview of biodiversity in Flanders, searches the causes of the changes detected and evaluates the actions taken. The report contains a chapter about climate change (pdf in Dutch only) as of course it is one of the factors changing ecosystems and thereby biodiversity.

Nature indicators
One of the ways to evaluate the nature policy, is by using natuurindicatoren (English version on the same URL): of course it is impossible to measure every little parameter or species alive. Therefore, for each domain a set of parameters have been chosen that are considered to be indicative for the entire (sub)-domain. e.g. for the field of acifidication/overfertilisation => indicators are the concentrations of Phosphor, Nitrogen & the oxygen demand (both BOD & COD).

The graphic below shows the number of observations that have been made during the past 20 years of a number of Dragonfly-species that in Belgium are being considered to be 'Southern species', meaning they are/were considered to be non-indigeneous in Belgium. (Lestes barbarus seems to have a stable population since the middle of the 90ies)

In the domain of climate change, all indicators are :

  • the spring arrival data of migratory birds (graph)
  • the spring-index for dragonflies (graph)
  • the appearance of Southern species of dragonflies (see image above and here)
  • the peak moment of pollen-production in birch-trees (graph)
  • a monitoring program for following-up the budding of several species of trees (still in it's testing phase)

Nature Indicator global warming dragonflies Belgium
When having a closer look at the flying-season of some indigeneous species of butterflies & dragonflies, there's no simple conclusion. Some species haven't changed their season, while for some others there are really significant changes :

In spring, the spring-index (first appearance) for Inachis Io (day peacock eye / dagpauwoog) is 42 days earlier than it was 20 years ago.

In autumn, the Plebeius agestis (Brown argus / bruin blauwtje) prolongued it's season no less than 62 days. Above this, this species in spring appears one month earlier, meaning it's yearly cycle nowadays is three months longer !

Regression analysis has shown there's a clear correlation between the flying season and temperature for 20 of the 23 monitored species of butterflies.

The INBO report Biodiversity indicators 2007 presents 22 Flemish biodiversity indicators according to the focal areas of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the EU biodiversity headline indicators, in order to track progress towards the achievement of the 2010 target.

Nature Indicator global warming Belgium

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

A layman’s guide on cherry-picking

Lately, a lot of attention has gone to the supposed fact that global warming stopped and that this proves IPCC’s projections to be wrong. To evaluate this claim, we need to split the presented subject into two separate questions :
  • did temperatures really stop rising ?
  • does the halt in warming (assuming there is one) disprove climate science ?
In this post i want to have a closer look at the first question : The claim AGW has stopped is one appearing in many slightly different ways. Looking at each of those individual claims would be rather time-consuming. Rather I seek to provide the reader some more background on climate science so he/she will be able to make valid judgments on such 'global warming is over' claims himself, or at least understand the more mathematical approaches on the web which are linked in the bottom.

Finding a decreasing temperature trend in data sets : easier than learning your ABC

I want to demonstrate in this post how easy it is, with a little bit of cherry-picking, to FABRICATE a trend line (we’ll presume all over this text it’s a linear trend) suited for making a exactly the claim you wanted to make before even looking at the data. Sure this claim will be very dubious, but 99% of your readers will not have the background to be able to detect the errors you deliberately inserted.

I want to look at the addressed issue from a certain viewpoint : Picture yourself to be a climate skeptic wanting to prove there’s no warming anymore. What would be the logical thing to do :

You’ll need to take the dataset showing earth’s surface temperatures and search if there’s a chance fabricating a negative trend line in it somewhere. In a set with so much noise and natural variability in it as the one of earth’s temperature, not surprisingly, choosing data suited for drawing the trend line you like best is fairly simple.

Simply draw a trend line between two carefully selected points on the graph so that you’ll have a downward trend. Whether this trend line actually is meaningful is another question which will be addressed later on. But first things first and let’s start by fabricating the trend line.

The art of shutting up on the things you don’t want the reader to know
It might sound a little silly, but when drawing a trend line, the important thing to remember is what the trend line you draw is all about. A trend line on temperature is a result of ALL processes that have an influence on earth’s temperature.

Climate shows a relatively big natural variability and when judging whether or not there’s an anthropogenic climate change, one will need to have a closer look at the importance of all those factors influencing climate.

There are several datasets that try to give an estimate for earth’s temperature. As you can see in the graph below, there are slight differences between the different sets, but those differences are quite small and averaged out of the years, and not relevant for the story to follow. (Actually, the data-sets all describe slightly different things, which explains)

When applying temperature trend lines on a graph like the one above, I suppose almost everybody will automatically agree you cannot simply compare two consecutive years and draw conclusions, because the differences between those two years will rather be the result of variability and noise than being indisputably part of a long-term climate trend.

Because two years clearly is a period way too short to compare, you’ll need to find a longer period to be able to draw meaningful conclusions : the image shown clearly shows there’s a lot of natural variability on the temperature signal, and as mentioned in my previous post, on top of that there’s a number of natural cycles also having an impact on the result. Using a reference period which is too short will result in comparing signal-noise instead of looking a real trend.

When reading articles on climate data, any reference period being remarkably short (like only a decade or so) should make you suspicious even though, when there’s simply lack of sufficient data, of course it is possible people are obliged to use shorter periods.

On a longer time scale, there are many cycles having an impact on earth’s temperature, the Milankovic cycles probably being the best known of them. Throughout history, temperature records clearly relate to those cycles. Yet, the importance of the Milankovic cycles on a scale of a century or so is rather ignorable because in such a short time span the changes or too small to be detected.

Yet besides the Milankovic-cycles, there’s of course other things having an impact an earth’s climate, like solar variability, aerosols, volcanism, etc… All these other factors and cycles do have a measurable effect on the data sets and therefore cannot simply be ignored as if they weren’t there.

It’s the sun stupid !

One of the factors having an impact on our climate is variability in solar radiation.

Actually, a claim frequently made by skeptics is that present day changes in surface temperatures are not a result of man-made GHG’s, but changes in temperature are simply following changes in solar radiation. Science disagrees on this claim because those changes simply are too small to (fully) explain present day warming, yet changes in solar radiation DO have a (minor) impact on earth’s temperature. So this factor cannot explain why earth’s temperatures have been rising lately and the skeptics claim is disproven. Above that, the last couple of years have seen a decrease in solar activity while temperatures were soaring

But back to the trend line we wanted to draw :

When we put a decreasing trend like the one from solar radiation into a graph we’ll get an negative trend line like the blue line in the image below.

Clearly, as said the trend to be expected from the change in solar variability (blue line) is negative for the period shown in the graphic from point A to B.

Suppose the temperature data as they were recorded (the red arrow) does follow that negative trend, but not as much as expected. Then this implies there must be second factor having an influence on the temperature (p.ex. AGW), yet not enough to compensate the negative trend set by the change is solar variability. If the second factor would've been bigger, the actual trendline even could've become positive, totally hiding the cooling trend from the sun...

The thing to remember is : Even though in the selected period the temperature-trend is negative, what it really shows is that besides the negative solar-effect there actually IS (the green area) a second factor with a positive temperature effect ! You can't present your result without mentioning this.

Of course if you do shut your mouth about all the underlying science and simply present the image above, but with nothing on it but the red trend line, you can happily present your conclusion like p.ex. global warming stopped (silently suggesting man has no effect on earth’s climate).

Sure, the facts you presented are incomplete, but very useful anyway in non-scientific environments. The power of knowing what to not say can never be underestimated !

Unfortunately, the method presented to fabricate a decreasing trend as described here isn’t sufficient because solar variance is too small. We’ll need to look a bit further. All we need to find is something with an effect that’s big enough to help us to reach our goal.

Oscillations Schmoscillations

In my previous post, I mentioned there’s a natural cycle called the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) which does have an measurable impact (and a rather big one) on earth’s surface temperature.

Typically, an oscillation looks like shown in the image below. Clearly, the ENSO-oscillation will not be as perfect as the one presented here, but the image is suited for continuing our search towards a negative temperature trend.

When looking at the image, what’s the long term trend on the oscillation do you think ?

If your answer is : it’s a status quo (the green line), this simply means you are an alarmist who isn’t able to understand real science.

The correct answer of course is the image shows a downward trend. And I’ll prove it !

Not by altering data or making errors in calculations or anything. I’ll use exactly the same data set as the picture above. Yet, what I want to do is to cleverly pick the right spots to support my claim.

Remember, we want to prove there’s a decreasing trend in temperature, so the best thing to possibly do is start your trend line on the highest possible point in the graph below (like, p.ex. point A)

The point where your trend line stops has to be as low as possible. I’ve chosen three similar points on the bottom of the graph (B, C, D) and drawn the trend lines. Later on we’ll decide which one suits us best.

Notice there’s something very awkward with those trend lines : even though they all three connect points on the same level, the slope of the trend line differs. I’ve isolated the trend lines so it’ll be easier to see :

The longer the time period between the points that have to be connected, the more horizontal it becomes. Or in other words : the more it will approach the real trend (green line) until at some point it will become indistinguishable from the real trend. (Science actually has a couple of methods to transform the data and make it easier to distinguish trends and noise)

This difference in slope of the trend lines of course is the reason in climate science you need to take periods that are long enough (an absolute necessity is to overcome the ENSO oscillation) otherwise you’ll only be comparing noise instead of the real long-term trend.

Because in this post the aim was to draw a trend line that decreases as much as possible, what we need to do is ignore the paragraph above and take the trend line which suits us best. So we’ll go for the trend line on a very short time span : trend line n° 1 is the one we want to use !

Now, with all the things we've learned, we are almost ready to take the real data of surface temperatures and find the points we want to connect to get our desired trend.

A last thing we need to do is to select the years we want to connect : preferably starting from a year with a temperature above average (an El Nino year would be perfect for this) and a colder year (like a La Nina year).

Luckily, 2007 & 2008 both have been partially La Nina years and therefore are very useful to be used as an end point in our trend line. Just our luck ! The last thing is to find a year warm enough to make sure our trend goes down. Like an El Nino year. And this, as we've learned, in a time span that is as short as possible without becoming so short even laymen will ask questions about the reliability of the trend you're presenting. Whereas one year might be a bit exaggerated; surely something in between 5 a 10 years is more than long enough !

Now it's time to look at the actual data : immediately we see the strong El Nino effect in 1988, which is exactly ten years ago. It's a bit an outlier in the data sets. (see image 1), but we’ll use it anyway because it will give us the trend we wanted in the first place ...

There’s one more thing left to do : look at the actual data and see if your carefully picked data really have a downward trend. You still need to verify this because of what i explained under the solar variance paragraph : it's still possible there's a factor causing an upward trend which overrules the trend you've picked.

There are several data sets : if one doesn't show the desired result, try your luck by picking another one (p.ex. HadCRU instead of GISS). No layman will ever find out about the existance of the other sets contradicting your conclusion, so it's absolutaly safe to ignore them.

If the trend line, despite your carefully selected data still isn’t going downward, look for another starting point. If necessary, shorten your time span from 10 years to 9 years. Or even less. Don't be shy.

What happens if you make the time span of your trend line too short is clearly shown on this graphic :

This aren’t meaningful trend lines any more but Mikado. Shortening the time period to seven years naturally makes it even worse :

(El Chicon & Pinatubo are volcanoes which in the given years had major eruptions, causing a temporary global cooling effect which could be detected in the data set)

The last two images are taken from this article from the excellent website RealClimate and is well worth reading. With the explanation above, I hope even people with no scientific training are able to understand what’s written in the RC article.

If you want to read even more, I recommended these links :

Robert Grumbine on cherry picking

Maybe a bit more difficult, but still worth reading : statistician Tamino on ‘global warming stopped in 1988’ and the use of short term trends in this three posts :

Garbage is forever


Global Temperature from GISS, NCDC, HadCRU