Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Global Warming Analysis: Fact vs. Interpretation

A good lens for analyzing the global warming narrative is fact vs. interpretation. Consider the following article, and try to sift through fact vs. interpretation.

What snow? This year could be one of the warmest on record
Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent, Reuters
Published: Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Reuters © 2008

FACT: ... the start of 2008 saw icy weather around the world from China to Greece.

INTERPRETATION/CONJECTURE: But despite its chilly start, 2008 is expected to end up among the top 10 warmest years since records began in the 1860s.

FACT: "So far 2008, for the globe, has been quite cold, only just above the 1961-90 average," said Phil Jones, head of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia which supplies global temperature data to the United Nations.

INTERPRETATION/CONJECTURE: And an underlying warming trend, blamed by the U.N. Climate Panel on human use of fossil fuels, is likely to reassert itself after the end of a La Nina cooling of the Pacific in the coming months. There were similar conditions in 1998 and 2005, the hottest so far, Jones said.

FACT: China suffered its worst snowstorms in a century in January and February. At least 80 people died and the government estimated costs at more than 150 billion yuan (US$21 billion), including animal deaths and crop losses.

FACT: Sandstorms hit Beijing on Tuesday and residents rushed to hide from the dust mixed with petals from the city's magnolia trees.

FACT: During the northern winter, snows also fell in unusual places such as Greece, Iraq and Florida. Experts say climate change will bring more swings as part of a warming that will bring more droughts, floods, heatwaves and rising seas.

FACT: U.S. ski resorts reported above average snowfall.

COUNTER-FACT: But not all places have been chilly -- Jones said western and northern Europe were the warmest parts of the northern hemisphere in the first two months of 2008. [What does this mean -- "less cold"?]

COUNTER-FACT: NASA satellite data this week showed the thickest and oldest ice around the North Pole has been disappearing.

COUNTER-FACT: Finland had its warmest winter on record. High-speed ferries between Helsinki and Tallinn in Estonia, normally halted for months by winter ice on the Baltic Sea, started earlier than ever in mid-March.

COUNTER-FACT: In Norway, many ski resorts have deep snow even though the winter has been the third warmest on record -- scientists say a spinoff of climate change may be more precipitation.

INCONVENIENT FACT: Electricity prices in the Nordic region halved this month to 27.5 euros (US$43.48) per megawatt hour from late 2007 highs because hydropower reservoirs were full and warm temperatures curbed heating demand.

When it's warming, the facts speak for themselves; when it's cooling, the facts require interpretation.

No comments:

"... nothing intellectually compelling or challenging.. bald assertions coupled to superstition... woefully pathetic"