Monday, November 30, 2009

Global Warming

After staggering back from the Newsagents yesterday, carrying the vast bulk of the Sunday Times under my arm and idly wondering whether anybody had ever managed to read a whole one; an article caught my eye about global warming. (I thought it was now called 'climate change'- why are things always being renamed? Did it offend someone?)

As I read the text and looked at the pictures, it dawned on me that maybe the reason many people are a bit sceptical about this topic is that those who write about it often don't make their case very clear. (I'm no expert myself)

For example the article claimed that rising levels of atmospheric Carbon dioxide causes global warming. There was no discussion of the possibility that it could be the other way round. (Maybe it can't be, but it would be worth knowing). Also, why did the accompanying temperature graph show drops from 1900 to 1910 and from 1940 to 1950, but the CO2 graph next to it showed rises during those periods? I'm not saying that there aren't simple explanation for these things, but if the Times can't be bothered to tell us what they are, then you can hardly blame readers for being a bit doubtful.

We are told that half a trillion tonnes of CO2 have been added to the atmosphere which sounds like an awful lot, until you realise that we haven't been told how much the atmosphere weighs. We then learn that temperatures have actually gone down between 1998 and 2007- and then that they haven't. I'm sure this must be important, but then there is no mention either of how the average temperature of the Earth is actually measured or how accurate it is (I haven't a clue)

I can't help but think that if I'm asking question like this whilst stuffing my face with toast and regretting my previous nights intake of real ale, then lots of other people must be asking more probing ones. Surely if we are faced with the possibility of mass human extinction then we deserve science articles in our papers that actually make sense.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Then turn to the blogosphere! The scandal recently discovered (and then misreported) by the MSM has been out there for years. Some spinners have tried to smear bloggers with intelligent questions and research as 'sceptics' etc., but there is some good understandable scientific comment out there.

Try Bishop Hill and Wat Tyler and look for their posts (and comments on them) on the subject http://www.burningourmoney.blogspot.com/ and http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2009/11/30/dont-forget-giss.html

Oh - and look at a very funny clip on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ae5O_kVA8u4 .


Ray.

Brian, follower of Deornoth said...

Tsk, tsk, Frank.

You are not meant to understand, or have an explanation, or be convinced, or ask for reasons, or look at the numbers. You are required to believe. That's all.

wonderfulforhisage said...

Come on Frank, WAKE UP. Ask any schoolchild between the ages of six and sixteen and they'll explain to you in simple language that we're all doomed because of man made global warming. Polar bears extinct, floods, etc.

Where have you been when your colleagues have been doing such a brilliant job of getting the facts over to their pupils?

Adam said...

Hihi

The BBC have just put online a fairly good explanation of the factors in play, you can see it at this URL:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/sci_tech/2009/copenhagen/8386319.stm

If you look at the data and the timescales involved, fluctuations are to be expected...

Kimpatsu said...

Frank, the reason that the Times can't cover the story accurately is because their science journalists are liberal arts majors with no understanding of science, so they merely crib their reports from press releases. The activist journalist and scientist George Monbiot attended a conference on science journalism a couple of years ago, and of the 200 delegates, only two of them actually had science degrees: himself and Adam Rutherford. The rest will believe any rubbish you sell them, as long as its packaged correctly, because they can't discern when they're being sold a bill of goods--scientifically speaking, of course.

MnMark said...

If you want a real head-scratcher, check out the temperature graphs of Greenland temperatures over the last 40,000 years as revealed in the ice core samples. You'll wonder how anyone could think we're in a long-term warming phase at all: