16 June 2011

Good Science and Junk Science

Posted by Dan Satterfield

The Good Science:

NOAA released the May global temp. data today and the global land and ocean temps. were tied for 10th warmest on record. Land temps. were 7th warmest on record. The period of meteorological spring from March -May was also the 10th warmest on the instrument record.

From NCDC:

Global Highlights

  • The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for May 2011 was 0.50°C (0.90°F) above the 20th century average of 14.8°C (58.6°F). This is the 10th warmest such value since records began in 1880.
  • For March–May 2011, the combined global land and ocean surface temperature was 0.53°C (0.95°F) above average—also the 10th warmest March–May on record.
  • The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for January–May 2011 was the 12th warmest on record. The year-to-date period was 0.48°C (0.86°F) warmer than the 20th century average.
  • The global land average surface temperature for May 2011 was the seventh warmest May on record, while March–May ranked as the 10th warmest such period.

The Bad Science:

The Heartland Inst. (right-wing conservative think tank) is putting on what they label as a “scientific” conference on climate change this week. In reality it is a collection of bloggers with little or no science background, and a sprinkling of scientists most of whom have published nearly nothing about climate in the peer-reviewed journals. The same names making the same long discredited claims.

One of the worst pieces of junk science I have seen for a while came out of the AAS conference today. The patently ridiculous claim on a Fox News website that global cooling is coming, along with a frozen picture of the statue of Liberty. Yes, there are some indications that the sun may go into an exceptionally quiet period like the famous Maunder minimum back in the 1700′s. Buried in the story is the truth but what they do not tell you is that even if the sun goes quiet the amount of cooling would be minuscule compared to the warming influence of greenhouse gases.

Physicist Joe Romm has an exc. post with some links to real papers in real journals that show how all of this is a load of bull. This on the same day when NCDC releases the data for May showing it was the 10th warmest on record during a quiet sun cycle with a La Nina just ending. Physicist John Cook wrote about the effects of a new Maunder minimum back in Feb. 2010 with much the same info. I wrote about it here back in Sept. 2010 and linked to James Hansen at NASA who does the math.

Truly amazing the level that science journalism has reached in America.

Some Good News??

A new survey out from Ed Maibach , Anthony Leiserowitz, and others at the George Mason Univ. Center for Climate Change Communication shows that most people may not be fooled by this kind of poor journalism (or is it propaganda dressed like journalism?).


I think this poll shows that most people are pretty good at separating their political views about WHAT we do about climate change from scientific reality. Yes, there will continue to be a segment of the population whose fear (real or imagined) over higher taxes or the loss of their gas guzzler will be result in the denial of overwhelming scientific evidence. These are some of the people who send death threats to Australian and American climate scientists, but their numbers are continuing to shrink in the face of real scientific evidence.

Correction- I ascribed the Fox news article incorrectly to this years Heartland Conf.- it was last years. Similar claims were made based on a paper at the AAS conference this week.