By FRED WARD
Monday, Jul. 16, 2007
IN JUNE THE New Hampshire Union Leader published a story "At mount (Cannon), talk is about global warming." This article quoted some participants making statements like "winters with less snow and more rain," without specific dates and data. It's difficult to check fuzzy comments like that.
However, there was one data set quoted, "the average winter temperatures in the Northeast have increased 4.4 degrees since 1970," which was a checkable piece of information. These same erroneous data were quoted in the Keene Sentinel last August, but in the context of a 4.4 degree increase in winter temperatures in New England. The Sentinel published my response stating that the actual change in winter temperature in New England, based on all 11 first-order National Weather Service stations in New England, from the early 1970s to the early 2000s, was a whopping two tenths of one degree!
Now we have the very same erroneous number quoted for the Northeast, and it's just as wrong this year as it was last year.
Looking at the same years as previously for New England, but adding three randomly selected stations outside New England but in the Northeast -- Cleveland, Buffalo and Philadelphia -- for the same years (1971-1975 and 2001-2005), the data show that the average winter temperature at Cleveland had actually fallen from 30.2 in the early 1970s to 29.6 in the early 2000s, Buffalo had fallen from 27.2 to 26.9 and Philadelphia from 35.8 to 35.1.
It's unlikely that the weather data from other stations in the northeastern United States would give much different results.
So why do the global warming zealots continue to quote 4.4 degrees?
One has to wonder if any one of "the panel of experts" at the conference knew better. Did he or she speak up to correct such a glaring misstatement of fact?
If the last 30 years show little change, what about climate change over centuries or millennia? Good, worldwide temperature data are available for less than a century, but that hasn't stopped the alarmists from quoting what are called "temperature" data extending back to the Romans. Such data are not temperatures, but proxies which are claimed to measure temperature.
Such proxies include tree rings, ice cores and the like, but they all suffer from one serious limitation. The proxies can be calculated from the weather, but the weather cannot be calculated from the proxies. The brief reason is that many different weather elements work in complex ways to produce the proxy.
Tree rings are a simple case, made thicker or thinner by a combination of autumn and spring rains, sun and temperature. All kinds of combinations of these weather elements can produce a thick ring or a thin ring. But which combination? Was it a lot of sun, or maybe gentle rains, or what? All proxies have similar, but different problems.
A more interesting argument heard in New Hampshire is that the ski areas and the maple syrup industries are hurting because of global warming. Using skis and syrup to make the case that the temperature in New Hampshire has warmed substantially is disingenuous because the actual temperature data for New Hampshire are available. Why would you use ski and syrup data to measure temperature when the temperature data are easy to find?
You could suspect that anyone using the ski and syrup data, rather than the temperature data, has already looked at the actual temperature data and found what I found, little or no warming, so they turned to skis and syrup. Interesting!
Finally, for those of you old enough to read in the 1970s, there was a lot of hysteria back then about the global temperature. The same "if we don't act promptly, in 10 years it will be too late" statements were published, on the covers of reputable papers and magazines, by many of the same "scientists," and for many of the same base motives. The only difference between the 1970s and now was that the disaster that was just around the corner was global cooling!
How times change, while people don't.
Is it global warming, political warming or globaloney?
Fred Ward of Stoddard has a Ph.D. in meteorology from MIT