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There is abundant data supporting the theory that our world is warming, such as the increase in melts in the glaciers of Greenland, such as the one shown here. However, when considering this data, and studies which support or oppose the view that man is causing warming it is desirable to examine dissenting opinions and avoid overreaching conclusions and sensationalism.
Two of DailyTech's most active writers offer up differing views on the state of global warming research and press

When I first started writing on global warming here at DailyTech, I wrote much in the style I saw at rival news sites like CNN.com and BBCNews.com.  However, in the days since my articles on global warming have grown scarcer and, in my opinion, more considered.

You see, there is an alarming trend in the coverage of global warming which I have witnessed -- one that goes both ways.  Perhaps proponents that global warming is increasing and is anthropogenic (manmade) are indeed who launched this trend.  Regardless, there are many articles which litter the news citing doomsday observations about global warming from sea level rises, to storms and droughts.

A lot of the problem, as I see it, is not so much the material behind these articles itself, which certainly has scientific merit, but rather the context that it's provided in.  Global warming commercial press is overwhelming extremist -- whether for or against.  For proponents, this means drawing sweeping conclusions from select climatological events and writing dire doomsday predictions.

For skeptics, writing has come to an equal extreme.  I've seen articles, including from my fellow debate partner Michael Asher, suggesting global cooling could be the next big problem.  Headlines in particular tend to be equally sensational, indicating that hoards of major scientists are forsaking global warming and that trends are sharply reversing.  Again, these studies cite data, but place it in an extremist context -- in this case denialist.

In the end, though, I can only be my own worst critic.  I promised Mike Asher a piece if the North Pole ice cap did not melt, as some news sites suggested and I blogged on.  It didn't melt -- which really doesn't say much about whether global warming is occurring or not.  However, it did help me to see the sadly extremist and unscientific state of climate writing on both sides of the aisle.

The truth of the matter, which any honest climatologist would tell you, is that we just don't know yet.  Many believe there is solid data that a great deal of the Earth has been warming slightly over the last couple decades, but the exact reason why is still unknown.  There's an abundance of theory about what might be causing it, but much research remains to be done.  There also have been telltale signs that there has been some cooling this year, but again, this needs to be viewed in a broader context.

In the end, what people need to realize is just because it isn't the end of the world doesn't mean that global warming might not be happening.  And whether it is or isn't; understanding and analytically examining our planet's climate is an endeavor worth devoting time, money, and some of the world's brightest brains to.  Likewise, "environmental" initiatives like species conservation, land protection, fuel efficient vehicles, and alternative energy are good ideas with or without AGW beliefs. 

It’s been an interesting year, and it the coming year to follow, I suggest that readers following the warming debate take into consideration both sides of the issue, even if you agree more with one.  I am encouraged to see a trend here at DailyTech to provide a more balanced perspective, citing diverging opinions and putting things in a more scientific and less sensational context.  I feel that I have seen this in both some of my recent pieces, and in some of Michael's, such as his excellent article on the decrease in sea level rise this year.  I hope we both strive to continue this trend and continue to provide the best diverse coverage for our readers, and that the readership continues to provide both of us the feedback we find so valuable.



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Question
By Apprentice777 on 12/30/2008 11:04:26 AM , Rating: 5
Can one of you smart guys help me understand the NASA report from 2007? The way I understand the story NASA (GISS) had been using bad data in one of their reports. After learning of it and correcting the numbers it showed the warmest year in the US not to be 1998 as preciously thought, but 1934 followed by 1998, then 1921, 2006, 1931, 1999, 1953, 1990, 1938, 1939. http://www.norcalblogs.com/watts/2007/08/1998_no_l...

As someone who’s trying to figure this out it’s seems momentous to the discussion but I see it being tossed out (by some) as meaningless. I understand its US numbers, but wouldn’t it be wise to put more stock in these numbers than “world” ranking numbers. As I’m learning about this I find I’m dubious (skeptical) of measurements gathered from other countries. I presume there are hundreds if not thousands of locations across the globe being monitored. Who knows who’s doing the monitoring? Is it a sheep herder in some third world country? Are they competent? Are they accurate? Is the equipment up to date? Is it located properly away from equipment? Are they TRUTHFUL? How many well meaning UN appointed dirt farmers would it take to skew the numbers up just enough to show a warming trend?




RE: Question
By Screwballl on 12/30/2008 1:25:20 PM , Rating: 2
It all depends on who is "cherry picking" the data and conveniently forgetting to include certain key data structures that could prove/disprove the very point they are paid to make, that GW is manmade.

From a real and honest perspective, I understand a good chunk of pollution is manmade, but not global warming. The earth goes through normal heating and cooling cycles and can balance itself out if man increases the CO2 cycling around in our atmosphere. It would do the same if we increase Nitrogen or Oxygen or any other naturally forming compound. Even manmade waste is handled by nature as it was designed, spread it out enough so that over distance and time, the waste product is minimal and no longer dangerous, even at the source.

We do not have enough data to predict ANY long term changes to this planet. Hell even with todays technology, the high tech weather channels can barely predict any weather a few hours later, they still rely on "chance of precipitation percentage", and "chance of winter weather" and the watch/warning systems.

Only one thing is for certain:

THERE IS ENOUGH DATA TO PROVE BOTH SIDES ARE FULL OF IT


RE: Question
By Apprentice777 on 12/30/2008 1:58:36 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks for the response!! I guess a person has to use their best judgment when taking a position. The “man made global warming side” looses me when they chide people for “thinking” that the science is flawed. I don’t like being told what to think. On the other hand I don’t believe that the “man made global warming” side is perpetrating a hoax either. I believe they mean well but are so entrenched in their argument they come up with arguments and data to prove their point. Even though I find it quite plausible that people being funded to study Global Warming would be influenced to see warming in order to continue their financial support.

Either way it seems to me the debate is heating up. This can only help the “Skeptics”. The investigation that was once thought “solved” has been re-opened.


RE: Question
By FITCamaro on 12/30/2008 4:26:36 PM , Rating: 2
It rained here yesterday. The weather channel said it wouldn't on Sunday.

But people trust politicians with no scientific background when they say in 50 years its going to be hotter than it is today.

Shows how stupid people really are.


RE: Question
By Apprentice777 on 12/30/2008 5:00:12 PM , Rating: 2
Hey interesting side note; I think it was Dec 26th or 27th, I saw on the Weather Channel we had broken a record high. According to the Weather Channel the previous high was 74 degrees but we got to 76 degrees. They made a big deal out of it with some special screen announcing the new record. Later that same day I’m watching our local weather on a local station and the guy say’s “We didn’t break the previous record of 86 degrees. We were 10 degrees below the record.” I couldn’t believe it. Either the Weather Channel had their facts mixed up, or they were trying to pull a fast one. Either way I couldn’t help but wonder if some of the record highs that are announced broken on the Weather Channel are actually happening or they’re making mistakes or they’re just fudging the numbers to make it sound like records are being broken.


RE: Question
By Murphant on 1/5/2009 3:14:25 PM , Rating: 2
Thank you Jason for writing this article, I was getting quite tired of DailyTech's one-sidedness with Asher's blog posts. I consider I am an AGW believer myself (I'l explain the "believer" part later) but I value truth more than being right, which I why I bother to read other opinions. I agree with Apprentice's post that said that parts of data tend to be handpicked to support one opinion or another. For example, in the previously posted link http://www.norcalblogs.com/watts/2007/08/1998_no_l... it was reasoned that since 1998 is no longer the hottest year on record and there was a bug in the programming, which I indeed believe there was, many arguments in favor of the existence of global warming are no longer valid. Although I found the article generally to favor denial of AGW, I pause here to applaud how mild that bias was in the article. Had the the author been a supporter of AGW however, assuming that he would have reported that data, he also would have pointed out that a quick look at the data http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/Fig.D.txt shows a pretty clear trend towards warming, which would be much clearer if both the temperature and the 5 year mean were plotted on a graph. That bring me to my point: I find it is always a better indicative of truth to look directly at all of the data (measurements) from a particular source, assuming that the source isn't particularly biased. I believe that for most subjects, taking only a subset of the available measures and interpreting them (eg the hottest years, the coldest years, etc.) is not sufficient to answer the global question.

It is often quite easy to take a subset of data and make it say what you want. For example, my roommate was reading Dawkin's The God Delusion and gave me this quote that actually comes from Sam Harris's Letter to a Christian Nation "Of the twenty-five cities with the lowest rate of violent crime, 62 percent are "blue" [Democrat] states, and 38 percent are in "red" [Republican] states. Of the twenty five most dangerous cities, 76 percent are in red states, 24 percent are in blue states. In fact, three of the five most dangerous cities in the U.S. are in the pious state of Texas. The twelve states with the highest rate of burglary are red. Twenty-four of the twenty-nine states with the highest rates of theft are red. Of the twenty-two states with the highest rates of murder, seventeen are red." Dawkins uses these (partial) statistics without linking to the original ones or the source of the study to argue that religious people are more violent and commit more crimes. There are however too many flaws in that reasoning for me to count on my hands and I firmly believe that I could construct a set of data with all the aforementioned proprieties that could clearly indicate that "blue" states commit more crimes. My point here is not to start a debate on religion but just to show how far taking partial results and interpreting them can be misleading. I believe NASA to be a reasonably objective source and by reading their data, I would argue that it weakly supports GW, although not as extremely as its skewed version did.

I said earlier that I would clarify what I meant by "believe" and that is that I'm afraid my education and upbringing did not only consist of reading scientific papers and interpreting data, and I have parents and friends and teachers that for the most part support AGW and so I grew up to believe indeed just that. Even if it had not been the case and I was brought up on scientific papers, I would have had to make a certain interpretation of this data, and some factors (such as the neutrality of a source) are just not exactly quantifiable. Beliefs, however, are not immovable and the reason I seek various sources and try to read all the data is to move that belief as close as possible to the truth.

Oh, and I found the quote at the bottom of the page quite funny. I wonder what percentage of his public actually went and checked the source.


RE: Question
By geochem1st on 1/5/2009 2:49:31 PM , Rating: 2
People have a large misconception when it comes to modeling. Modeling daily weather events is far more complex than modeling climate scenarios. For daily events a great amount of detail needs to be known about the starting conditions of a weather system, which is why we the results are hit or miss. Climate by definition is the average weather for a large region. The constraints on the starting conditions are far less stringent as you are dealing with averages. Therefore the models will tend to be far more accurate in their predictions than daily weather models.


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