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August 2007
September 2007

2007-08-20 »

A brief note on climate change... and objectivity

I normally don't stray too far from programming/business-related topics and I normally don't just link to news articles, but this one is too stupid to pass up: "Blogger proves NASA wrong on climate change."

Forget about the bloggers in the headline, I don't care. The actual article body says: after revising the statistics due to a calculation error (which NASA has now admitted making), we now see that five of the top 10 warmest years in recorded U.S. history occurred before 1939.

"Recorded history" means since about 1890 or so, which means that throughout U.S. recorded history, temperatures have trended up, then down, then up again, and are currently near the same level as in 1939.

Now let's look at the article. The person who found the error is obviously biased: he's a "former mining executive." Yet NASA updated their figures when he corrected them.

They sure downplayed it in their announcement: "...unless you are interested in temperature changes to a tenth of a degree over the US and a thousandth of a degree over the world."(1)

Well, actually, yes, I am interested in those changes, because a tenth of a degree is apparently all it takes to support or deny a claim of half-century-long global warming nowadays.

Look, this isn't science, it's propaganda. This is science:

Looks like it's trending... um, er, well, there's a whole scientific paper analyzing these results.(2) Have you read it? Do you understand it? If not, don't try to tell me about global warming.

I think polluting a little less is probably a good idea, even still. I don't need a scientist to tell me that smog smells bad.

In other news

Also, anybody who thinks the current price of gasoline has anything to do with "peak oil" does not understand economics.

Which is not to say we won't run out of oil, or that we're not evil polluting earth-destroying monsters, or that oil prices aren't high. But they were higher in 1979.

Footnotes

(1) If anyone can find a link to the actual press release/memo on an actual NASA site, I'd appreciate hearing about it.

(2) Cheater summary: after extensive numerical analysis, the paper says it's trending upward and has increased by about 0.5 degrees F (0.27 degrees C) since 1950. But you'll have to decide for yourself if their numerical analysis is correct, because they sure didn't just get out a ruler and draw a trendline.

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