Over Integrated Uselessness...
By ntrepid Posted in User Blogs — Comments (1) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
...Or Longwinded Debates over Meaningless Numbers Derived from Over Manipulated Data
As I type this the average temperature in my kitchen is an amazing 119.7 degrees Fahrenheit - yet I sit here in relative comfort. How is this possible? Well, the air conditioner is set on 78 degrees but both ovens a cranking away at a toasty 500 degrees, the dishwasher is on the drying cycle, and my wife is standing here steaming mad at me for wasting more of our valuable family time posting things under a fake name on a "stupid website". (Her words, not mine.) Averaging these widely varied temperature regions over the entire volume of the room results in what could (incorrectly) be interpreted as very extreme local environmental conditions.
My friends, in regards to overall household climate, "Average Temperature in my Kitchen" is a meaningless number.
This is where I find myself as I reread Jason Lee Steorts recent NRO article (Link) and this passage keeps jumping out at me:
...that "global average temperature has risen by about 1 degree Celsius or less since the late 1800s." No serious person on either side of the global-warming debate questions this.
More precisely, it's the words "global average temperature". They just float on by as the universally accepted standard of measure for assessing overall "global climate" health and everyone is off debating their favorite pet angle, topic, or related statistic. Sure, this may all make for livelier (and by now mostly rehashed) discussions but maybe it's worth the time to step back and be more skeptical about some of this stuff. Take back some ground if you will.
What is "global average temperature" anyway? Who decided it was the Figure of Merit for Earth's overall climate status? Does it really mean anything? Much like the Instantaneous Average Temperature in my Kitchen (above) or my average skin surface temperature in relation to the third degree burn occurring at the tip of my index finger...do derived "global" variables like these really give us any real insight into a topic?
Regardless of the actual measurement techniques and calculation methodologies, I tend to visualize the concept like this: First, take an instantaneous surface temperature measurement at every point on the face of the earth and average the data. Repeat this every hour (or minute, or second) for an entire day and then average all of these instantaneous averages. Finally, repeat this every day for a year and average all of these daily averages to get the "global average temperature" for that given year. Forgive me but that is a whole lot of complex information built into one catch-all number.
So, why use daily averages? Why not average only daily high temperatures? ...or daily low temperatures? Why use surface temperatures? Why not temperatures at 100 feet above ground? ...or 12 feet below ground? (...or 6 feet 1 inch above ground only in my kitchen?) Why not add complexity and take instantaneous average temperatures between 12 feet below ground and 100 feet above ground at every point on the face of the earth?
I'm sorry but, whether people understand it or not, words like "Global" and "Climate" are big words and big concepts. Along with others like "Galactic" (as in sizes, scales) and "Evolutionary" (as in timelines), I do not believe these are things that are easily simplified into single numbers or short catch-phases. Simply stating "E equals M C Squared" does not make anyone an expert on General Relativity but quoting "global average temperature" data somehow makes Katie Couric a Global Climate Expert.
This leads me to a very insightful passage from The Skeptical Environmentalist (Bjorn Lomborg, pages 297-298):
When answering questions about global warming, the most obvious point is that temperature has increased some 0.6 degrees Celsius over the past century (Figure 135). However, it turns out that the global temperature increase does not mean that everything just got a bit warmer. Actually, there is a general strong trend that it is the cold temperatures that have warmed the most.
Globally, minimum (night) temperatures have increased much more than maximum (day) temperatures. This characteristic is evident for all seasons and both hemispheres in Figure 155. From 1950-1993, the global trend has been just 0.1 degrees C / decade for maximum temperatures whereas the minimum temperatures have increased by 0.2 degrees C / decade. The tendency has also been observed individually for the US, China, England, and Northern and Central Europe. At the same time, more warming has taken place during the winter than during the summer...where the temperature increase has been strongest in winter and spring. Finally, winter temperatures have been warming most in colder locations - actually, more than three-quarters of the winter warming in the northern hemisphere has been confined to the very cold high-pressure system of Siberia and northwestern North America.
Apparently, most of what people perceive as "observable global warming" is actually happening at night and/or in regions where even National Geographic rarely goes for cover photos. How much of the seriously un-debatable "1 degree Celsius" rise in "Global Average Temperature" since the late 1800s is the result of bias built into the data by meaningless increases in nighttime temperatures during Siberian winters?
So while we endure the most recent spin on the "Global Cooling / Warming / More Extreme Weather Patterns Theory" as the explanation for everything from historically-not-all-that-surprising hurricane seasons to Tsunamis, remember that the detailed data behind the scare campaign actually shows a strong moderating trend in global temperatures.
An abundance of computing power and access to various temperature databases may allow you to calculate something but that doesn't make it relevant. "Global Average Temperature" seems to be a nicely packaged marketing tool for the very marketable "Global Warming" Industry. Unfortunately, this all greatly oversimplifies the extremely complex issue of Global Climate Change to the point that most of today's debate on the topic is meaningless. Even by the "serious" people in Mr. Steorts debating circles.