08 December 2008

Weatherman: cold weather is not climate related

Just who is it that is denying climate change here?

James Randerson in The Guardian tells us:

"The relatively chilly temperatures compared with recent years are not evidence that global warming is slowing however, say climate scientists at the Met Office. “Absolutely not,” said Dr Peter Stott, the manager of understanding and attributing climate change at the Met Office’s Hadley Centre."

That "Absolutely not" is crying out for an exclamation mark, but it also lends the "Hadley Centre" an appropriately Alice in Wonderland feel. Let's just slip down a credulity hole into some playful Lewis Carroll universe if the going gets awkward. As the people at Climate Resistance point out, Dr. Stott is more than just over-egging the pudding a bit with this stentorious absolutism.

In what universe does the experience of colder weather this year than last year, that most of us have just lived through, not constitute, like you know, actual evidence that global warming is slowing? I suppose it could be a universe in which global warming is not a description of a planet that is experiencing steadily higher temperatures, but a universe that prefers acting out the very human condition of not liking it when it gets colder.

Even if you believe that the globe is warming, as many quite respectable people seem to, then you are not compelled, by the holding of that belief, to also say that data showing lower temperatures compared to a previous corresponding period, is not evidence of cooling. That is just silly. If temperature goes down then that is evidence of a temperatute drop, otherwise known as, cooling. Surely, even in these fractious times, it is not too contentious a propostion to suggest that we and Dr Stott can together agree that cooling slows warming, since cooling is the opposite of warming? If so, what's absolutely clear here is that Dr. Stott is absolutely wrong when he says "absolutely not".

Dr. Stott's predicament is delightfully dramatised by Alex Cull, the commenter at the Climate Resistance post, where he says:

"The Hadley Centre’s attitude reminds me of being in a car driven by someone who is stubbornly refusing to admit that they are lost, someone who cannot even contemplate the idea that they might be horribly wrong…

Kids: Are we nearly there yet?
Dad: Yes, we are - we should be arriving at Global Warming any minute now. We’ll be reaching the first tipping points in a moment, you’ll see.
Mum: Honey, I think we passed the turning to Global Warming some time back in 1998. I don’t think we -
Dad: We are definitely on the road to Global Warming. Just let me drive without your constant -
Mum: Well, I don’t think we’re heading towards Global Warming. We missed the turn! And look, you’re holding the map upside d-
Kids: Daddy’s lost, Daddy’s lost, nyah nyah ni nyah naa!
Dad: Shut up, everybody just shut up!! Who’s driving this car? I am! And if I say we’re on the road to Global Warming, that’s exactly where we are! It’s settled! I don’t want another word from anyone else, you hear? The debate’s over."

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