Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Snow in London, freezing Florida
In the morning, Londoners saw the first snow in October since 1934: This is London, Daily Mail, Blog Search. The snow that has overrun the Northern Ireland's roads is going to take over Wales tonight.
Meanwhile, vast portions of Florida experienced the record cold temperatures for this day: Google News.
Three days ago, Anthony Watts mentioned the record cold temperatures in 10 U.S. states, as a big snowstorm was going to close a major highway and schools in the Northeast, including PA, NY, NJ, and VT, catching everyone off-guard.
In New Jersey, it was the biggest October snowstorm since 1972. Thousands still lack power.
Yankees shouldn't complain because nearby Ottawa, Canada was hit by a snowstorm, too. Because of Ottawa's location, it's not shocking that it affected both Ontario and Quebec. The worst snowstorm on record in Tibet has made a recent 6.6-magnitude earthquake tougher.
The total Arctic sea ice area is currently almost 2 million square kilometers higher than one year ago. It is near normal for the end of October, humiliating some would-be "predictions" (self-serving and ideologically driven, unsubstantiated lies) of a new record low for 2008.
John McCain won't regulate greenhouse gas emissions if elected, Sarah Palin announced.
It is unfortunately not too likely but their newly revealed decision will probably not hurt the G.O.P. ticket because 82 percent of the Americans think that climate change is either non-existent, natural, or harmless.
Weather and warming
Because this question - what is the relationship between the weather and "climate change" - is repeating itself so often, let me give an answer once again. What do these weather events show?
Do they show that some carefully (and arbitrarily) defined average temperature on Earth hasn't changed for 30 years or won't change in the next 30 years? Definitely not. The temperature has changed and is guaranteed to change in the future, too.
But do these events show that nothing qualitatively detectable is changing about the weather and the climate - i.e. that people should always be ready both for warm as well as cool weather because different types of weather keep on switching just like they always did?
The answer to this question is definitely "Yes" and I think that only a person detached from reality could disagree with me.
In the very same way, one can perform a statistical analysis of the global mean temperature in the last 13 years. The result is that there has been no statistically significant warming.
Does it mean that the trend resulting from the linear regression was exactly zero? No. Does it mean that this trend is not worth talking about for the purpose of policymaking? The answer is definitely "Yes". At the time scale of 13 years, "global warming", if the latter notion deserves to exist - and I surely think it doesn't - cannot be even statistically extracted from the noise. This is a fact.
One would need a much higher signal-to-noise ratio for the signal to become not only measurable (with accurate thermometers and precise programs to calculate the statistics) but also relevant for the practical life of the mankind. Because the local temperature fluctuations are much greater than the fluctuations of the global mean temperature, one would need an even higher signal-to-noise ratio, i.e. much longer a time (probably centuries), for the hypothetical "trend" to influence the life of people in specific regions.
Do these apparently ordinary snowstorms imply that the weather in 2050 won't be warmer than today? No. But do they imply that it will be warmer? Once again, no.
Do these events mean that you can't make a safe bet that the next winter in London will be warmer than the previous one or the Winter 1948? Yes, they definitely do. It can be warmer or cooler, the odds are close to 50:50, and any other frantic opinion is a reflection of an irrational bias inflating a gigantic bubble of hot air.
Yes, all these data - and in fact, even the selected events summarized in the "weather records" category itself - show that every person who thinks that "global warming" is a real, urgent, and serious problem qualitatively affecting generic nations or generic people is an individual with severely malfunctioning common sense and it's just too bad that our civilization offers a "bailout" to every single guy with a breathtakingly bad judgment who gets stuck in his kayak in the Arctic. That's not the path for our civilization to learn and for the natural selection to proceed.
And that's the memo.