Rearranging The Deckchairs

Frank O'Dwyer's blog

An Annie Hall Moment for the Global Warming Denialists

In the Woody Allen movie Annie Hall a character in a movie queue is sounding off about Marshall MacLuhan when the subject himself appears and says: “Excuse me, I’m Marshall MacLuhan. You know nothing of my work.” Woody Allen then turns to the audience and asks, “don’t you wish life were like that?”. Well thanks to the net, life is like that nowadays. Over at A Tangled Web, Jammie Wearing Fool and elsewhere, the global warming denialists are busy misrepresenting a news article in the Toronto Star about a study from the canadian physicist William van Wijngaarden. ”Physicist questions climate change finding”, goes the Star headline, and the denialists make hay:

Canadian scientists, that is, real scientists, eh, have hosed one of the linchpins of al-Gore’s ‘global warming’ junk science.

..enthuses RadicalRon over at ATW and JWF. In the posts and comment threads it’s evident that the denialists think that the study has refuted a major tenet of MMGW (man-made global warming). Just one problem. The author of the study doesn’t think so. From quotes in the article this is fairly clear but just be sure I wrote to Mr van Wijngaarden, and with his permission here is his reply:

Dear Frank Thank you for your email. My presentation at the recent American Meteorological Service as well as all other presentations have never questioned the scientific consensus on man-made global warming. Indeed, I as well as probably thousands of others have looked at the temperature data and find a significant warming is going on in certain regions. For example, in the Canadian western Arctic and the prairies there has been a warming of about 5 C during the last 50 years in winter. This is unprecedented and should be very troubling to everyone. The response of governments to date has been very weak. i.e. We should be banning SUV vehicles, increasing fuel mileage standards to 50 miles per gallon within a decade, investing in mass transit systems etc. etc. The anthropogenic effect on climate change described above has resulted from over a century of fossil fuel burning by millions of smokestacks and cars. This is fundamentally different than saying that shutting off a few thousand jet engines for a few hours results in temperature change over a continental region of a similar magnitude. My study looked at the change in daily temperature range (DTR) i.e. maximum day minus minimum night temperature, during 2001 in Canada. This was compared to the average value of DTR found for the previous about 25 years. As expected the DTR in 2001 fluctuates about the average value. The period around Sept. 11 does not reveal any startling change as was reported previously for the continental U.S. Indeed, when one looked at stations closest to the U.S. border one also did not see any startling change in DTR. The obvious question to ask is what effect the reduced number of stations in Canada has compared to the earlier U.S. study. If one plots a map showing the DTR in 2001 relative to the average DTR for the 25 years, one finds that neighbouring stations have consistent results. i.e. If one station has a somewhat smaller DTR, so do its neighbours. This pattern changes from day to day as would be consistent with the natural progression of High and Low pressure systems across the continent. Hence, having many more stations, would not change the results of our study. I wish to make clear that although I haven’t met the authors of the original study, I’m sure they are reputable scientists. It would be interesting to have another look at the original data and look not just at the period immediately surrounding Sept. 11, 2001 but for all the days in 2001. It would be really be interesting to see a plot for the continental U.S. showing DTR for each day in 2001 compared to the average value for the preceding 25 years. It would also be useful to do a calculation estimating how much of the sun’s radiation is reflected by contrails and what would be the expected change in DTR. I suspect that this result would be much smaller than the reported change in the DTR of the earlier study. I hope this has been helpful. Best Regards, William van Wijngaarden

There you go “RadicalRon” and all the rest. Canadian scientists, that is, real scientists, eh, agree with the scientific consensus - like most scientists (the clue is in the name ‘consensus’). That means that like pretty much everyone else they accept that man made global warming is due to over a century of burning fossil fuels. Technorati Tags: global warming, science, ipcc, contrails, wijngaarden, denialists, woody allen, annie hall, globalwarming