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Stuck in the 20th century at #Ozfail

October 20th, 2012

I really need to get back to the analysis of tax and expenditure options I’ve been working on, but the absurdities of the Oz keep distracting me. Today’s paper runs a front page story claiming “Temperatures were higher 2000 years ago“. The story is based on a study published in Global and Planetary Change, which uses tree ring records to estimate (with lots of caveats about uncertainty) that Northern Hemisphere (presumably land) temperatures were warmer in the 1st Century AD than in the 20th. More precisely, “The first century AD was the warmest 100-year period (+0.60C on average relative to the 1951-1980 mean) of the common era”. Take that, warmists!

There’s are a couple of minor problems with the story. As part of the Murdoch empire, encompassing 20th Century Fox, the Oz has apparently not noticed that the 20th century ended some years ago. And, being prone to printing silliness about pauses in warming, the writer, Graham Lloyd, did not bother to check whether the temperature today is warmer than the 1951-1980 mean. This isn’t hard to do. The US National Climatic Data Center reports global temperatures on a monthly basis. It reports that the Northern Hemisphere land temperature for September 2012 was +1.04 ± 0.26 above the 20th century average (I’ve checked and 1950-80 was about equal to the average for C20 as a whole).

So, the correct headline for the story should have been “Northern Hemisphere warmer than at any time in past 2000 years”

One more point, just for completeness. Readers might reasonably assume that the graphic accompanying the story is taken from the journal article it reports. In fact, it’s credited to the Global Warming Policy Foundation – given the fact that the Oz has linked to it, you don’t need to be Einstein to guess what kind of policies the scientific ex this foundation (headed by Benny Peiser) is pushing.

Update Reader andrewt points us to the actual article. The GWPF graphic is taken from the article, with the addition of a bunch of chartjunk. The article actually focuses on Northern Scandinavia, though its results are broadly consistent with other reconstructions at the hemispheric and global scale. And, while I won’t bother linking, it’s clear that Lloyd has taken his story, and interpretation of the results, from the Anthony Watts “sceptic” site.

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  1. Chris O’Neill
    October 22nd, 2012 at 13:52 | #1

    Why should the current generation sacrifice for far richer future generations?

    There is one obvious example where future generations are definitely not going to be richer than the current generation and that is with property. Future generations may be able to afford more manufactured trinkets than ever before but they won’t be so lucky when it comes to property.

  2. rog
    October 22nd, 2012 at 18:16 | #2

    Jim Rose likes to quote Richard Tol so he will be pleased with this

    Everything about climate change is uncertain. Uncertainty is no reason not to act. In fact, it is the other way around. What we do know, suggests that climate change is a real problem. There is a small chance that current concerns are overblown. There is no reason to believe that climate change will make us all rich. But there is also a small chance that climate change will wreck the livelihood of many people. A relatively modest investment in greenhouse gas emission reduction would take away the worst risks. If the climate optimists are right, we would have made energy a bit more expensive for no reason. If the climate pessimists are right, we would have avoided a catastrophe. A rational person would err on the side of the pessimists.

  3. Jim Rose
    October 22nd, 2012 at 19:19 | #3

    @rog “A relatively modest investment in greenhouse gas emission reduction would take away the worst risks.”

    Tol supports of caron tax of $5 to encourage R&D.

  4. rog
    October 23rd, 2012 at 04:39 | #4

    @Jim Rose I take it that you now agree with Tol ie climate change is real and needs to be addressed now rather than later and a carbon tax/ETS is preferable, the only sticking point being the value per tonne of carbon.

    This is also the view of Tony Abbott

  5. may
    October 23rd, 2012 at 12:47 | #5

    Sean :Not only that, but the proxies they used only cover one region (northern Sweden and Finland), not the entire northern hemisphere as Lloyd says. Also the main point of the paper (difference between proxy records by more than the amount the warm periods differ from the 1951-1980 mean) appears to have been conveniently overlooked. Denialist hackery at its most shamelessly, brazenly dishonest.
    Everyone write to Media Watch. They will have a field day with this one.

    media watch?

    with an evangelist and an”australian”(?) paid opinionator on the board?

    has our abc possibly been turned to just another fog machine?

  6. Shirley
    October 24th, 2012 at 18:51 | #6

    Has the Australian gone from bad to worse or is it a case of ‘same old, same old’ when they publish letters titled ‘Warmer for the Vikings’. Such is the calibre of their readership.

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