Is the Earth Warming or Not?

In a post last week entitled “Debate vs. Demonization” we questioned the tendency on the part of global warming alarmists to demonize anyone who wishes to question the reality, the scope, the causes, or the prescriptions for global warming. We referenced one recent exchange between Dr. Roger Pielke Sr., a renowned climatologist who has raised such questions, and one of his detractors. In this exchange, the person who had attacked Pielke made the following statement:

“At the risk of talking science, Dr. Pielke takes specific exception to my reporting of the average global temperature over the past 10 years. I hate to get into duelling graphics, in part because it would encourage people to think that Pielke’s choice of graphs is relevant, but here is the UK MET office Hadley Centre’s most recent record of global average temperature. To the degree that this might be considered a discussion about science, I stand my ground.”

What if the earth is cooling,
and we are planning for warming?

If you click on this link, the graph you see is not terribly ambivalent. Temperatures are shown to be rising, and if all you knew was how to read a bar graph, and had no reason to doubt the veracity of the data, it would be alarming. So I asked Dr. Pielke to provide background on the Hadley Centre’s data, and here is his response:

On the data plotted at the UK MET office Hadley Centre; they present land surface data back to 1850 with all of the problems (including warm biases) with such information as we summarized, for example, in our JGR paper, Pielke Sr., R.A., C. Davey, D. Niyogi, S. Fall, J. Steinweg-Woods, K. Hubbard, X. Lin, M. Cai, Y.-K. Lim, H. Li, J. Nielsen-Gammon, K. Gallo, R. Hale, R. Mahmood, S. Foster, R.T. McNider, and P. Blanken, 2007:
Unresolved issues with the assessment of multi-decadal global land surface temperature trends.
J. Geophys. Res., 112, D24S08, doi:10.1029/2006JD008229.

Also refer to our GRL paper, Lin, X., R.A. Pielke Sr., K.G. Hubbard, K.C. Crawford, M. A. Shafer, and T. Matsui, 2007: An examination of 1997-2007 surface layer temperature trends at two heights in Oklahoma.
Geophys. Res. Letts., 34, L24705, doi:10.1029/2007GL031652.

On the ocean surface temperatures, there are also a set of problems as reported recently, for example, by David Thompson and in the CCSP report on surface and tropospheric temperature trends.

More importantly for your discussion, is the absence of further temperature increase (even with the warm biases with the surface data) in the last 7 years.

A more robust data set is:

[Figure 7] which accurately diagnoses the tropospheric temperatures back to 1979. In Figure 7 see, for example, the plot for TLT where there is even a global cooling recently.

Anyone who thinks the truth about climate change matters should take a look at sources Pielke references; especially the data on the SSMI website (above), Figure 7 in particular, which will appear if you scroll about 3/4 of the way to the bottom of the page. In Figure 7 there are four graphs of temperature data, each of them corresponding to a given altitude, including a trend line for each. The first two graphs depict temperature sensor data for the Lower Troposphere (altitudes up to 5,000 meters) and Middle Troposphere (5,000 to 10,000 meters), and show a warming trend of .169 C/decade and .096 C/decade, respectively. This equates to a 1.0 C temperature rise every 60 years in the lower troposphere and every 104 years in the middle troposphere. But both of these graphs show a significant drop in temperatures in the last few years.

The next two graphs depict temperature data and trend lines for the lower stratosphere (15,000 to 25,000 meters) and the troposphere/stratosphere (10,000 to 15,000 meters). The graph for the lower stratosphere shows a cooling trend of -.019 C/decade, and the graph for the troposphere/stratosphere shows a cooling trend of -.334 C/decade. Returning to Pielke’s response:

The discussions of the global surface temperature trend issue by Roger Pielke Jr. are also insightful:

Visually Pleasing Temperature Adjustments

Real Climate on Meaningless Temperature Adjustments

Does the IPCC Main Conclusion Need to be Revisited?

See also the discussions of this issue at:

Do IPCC Projections Falsify?, and

IPCC Central Tendency of 2C/century: Still rejected

as well as Lucia’a other postings on this on her website:

The question is, will anyone read this material if they already have made up their minds?

3 Responses to “Is the Earth Warming or Not?”
  1. marcus says:

    i also feel quite torn on the subject of global warming. the earth does go through gradual cycles of warmth and cooling but mainly from continental drift interfearing with the oceanic tides. however this ”drifting” occurs over millions of years. it is so slow that i am quit confident that we would be able to evolve to the shifting climate accordingly. but data over the span of about 54 years is not sufficiant enough to give an accurate answer at all. especially when the temperatures are recorded in ever growing cities were heat is trapped in by surrounding buildings. you would need an oceanic reading in both the tropics and the polar regions, as well as readings done in mountains and plains and valleys and over the span of about 500 years!!!! that would be the only real way to prove there is global warming. not that the sun seems a little brighter today than yesterday or that your pool outside is a little warmer than usual. -mr.marcus

  2. Al Fin says:

    I agree with R. Pielke Sr. that ocean heat content is the best metric for determining if the planet is warming or cooling; since reliable ocean heat readings are just beginning to be collected, patience is recommended.

    Preliminary indications are that some cooling may be taking place, but that evidence has to be confirmed.

    Climate science has been corrupted by politicians and activists, so every single research paper has to be carefully scrutinized on its own merits, regardless of publishers, reviewers, or authors.

  3. Ed Ring says:

    Bravo, Al. You have stated the situation perfectly. It is too bad that our willingness to simply pay attention to the facts and ongoing new data constitutes – in the minds of some – “greenwashing.”


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.