For anyone who reads climate change stories under the impression that measuring global temperature is as simple as inserting an anal thermometer into an infant’s rectum, Carl Bialik, The Numbers Guy, has a very helpful column in today’s Wall Street Journal. The title is Global Temperatures: All Over the Map.
According to Bialik, there are more than 1.6 billion temperature readings taken over the past two centuries, some from more than 40,000 earth stations, some of which are poorly maintained, and some from satellites. Some of the reported temperatures came from neither of these sources but from mathematical techniques used to fill in gaps or adjust questionable data. The task is complicated by the fact that some parts of the globe become cooler over time while other parts become warmer and that measurements are more concentrated in some areas than in others.
Still given all these complications, there seems to be little doubt, according to Bialik, that the earth has warmed in the past fifty years or so by perhaps 0.9 degrees Celsius. Such a change seems pretty trivial compared to the long term warming trend that began about 10,000 years ago and brought us out of the last ice age. I don’t believe anybody is suggesting that the cause of that ancient gradual shift was human activity. Obviously there are other forces at work here than atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, and the focus on carbon dioxide makes me think there is some hidden agenda behind the climate change alarm movement, an agenda perhaps hidden even to many of the spokespersons.
And I still haven’t heard any explanation of why the current temperature is the right temperature and why a little more warming mightn’t increase our ability to produce food and reduce worldwide energy costs and pollution that results from energy consumption. I know the electric bills are a lot lower in Miami than in Minneapolis. And, warmer temperatures could reduce the demand for sweat shops and child labor that produce much of the clothing we use to keep warm in the further distances from the equator.
And, if the current temperature isn’t the right one, I’m still wondering how, if we learn to control the global temperature, we will reach agreement on where to set that thermostat. I’m guessing that struggle for consensus would result in declaration of another series of just wars.
There just aren’t any easy answers to the age-old question: What’s the weather going to do? Too much obsession over climate could lead to accusations of anality.