Saturday, May 3, 2008

Climate Change

I spent the last month looking into climate change and the data behind the issue, primarily to see if and how climate change indicator data are used and/or mis-used to tell a story by anyone with an agenda. Of course, it would be naive to think that someone who is using this data does not have an agenda. But I wanted to see for myself how the "raw" data can be manipulated.

I first learned that if you want to get your hands on climate change indicator data, also known as proxy climate indicators, you can go to the NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (ncdc) webpage and find a wealth of data that can be downloaded in spreadsheet form and plotted for your own purposes. I found that claims were made about some of the data that were used by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), namely that the data were plotted and used to tell a story about rapidly warming ambient conditions. In fact, I became a skeptic, after reading that so called major weather anomalies in temperature occurred over the last 1400 years that were not reflected in the record as told by the IPCC. But when I did the plots for myself, I found that these events did appear in the record, but they became pretty insignificant in comparison to the recent (last 150 years) trend. I only truly believed that the recent warming, which approximately starts in the mid-1850s, was significant compared to every other timeframe for which a decent record can be constructed after I performed this exercise knowing I left out no data.

What I found is that anyone armed with a laptop and Internet access can obtain spreadsheet form climate data and make the plots and interpret them for themselves pretty easily. This cuts out the middleman (i.e., Greenpeace, Sierra Club, Fox News) interpreting these things for you. You will be overwhelmed at the many different forms of data out there and available in raw form, including temperature anomalies, CO2, etc... See for yourself. It's actually kinda empowering to know you can do this without relying others to tell you that things may be changing.

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