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Who Cares About Climate? – 1- How Space-Time Digested AGW

People are victims of the weather. But if “the weather” is not “the climate“, then people are not victims of “the climate“. Therefore: why should anybody care about “the climate“?

What is all this talk about climate change for, and about?

Alas, thanks to the staunch defence of AGW no matter what, it is about almost nothing. I have already written how very little there is to show for AGW (most if not all issues are firmly expected for sometimes in the future). And now, whatever AGW has become, it is turning into a ghost of itself in front of our very eyes, because of insurmountable problems of time (and space) .

The Time Dimension of AGW

World temperatures haven’t gone anywhere for at least a decade, hurricanes haven’t been battering like it’s 2005, and the Arctic sea ice cover hasn’t shrunk as in 2007. And yet in an apparent effort to insulate AGW theory from actual observation of the physical world, there is no shortage of people pontificating that the IPCC consensus is safe, because:

  • whatever we observe in the here-and-now is “weather”
  • the IPCC consensus is about “climate”
  • “climate” is not “weather”
  • “climate” is “weather” averaged over 30 years (who knows why, 30 and not 22 or 100?)

This from a NOAA page discussing the difference between “weather” and “climate”

In short, climate is the description of the long-term pattern of weather in a particular area.

Some scientists define climate as the average weather for a particular region and time period, usually taken over 30-years. It’s really an average pattern of weather for a particular region.

When scientists talk about climate, they’re looking at averages of precipitation, temperature, humidity, sunshine, wind velocity, phenomena such as fog, frost, and hail storms, and other measures of the weather that occur over a long period in a particular place.

The insulation of this vaporous average of a thing called “climate” from experienced “weather” events is near to perfect. For example, Leo Hickman and George Monbiot dismiss the significance of “single events” in the Guardian’s Environment blog:

weather […] believe it or not, it is not always predictable and it changes quite often. It is not the same as climate, and single events are not the same as trends

Revkin goes as far as talking of weather and climate going in opposite directions:

In the last few days, a notable conjunction occurred when these two men [Hansen and Watts] essentially agreed on something: that the planet — despite a lot of very cold patches — is unusually warm.

But the reasoning goes both ways: the same distinction between “weather” and “climate” can be applied to every alleged AGW manifestation on short timescales. Each melting glacier, each heatwave, each single-year or even decadal decrease in Arctic ice is “weather”.

And so we are left in this limbo, where “climate change impacts are already evident” even if they cannot possibly be.

The Space Dimension of AGW

The “G” in AGW means “global”. AGW is meant to apply to the world as a whole. But “climate” heavily depends on local effects, says Wikipedia:

The climate of a location is affected by its latitude, terrain, altitude, ice or snow cover, as well as nearby water bodies and their currents

Hansen agrees:

regional short‐term temperature fluctuations […] are an order of magnitude larger than global average annual anomalies

That is: “local climate” is “weather”, not “climate”. Hence, as explained by Luboš,

the global mean temperature is irrelevant for you and for everyone else, too. It didn’t help the hundreds of frozen people in India, the passengers whose flights were canceled, and millions of other people in the European, Asian, and American civilization centers

That’s not all: even assuming AGW is all fine and right, one should consider the result of “regional variations in radiative forcing“, as already mentioned years ago by Roger Pielke, Sr. :

regional diabatic heating due to human activities represents a major, but under-recognized climate forcing, on long-term global weather patterns. Indeed, this heterogenous climate forcing may be more important on the weather that we experience than changes in weather patterns associated with the more homogeneous spatial radiative forcing of the well-mixed greenhouse gases

AGW: No Close-ups, Please!

If you try to look at it at too fine a temporal detail (a decade or less), there is no such a thing as “climate” (or so we are told). Hence, AGW does not apply. If you try to look at it at too fine a spatial detail (a couple of decades or less), there is no such a thing as “climate” (or so we are told). Hence, AGW does not apply.

That is, weeks if not months of “it’s weather, not climate” defenses of AGW mean the evaporation of the very concept of “climate” as used in AGW circles.

Please somebody explain why should anybody still care about “the climate”…


The same can be said about every alleged AGW manifestation on short timescales, from each melting glacier to each heatwave to each single-year or even decadal decrease in Arctic ice. And so we are left in this limbo, where “climate change impacts are already evident” http://www.jri.org.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/JRI_18_Joseph.pdf even if they aren’t.
  1. George M
    2011/12/18 at 23:03

    So plenty of time to determine trend in climate change. Again the 10 warmest years have been in the last 13 since station records began. But don;t worry I am sure you have proof that these 10 warmest years are perfectly natural…?

    duh! you’ve got a timeseries graph with the dependent variable gradually bouncing higher as time goes on. It would be real news if those last 12-15 years contained a few record lows. It is kind of a self-evident fact that the higher values all tend to be at the end of the graph.

    YOU have to prove that this is NOT natural. The current temps certainly aren’t any kind of record high for inter-glacial periods, and nowhere close to temperatures in the past when the earth was really warm.

  2. Jim Galasyn
    2010/02/05 at 22:23

    “‘climate’ is ‘weather’ averaged over 30 years (who knows why, 30 and not 22 or 100?)”

    Here’s why:

    Results on deciding trends

    • 2010/02/05 at 23:02

      thank you Jim…I’ll ready it carefully but…why do people make the assumption that a “trend” is a “straight line”??

      Anyway, if one accepts that, and one should always center the results, now in 2010 we can talk about the climate trends of 1995. Nice to know.

  3. 2010/01/25 at 08:20

    PKD – please keep in mind that a decade is not enough to talk about “climate”, according to mainstream AGW theory.

    In more normal times, we would be discussing about how “weather” is a manifestation of “climate” (just like where a car is heading at each individual second or minute is a manifestation of where the driver is generally trying to drive to). and what changes at different timescales. But these are not normal times: we are told that “weather” is not “climate”. Why? Kenberth’s “travesty” and all that, of course.

    AGW is being actively shielded from observation. No trend in the USA? We must look at the whole world! No trend in the last years or decade? We must look at three decades or more!

    Blessed were the times when climatologists tried to forecast across half a decade. Who knows, they might even have given themselves a chance to correct their predictions, rather than dispatch them well beyond their pension age.

    • PKD
      2010/01/26 at 03:59

      PKD – please keep in mind that a decade is not enough to talk about “climate”, according to mainstream AGW theory.

      Yes, its generally given to be 30 years. NSIDC go by 30 years but some places use a different time span. YMMV…but we do have at least 30 years of satellite data and well over 100 years of station data for us to know what the climate is like and how much it is changing before we need to fall back to proxies like ice cores.

      So plenty of time to determine trend in climate change. Again the 10 warmest years have been in the last 13 since station records began. But don;t worry I am sure you have proof that these 10 warmest years are prefectly natural…?

      • 2010/01/26 at 09:49

        I just wonder…if we need 30-year averages, does it mean that in 2010 we know the climate trends for 1980, or for 1995?

  4. PKD
    2010/01/23 at 21:37

    So given you are denying the existence of climate, you must also be denying the existence of climate types – Maritime, Sub-Tropical, Tropical, Tundra and so on and so forth.

    And that would just be nutty… 😐

    • 2010/01/23 at 23:15

      PKD – I understand it is hard to read on a Saturday but what kind of explanation do you think will suffice to show you your question should be addressed to your AGW friends? It is their idiotic talk of “it’s weather, not climate” I am making fun of.

      • PKD
        2010/01/25 at 07:26

        There is nothing idiotic about pointing out that individual weather events (hot or cold) are irrelevant unless they are furthering a trend in climate. For example we’ve now the the 10 warmest years in our recorded history in the last 13. If you take each year individually (as ‘sceptics love to do when cherry picking 1997 to try and demonstrate the world is now cooling) then its just a warm individual year. If each added together is forming a warming trend to the climate (which they unequivocally are) then thats fine to make that link.

        I trust thats not too hard for you to understand too?

  5. geoff chambers
    2010/01/21 at 17:04

    Excellent stuff. You’re well on the way to demonstrating that climatology belongs in the social sciences (nothing wrong with that, of course).

    (I think there’s an error in your antepenultimate paragraph: (“If you try to look at it at too fine a spatial detail (a couple of decades or less)..”).

    The climate worriers are reproducing the same fallacy as racists commit when they claim that white people are more intelligent than black. The error is not (mainly) in the statistics, but in the conclusions drawn. Try to tease out of the IQ argument any logical conclusion, and you arrive at something like “if you gave an IQ test to 10 blacks and 10 whites, and laid bets on the colour of the most intelligent, and repeated the test hundreds of times, you’d probably win your bet slightly more often than you’d lose it” – i.e. a result so boring and so useless as to render the whole process laughable.
    Similarly, the natural conclusion from AGW would be something like: “If you’re trying to decide what present to buy your loved one in 2050, go for the deckchair rather than the mittens”.

    Incidentally, When David Adam, Guardian Science Correspondent, says (in Part 2) “be sure to pack the suncream” and Monbiot talks of a Mediterranean climate, they seem to share the common fallacy that climate change will make the sun rise higher in the sky over Britain.

  6. 2010/01/20 at 13:47

    Your discussion brings up the question of what is normal? To explain the recent cold weather and the last decade of no warming, the AGW have introduced the concept of “natural variability.” On my website I calculated the natural variability, plus or minus 3 standard deviations. (http://socratesparadox.com/?p=99 ). I was gratified to see that the same concept was discussed in the NASA GISS emails released under FOI last week.
    “Pg 135:
    Given that the purpose of our effort is to compute long term trends, a simpler and more meaningful measure for the statistical significance is the interannual variability of the US means; its standard deviation is 0.8F (after subtracting the small linear trend). The corresponding number for the global means is 0.3F . To be remarkable, an observed change has to be a multiple of that standard deviation; compared to that, the errors caused by “bad” stations, urban heat island effect, etc. are of little importance. Reto”

    I used the 1880-2008 data global annual averages and got a standard deviation of .15. Reto calculated 0.3, which may be the plus or minus band.

    This is another example of the “Unbearable Nakedness of Climate Change”

    • 2010/01/20 at 14:53

      Thank you Bruce. Your results are jaw-dropping stuff and the likes of Tamino will confirm them shortly, no doubt (ha ha ha).

      I also suggest all to read your other contribution to the topic: http://socratesparadox.com/?p=93

    • Blouis79
      2010/01/20 at 20:42

      It’s probably better to use the raw data or global monthly averages rather than global annual averages, which I think have been also smoothed in GISTEMP processing.

      My graphs of global vs US GISTEMP data showed way more noise in the US data.

  1. 2012/04/01 at 16:02
  2. 2012/03/21 at 00:57
  3. 2012/02/09 at 11:37
  4. 2010/01/21 at 18:51
  5. 2010/01/21 at 01:17

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