Saturday, June 27, 2015

Hot parking lot

It is now late June in Michigan. I think it has been about a month since I've needed to run the furnace and I haven't yet run the air conditioner. Yes, a few days have been above 80F, but my house has stayed tolerable. That streak may be broken tonight. We've had rain all day and the outdoor temp is now 59F, the inside is 69F and both will go lower before morning. Perhaps I could use a bit of global warming tonight.

The November 2009 issue of Analog Science Fiction and Fact has a fact article in The Alternate View column by Jeffrey Kooistra titled "Lessons From the Lab." Yes, I'm way behind in reading my accumulated issues (I stopped buying more at the start of the year). This magazine does not keep its issues online and only describes what is in the current issue.

Kooistra talks about an incident in a science class that taught him about the accuracy of data and its collection. From there he takes up the issue of global warming. How accurate is the data to support it?

The National Weather Service has a couple thousand stations to record temperature. Within the last 50 years these stations were switched from being painted with whitewash to being painted with latex paint. Does that make a difference in the recorded temperature? Yes. Does the data collection take that difference into account? Um...

Then there are the cases where development has grown up around the temperature stations. What about the station now next to a parking lot that radiates heat in the summer? What about a station now in the path of the exhaust of a new building's air conditioner? Have these been taken into account? Probably not. Is the data accurate enough to support the claims of global warming? Maybe not.

I notice global climate change predicts an increase in the number and severity of storms and the severity of droughts. Both of these appear to be happening. Then there are the measurements of the extent of Arctic ice sheets, the thickness of the Antarctic ice shelf, and retreating glaciers.

I also note the climate deniers don't talk about something basic as accuracy of data. Most citizens wouldn't understand the concept. Instead, they use a lot of bluster, which to me is a sign that they have empty arguments.

So Is global warming happening? The evidence isn't as clear as I thought it was.

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