AP scoop: Statisticians decide – Alarmists right; Deniers wrong

One of the top stories on Yahoo this past week was the Seth Borenstein / AP article called AP IMPACT: Statisticians reject global cooling.’

My first thought was ‘oh, good. Statisticians are now overruling climatologists.’

Before I begin, I want to point something out. What you are reading now is a blog post. It is information I disseminate and then put my own particular spin on the writing style.

Borenstein is a writer for a ‘news’ organization. His job should be to disseminate information and present it in a objective way allowing the readers to reach their own conclusions.

That said – here’s how Borenstein’s article begins:

WASHINGTON – Have you heard that the world is now cooling instead of warming? You may have seen some news reports on the Internet or heard about it from a provocative new book. Only one problem: It’s not true, according to an analysis of the numbers done by several independent statisticians for The Associated Press.


Seth Borenstein

Borenstein takes great pains to let us know just how objective and unbiased this AP research was yet they gave the story to one of their biggest alarmist reporters.

In a blind test, the AP gave temperature data to four independent statisticians and asked them to look for trends, without telling them what the numbers represented. The experts found no true temperature declines over time.

The statisticians examined two spreadsheets. One was an annual listing of global temperature changes from 1880 to 2009 using ground measurements provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The other was an annual listing ranging from 1979 to 2009 using atmospheric measurements by satellite provided by the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

“If you look at the data and sort of cherry-pick a micro-trend within a bigger trend, that technique is particularly suspect,” said John Grego, a professor of statistics at the University of South Carolina.

When first reading the previous paragraph, one really isn’t certain who Borenstein meant to indict. Clearly, the alarmists cherry-pick their research yet claim the skeptics do.

Don’t believe me? Here are a few examples.

Greenpeace and members of Congress publicly blame Global Warming for the 2009 California wildfires

They cherry-picked the facts to ignore the cooling temperatures in the Pacific actually cause California to be drier.

Katrina and other hurricanes are fiercer courtesy of Global Warming.

The fiercer hurricanes are actually limited to the last 3 decades. If they were a little more honest they would investigate the hurricane seasons from 1933.

Quick note: Notice that the storms all started west of 45W. There were no satellites back in 1933 so there is a good possibility that a decent number of storms were missed yet 1933 still had 21 named storms, 10 hurricanes.

Global warming skeptics base their claims on an unusually hot year in 1998. Since then, they say, temperatures have dropped — thus, a cooling trend. But it’s not that simple.

Since 1998, temperatures have dipped, soared, fallen again and are now rising once more. Records kept by the British meteorological office and satellite data used by climate skeptics still show 1998 as the hottest year. However, data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA show 2005 has topped 1998. Published peer-reviewed scientific research generally cites temperatures measured by ground sensors, which are from NOAA, NASA and the British, more than the satellite data.

This is a disingenuous argument by Borenstein. I don’t think one scientist believes that a trend means that for warming to exist temperatures must increase annually or for cooling to decrease annually.

Borenstein did discuss El Nino and La Nina but did not elaborate.  In the chart below, notice how El Nino, La Nina, volcanic cooling and aerosol content affects the temperature.  {hat tip to ICECAP}


The recent Internet chatter about cooling led NOAA’s climate data center to re-examine its temperature data. It found no cooling trend.

“The last 10 years are the warmest 10-year period of the modern record,” said NOAA climate monitoring chief Deke Arndt. “Even if you analyze the trend during that 10 years, the trend is actually positive, which means warming.”

That’s as ridiculous as me saying – if I start at 150 pounds and gain 10 per year for the next 7 years before losing the 70 I put on and maintaining it for 2 years it doesn’t mean that I’ve lost weight. It means I’m fatter over the last 5 years than the first 5. {Doing the math: First 5 years of 150, 160, 170, 180. 190 = 850 pounds. Second 5 years: 200, 210, 220, 150, 150 = 930 pounds. Though for the second 5 years I am heavier, I still look good at 150 pounds which I have now maintained for 2 years.}

To be honest, you must look at the annual temperatures, not the average over a 10 year period. That would be – cherry-picking.

Then Borenstein had some subjective fun at the expense of the reader. He used perspectives from 2 skeptics showing a contradiction. Interestingly, he didn’t name the first skeptic unless his name is ‘One prominent skeptic.’

Next, he played 3-card monte with the starting dates for the downward trend. Borenstein points out that skeptics say the cooling trend begins after 1998. He then proceeds to discuss 1997 and later.

Skeptic experts don’t say to ignore the data prior to 1998. Including all the data supports the trend.

Borenstein uses strong subjective journalist practices by presenting the argument he wants to refute first in order to follow it up with his perspective. An example is when he discusses one quote from the book by Stephen J. Dubner, “Super Freakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance” and then follows it up with a ‘rebuke’ from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

How’s that for a name? As if only Global Warming Alarmist Scientists are concerned.

The rest of the article proceeded along the same path. Upon looking at an archive of Borenstein articles, it is immediately evident that he has a history of writing alarmist articles. He doesn’t only write about Global Warming, it’s just when he does, he proves he is an alarmist.

  • “’The Arctic is screaming’ — summer sea ice could be gone in five years” 12/11/2007
  • “Rising Seas Likely to Flood U.S. History” 9/22/2007
  • “New US climate report dire, but offers hope” 6/17/2009

To his credit, he does call those who disagree with him – skeptics. He doesn’t use name-calling techniques so for that – thank you.

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