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April 04th 2016 print

Peter O'Brien

Always Hot for a Beat-Up

Every warmish day inspires media references to broken temperature records, the implicit message being that we have just endured further evidence of a planet in its sweaty death throes. Need it be said that those alarms should be taken with the usual grain of salt?

temperature gagaIn late January,  I was startled to hear the Nine News weather reporter breathlessly exclaim that a maximum of 33C in Sydney on the 21st  of that month happened to be 7C above the city’s average January maximum. That’s it –  7C, for Heaven’s sake! My initial impression was that couching the report in those terms had been intended to add a global warming shock-and-awe angle to the report.  After all, 7C is well above the 2C we are told is the magical figure beyond which we will all fry.  Not that contrasting one day’s mercury with long-term records is an apples-to-apples comparison, but how many gullible warming believers would be capable of, or even bother, making this distinction?

My second reaction was to think that 33C doesn’t seem to me to be remarkably hot for January; neither did it strike me that 26C would be a likely average January maximum, so I had a look at Weatherzone.  To my surprise it confirmed that the mean January maximum for Sydney is, indeed, 25.9C.  So there you are.  This is the long term mean maximum for January.  The high mean maximum for January is actually 29.5C and that was recorded in 1896.

A closer examination of the data reveals that the figure of 7C on any particular day is not all that remarkable – so unremarkable, in fact, that it confirms my impression it was cited for purely propaganda reasons.

Sydney’s January high maximum is 45.8C and its low minimum is 10.6.  So, historically, daily January temperatures in Sydney range over 35.2C.   The maximum temperature on January 21 of 33C was actually 12.8C lower than the highest recorded January maximum.

I started to write this article back in January but was distracted by the demands of moving house. I only just got back to it a couple of days ago and, God help us, they’re at it again.  On April 2, as I write, Seven News told us that the day’s Sydney maximum of 31C was 12C above the April mean and that these astoundingly high temperatures are being driven by — yes, you guessed it — climate change. Well, that day’s maximum was actually 3C below the April maximum set way back in 1986.  That’s 30 years ago, well before the current 18-year temperature stasis set in. Somehow, I sincerely doubt the reaction of the average Sydneysider was to say, ‘Golly, it’s hot!  We’ve just got to do something about climate change.’ While often regarded as a idiots, the greater bulk of the population remains quite sensible — often moreso than TV weathercasters, many of whose prime credentials would seem to be fetching figures and low-cut necklines.

This type of hyperbole has, of course, been going on for years.  Back in October, 2014, one news weather report told us that Sydneysiders had suffered the unseasonable warmth of a day that saw temperatures reach an unthinkable 30C.  Ironically, this report was accompanied by shots of Sydneysiders disporting themselves at Bondi Beach in their thousands, all courageously concealing their suffering! Weather presenters should be reminded that their job is to report the weather, not editorialise about it.

That by the way, when researching this issue what really caught my attention was  Weatherzone’s tabular data showing Sydney’s daily records, month by month. It shows that the record high maximum daily temperatures in each month were recorded in:

syd maxIt shows that the record low maximum daily temperatures were recorded in: SYD LO MAX

It shows that  the record high minimum daily temperatures were recorded in:SYD HI MIN

It shows that the record low minimum daily temperatures were recorded in: SYD LO MIN

The Weatherzone temperature data exactly matches the BoM data for Observatory Hill.  I have no reason to doubt the veracity of the years quoted.)

The low-maximum and low-minimum data appears strange, with 1949 being the most recent record for either of these datasets.  It suggests that the period 1850 to 1950 was generally cooler than the recent past. However, the high maximum and high minimum data show a completely different picture with high maxima and high minima distributed randomly throughout the record. The Parramatta and Melbourne records exhibit a similar pattern. Other sites, such as Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, are problematical because of site changes (I have not examined them thoroughly). I have sought advice as to why the low-max and low-min temperatures might be concentrated in the past but have not been able to get a completely satisfactory answer.  I think that perhaps Urban Heat Island Effect is the major factor in this apparent anomaly.

What stands out to me is the unequivocal evidence that, where we have a long and trusted temperature dataset, record high temperatures are uniformly spread across the temporal record.

I am a simple man and what I have learned about the modern practice of science — in all fields, not just ‘climate science’ — inclines me to defer to William of Ockham more often than not. And what William suggests to me is that there is no correlation between increased CO2 emissions since the 1950s and hotter temperatures being experienced in Sydney, Parramatta or Melbourne. This is a minor point, certainly not a knockout blow, but it is another ‘brick in the wall’ in the ever-rising edifice of the sceptical case against the theory of CAGW.

It is too easy for people to unquestioningly accept the findings of some scientific paper or another on the basis that its authors are highly qualified scientists and what would they have to gain by publishing dodgy research.

In his fascinating book  Wrong: Why Experts Keep Failing Us — and How to Know When Not to Trust Them,  David Freedman, former Professor of Statistics at the University of California,  points out that about two-thirds of the findings published in the top medical journals are refuted within a few years. And this is just the tip of the iceberg, he observes. All sceptics should read this book because the parallels between medical research and climate-change ‘science’ are startling.

Sceptics need to use simple, unarguable themes anyone can understand if they are to counter the obfuscation that alarmists now routinely rely upon by the simple device of quoting the latest ‘peer reviewed’ paper.  The fact that the Sydney temperature record gives the lie to CO2-induced warming is one such theme.

Comments [14]

  1. Ian MacDougall says:

    Peter:

    I am a simple man and what I have learned about the modern practice of science — in all fields, not just ‘climate science’ — inclines me to defer to William of Ockham more often than not. And what William suggests to me is that there is no correlation between increased CO2 emissions since the 1950s and hotter temperatures being experienced in Sydney, Parramatta or Melbourne. This is a minor point, certainly not a knockout blow, but it is another ‘brick in the wall’ in the ever-rising edifice of the sceptical case against the theory of CAGW.

    It is a rather dodgy brick in that ‘ever-rising’ and jerry-built wall. IMHO.
    CO2 is a heat-trapping gas. That has been known at least since Arrhenius (1859-1927). The local result of increased CO2 concentration can be any weather effect involving increased energy.
    So for example, it is quite conceivable that increased circumpolar Antarctic wind speeds can result in cooler temperatures in southern Australia, with more cold air blowing up here.
    But the Earth is its own thermometer, and the meniscus of its ‘mercury’ is the level of its one ocean, which is rising; with the whole climate system having enormous inertia, just like a supertanker under way. The U of Colorado work on GMSL rates has been supported by
    CU: 3.3 ± 0.4 mm/yr; AVISO: 3.3 ± 0.6 mm/yr; CSIRO: 3.3 ± 0.4 mm/yr; NASA GSFC: 3.2 ± 0.4 mm/yr; and NOAA: 3.2 ± 0.4 mm/yr.
    http://sealevel.colorado.edu/
    I would be seriously interested to see how Prof Freedman might dismiss that. I say ‘seriously’, because for the sake of my descendants, I would actually prefer the climate ‘sceptics’ to be right. But they put their trust in such stuff as conclusions from thermometer readings (eg you) and in the mercy of God (eg Ian Plimer).
    Being an ocean-level realist, I don’t.

    • Bill Martin says:

      Ian, Ian. You are such a stalwart warrior of the CAGW cause, they should give you a medal or some other recognition. As for us lay sceptics – as distinct from the sceptical scientists – we do not doubt nor deny (!) the fact that CO2 and other greenhouse gases trap a lot of the heat that would otherwise dissipate into space. In fact, we are eternally grateful for that phenomenon because otherwise we would freeze to death. What we are sceptical about is the degree of the effect of additional CO2 has on this heat retaining effect. Going by ice core records, extremely little. Those same ice cores also tell us that there were time when the CO2 level was much higher while temperatures were even lower than now, also the fact that warming precedes the rise in CO2 levels by some 800 years as the warming oceans release increasing amounts of CO2. We are quite satisfied with all that which lets us worry about real problems confronting humanity, such as the menace of Islam and the equally as perilous threat paused by the “progressive left”.

      • Clive says:

        The greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide is logarithmic NOT linear. That means the more you put in the less effect it has until it reaches zero at about 900ppm. Currently the effect is very small. Incidently In the Cretacious it was 1700ppm and the planet thrived.

  2. Geoffrey Luck says:

    The main point of O’Brien’s article was the false use of daily temperature readings for climate-scaring propaganda purposes in news bulletins. I suppose from his comments about thermometer readings, MacDougall would agree with that?

    • ianl says:

      > MacDougall would agree with that?

      Unfortunately, no. And he does persist with his sea level notions.

      I’ve laid out several times the issues with sea levels. Isostasy and eustasy are common issues, never sorted with much confidence. Estuaries build mud flats with shoreline levels changing constantly, as do constant currents eroding and replacing shoreline sands. Sub-marine tectonic movements influence shoreline levels through sea floor movements and tsunamis. The “best” current estimate is about 3mm/decade, with a decelerating trend.

      In just under 1000 years, from 1066 to 2016 sea levels in south-east England actually dropped to the point that the shoreline is now about 5km east of where it was. Evidence ? Billy the Kid (aka William the Conqueror) landed his invading armada about 5m inland of the current shoreline. There are survey markers and little monuments based on hard empirical evidence from medieval records to confirm this.

      None of this makes any difference. As usual, hypothesis trumps empirical evidence. The Rennaisance is successfully rolled back. If “peer reviewed” material is called for (always a good defence line for the virtuous), then I suggest one googles “sea level measurements and changes” in the various free-access Journals of Geology through Google Scholar.

      • padraic says:

        The reason why commercial channels give us at least 4 exciting weather report segments in the evening news is because their advertisers don’t want their products associated with horrible stuff (real news) that puts people off. And advertising is the lifeblood of commercial channels. As Peter indicates, just about every time we have a hot day it is a sign of impending climate change doom. Next thing there will be an activist group devoted to banning volcanoes. The rest of the news is not much better. It is getting more and more formulaic, telling us about events of which the average consumer does not approve and feels good that it is not happening to them. They start off with a statutory murder or bikie bashing in Western Sydney, followed by a fight among teenagers that has ‘gone viral’(no expensive investigative journalism here – just check out Facebook), then some traffic accidents, followed by scenes of traffic jams in Sydney (wow! how unusual is that – such riveting news). Then we get the weeping woman trying to wipe away her tears as she tries to avoid poking her eyes out with long fingernails, followed by a cute UK Royal Family snippet. Post tragedy personal grief is pressed into service to sell widgets. Every now and then you get some real news, from chronically smiling announcers fresh from elocution lessons, that hopefully won’t offend (a) the viewer and (b) the advertiser. Alternatively, you can switch to the ABC and get your daily activist dose of gay marriage, bleaching reef (anti-coal),animal welfare, anti-meat eating, climate change impending doom, illegal migrants, various phobias etc. Pay TV is better and I tend to watch that these days. I must be getting old and grumpy.

      • Ian MacDougall says:

        ianl:

        As usual, hypothesis trumps empirical evidence.

        If you are talking about the optimistic whistlers in the dark among the ‘sceptics’, then yes, I incline to agree with you.
        But global warming is no mere “hypothesis”. It is based on hard empirical evidence, and the most convincing to my mind is the undeniable fact of sea level rise. That is why I keep stressing it, and my numerous contrarian opponents around here such as yourself, keep talking in terms of contrary evidence from tide marks, William the Conqueror, etc, etc.
        Your own ‘sceptic’ position, based on ignoring such sea level reality, can best be understood IMHO as arising from a desire that business-as-usual be preserved, and that Australia’s huge deposits of coal be exploited to the full as an energy source, and as quickly as possible, while there is still time: before it is priced out of the market by renewables and alternative energy.
        If you go to http://www.star.nesdis.noaa.gov/sod/lsa/SeaLevelRise/ there you will find:

        The measurement of long-term changes in global mean sea level can provide an important corroboration of predictions by climate models of global warming. Satellite altimeter radar measurements can be combined with precisely known spacecraft orbits to measure sea level on a global basis with unprecedented accuracy. A series of satellite missions that started with TOPEX/Poseidon (T/P) in 1992 and continued with Jason-1 (2001–2013) and Jason-2 (2008–present) estimate global mean sea level every 10 days with an uncertainty of 3–4 mm.
        Jason-2, launched 20 June 2008, is a joint effort between NOAA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, France’s Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT).
        The latest mean sea level time series and maps of regional sea level change can be found on this site.

        Those “precisely known spacecraft orbits” used “to measure sea level on a global basis with unprecedented accuracy” are the game-changer IMHO. That fact (not hypothesis) is acknowledged even by that guru of climate ‘sceticism’, Ian Plimer. And that, I gather, is how they manage to calculate GMSL to half-millimetre accuracy.

        As I have stressed before, this global sea-level rise can only be due to thermal expansion of sea water and/or glacial melt. Ergo, the planet is warming, in a long slow thaw with enormous inertia: analogous to that of a supertanker at all ahead full on the open sea.
        And as I have also stressed before, we are all riding on such a supertanker, climate ‘sceptics’ like yourself included. But you ‘sceptics’ are also in the same situation as the besieged occupants of a Mediaeval castle:.
        The outer bailey is ‘it is not happening’
        The middle bailey is ‘it may be happening, and if it is, we could be partly responsible for it. (Tony Abbott’s last known position.)
        The inner bailey is ‘it may be happening, but our economic activity is definitely not responsible for it’.
        (As I see it, you are valiantly defending the outer, middle and inner baileys simultaneously.)
        And the indispensable innermost part (the ‘Keep’) is ‘it is happening, we are responsible, but it is a good thing anyway.’
        Some actually maintain that ‘Keep’ position.

        • ianl says:

          Sigh …

          I’ve used the NOAA site for years. It is not proof of global sea level rise, but measurements of tiny changes, plus and minus, around the oceans. I’ve agreed with you that overall rise since satellite measurements began is around 3mm/decade, and decelerating. Error ranges are larger than that but I am quite prepared to accept it. I know you don’t like that, but that’s not my problem. Do you know what isostasy and eustacy are ? The satellites cannot measure these changes to a few mm.

          I used the William the Conqueror history as a simple empirical example of abrupt and significant sea level change *not* caused by the industrial revolution. Defending some mediaeval castle is just your silly fantasy. As I said, hypothesis, or in your wishful “rebuttal”, superstition, trumps empiricism.

          Your other line – renewabubbles and alternate energies will supply affordable, reliable base load – is simply beyond parody. Small nuclear modules, strategically placed, may well do this and in that sense I agree with the “alternate energy” hypothesis. Wind and solar cannot be scaled for reliable base load. Despite enormous amounts of money spent all over Europe, no country has come closer than a few percent over 24-48 hour periods. It actually leaves me speechless that people can contemplate destruction of a reliable, affordable baseload power supply without hard engineering studies designed to replace it. It’s insanity. But there you are …

          • Clive says:

            The Medieval Warm Period was warmer than the present. The Vikings settled and farmed Greenland. Those farms are now under ice. The sea levels would have been higher then and there were no evil capitalists to blame Before that the Roman Warm Period was warmer still and before that the Minoan Warming. In all three cases there would have been more ice melt and higher sea levels. They also had windmills in those days which had about the same effect on the warming as current windmills.

          • Ian MacDougall says:

            I’ve used the NOAA site for years. It is not proof of global sea level rise, but measurements of tiny changes, plus and minus, around the oceans. I’ve agreed with you that overall rise since satellite measurements began is around 3mm/decade, and decelerating[?]. Error ranges are larger than that but I am quite prepared to accept it. I know you don’t like that, but that’s not my problem. Do you know what isostasy and eustacy are ? The satellites cannot measure these changes to a few mm.
            So who are we to believe ‘ianl’? Your anononymous self, or the NOAA, CSIRO and the other scientific organisations?
            The University of Colorado says that sea level is rising at 3.3 ± 0.4 mm/year (NOTE: not 3.3 ± 0.4 mm/DECADE.) I do not know the details of how all those separate organisations arrive at their figures, and if I felt a need to, which I don’t, I would investigate it further. But that rise in sea level, not thermometer readings is to my mind is the clearest indication that the atmosphere and ocean of the Earth are both warming. Acceptance of that that reality appears to be a problem common among ‘sceptics’ like yourself. But until you can face it and deal with it, you will not be at all interested in any of its variety of possible causes: including of course the GHGs humanity is adding to the atmosphere.
            GMSL Rates
            CU: 3.3 ± 0.4 mm/yr
            AVISO: 3.3 ± 0.6 mm/yr
            CSIRO: 3.3 ± 0.4 mm/yr
            NASA GSFC: 3.2 ± 0.4 mm/yr
            NOAA: 3.2 ± 0.4 mm/yr (w/ GIA)
            http://sealevel.colorado.edu/

            The recently launched TOPEX/POSEIDON altimeter mission is achieving an unprecedented accuracy in the measurement of the absolute sea-level, demonstrating that satellite radar altimetry has evolved into one of the fundamental instruments for providing synoptic observations of the global oceans with a temporal sampling of a few days to a month. This paper assesses the current estimated accuracy of measurements using the available satellite radar altimeter systems in observing the absolute sea-level. The accuracy of sea-level measurements depends on the ability to compute accurate orbits of the altimetric satellites, the fidelity of the terrestrial reference system (TRF), and the knowledge of instrument biases of the altimeter instruments. In this paper, some applications of satellite altimetry to contemporary problems in marine geodesy, oceanography, and global change studies are discussed. Major advances for many of these problems are feasible with the abundance of satellite altimetry missions within this decade. The launch of ERS-1 and TOPEX/POSEIDON has initiated a decade of high-accuracy measurements of the absolute sea-level from satellite altimetry which holds potential for enhancing our knowledge of dynamics of the global ocean, and its influence on global climate changes.
            That’s at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-246X.1995.tb05714.x/abstract

            Your other line – renewabubbles and alternate energies will supply affordable, reliable base load – is simply beyond parody. Small nuclear modules, strategically placed, may well do this and in that sense I agree with the “alternate energy” hypothesis. Wind and solar cannot be scaled for reliable base load.


            Battery technology is the limiting factor on base load power possible from the 1.5 million solar systems presently running in Australia. http://www.energymatters.com.au/renewable-news/solar-pv-australia-em5278/
            Check out the zinc-bromide battery developed by the team led by Professor Thomas Maschmeyer of the Dept of Chemistry at Sydney University. http://sydney.edu.au/science/people/thomas.maschmeyer.php and the report on the (caaagh! choke, splutter,) ABC Catalyst program at http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/4398364.htm
            That might help you come up to speed on the subject, and also to understand why Tony “the future is coal” Abbott and his cronies at the IPA want to shut down and sell off the ABC.

          • Ian MacDougall says:

            I’ve used the NOAA site for years. It is not proof of global sea level rise, but measurements of tiny changes, plus and minus, around the oceans. I’ve agreed with you that overall rise since satellite measurements began is around 3mm/decade, and decelerating[?]. Error ranges are larger than that but I am quite prepared to accept it. I know you don’t like that, but that’s not my problem. Do you know what isostasy and eustacy are ? The satellites cannot measure these changes to a few mm.

            So who are we to believe ‘ianl’? Your anononymous self, or the NOAA, CSIRO and the other scientific organisations?
            The University of Colorado says that sea level is rising at 3.3 ± 0.4 mm/year (NOTE: not 3.3 ± 0.4 mm/DECADE.) I do not know the details of how all those separate organisations arrive at their figures, and if I felt a need to, which I don’t, I would investigate it further. But that rise in sea level, not thermometer readings is to my mind is the clearest indication that the atmosphere and ocean of the Earth are both warming. Acceptance of that that reality appears to be a problem common among ‘sceptics’ like yourself. But until you can face it and deal with it, you will not be at all interested in any of its variety of possible causes: including of course the GHGs humanity is adding to the atmosphere.
            GMSL Rates
            CU: 3.3 ± 0.4 mm/yr
            AVISO: 3.3 ± 0.6 mm/yr
            CSIRO: 3.3 ± 0.4 mm/yr
            NASA GSFC: 3.2 ± 0.4 mm/yr
            NOAA: 3.2 ± 0.4 mm/yr (w/ GIA)
            http://sealevel.colorado.edu/

            The recently launched TOPEX/POSEIDON altimeter mission is achieving an unprecedented accuracy in the measurement of the absolute sea-level, demonstrating that satellite radar altimetry has evolved into one of the fundamental instruments for providing synoptic observations of the global oceans with a temporal sampling of a few days to a month. This paper assesses the current estimated accuracy of measurements using the available satellite radar altimeter systems in observing the absolute sea-level. The accuracy of sea-level measurements depends on the ability to compute accurate orbits of the altimetric satellites, the fidelity of the terrestrial reference system (TRF), and the knowledge of instrument biases of the altimeter instruments. In this paper, some applications of satellite altimetry to contemporary problems in marine geodesy, oceanography, and global change studies are discussed. Major advances for many of these problems are feasible with the abundance of satellite altimetry missions within this decade. The launch of ERS-1 and TOPEX/POSEIDON has initiated a decade of high-accuracy measurements of the absolute sea-level from satellite altimetry which holds potential for enhancing our knowledge of dynamics of the global ocean, and its influence on global climate changes.

            That’s at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-246X.1995.tb05714.x/abstract

            Your other line – renewabubbles and alternate energies will supply affordable, reliable base load – is simply beyond parody. Small nuclear modules, strategically placed, may well do this and in that sense I agree with the “alternate energy” hypothesis. Wind and solar cannot be scaled for reliable base load.

            Battery technology is the limiting factor on base load power possible from the 1.5 million solar systems presently running in Australia. http://www.energymatters.com.au/renewable-news/solar-pv-australia-em5278/
            Check out the zinc-bromide battery developed by the team led by Professor Thomas Maschmeyer of the Dept of Chemistry at Sydney University. http://sydney.edu.au/science/people/thomas.maschmeyer.php and the report on the (caaagh! choke, splutter,) ABC Catalyst program at http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/4398364.htm
            That might help you come up to speed on the subject, and also to understand why tony “the future is coal” Abbott and his cronies at the IPA want to shut down and sell off the ABC.

  3. Real Oz says:

    There is one parameter that holds the key to CAGW which the IPCC calls “Climate Sensitivity”.
    If the alarmist have this wrong then their whole CO2 edifice collapses.
    ALL and I stress ALL empirical investigations into this parameter say the IPCC have it wrong.

    • psstevo says:

      It seems to be that the commercial channel ‘weather presenters’ have all been trained by the ABC in editorialising ( shall we call that progandising?)their ‘reports. Always is the explicit or implicit comment that whatever temperatures we are discussing are always to blame for CAGW. Never is there a correction when challenged either!

    • Peter OBrien says:

      Real Oz, you are spot on. All the ‘peer reviewed’ papers predicting various catastrophes are based on models using high sensitivity which is not justified by observations.