The Instigator
MtthwUsaf
Con (against)
Losing
3 Points
The Contender
Flyaway625
Pro (for)
Winning
6 Points

Global Warming Is Not Real Redux

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/24/2007 Category: Science
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,483 times Debate No: 975
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (1)
Votes (3)

 

MtthwUsaf

Con

I know this has been on here before but I couldn't even vote for one person because the debate never actually happened. I want to try and make this a good one so please respond if you are really interested in having a good debate. Also note that I made it five rounds so we can get more information out.

Since this kind of argument could go on forever I would like to use a quid pro quo style of argument. I am going to lay out three main "proofs" that global warming is actually happening. Whoever takes on this debate should then refute those three and put up three of their own. If I feel one of my arguments is sufficiently defeated I will by all means concede the point but I might just put up more in its place. So here we go.

1) Scientific Establishment: Though I wont sit here and try to say that ALL scientists believe global warming is happening and caused by humans, alot of them do. http://royalsociety.org... This is a link to a short essay of sorts, published with the consent of 11 different scientific agencies around the world saying that global warming is happening and we need to do something about it.

2) Warmer average temperatures: NOAA releases temperature data from around the world every month. Currently it looks like there has been between a .7 and .8 degree increase over the last hundred years. Doesn't seem like much but global temperatures have never varied by more than a few degrees so that is a large percentage deviation. If you look at changes just in the arctic, then it is easier to see what is happening. The University of Illinois has a study that shows an average change of around 2 degrees in just the last 50 years in the arctic.

3) CO2 - temperature connection: Though many people point to Al Gores movie and say that his examples are wrong, that many times temperature started to increase and then CO2 followed, this does not destroy the connection, it strengthens it. http://www.realclimate.org... This paper published from UCSD talks about the feedback loop that CO2 creates. It says that though some other process may have started temperatures rising, that initial rise also caused a rise in CO2, which then reinforces the temperature change and increases it. So there is still a link between CO2 and temperature. What we see happening now is that instead of some other global change starting a temperature rise which creates more CO2, humans are just making a whole lot of CO2. Either way, the same thing will happen, warmer temperatures.

I know that was kind of long but this is a complex issue. I hope that we might be able to hammer out some good ideas before this is over.
Flyaway625

Pro

Progress in science is sometimes made by great discoveries. But science also advances when we learn that something we believed to be true isn't. When solving a jigsaw puzzle, the solution can sometimes be stymied by the fact that a wrong piece has been wedged in a key place.

In the scientific and political debate over global warming, the latest wrong piece may be the "hockey stick," the famous plot published by University of Massachusetts geoscientist Michael Mann and colleagues. This plot purports to show that we are now experiencing the warmest climate in a millennium, and that the earth, after remaining cool for centuries during the medieval era, suddenly began to heat up about 100 years ago--just at the time that the burning of coal and oil led to an increase in atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide.

Unfortunately, discussion of this plot has been so polluted by political and activist frenzy that it is hard to dig into it to reach the science. But now a shock: Canadian scientists Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick have uncovered a fundamental mathematical flaw in the computer program that was used to produce the hockey stick. In his original publications of the stick, Mann purported to use a standard method known as principal component analysis, or PCA, to find the dominant features in a set of more than 70 different climate records.

But it wasn't so. McIntyre and McKitrick obtained part of the program that Mann used, and they found serious problems. Not only does the program not do conventional PCA, but it handles data normalization in a way that can only be described as mistaken.

Now comes the real shocker. This improper normalization procedure tends to emphasize any data that do have the hockey stick shape, and to suppress all data that do not. To demonstrate this effect, McIntyre and McKitrick created some meaningless test data that had, on average, no trends. This method of generating random data is called "Monte Carlo" analysis, after the famous casino, and it is widely used in statistical analysis to test procedures. When McIntyre and McKitrick fed these random data into the Mann procedure, out popped a hockey stick shape!

That discovery hit me like a bombshell, and I suspect it is having the same effect on many others. Suddenly the hockey stick, the poster-child of the global warming community, turns out to be an artifact of poor mathematics. How could it happen? What is going on? Let me digress into a short technical discussion of how this incredible error took place.

In PCA and similar techniques, each of the (in this case, typically 70) different data sets have their averages subtracted (so they have a mean of zero), and then are multiplied by a number to make their average variation around that mean to be equal to one; in technical jargon, we say that each data set is normalized to zero mean and unit variance. In standard PCA, each data set is normalized over its complete data period; for key climate data sets that Mann used to create his hockey stick graph, this was the interval 1400-1980. But the computer program Mann used did not do that. Instead, it forced each data set to have zero mean for the time period 1902-1980, and to match the historical records for this interval. This is the time when the historical temperature is well known, so this procedure does guarantee the most accurate temperature scale. But it completely screws up PCA. PCA is mostly concerned with the data sets that have high variance, and the Mann normalization procedure tends to give very high variance to any data set with a hockey stick shape. (Such data sets have zero mean only over the 1902-1980 period, not over the longer 1400-1980 period.)

The net result: the "principal component" will have a hockey stick shape even if most of the data do not.

McIntyre and McKitrick sent their detailed analysis to Nature magazine for publication, and it was extensively refereed. But their paper was finally rejected. In frustration, McIntyre and McKitrick put the entire record of their submission and the referee reports on a Web page for all to see. If you look, you'll see that McIntyre and McKitrick have found numerous other problems with the Mann analysis. I emphasize the bug in their PCA program simply because it is so blatant and so easy to understand. Apparently, Mann and his colleagues never tested their program with the standard Monte Carlo approach, or they would have discovered the error themselves. Other and different criticisms of the hockey stick are emerging (see, for example, the paper by Hans von Storch and colleagues in the September 30 issue of Science).

Some people may complain that McIntyre and McKitrick did not publish their results in a refereed journal. That is true--but not for lack of trying. Moreover, the paper was refereed--and even better, the referee reports are there for us to read. McIntyre and McKitrick's only failure was in not convincing Nature that the paper was important enough to publish.

How does this bombshell affect what we think about global warming?

It certainly does not negate the threat of a long-term global temperature increase. In fact, McIntyre and McKitrick are careful to point out that it is hard to draw conclusions from these data, even with their corrections. Did medieval global warming take place? Last month the consensus was that it did not; now the correct answer is that nobody really knows. Uncovering errors in the Mann analysis doesn't settle the debate; it just reopens it. We now know less about the history of climate, and its natural fluctuations over century-scale time frames, than we thought we knew.

If you are concerned about global warming (as I am) and think that human-created carbon dioxide may contribute (as I do), then you still should agree that we are much better off having broken the hockey stick. Misinformation can do real harm, because it distorts predictions. Suppose, for example, that future measurements in the years 2005-2015 show a clear and distinct global cooling trend. (It could happen.) If we mistakenly took the hockey stick seriously--that is, if we believed that natural fluctuations in climate are small--then we might conclude (mistakenly) that the cooling could not be just a random fluctuation on top of a long-term warming trend, since according to the hockey stick, such fluctuations are negligible. And that might lead in turn to the mistaken conclusion that global warming predictions are a lot of hooey. If, on the other hand, we reject the hockey stick, and recognize that natural fluctuations can be large, then we will not be misled by a few years of random cooling.

A phony hockey stick is more dangerous than a broken one--if we know it is broken. It is our responsibility as scientists to look at the data in an unbiased way, and draw whatever conclusions follow. When we discover a mistake, we admit it, learn from it, and perhaps discover once again the value of caution.
Debate Round No. 1
MtthwUsaf

Con

I am very glad to have light shed on a possible problem with the standard data that many people use to understand global warming, but I am not sure how that problem changes the argument. There are now numerous studies that show that the earth is getting warmer so a problem with one of them does not negate those facts.

I would appriciate it if you could apply that same type of analysis to the other arguments of the debate because I feel that it would be very enlightening. But as of now I still have to say that broken or not, its going to be alot harder to use a hockey stick in the future because all of the ice is going to melt.
Flyaway625

Pro

Flyaway625 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
MtthwUsaf

Con

MtthwUsaf forfeited this round.
Flyaway625

Pro

Flyaway625 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
MtthwUsaf

Con

MtthwUsaf forfeited this round.
Flyaway625

Pro

Flyaway625 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
MtthwUsaf

Con

MtthwUsaf forfeited this round.
Flyaway625

Pro

Flyaway625 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by mindjob 9 years ago
mindjob
I don't know why so much focus was placed on a computer model for temperature data from the last 200 years, or even from before then. Temperature records were very easily taken going back 100's of years. And world temps. started rising in the early 1800's, not 1900's.

And con is right. One should not overly focus on one model alone. The scientific method weeds out models like this. The scientific method also provides overwhelming evidence for warming. The amount of land now under water and the glaciers that we have watched melt is evidence enough that the world is warming.

A word of advice for both sides: if you're going to make a debate 5 rounds, fill them with something, even if its one-sided.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by griffinisright 9 years ago
griffinisright
MtthwUsafFlyaway625Tied
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Vote Placed by Richard89 9 years ago
Richard89
MtthwUsafFlyaway625Tied
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Vote Placed by mindjob 9 years ago
mindjob
MtthwUsafFlyaway625Tied
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