Thursday, February 25, 2010

Mr. Bernier: Caution is the right tone for Canada, denialism is not!

Mr. Bernier has written an opinion letter discussing the debate over global warming and the position of the Canadian government titled Caution is the right stance for Canada. While politicians are entitled, even obligated, to form opinion, no one is entitled to their own facts. So I thought some fact checking of his article was in order. Here is my rough cut at the scientific errors Mr. Bernier makes (the quote from Mr. Bernier is given in italics and my reply in bold text after). I am on a couple of deadlines and short on time and there are other scientific errors in his text so please feel free to add your own in comments.

The many errors made by the IPCC that have been recently unveiled add more weight to the various alternative theories that have been put forward for a number of years. The errors (both of them) by the IPCC are not particularly important. They neither support or call into question any of the science.

Satellite data show less warming than terrestrial stations, which may have been contaminated by heat coming from more extended urban areas. No, in fact there are two satellite records. Taking into account the errors in the measurements, both are not significantly different than the ground measurements (one is a little lower, the other is almost exactly the same).

Data from tree rings in the forests even show some cooling; No, the tree records do not show cooling, they show a decrease in ring measurement which could be due to a number of different factors.

Moreover, we realize that during the period of greatest concern about warming – the last decade – temperatures have stopped increasing! No, there is not enough data from 10 years to get statistically meaningful trends. For example it is just as correct for me to say that based on the results from the last 2 years there is a warming trend of 14C/century! If you go back in the data far enough to get statistically significant data, then it does indeed show a warming trend.

Mojib Latif, a German researcher associated with the IPCC who essentially supports the warming theory, said last fall that temperatures may decline for two decades before warming resumes. No, Dr. Latif did not say that and in fact said “what I said is that the cooling in the Atlantic and Pacific may offsset global warming for a decade so that there may be not much of an additional warming.” Deep climate has the story and a series of e-mails exchanged with Dr. Latif.

The topic of climate change is important and serious. As such it requires serious science and discussion. It is disappointing to see that some politicians resort to incorrect science in advancing a policy.

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