Monday, March 24, 2008

Special Muriel Newman Bonus Bonus

A couple weeks ago Muriel Newman's breathless report back from the very exciting climate change denial conference she attended in New York made its way in a slightly edited form into the Dompost (Welington's local paper). It's futile, but I couldn't resist - so I wrote a letter to the Dom. I don't think they've published it, but I don't read the Dom enough to know for sure.

Anyhow, here's the first draft of the letter (I shortened it a bit to meet the Dom's word limit).

In her oped ‘Climate Change: we didn’t do it’ Muriel Newman breathlessly informs us that “[l]ast week 500 people, including 200 leading climate scientists and economists, gathered in New York to address the question of whether manmade global warming is really threatening the existence of our planet”. Reading over the misconceptions and factual errors in the rest of her column it’s hard to escape the feeling that there must have been an awful lot of economists at the conference.

Newman, for example, writes that, “[s]ince 1934 has emerged as the warmest year in recent times, manmade greenhouse gas emissions cannot possibly be to blame.” Globally, 1934 was not – by a long shot – the warmest year in recent times. It was probably the warmest year in the United States, but there’s a reason why the word ‘global’ is included in global warming – because the phenomenon has to do with temperatures for the globe as a whole. And globally temperatures have risen significantly since the 1930s. It’s true that there was a period of cooling over the middle part of last century but the reason for this is – aerosol pollution – is well known and the trend does not disprove the theory that the current episode of climate change is human driven.

Newman also claims that some of the temperature rises reported on by the IPCC are the result of the urban encroachment on previously rural temperature stations. How then does Ms Newman explain the rise in temperatures recorded by satellites? God only knows our cities are sprawling, but not that far.

Just to be clear, that isn't an attack on economists in the first paragraph. I'm just pondering how so many experts could know so darn little about the Earth's climate.

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