March 2009


Well, John Gormley has done it again, he’s confused himself over weather and climate. Poor bastard.

On top of that he seems to feel his little neck of the woods, his .04% of the world, represents the entire globe, at least as far as temperature goes.

You see the weather around here has been extremely cold of late, sometimes 20C lower than the average for this time of year. According to the infinite wisdom of good old John Gormley, and his rabid right wing sycophantic followers (can’t let them go unnoticed can we?), because Saskatchewan Canada has lower temps than previous years, global warming is falsified.

Geez John, that’s pathetic.

As I’ve informed you before, local short-term variation, such as how cold it is today, is weather. It’s part of the normal variation in conditions found at any given point on the Earth determined by geography, cloud cover, surface water and air flow. Weather is chaotic, in fact the science of chaos comes directly from the attempt to predict weather which has little ups a downs very difficult to predict. Climate on the other hand, is a statistical representation of all of the weather, and the general weather patterns, scattered over the entire globe.

Let’s take an example from statistical mechanics (you’re a big boy, look it up). Take a box filled with gas at thermal equilibrium, the gas doesn’t matter, nor does the density. In that box of gas, atoms and even free electrons, are all bouncing around and vibrating, banging into each other just enough to keep the temperature stable.

We have no way to predict which two atoms will smack together.

If we add a little heat to one end of the box, the atoms at that end will become more energetic and start bumping into more neighbours more frequently. We have no way of determining which individual atoms will take part in the change from a waltz to a polka but we can statistically determine the behaviour of the atoms in the box as a group. The average temperature will go up. We can even calculate what the average temperature will settle to when equilibrium is again reached.

Weather is like those individual atoms, difficult to predict, and climate is like the box of atoms – we may not know which individual atoms will do what, but we can predict the system at large.

You might also consider what an unusually low temperature in .04% of Earthly surface area does to the Average Global Temperature. I hope my emphasis makes you consider the words.

One day’s weather does not make a significant impact on climate, in the grand sceme of things it is just noise in the system. That is why the WMO, even before the inception of the IPCC, determined 30 years of accumulated full globe weather was necessary to tease out a temperature trend.

Natural variability in weather is noise. The trend has to be statistically extracted from that noise. The trend tells us what is happening, the noise doesn’t.

Cheers

B

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Back about a year and a bit ago, I called in to the John Gormley Live radio talk show on newstalk980 to help John improve his grasp of the fundamentals of AGW science. Well actually it was just to get him to use the word ‘consensus’ the same way climate scientists do. Good luck right?

His argument was that consensus means 100% agreement and since the science behind climate change does not have 100% agreement (some deniers are actually climatologists – go figure) there is no AGW consensus. I simply informed him that consensus, in this context, means majority.  He disagreed with me then hung up, of course putting me in the position of being unable to defend my argument. Can you guess what the validation for his argument was? Yup, the dictionary lists the 100% definition first. He went to all the work of visiting 5 on-line dictionaries and on 4 of the 5, and even though every one had the definition I told him, they listed his definition first. So his definition was right. At least in his mind.

Well John, I guess you got me there didn’t you? Oops, I guess not, since the meaning behind a word is determined by the issuer of that word and the context it is used in. Sorry Mr. John Gormley, but the argument from dictionary is one of the weakest arguments out there. Epic fail.

John, you might try listening to someone speak and when he/she uses a word with more than one meaning, do your best to understand what he/she means, either through context, assuming that isn’t too difficult for you, or simply by asking him/her  to clarify her/himself.

You are capable of that I hope.

This one, just because of the inadvertent humour, rates a 6.5 out of 10 elephant turds.

Cheers

B