New Year – New Weather – Happy? On trends and variations

iceboatcopy_zps3fbe56ebJust received a message from an OU geography graduate, with the above photo, that reads:

‘Just a short note to wish you a Happy New Year with a short update.
Record levels of Antarctic sea ice, Summer and Winter and record low temperatures in parts of the USA currently, in addition to a recent satellite record low Antarctic recording.
Of course this is weather but with no Global Warming since 1998 it is on it’s way to becoming climate. (A cooling climate)
Perhaps we should be looking at Sun spots rather than man made CO2.  Or then again, just following the money?  Even the Guardian has become comedy reading!
Best Wishes etc.’

My reply reads:

Hi xxx

Happy New Year to you too

From the tone of your email I suspect you hold quite fixed views on the topic of climate change, but I strongly urge you to explore the best available sources on climate change research. The IPCC website contains various levels of depth but there are plenty of other resources too. I think you would quickly find that sun spots have not been considered a viable explanation for the levels of change that have been observed over the period.

You might want to consider this engaging little cartoon about the difference between trend and variation. I’ve chosen a site where its embedded in an article that expands on the different ways people read data depending on the assumptions they start with.

One thing I would say at a personal level: i’m puzzled why anyone would think that researchers want climate change to be true. Everyone I know working in this field would dearly love to discover that the conclusions almost every climate scientist’s work is pointing to are wrong. Climate change seems likely to bring significant waste and suffering, albeit highly unpredictable.

Personally I find it helpful to understand climate science as a risk assessment and climate policy as a risk management process in its wake. More on this at my blog (see link below). If it had been communicated in this way rather than as a ‘truth war’ as it has sometimes been, including e.g by Al Gore, then I think many of the people figured as contrarians/skeptics/deniers (I think the first term is the only one that works, though there are problems with all such ‘groupings’) would be happy to take at face value the hard work of investigation that is going on.

Best wishes


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