The question is whether CO2 is driving temperatures up – Part 2


In a previous post I highlighted some representations of the temperature and CO2 data. I created my chart using Excel. It confirmed the conclusion that CO2 is barely correlated with temperature. It takes a climate scientist to look at these correlations make the argument that CO2 is the cause of the temperature increase. I decided to take another look at the data using my the statistical software, R, and the PerformanceAnalytics package. Using a R program Stephen Turner published on his blog, Getting Genetics Done. Here is the chart I came up with.




We can see that the best correlation is between CO2 and time. The correlations between July temperature and time and between July temperature and CO2 have similar values. Which is the driver of July temperature,  time or CO2? If CO2 is the driver why do we not see a similar correlation for January temperatures? For some this is settled science. Here is my original Excel chart again.


Burt Rutan: ‘This says it all and says it clear’ | Watts Up With That?

The question is whether CO2 is driving temperatures up. Burt Rutan started the discussion with this graph on Watts Up With That? post, Burt Rutan: ‘This says it all and says it clear’ | Watts Up With That?


Chiefio liked a different graph from D. B. Stealey. It is a bit more dramatic.


D.B. Stealey CO2 vs USA Temperature Graph

D.B. Stealey CO2 vs USA Temperature Graph

I was curious whether the analysis would hold up if we normalized the variables. So I copied the data into an Excel spreadsheet. I was somewhat surprised to find that the NOAA CO2 data only goes back to 1958. I guess we are guessing at CO2 levels before 1958 so my inner engineer said to ignore them. Extrapolations are just assumptions with a fancier name. I also decided I would look at the temperature plots for January and July as approximate indicators of the highs and lows for the year. So I normalized the variables using 1958 as 1. It is interesting to note that the January data represented by the pink line has a greater slope(about 4x) and is a lot more variable than the July data represented by the yellow line. This is a lot more slope than be accounted for by normalizing to a with a smaller value. If we are supposed to be heating up because of CO2, the July data seems somewhat impervious to the 22.43% buildup in CO2 since 1958. Here is the bottom line. Using the predicted values from the regressions, we can say that CO2 went up 22.43% compared to a 3.72% rise in January temperature and a 1.85% rise in July temperature. It sure does not look like there is much correlation let alone causality between these variables. Here is a real strange thought. According to the slopes calculated for the January and July temperature plots, the difference between the high and the low for the year is getting smaller?! Could the additional CO2 be moderating the magnitude of the annual temperature swings? Now that is counter-intuitive. Without much ado here is my version.


The Real Way We Should Classify Hurricanes: By Their Energy

I disagree! As a person who lived in Houston for twenty years classifying hurricanes by their energy is rather useless number. It is probably more useless than the current classification scheme. The problem with classifying hurricanes is relating their probable effects to the people in the area around the land fall. For the people in harms way, it is all about disaster preparations and they want to know about four things, wind, rain, storm surge, and location. The wind and rain components of Sandy were pretty mild compared to most hurricanes/tropical storms. Sandy made landfall as a tropical storm and fortunately kept moving. That’s the good news. The biggest problems with this storm was the storm surge and its location. In this case the residents of New Jersey and New York had a case of bad luck. As McNoldy wrote, “The storm surge, combined with a full moon and high tide, affected hundreds of miles of highly populated coastline.” From the news reports we can see that this area was dramatically unprepared for a storm surge of this size. Disaster preparations for this storm were an epic failure of poor planning. The obvious solution to the storm surge problem is to build a seawall. It blocks your view of the sea but some days the sea is not your friend.

As an example when I was living in Houston, I was amazed that people would build beach houses on west Galveston Island. Every ten years or so a hurricane would come along and clean off the west side of the island. In a couple of years the houses would be rebuilt. The east side of Galveston Island is protected by a seawall. The seawall was built as a response to the 1900 hurricane. For the most part it protected the city of Galveston well although the seawall was over-topped by the 1915 hurricane,  severely damaged by Hurricane Alicia in 1983, and over-topped again by Hurricane Ike in 2008. I remember Hurricane Alicia well. The eye of the hurricane passed over our house. Live and learn!

Hurricane Sandy

In sheer power, Hurricane Sandy ranks second among modern hurricanes, beating even Hurricane Katrina, according to Brian McNoldy, a hurricane researcher at the University of Miami.

Out in the Atlantic Ocean, Sandy was the most energetic tropical cyclone in history, thanks to its massive wind field.

Once Sandy ramped up to a Category 1 hurricane and slammed into New Jersey, the storm’s integrated kinetic energy was second only to Hurricane Isabel in 2003, McNoldy wrote in a blog post.

"It stood out to me that this was a pretty unique case of a rather weak storm as wind speeds go, but huge on the impact scale," McNoldy told OurAmazingPlanet.

Integrated kinetic energy (IKE) is a new scale designed to better convey the destructive power from both a hurricane’s wind and storm surge. It’s a measure of the wind speed integrated over how wide an area the winds are blowing. The U.S. government patented IKE in 2007. The Saffir-Simpson Scale, used by the National Weather Service, only reports top wind speeds.

The IKE scale helps explain why Hurricane Sandy, which quickly weakened after landfall, created such widespread flooding and damage, McNoldy wrote. The storm surge, combined with a full moon and high tide, affected hundreds of miles of highly populated coastline. The metric also incorporates the storm’s enormous size: The wind field was so large that tropical storm force winds (45 mph/ 72 kph) extended 485 miles (780 kilometers) out from the center at landfall. (Out at sea, the wind field reached a maximum extent of 520 miles, or 835 km.)

In modern records, Sandy’s IKE ranks second among all hurricanes at landfall, higher than devastating storms like Hurricane Katrina, Andrew and Hugo, and second only to Hurricane Isabel in 2003, McNoldy calculated.

Sandy’s IKE was more than 140 Terajoules, meaning it generated more than twice the energy of the Hiroshima atomic bomb, McNoldy wrote. At any given moment, many hurricanes contain more energy than an atomic bomb in their surface winds alone, he wrote.

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The Real Way We Should Classify Hurricanes: By Their Energy
Mon, 05 Nov 2012 22:22:00 GMT

Things that make me go hmm… Disappearing Polar Ice

The problems Nome has had with getting oil delivered is an interesting story, U.S. Icebreaker About to Reach Cut-Off Alaska Town. It appears that the city of Nome contracted with the Russians since they had a ice-classed tanker available. Although it was ice-classed it was not an icebreaker. So Nome had to convince the Coast Guard to send their only available icebreaker up to Nome to clear a path for the tanker. Didn’t Al Gore say the ice cap is supposed to disappear by 2014? When you look at the map, Nome is pretty far south by Artic Circle standards. The Coast Guard has another icebreaker. It is a 35-year old ship that is undergoing a $60 million renovation. They are hoping the renovation will extend its life an additional 7 to 10 years. We are setting ourselves up a major disappointment if Al Gore is wrong about the disappearing ice cap.

For those who are more scientifically inclined the Sea Ice Reference Page,, is a great resource.

The admissions will be seized on by sceptics as fresh evidence that there are serious flaws…

I agree with Ann Althouse that the admissions make the non-skeptics, scientists and media, look bad. By failing to effectively criticize their own arguments for global warming, these non-skeptics have done more harm to the global progress on environmental issues than anything the deniers could say or do. Now we are confronted with a large amount of global science research of questionable scientific quality and set of global priorities which may be unjustified. This is probably a good time to re-examine the priorities advocated in The Skeptical Environmentalist by Bjørn Lomborg and to re-read the article, The Case for Due Diligence in Policy Formation, by Bruce McCullough and Ross McKitrick. Bjørn Lomborg argues that we are spending too much time on th wrong environmental and social issues.  Bruce and Ross argue that faulty scientific research is consistently leading us to make poor government policies on major issues. As an example we may have a cleaner environment with more jobs if we can unlock the EPA from its view that carbon dioxide is a pollutant that they need to regulate. The article, Time to Repeal New Source Review? (Up to 30 GW of coal-plant upgrades hangs in the balance), makes the argument that the EPA is holding up a lot of jobs and a cleaner environment for the sake of regulating carbon dioxide.

Original link to Daily Mail article:

Similar article on Instapundit:

SHOCKER: Climategate U-turn as scientist at centre of row admits: There has been no global warming …

A Thought Experiment for Scientists

With all of the talk about the Climategate emails I devised a simple thought experiment for scientists. Let us imagine that you are teaching a college science class and you have assigned a science project to your students that will comprise the majority of their grade for the semester. The objective of the project is demonstrate the student’s knowledge of the material you are teaching, their ability to follow the scientific process like a scientist, and their ability to defend their conclusion in front of their fellow students. At the end of the semester you find one student who appears to have reasonable results but they lost the raw data and the method they transformed the raw data into the data that supports their conclusion. When you ask the student how they know the conclusion is correct, their primary defense is that it matches the results turned in by other students. During the defense of the project the other students do not seem to be bothered about the missing raw data and the method the data was transformed. So what grade do you give this student?

  • You give the student an ”˜A’ or a ”˜B’ since they got the right result. Their defense of the conclusion was excellent despite the missing data and lack of questions by the other students.
  • You give the student a ”˜C’ or an ”˜Incomplete’ since the conclusion was indefensible without the raw data and method used to transform the data. You are bothered that the other students were not more aggressive pursuing the questioning of this project. You have this uncomfortable sense of collusion amongst the students but you are unwilling to judge whether the student’s actions were deliberant or an unfortunate accident.
  • You give the student a ”˜F’ since you believe the student deliberately subverted the scientific process. You want to send a message to the students in the class and to those students planning on taking this course to forewarn them that this behavior will not be tolerated.

Things that make me go hmm… No statistically significant warming since 1995

I am beginning to think that this global warming crisis is a sinister plot by statistics professors to get more students to  take statistics courses. 😉 Despite my misgivings about the true motives of global warming I will take the opportunity to give a big thanks to LuboÅ¡ for encouraging me to refresh my knowledge of regression analysis. In his post, The Reference Frame: No statistically significant warming since 1995, he shows a simple example of regression analysis of temperature anomalies. Since I am Mathematica challenged I opted to use a method a high school student would probably be familiar with, I used Excel. Without much effort I was able to quickly plot add a trend line to the Excel chart with the following equation on the chart, y = 0.0095x + 0.12 with a R2 = 0.0889. LuboÅ¡ was kind enough to provide me with a link to the AP Tutorial on Statistics so that I would be reminded on the prerequisites for regression analysis. The Coefficient of Determination or otherwise known as R2 is a key output of regression analysis. To paraphrase the AP Tutorial for this case, the variance of the temperature anomalies are 8.9% predictable from the time variable. Ugh! So whether you look at the confidence interval, Standard Error, or R2, it is reasonable to conclude that the temperature data is really ugly and to agree with LuboÅ¡ that the underlying trend in 1995-2009 was "somewhat more likely than not"  a warming trend rather than a cooling trend.

For kicks I decided to follow up on a comment Bret made on this same article posted on the Watts Up With That? blog concerning using monthly data. I found some suitable monthly temperature data at, imported it into Excel, and plotted it. Here is the result.


Some people may complain that this chart is a nonsensical plot since the seasonal variations overwhelms the temperature trend. On the other hand it highlights how small the slope of the trend line is compared to the seasonal variations. Regardless of which estimate of the temperature increase you choose, it is still a very small number compared to the seasonal temperature variations. Another complaint might be that I should have used temperature anomalies rather than the actual temperature data. This begs the question whether you can have a warming trend that shows up in the anomalies that doesn’t show up in actual temperature data. Oh-oh! I think I should move on to less contentious subjects.

Since I was on a roll I decided to go one step further and analyze the temperature data like it was weather. Oops! I put climate change and weather in the same sentence. Every time I see or hear a weather forecast they discuss the high and low temperatures for the day. I do not remember ever hearing a weather forecast that included the average temperature for the day. In some cases a weather forecast will include an average high or  low for the day. Hence I created a plot of the maximum and minimum monthly temperature for each year. This appealed to both my pragmatic view and my engineering background. If we can imagine that our climate is a control system, a control engineer would primarily be interested in setting control limits on the maximum and the minimum values. Surely we should get a better regression analysis using the annual maximum and minimum values.


Once again despite selecting a subset of the monthly temperature data that  should have had a better chance of a statistically relevant temperature trend, the regression statistics continue to make it difficult about drawing conclusions about warming or cooling trends. The R2 value for the maximum temperature and minimum temperature trends are better than the raw monthly trend but they are still very low. Once again the underlying trend is "somewhat more likely than not"  a warming trend rather than a cooling trend. The R2 value has improved but with it  so low, we are still saying very little.

Here are some more thoughts to ponder.

  1. The range in the system from high to low temperature, 44 degrees, is very large compared to the warming trend(~ 1 degree/century). My inner engineer is having trouble understanding why a climate system that can handle a 44 degree swing in temperatures is having problems with a warming trend of about a degree per century.
  2. Are the problems we are seeing with the R2 value in our regressions analysis a natural result of the errors(noise) in the system of measuring temperatures? As an example if our temperature measurements are limited to an accuracy of plus or minus one degree, are we not fundamentally limited by the measurement errors in the system. What can we say about warming trends of one degree per century if our measurement errors are likely to be as large as the trend?
  3. How low does a R2 value or confidence limits in trends need to go before we decide to pack it in and say we do not know what is happening?

Finally for a humorous look at the scientific process courtesy of we have the Science Montage.
The rat's perturbed; it must sense nanobots! Code grey!  We have a Helvetica scenario!

Climategate: The Smoking Gun

The article published at Pajamas Media, Climategate Computer Codes Are the Real Story, is the best explanation of why the global warming scientists have been so passionate in avoiding the Freedom of Information act requests. These scientists knew they were in a lose-lose predicament. They knew they were brushing up with the law if they ignored the freedom of information act requests but they definitely did not want Steve McIntyre to look at the raw data and the programs and go ballistic. So they decided to replicate the results using synthesized data and prayed that they could put off the freedom of information act requests indefinitely.

As an IT guy in my day job I have seen this problem and it is called lax change management. In the professional programming world there are a multitude of horror stories associated with lax change management. This problem has been attributed to major cost overruns, project cancellations, and occasionally the failure of a company. To avoid these types of problems most companies have instituted a very simple and effective philosophy. You skirt the rules of change management and something goes wrong, you are fired!

Somewhere some important people are gathering and trying to figure out what to do with these scientists and their projects. Global warming science is important but are these scientists “too big to fail”? I am not sure an audit or internal investigation will satisfy either the politicians or the public. Such a waste of time and money! This is going to get uglier before it gets better. There are probably several ideas the scientific community probably needs to implement to avoid disasters like this in the future. As a starter maybe the scientific community will finally open its publicly funded projects to outside scrutiny much earlier in the game.

A Year Without A Summer?

On Friday the woman giving the weather report for the  Cincinnati area said we might need to break out the sweaters. She was predicting that the high temperatures for the day might set new records for the lowest recorded high temperature. It seems like we have had only seven days of summer weather. Last night when we were taking horses out, my son wore a sweatshirt.

Our fly population has been decimated by the cool Spring and Summer. Flies are warm weather insects. The house fly is the most temperature hardy but their population is down considerably over previous years. They were at least a month late in arriving this year because of the cool Spring.  Our deer fly population typically arrives during June and I don’t think I saw more than one or two. Now is the time when the first horse flies should be showing up. They are hot weather insects and diminish rapidly with the cool weather of Fall. It should be interesting to see how many horse files emerge if the temperature remains below average. This year is shaping up to be the coldest summer in ten years for me.

E-mails indicate EPA suppressed report skeptical of global warming | Politics and Law – CNET News

"I’m sure it was very inconvenient for the EPA to consider a study that contradicted the findings it wanted to reach," Rep. James Sensenbrenner, the senior Republican on the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, said in a statement. "But the EPA is supposed to reach its findings based on evidence, not on political goals. The repression of this important study casts doubts on the EPA’s finding, and frankly, on other analysis the EPA has conducted on climate issues."

The revelations could prove embarrassing to Jackson, the EPA administrator, who said in January: "I will ensure the EPA’s efforts to address the environmental crises of today are rooted in three fundamental values: science-based policies and programs, adherence to the rule of law, and overwhelming transparency." Similarly, President Barack Obama claimed that "the days of science taking a back seat to ideology are over… To undermine scientific integrity is to undermine our democracy. It is contrary to our way of life."

"All this talk from the president and (EPA administrator) Lisa Jackson about integrity, transparency, and increased EPA protection for whistleblowers–you’ve got a bouquet of ironies here," said Kazman, the CEI attorney.

E-mails indicate EPA suppressed report skeptical of global warming | Politics and Law – CNET News

I am amused at how the firing of the AmeriCorps Inspector General and this story seem to have “legs”.  You would think it would be in the administration’s best interest to have someone looking over their shoulders and so that they can keep the minor scandals from becoming major scandals.  The greatest threat to the Democratic party and the administration is the Democratic party shooting itself in the foot. If the mayor of Sacramento misused AmeriCorps to the tune of $800,000 for personal use, the tax payers want to see that AmeriCorps gets paid back in full. This should be a fairly simple trade off for the administration to prevent future spending abuses. Firing the Inspector General says a very loud message that no one will be watching the hen house. With all of this federal money floating around and no safe guards, it looks like 2010 will remind us of the scandal years in the Clinton administration.

I find myself increasingly cynical about the public benefits of these issues. It is a given that I am going to pay more taxes but for the life of me I cannot tell you what the TARP bill and the stimulus bill have accomplished. It is pretty easy to see that most businesses are looking at much lower sales. It is not surprising that these businesses have laid off people and not going to rehire them until sales improves.  The administration seems oblivious to this simple economic principal. So far the TARP bill and the stimulus bill have created a recovery so mediocre that many people wonder whether the stimulus bills were worth the effort. The economic predictions used to justify the stimulus bill were way off the mark and the economic predictions for 2010 continue to deteriorate. The people understand the deficit created by these bills and are scared. What are we paying for? Considering how poorly the administration has done with the managing the economy,  why should anyone expect the Waxman-Markley bill will be a modest impact on the economy as claimed by the administration. Over the last six months I gradually accepted the position that these bills are politically motivated and unnecessary. While the country looks at double digit unemployment, higher taxes, and an astronomical deficit, some friend of a congressman will be doing pretty good selling something “green” to the government. With the unwillingness of the EPA to entertain opposing view points on crucial issues, it is difficult to temper my pessimism about these issues. I have lost all faith that this administration can do anything right except kill flies. The Waxman-Markley bill looks like another scandal waiting in the wings.