A letter appeared yesterday in the NZ Herald following Professor Chris de Freitas’ article Human interference real threat to Pacific atolls two weeks ago. It was this letter:
The Herald may or may not publish the letter I sent them, but here’s an elaboration of it — substantially changed to take advantage of the lack of word limit here:
Graham Alcock claims Professor de Freitas draws conclusions about climate from short periods, quoting him as saying in the Herald “there has been no warming over the past 17 years.”
But what Professor de Freitas actually said was: “To the surprise of many scientists, sea level rise is barely perceptible in the Pacific. This is possibly because, at least in part, there has been no global warming over the past 17 years.”
Which is not the unequivocal conclusion Mr Alcock presents to us. Unexpectedly, he mocks the professor’s statement by correctly defining lack of warming: “because each year since 1998 has not got progressively warmer.” He implies disdain that Professor de Freitas should say that global warming has been absent only because there has been no global warming.
When what’s actually happening defies one’s fond belief it must be hard to accept.
Trivialise this huge failure
But the warming did not happen, Professor de Freitas said it did not happen and Mr Alcock shows he understands perfectly what no warming is, so why should the professor not say so? A look at global temperatures shows that temperatures have not risen, and has been confirmed by the UK Met Office, the chairman of the IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri, and the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor, Professor Sir Peter Gluckman. Our PMCSA tries to trivialise this huge 17-year failure to warm as a “short-term departure from the long-term warming trend.”
Oh, good science, Professor Gluckman. Seventeen years is a gigantic short term. How do you know the warming will return (are you psychic?). Since it was warming for only about 20 years from about 1980, that’s an amazingly short long-term trend, wouldn’t you say?
So the hiatus in warming is openly recognised in high places around the world, and it’s quite put the cat among the pigeons as people try to explain it without destroying the CAGW hypothesis. The hiatus cannot be nullified, as Mr Alcock intends, by simply denying its existence. He refers to a strong El Nino and cooling La Nina events merely to distract us — note that he utterly fails to deny the lack of warming.
When he says 11 of the last 13 years were the warmest on record he makes the empty insinuation that therefore it warmed over the period. But it could well have been cooling and still be true. Oh, wait, it was cooling. The claimed “records” were by virtue of only a few hundredths of a degree and were to all intents and purposes identical.
If temperatures are to reach the range suggested in the AR5 (2013), after failing to rise for 17 years (over half the conventional period of 30 years), they’d better get a hurry on! Temperatures must now rise at an impossibly steep rate for the predictions of strong warming still to come true.
On sea level, Mr Alcock says: “The longest reliable tide gauge records in the south Pacific go back only to 1992. But the trends at the 11 island gauges range from about 3mm to 8mm a year, faster than the long-term global rate.” He seems not to know that New Zealand, also situated in the South Pacific, has reliable tide gauge records going back to the 19th century, some of the longest in the world.
Data going in his direction
But he’ll take data going in his direction wherever he can find it. This is called cherry-picking. He also ignores the caution in every monthly report on the South Pacific Sea Level and Climate Monitoring Project web site about interpreting trends until more time has elapsed. Time is required for all the natural cycles affecting sea level to be experienced and to pass. The caution is clear:
It is important to stress that as the sea level record becomes longer, the short-term trend estimate becomes more stable and reliable. Observed trends in sea level include natural variability, for example, events such as El Niño and effects due to many other atmospheric, oceanographic and geological processes. Longer-term data sets for all stations are required in order to separate the effects of the different signals. Please exercise caution in interpreting the short-term trends in the table below – they will almost certainly change over the coming years as the data set increases in length.
The long-term rate of sea level rise in New Zealand is about 2.0 mm/yr (Hannah, 2004) with no evidence of acceleration. Global data from the University of Colorado show a clear deceleration between 1992 and 2010. The trend from 1992 to the end of 2000 is 3.14 mm/yr; from 2001 to September 2010 it’s 2.34 mm/yr. This represents a 25% reduction in the rate of sea level rise. [My thanks to Bob D.]
A breathtaking hypocrisy
Mr Alcock creates a straw-man argument by referring to a recent drop in sea level, which the professor didn’t mention. We can be sure that when Professor de Freitas says Pacific sea level rise is almost undetectable he has observations to back it up but our fearless Mr Alcock doesn’t bother to inquire.
He castigates Chris de Freitas for drawing firm conclusions from short periods (which he doesn’t actually do), so when he himself claims that Pacific sea levels are rising faster than the global rate — citing records that he acknowledges go back “only to 1992” (20 years) — he exhibits a quite breathtaking hypocrisy.
All his arguments fail. What a waste of time.