Monday, April 23, 2007

CTV Reality Check

Does anyone else have a problem with the following paragraph by CTV's Beijing Correspondent Steve Chao?


...Chinese cities are also feeling the stifling effects of global warming. If it's not sand storms choking Beijing and other cities, it's heavy pollution causing problems. Many airports have been forced to close for hours at a time because pilots couldn't see through the soup of haze.



No wonder the public is so confused!


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Update: Luke has just put up a great post - The Science behind Global Warming. A long read but well worth the effort!

26 comments:

Luke said...

Hmmm... pollution, a dustbowl, drought and smog, all caused by global warming.

Strange, but I thought global warming was supposed to be global. Melting the ice caps and such. This sounds like good old-fashioned pollution and strip mining.

Other countries have the same isolated problems in highly polluted regions, especially in areas that have been over-farmed, over-mined, over-forested and overwhelmed with the chemicals and by-products that destroy soil.

But it has to be global warming. Two years ago, the heavy hurricane season was caused by global warming. Last summer's mild hurrican season was caused by global warming. The unusually warm December-January in Ontario was global warming. The unusually cold December-January in Alberta was global warming.

Global warming exists, but it is not what politicians say it is. I'm currently researching and writing a post on that. It should be ready in the next few days.

Soccermom said...

Exactly. Good post, Joanne.

Red Tory said...

It's pollution, not global warming. What's being described is no different from what Britain suffered from in the middle of the last century.

liberal supporter said...

Yes, you should be proof reading for CTV. The first seven paragraphs are clearly about the advancing desert, which could certainly be a result of global warming. Overall warming will have different effects in different places. For example in Ontario we are noticing the late onset of winter snow, and slightly early melting. But in summmer you will not notice as much if the average day is 29 degrees instead of 28. If that slight increase dries up river beds, which then blow away as dust, you would notice.

The paragraph you cited is poorly worded, since one could view it as blaming pollution of global warming. In context, after the previous seven paragraphs, it is more understandable as giving a second example of problems caused by coal burning. Almost trying to bolster the idea that even if there was no GHG problem, the coal would still be causing dirty air, so the subsequent discussion of using windmills and cutting power consumption would still help reduce coal consumption, which would be good, even if there was no GHG to worry about.

mecheng said...

For example in Ontario we are noticing the late onset of winter snow, and slightly early melting.

So did the snow fall on the same day in the autumn and melt on the same day in the spring BEFORE global warming.

But in summmer you will not notice as much if the average day is 29 degrees instead of 28.

And before global warming, I expect every day in summer was 28°C?

Just asking...

Steve said...

Thanks Joanne. I thought the story was more than a little wonky too. The producer of that segment would make Michael Moore proud.

liberal supporter said...

The point being made was that things like "when you see snow" is easier to notice than the summer temperatures. I think the weather records show the summer average temperatures have risen, but it is not as noticeable, since the temperature is not near a boundary, such as freezing.

I have never seen the winter arrive so late in my entire life. A nearby lake did not freeze until mid January, when it has usually frozen by Christmas, and always by New Years.

And before global warming, I expect every day in summer was 28°C?
Not on a planet that has weather. Are you being willfully obtuse, or do you not understand what "average" means?

I recall a teacher describing the stcck market as being "like watching a man with a yoyo walking up the stairs. If you watch the yoyo you will see ups and downs, but the average will give a longer term trend.

Anonymous said...

"I have never seen the winter arrive so late in my entire life. A nearby lake did not freeze until mid January, when it has usually frozen by Christmas, and always by New Years."

So if the lake NEAR YOU is frozen by say thanksgiving this year, can we say Global Freezing is gripping the WORLD.

mecheng said...

It is interesting that you attempted to respond to my first point, yet heaped scorn upon my second point.

Of course I was being deliberately obtuse (on both points). But it is being deliberately obtuse (on your part) to point to a one degree difference in year-to-year AVERAGE LOCAL temperatures and imply that global warming is a factor in it.

There could be a 30 degree difference in average local temperature from year to year and that would prove NOTHING about global warming.

liberal supporter said...

So if the lake NEAR YOU is frozen by say thanksgiving this year, can we say Global Freezing is gripping the WORLD.

You could, if you want to remain as disingenuous as you have demonstrated so far.

What is your point anon?

The discussion was about observing changes in local conditions, which can be caused by global warming. If the rare extremes become the norm then you are likely seeing some change in climate. But the actual definition of global warming involves average temperatures, so a local variation is an indicator, but is not evidence.

libewral supporter said...

mecheng, you only commented once before your comment of 3:46. Perhaps one of the anons is you.

If you read my comment, it was to the effect that a one degree change in temperature, from 28 to 29 will not be as noticeable as a change from -0.5 to +0.5 since the latter affects freezing.

liberal supporter said...

libewral->liberal

lance said...

lib supporter said: "Are you being willfully obtuse, or do you not understand what "average" means?"

Uh huh. And what part of "outlier" and "bell-curve" gets lost in the shuffle of "average".

What's the mean, better question, what's the deviation? What's the range of data?

Averages don't mean squat except to say over x years with y(x) different temperatures, moisture conditions, wind, etc., the average temperature was z.

Even if not one data point _was_ z. It means the probability of a data point being z is greater than z/2.

Phaw, averages.

Cheers,
lance

liberal supporter said...

How many anons were there again?

The average surface temperature of the earth is the average referred to. If that average increases year over year, then you have global warming.

My original statement remains, which is the fact that variations around freezing are more noticeable than at summer temperatures.

Nice job with the multiple anons. Sure makes it look like widespread disagreement. Just like the ctv "poll".

Anonymous said...

What is your point anon?

I do not know where you live. But where I live there is still snow on the ground, ice on the ponds, and still getting snow as of 3 days ago.
I cannot rembember a time this close to May long weekend that this was the case. Perhaps this is an indication that global warming is now global freezing.
We just don't know for sure do we?

liberal supporter said...

Perhaps this is an indication that global warming is now global freezing.
No, the earth's average temperature is increasing. That is global warming.

The late start to Ontario's winter was mainly due to the jet stream staying north of where it usually does. Whether that change in jet stream latitude is related to global warming, I don't know.

Your cold weather is likely related to the jet stream as well. I don't know how well understood that is, so cannot comment on it.

Like watching the yoyo, you will see variations all the time, but the overall trend is warming.

mecheng said...

Please define the earths average temperature, liberal supporter.

Are you talking about atmospheric temperatures?

Ground temperatures?

Average of atmospheric temperatures taken at 50 different recording stations worldwide?

1000 different stations?

Every station in the world, including new ones built each year?

High altitude temperatures?

Daytime, nightime, or 9:00AM?

Water temperatures in the middle of the pacific ocean?

Are you filtering out temperatures that are measured in metropolitan areas, because these are local hot spots and will bias the overall "average temperature"?

Tell me what your standard is for measuring that the earth is warming, and then we can talk. (And "David Suzuki said so" is not an acceptable response.) Until you define how to measure the temperature of the earth, all you are doing is talking about point temperatures, which are meaningless in the grand scheme of things.

For every local temperature anomaly that you give, I can give you 1,000 occurring elsewhere in the world that are well within whatever we want to call "normal".

I would wager that I probably understand the concept of "average" much better than you do.

Oh, and I have only posted as mecheng, all the anonymous's must be other people piling on.

liberal supporter said...

mecheng
While I continue to do your research for you, to find out how the IPCC has defined global average temperature, perhaps you could start listing the 1000 "local temperature anomalies" that you claim to have. Actually you should list 2000, because I mentioned two "anomalies" and you claim to have 1000 counter examples for each one I have.

Even though I mentioned these "local temperature anomalies" intending to illustrate differences in how much we subjectively notice local changes, you have decided that I am citing these as hard evidence of global warming.

As far as the average global temperature is concerned, there are many measurements taken from land stations and ships at sea. How many measurements are needed so that an accurate estimate can be made? I don't know. I simply took the scientists' word for it.

Perhaps thousands of scientists got it wrong, and you have discovered what is really going on. There was only one Einstein, so you would be in good company if you can prove thousands of scientists are in fact wrong.

Unlike many people in this debate, every time I read something new, I consider it. It seems many people simply classify any information they receive as being either "left" or "right" and depending on their views, one of those is good, and one is bad.

For example, you have questioned how are average temperatures determined. So far from what I have read, it appears that scientists are satisfied that the current measurement network will produce an accurate average. Determining past temperatures is partly based on instruments and partly on things like tree rings.

Mac said...

Uh-oh... RT and Joanne agreeing?

Repent! The end is near!!

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Uh-oh... RT and Joanne agreeing?

-and Liberal Supporter too; at least so far as the poorly worded CTV report goes.

If hell freezes over, will that be somehow attributed to global warming too?

Mac said...

It's climate change now, Joanne... Didn't you get that memo?

Swift said...

The CTV report is another case of misinformation. A little research would produce the following link: Tucson.ars.ag.gov/isco12/VolumeIV/DesertificationControlandSandstormmitigation.pdf.

The conclusion of this study is that global warming is npt the main cause of the sandstorm problem. The sand comes from the Mongolian desert. It used to be traped inthe forests and grasslands north and west of Beijing. Deforestation, overgrazing and conversion to agriculture has destroyed much of the effectiveness of this sand trap.

Today we have a good idea of the temperature over the whole of the earth because of satellite measurements. This includes land and sea surface temperatures and temperatures at certain altitudes.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

It's climate change now, Joanne... Didn't you get that memo?

Mac, we'll have to send that memo to Steve Chao too. ;)

Swift, thanks as always for your meticulous research.

mecheng said...

You want 2000 examples of "normal" weather?

There wasn't a hurricane in Toronto yesterday. No tornadoes in Saskatoon. It was a pleasant 15°C in Calgary. I could go on...

The point is that the earth has a surface area of 197,000,000 square miles. It is hardly surprising that you can find thousands of temperature anomalies at any point in time. There are many more "normal" temperatures at any point in time than not. But nobody freaks out and starts reporting "normal" conditions as evidence of global normalness.

The media is being disingenuous when they mention a causal relationship between global warming and any individual weather event.

You keep on mentioning your local lake, and how late it froze. There are other factors that would affect when the lake froze than just local ambient temperature; such as the water level (heat capacity of the lake), wind (heat transfer rates and the turbulence of the water), or pollution levels in the lake (ie. chlorides reducing the freezing point of the water). To simply blame the late freezing on global warming is simplistic. Sure, it may have an effect, but there are many other factors involved.

What is your definition of "the lake was frozen"? Does that mean the presence of ANY ice, or a full sheet of ANY thickness, frozen solid, or even "thick enough that you can stand on it". If the latter is the case, have you gotten heavier since last year? (The snow was always up to my waist when I was five, now it's not...global warming?)

Personally, I believe the reason that you noticed this "significant weather event" is because the media is flooding us with "all global warming all the time".

They are training your brain to blame normal variations on their pet project.

Kunoichi said...

Personally, I believe the reason that you noticed this "significant weather event" is because the media is flooding us with "all global warming all the time".

They are training your brain to blame normal variations on their pet project.


This is something I'm see a *lot,* especially since last summer. It really blows my mind when I hear some of the old timers start saying it, when I myself remember weird weather as I grew up. Of course, back then, it was blamed on global cooling.

What I've been noticing (in several provinces over the last 10+ years of moving all over Canada) is that winter does seem to be coming later - but that spring has been coming later, too. Summer didn't seem to come at all the last year we lived in Manitoba, for the entire province (anyone else who lived there would remember that summer of almost constant rains, cold temps. and flooding). I gave up on the idea of planting a garden when, by June, it was still too cold and muddy.

Every spring, just when everyone is starting to head outside again, I start waiting for that last blizzard or major snowfall in late May or the first week of April. This year, we got it a few days ago.

mecheng said...

People have been saying for the last fifty years, "If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes" in almost every place I've lived.

So how can weird weather patterns be such a new thing, worthy of relentless media coverage?