What’s Wrong With This Global Warming Story?

Today’s test is to read the following news report, and identify its logical fallacy:

Loss of Species After Ice Age Seen as Warning,” by David Perlman, San Francisco Chronicle Science Editor, May 24, 2010

You have 30 minutes.


OK, time’s up.

A) The article cited above says:

Fossils of small mammals excavated around a Shasta County cave tell a remarkable story of animal diversity and its loss when the Earth warmed abruptly after the last major Ice Age ended some 12,700 years ago.

If the earth warmed (and cooled) in the past—before human activity produced the levels of CO2 purportedly responsible for today’s—what caused it, and why is human activity deemed responsible for any “climate change” today?

B) The article cited above also quotes the researcher conducting the study:

“In fact, the degree of climate change that occurred after the Ice Age is very similar to the rise in the world’s temperature that has been predicted for the next century.”

From, “Q&A: Professor Phil Jones,” director of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA), chief proponent of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW), and central character of Climategate:

[Question:] Do you agree that according to the global temperature record used by the IPCC, the rates of global warming from 1860-1880, 1910-1940 and 1975-1998 were identical?

[Answer, Dr. Jones]: ...the warming rates for all 4 periods are similar and not statistically significantly different from each other.

[Question]: Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming?

[Answer, Dr. Jones]: Yes, but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant...

[Question]: Do you agree that from January 2002 to the present there has been statistically significant global cooling?

[Answer, Dr. Jones]: No. This period is even shorter than 1995-2009. The trend this time is negative (-0.12C per decade), but this trend is not statistically significant.

Meanwhile, Kevin Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and a lead author of the 2001 and 2007 IPCC Scientific Assessment of Climate Change, has said:

The fact is we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.

If warming from 1860-1880, 1910-1940, and 1975-1998 are identical, why is the warming of 1975-1998 attributed to human activity that must be centrally controlled? If there is currently a “lack of warming”—there has been no statistically significant warming since 1995, and, while not characterized “statistically significant,” the trend has been negative since 2002—on what are predictions of continued warming based?

C) Compare and contrast the article above to those about such curiosities as medieval farm implements being uncovered as glaciers recede in Greenland.

Note Greenland’s recorded temperatures since 600:

Why do scientists—and journalists—force every finding of historical, natural warming into support of modern, anthropogenic global warming (AGW)? Could it be that grants for research supporting findings for AGW are plentiful, such findings win Nobel Prizes and garner academic favor, while “skeptics” (and isn’t the scientific method supposed to require evidence proving a hypothesis prior to its acceptance?) are ridiculed as “flat-earth deniers”, and alarmist global warming headlines sell newspapers?

Mary L. G. Theroux is Senior Vice President of the Independent Institute.
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