Sunday, December 15, 2013

My Home Schooled Son Learns About Global Warming

My kids are home schooled, and for us that means we participate in organized instruction as well as in home instruction.  Some of it is affiliated with the state of Michigan, some of it is associated with church groups.  So yeah, I know they're getting some of what I consider to be nonsense, but I'm not too worried about it.  I kind of like that they get to see adults in what is presented as on objective setting offer them stuff which they know from me is dubious.  If nothing else it instills in them a recognition that authorities should be questioned.  Question the teachers and your father as well.

So recently my son asks me to help him review for his science test.  Part of that is I'm going to read questions he got on a prior test because this test is a mid term, so prior subjects are covered.  Check question 9.

I'm just going through the motions reading these off, and I get to question 9 and my head is buried in this piece of paper.  And I suppose the expression on my face changed a bit as I read the question.  My eyes shift above the paper and what do I see?  My son with a very excited look on his face.  Eyes wide and a big smile as he anticipates my reaction to his answer.  "No, the earth has not warmed significantly over the last 80 years!!"  He's looking forward to watching my head explode, which it did.

What the flip is this?  How can they say this?  I quickly Google "Global Temperature Record" and here's what you get at Wikipedia.

So I say, "Ben, does that look like an insignificant temperature increase?"  And for him this is funny, but I say "Where's your book?"  So this is his book.  Below that is the temperature reconstruction found within the book.

No real significant warming over the last 80 years.  How grand.  So I asked Ben to have his teacher give us a source on this.

So that's what he did.  He kind of likes this sort of thing.  He gets a kick out of telling his friends in class in hushed tones "If my Dad were here he would argue with this and probably our teacher would go nuts."  He thinks that's funny also, and so he was going to ask her.  Not because he cared but because I think he finds it all amusing.

So he did that and his teacher reacted pretty reasonably.  She asked him to verify that his source was NASA and agreed that it was important to verify the source in the book, which she would try to do.  She would later forward to him a link to the book's website, here, and give him a password that allows him to login and consider some of the background information provided.  She offered two articles for consideration.  Both by a guy named James Taylor from the Heartland Institute, a well known corporate front group that has as it's mission to discredit the science on global warming.  This article says the Himalayan glaciers are growing and scientists are "confounded".  In fact a few glaciers in the Himalayas have expanded though the majority have shrunk.  Taylor focuses on the fewer growing ones and conflates them to give his readers the wrong idea.  The other article suggested by the teacher is kind of a vague "Science is proving the global warming crowd wrong" type of article.  Additionally Apologia has an article by Michelle Malkin.

I was just recently made aware of James Taylor.  Apparently one of his signature moves is to publicize email addresses of scientists and encourage his readers to go on the attack.  So scientists find themselves inundated with profanity laced threats, which they find difficult to cope with.

Just today I looked a little more closely at the book, and it does have the source for the plot created.  Up to 1979 you have a reconstruction made in 1983 that is recreated at the Institute for Creation Studies.  That reconstruction was apparently published in the International Journal of Environmental Studies by somebody named WH Bergman, who appears to have been a professor of Atmospheric Studies at Washington State.  Subsequent to 1979 apparently the chart in the book is based on data presented here.  Not quite sure how this is all supposed to fit together.

I guess generally you'd expect that in 1983 the data was not as complete as it is today, so possibly Bergman did the best with what he had.  Or possibly there are qualifications that are not clear.  It appears that this is temperature for the lower troposphere, not surface temperatures.  I think ordinarily surface temperatures are what we want to consider.  I may look into this more.  Obviously the authors are putting up a lot of effort to reach conclusions they prefer given that the NASA data and other data is so readily available.


Examinator said...

One can't teach ACC from 30year old data !
I'd be having a hissey fit and be on the war path with the curriculum if it was me! But you aren't me.

Dan Pangburn said...

Find out what caused the warming and why it stopped at

Chad said...

I bet Lief Kullman's findings aren't in the textbook either.

BTW - nice work Dan.

Jon said...

I wonder if Chad or Dan would be interested in addressing the post I wrote, rather than just general AGW related arguments.

I'm obviously not going to take the time to rebut every effort to undermine science put forward. Those subjects I've taken the time to evaluate have invariably led to the same conclusion. The scientists are right. If you want to address what I discovered in this regard you can evaluate my post here:

But what we're dealing with here is pretty straightforward. We're not talking about the medieval time period. We're talking about the last 80 years. That's the test question. We have the data. To avoid that conclusion my son's home school textbook does some real funny business. 30 year old source evaluating lower troposphere temperatures (not surface temperatures) and that followed by satellite data that does supposedly show surface temps. Why would they not just go with NASA or Met Office, or any of the other readily available sources?

If you think the warming shown from NASA isn't a concern, fine. If you think it was warmer in medieval times, fine. The discussion here is about how a so called science book puts forward data to make it appear that there has been no warming over the last 80 years, and in fact temperatures are basically flat. Not true according to the best sources.

Chad said...

Okay I will take a wild rip at the question.

First we need to determine what you find to be 'significant'. That was the question right? Not was there change, but was there a significant change?

Lets assume that 1980 starts at 0 which it appears it does on your chart and lets take that right to 2000 - it shows just shy of a .4 celcius change with your chart. Whoa - that means less than 1 degree (something like .8 I think) Fahrenheit change in 20 years - now I don't know what significant means in your world, but a change of less than a degree in a 20 year span is just about as insignificant as it gets.

Now - if the question was from 1880 to 2000 then your working with something like 1.2 celcius or about 2.2 degrees change over 120 years so again we need to define significant.

Although you discard (because it doesn't fit your narrative) the new data coming out about much higher temperatures back in the day and then you take a really big picture view of the whole thing from then until now - especially since scientist are suggesting that a cooling period is coming and what do you find? Patterns - patterns of warming and cooling then warming then cooling but to less extremes thankfully.

At one time This earth was filled with ice and one time it was nearly on fire - thank God the ebs and flows have less high and lows. Maybe mother nature has found her sweet spot?

Chad said...

Not sure how to past a chart like you do s hope this link shows through.

You know what this chart tells me Jon? Nothing - not a damn thing we do will ever stop what she (mother earth) and the sun will do to this planet. She worked out all the bugs before we got here and will long after we are gone aasuming that the sun does not have any other plans. If he wants to heat us up or cool us down all he has to do is change just a little tiny bit. How important do you think a single degree is to the sun?

It's rather amazing to me that mother nature and the sun are this stable to be honest.

Chad said...

I know you really dislike logic Jon so let me expand using science.

How much does 1 degree fahrenheit matter or would would it take for our heat source that is 1.3 millions earths that weighs 330,000 Times as much as earth to change our temp by said 1 degree?

I mean the earth is the size of only 1 sunspot on the sun.

Hell our oceans are controlled by the moons gravitational forces for God sakes. There are much much bigger forces to be worried about my friend including asteroids hitting earth.

Jon said...

Chad, the test question is about the last 80 years. The book was written in 2005 I believe so I think the chart is showing 1925 as the 80 year ago point.

If we use this strange conglomeration of lower troposphere an then satellite/surface temp data, some from 1983 and other from 2005, and you consider the scale of the plot, basically it doesn't look too significant. About 0.2°C, though of course in 1998 it was over 0.5°C so now it's bounced back. On this scale it doesn't look like much.

On other widely available data that reflects a consistent data set of surface temperatures, basically looking at the same scale, one would conclude that it is significant. "Significant" is not a great word to use for a test question like this, but this is what they did, and I think it's clear that based on the book data the answer is no and based on NASA data the answer is yes.

Don't get off in the weeds talking about how during the Paleozoic era things were much hotter. That's not what this blog post is about. You can look at NASA data and say fine, it's gone up in the last 100 years, but not much when you consider the fuller history of the earth. Think that if you like. I'd point out that during the Paleozoic era there weren't nearly as many humans (zero I suppose), agriculture wasn't around, and so yeah the earth will be fine, it's humans that have a problem. But set that argument aside. This is a very misleading chart that is an attempt to elicit a certain response from the student, a response that wouldn't appear clear if honest data was presented.

Dan Pangburn said...

Jon - As a stand-alone, the graph is misleading. As explained in my link and in context (warming ended more than a decade ago and average global temperature is heading down), not so much.

Chad said...

I don't know if I agree sir - the question was a significant change and regardless of the scale used I would say no it is not significant. It is like saying that 80 part per million increase in carbon is significant change when its not.

HispanicPundit said...

Tisk tisk tisk, I'd be disappointed as well.

Few things are as concrete as the average temperature increasing.