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Monday, January 5, 2009

Global Warming for Dummies

I guess it was inevitable. The "For Dummies" series has a new addition.

The 342-page paperback translates scientific and enviro-speak jargon, ranging from terms like "abrupt climate change scenario" through "biomass," "carbon credits," "Kyoto Protocol," and "photovoltaic energy," all the way to "zero-energy homes."

Following the For Dummies series formula, the fact-packed book explains climate science with plenty of drawings, charts, and graphs; and icons in the margins alert readers to information considered to be technical stuff, situation critical, good news, or controversial, as well as information to remember while studying the subject. A "cheat sheet" at the front condenses the contents for quick digestion.
The authors of this remarkable scientific work? None other than Canada's Green Party leader Elizabeth May who co-authored the book with Zoe Caron. And what credentials do these two bring to the scientific debate about global warming?
Both authors are globally recognised environmental activists. Ms. May, currently federal Green Party leader, was executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada for 17 years and policy adviser to former prime minister Brian Mulroney. Ms. Caron’s pedigree includes membership in the Canadian Youth Climate Change Coalition and the board of directors of the Sierra Club of Canada.
Did I miss the part in there where they mentioned their science credentials?

Not to fear, despite the lack of scientific background by these two "environmental activists", this science book has been thoroughly reviewed for accuracy by, wait for it...
The book was fact-checked by scientists from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a 2,000-member body that has created an objective source of climate information.
OK, now we can feel better. There wouldn't possibly be any bias from the IPCC now would there?

Seriously, if you want to read a book about global warming, I can suggest a few that would be far more informative, and truthful.


JR said...

A more accurate title would have been: "Global Warming By Dummies".

Zookeeper said...

I chastised Ms Caron at one point last summer for saying about some difficulties that a certain ship encountered in the Arctic "Never has one expedition been so altered by climate change".

Apparently there was fog. And ice! The living embodiment of
Confirmation Bias

Lemon said...

Ellie May as "Policy Advisor" to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney?
Really? Is this documented somewhere?

A Dog Named Kyoto said...

Yup, according to the Wikipedia llink in the post she worked "as an environmental lawyer advising Tom McMillan, Brian Mulroney's Environment minister in 1986".

zoe said...

JR -- That's cute. Very original!

Halfwise -- Perhaps I never fully explained myself. If, for example, 100 year storms are now going to become 10 year storms, it is debatable to whether one can say "THIS storm is linked to climate change." (Though you would certainly have a 90% chance of being correct). The blog you refer to was one in which I described increasingly unpredictable conditions in the Arctic. It was also literary, not a scientific paper. But I appreciate the keen eye.

Lemon -- Yes, she was indeed. Here's an excerpt from her biography:

"In 1986, Elizabeth became Senior Policy Advisor to then federal Environment Minister, Tom McMillan. She was instrumental in the creation of several national parks, including South Moresby. She was involved in negotiating the Montreal Protocol to protect the ozone layer and new legislation and pollution control measures. In 1988, she resigned on principle when the Minister granted permits for the Rafferty-Alameda Dams in Saskatchewan as part of a political trade-off, with no environmental assessment. The permits were later quashed by a Federal Court decision that the permits were granted illegally."

A Dog named Kyoto -- As a bit of a background on the process of the book, we worked with a group of very credible scientists (IPCC and others) to build the chapters, and my personal academic background is a BSc in Environmental Science. We followed the same process for all chapters, calling on reliable experts to double and triple check the content.

All my best,

Zoe Caron

Zookeeper said...

If 100 year storms become ten year storms, then one of two explanations could apply:
1) the nature of storms has changed
2) the quality of statistical data has changed

Calculating what constitutes a 100 year storm using (say) 60 years of data will yield different results than when using 100 years of data. When I studied hydrology and climatology the last time the earth was cooling, we used curves that estimated a 100 year flood using much less than a 100 years of data. When you get more data, the curves change.

All of this can and does happen within the normal variability of the system. It is a fundamental error in both logic and statistics to suggest that a different curve based on better SAMPLE information means the underlying POPULATION has changed.

My objections to AGW alarmism are based on its well established pattern of drawing faulty conclusions from cherry picked data and from models which are unverifiable in the real world. It would bother me much less if the alarmism did not lead to misguided policy initiatives that divert scarce resources from real and urgent environmental problems, such as air pollution and water quality, to bogus causes including the shameful indoctrination of a generation of children that CO2 is the leading threat to mankind and that mankind is a threat to the Earth.

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