Shooting fish in a barrel

Sometimes the antics of New Zealand’s band of climate cranks, the self-styled Climate Science Coalition, reduce me to tears. More often they make me laugh. Today’s example of their tomfoolery [PDF] has had me chuckling for hours. Dr Vincent Gray, a former coal researcher and leading light of the NZ CSC, hasn’t published any peer-reviewed papers on climate science (he’s had a few in Energy & Environment, but that doesn’t count). He claims to be a “climate consultant” and an “€œexpert reviewer for the IPCC”, but that doesn’t seem to stop him from spouting nonsense. His latest paper claims:

It is quite impossible to obtain a statistically or scientifically acceptable estimate of mean global temperature or its variability over time, from readings on the earth’s surface.

He then proceeds to criticise the global surface temperature record, which seems to be becoming fashionable in certaincircles. On the one hand…

The oceans constitute 71% of the earth’€™s surface, but sea surface temperature measurements suffer from error to a greater degree than measurements on land.

…but he then proceeds to use satellite records of ocean temperatures, excluding land, because…

The “€œLand” [sic: a typo, he means ocean] record is shown in Figure 2 as it ignores variability specific to land surfaces, but still applies to 71% of the earth.

Funnily enough, he doesn’t find much of a warming trend. If he had used the latest combined land and ocean data he would have had to admit that the satellite record showed warming at 0.18ºK per decade – slap in the middle of all modern estimates of increases in the global average. But he ignores that inconvenient truth and soldiers on, to finish with a magnificent assertion completely unsupported by the preceding argument:

Reliable global, regional and local temperature records show that temperatures variability is cyclic, with a period of about 60 years. The temperature does not display a distinguishable €œtrend. The most reliable records show peak temperatures around 1940 and 2005 and low temperatures around 1910 and 1970. These records are incompatible with a belief that there is a distinguishable upwards €œtrend€™ caused by greenhouse gas emissions.

So if we ignore all the evidence that the world is getting warmer, that means that it can’t be getting warmer. I wonder which windmill Dr Vincent will tilt at next? And who is his Sancho Panza? Not the august personage himself, surely?

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