Just Chilling Out

Coinciding with President Obama’s pushing of a brand new climate bill, certain specific evidence, concerning global cooling, is being rejected by statisticians. I know, I know, it’s enough to make you want to scream! Even global warming gets questioned by many skeptics, and now it seems clear why some feel the right to remain skeptical, even after sitting through a two and a half hour film rant by Al Gore.

photo: Steven D. Levitt, authorWhich is it dudes? Is the planet cooling? Heating? Both? Neither? A little clarity, me thinks, will go a long way in getting global citizens to be hip to the cause.

Who is hungry for the truth?
The Associated Press held a blind test, in order to get some straight facts to filter into the media. They conducted a blind test, in which temperature data was given to four independent statisticians. Strangely, the expert statisticians found no trends having to do with temperatures declining over time.

So who started the rumor?
Opinion columns, a BBC news story posted on the Drudge Report, and especially a fun new book by the best-selling authors of “Freakonomics”, all claim that there is evidence for the cause and hence cause for worry.

In a poll by the Pew Research Center, conducted last week, it was discovered that only 57% of Americans, today, believe that there is substantial scientific evidence for the reality of global warming. In 2006 there were 77%. What changed people’s minds? Al Gore? Indian summers? No and no. Get this: global warming skeptics are basing their claims on an unusually hot year in 1998. They say that since then, temperatures have dropped. But does this a global cooling trend make? Apparently we should think not – according to the Associated Press, anyway.

Deke Arndt, the climate monitoring chief of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says to the contrary of global cooling theorists, “The last 10 years are the warmest 10-year period of the modern record. Even if you analyze the trend during that 10 years, the trend is actually positive, which means warming.”

In an excerpt from the new book by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, “Super Freakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance”, we read:

“Then there’s this little-discussed fact about global warming: While the drumbeat of doom has grown louder over the past several years, the average global temperature during that time has in fact decreased.”

But this line sent false messages to readers apparently. The University of Chicago economist, Levitt says that he does not actually believe that there is a cooling trend. Instead the line from the new book was just “an attempt to note the irony of a cool couple of years at a time of intense discussion of global warming.”

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