Global Temperature Trends

I last wrote on this back on 2nd Jan 2016. Today we have newspaper reports that 2016 is very likely to be hottest year on record. This may indeed be true. However, the reports persist in undermining the case for action on the environment by using discredited information. The terrestrial and oceanic surface measurement data [rightly] requires manual adjustment to avoid the “garbage-in-garbage-out” problem, and once given an inch the analysts doing this manual intervention have taken a mile – the historic record seems to change each time they present another graph. The only reliable global temperature data comes from satellites.

So, when the BBC reports that “October data indicates that 2016 is very much on track to surpass the 2015 level, which in turn broke the previous high mark set in 2014”, we should be sceptical.

If you want to make up your own minds, you can. The NOAA satellite data is available on the REMSS website. They give you the MSU/AMSU data and if you want to appreciate the scientific integrity of this then REMSS are happy to explain. (My data analysis is here). This shows that the 1998 average anomaly was +0.55°C, compared to +0.62°C for the first ten months of 2016. Even if the October reading of +0.35°C is repeated in November and December, 2016 will still average out at +0.58°C. 2016 is the first year to come anywhere near close to 1998.

The claim about 2015 and 2014 being record years is nonsense, based on the discredited terrestrial and oceanic surface data.  Using the satellite data you can see that the anomalies for 2014 and 2015 respectively were +0.27°C and +0.38°C. If you draw a straight linear regression through the data from Jan 1998 to Oct 2016 you find that temperatures are +0.33°C above the period Jan 1979 – Dec 1997, and increasing at +0.05°C per decade. That is not a typo. For the last 19 years global temperatures have been essentially static. The “pause” in Global Warming is a scientific FACT.

All of which means that the fuss over CO2 is an awful distraction from the task of conserving species and genetic diversity through conservation of habitat, very large bits of habitat. So, if and when Donald Trump concludes that the “CO2 emperor” has no clothes, he might just be giving an enormous boost to proper conservation.

Trump and Polling Error

There is little to say on different perceptions in the UK and new Zealand to Donald Trump’s victory. Overwhelmingly there is a consensus, that his was “a primal scream against Washington” (Rupert Cornwell, Independent in the UK). Tracey Watkins, writing for Stuff in New Zealand, concludes that “The forces that propelled Donald Trump into the presidency are the same forces that drove Britain out of the European Union”. That the people of the UK and now the USA wish to take back control of their futures; and, specifically, to have a less divided society, must surely be good.

Some people are concerned that this is a nationalist, right-wing, thing. Looking after the interests of the nation that elected him would be one thing. Bigoted xenophobia would be quite another. Time will tell.

On the polling, the excellent Anthony Wells writes:

“the final polls were clustered around a 4 point lead for Clinton, when in reality it looks about 1 point. More importantly, the state polls were often way out, polls had Ohio as a tight race when Trump stomped it by 8 points. All the polls in Wisconsin had Clinton clearly ahead; Trump won. Polls in Minnesota were showing Clinton leads of 5-10 points, it ended up on a knife edge. ”

There is already a narrative about “shy” Trump supporters appearing in the media. Evidence for this is apocryphal to non-existent. It is too early to know the reasons that the US pollsters got it so wrong, but we do know why the UK pollsters got the last UK general election wrong. The British Polling Council conducted an in depth review, and “shy Tories” was an urban myth not a cause. They concluded that “The main cause of the error was unrepresentative samples”. Anthony Wells’ excellent summary, with a link through to that full report is here.

The US and UK electorates understood that “if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten” and voted for something different – anything different. The pollsters techniques were incapable of identifying and correctly analysing that change.

Labour Party considering training levy.

The New Zealand labour party that is. Their finance spokesman, Grant Robertson, said that “Immigration, skilled workers will always be part of the mix but we’ve got to do a better job of training New Zealanders”. I believe this would not affect the arrival of seasonal labour, essentially Pacific Islanders, who come to bring the fruit crop under what is widely regarded as a well targeted and well administered scheme set up specifically for that purpose.

There are the same concerns here in New Zealand, and in Australia, over the levels of low wage immigration, as there are in the UK. And there are some pretty Trump’esque solutions on offer. The opposition coalition in Australia proposed last week “to deny asylum to any asylum seeker who has been judged to have purposely destroyed their identity documents”. Maybe those arriving in Australia are different, but I doubt that that identity documents would be top of my list of concerns if I were fleeing the fighting in Syria.

The scheme being considered by the Labour Party would charge all businesses this levy, unless they were providing approved training to their employees. Which strikes me as just the kind of sensible sounding, do-gooding proposal that we are so familiar with in the UK. And it will come with the support of the same kind of crony corporatist elite that have been making such a mess of running the EU and the UK. Big companies love this kind of stuff, because they know that it will hammer small businesses.

Fortunately, in New Zealand this kind of proposal is very unlikely ever to come into effect. New Zealand recently came top in a Forbes list of the best countries in which to do business. And New Zealand is not going to allow proposals like this to jeopardise that reputation.