Friday, May 25, 2007

The Perception of Global Warming


Recently there have been some interesting articles that don't question the idea that global warming could be occurring as much as whether the evidence is really there.

For example: Global Warming Down Under highlighted a study of 4 decades of temperature records in South America (when global warming was supposed to be accelerating) and concluded that what was occurring were fewer cold nights as opposed to higher maximum temperatures. The study concluded that there was a connection between changes in ocean temperatures near South America and overnight temperatures, but the continent did not appear to be overheating.

Also: Bad Paint = High Temperature Readings pointed to inconsistencies in the the condition of weather stations over time that can lead to higher recorded temperatures in some cases.

Another change that affects perception of higher temperatures is the urban island heat sink effect. Cities of brick and mortar and concrete and asphalt have the ability to retain heat as well as creating conditions favorable to more heat... such as generating its own heat from human activities. As these urban islands encroach upon weather stations that were previously surrounded by thinly populated areas or rural areas, the new conditions make it likely that higher average temperatures will be recorded... and that fewer cold records will be set in those areas.

When one looks at the South American study cited above and the history of record high and low U.S. temperatures by state (which is in the downloadable Excel file in the right margin), you begin to see a pattern ... at least in the western hemisphere: warmer nights and no increase in the frequency of high temperature records. Dr. Tim Patterson also looked at records from eastern Canada and found that average temperatures were increasing only in the expanding urban areas and were virtually unchanged in the rural/wilderness areas.

So, you draw your own conclusions from the information above. Just remember that the world's human population has been growing significantly and that more people are living in cities and less people are living in agricultural areas... and more weather stations are "living" in those urban areas.
My conclusion is that our perception of 0.6º C increase in average global temperature over the course of a century is based on curiously inconsistent recording methodologies and biasing conditions that would make the slight change more ethereal than real. Sure, there have been cold periods and warm periods within that century or so... that's the way weather and climate vary over time.

Nevertheless, I'm sure that huge numbers of people are now conditioned by politicians and newspapers and television to see every hot day as evidence of global warming and ignore every very cold day as just a weather anomaly. Yesterday, the temperature was near 90º F and I very much enjoyed a round of golf. Exactly one week prior to that, our same golfing group went out with the temperatures in the 40s and the winds whipping mist around between 20 - 30 mph. We quit after 9 holes; it was miserable.

The average high temperature around here is about 70º F this time of the year. Those two golfing days averaged out to about the average normal high temperature. But the talk today will be how hot it was yesterday; not how cold it was the week prior. We are now cooling back toward "normal" while everyone waits anxiously for the next "record" high temperatures as evidence that our doom is nigh.

Perception distorted by environmentalist polemic.


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There is always an easy solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.
Henry Louis Mencken (1880–1956)
“The Divine Afflatus,” A Mencken Chrestomathy, chapter 25, p. 443 (1949)
... and one could add "not all human problems really are."
It was beautiful and simple, as truly great swindles are.
- O. Henry
... The Government is on course for an embarrassing showdown with the European Union, business groups and environmental charities after refusing to guarantee that billions of pounds of revenue it stands to earn from carbon-permit trading will be spent on combating climate change.
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Tracking Interest Rates

Tracking Interest Rates


SEARCH BLOG: FEDERAL RESERVE for full versions... or use the Blog Archive pulldown menu.

February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
[Image from:]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

About Me

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Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)