Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The vision in revision

When I was a boy, we had to walk five miles to school, uphill both ways, in four feet of snow with newspaper on our feet because only the oldest child in a family of twelve brothers and sisters had shoes… and that was in July!

Aside from the obvious advantage of being able to make it up as you go, anecdotal evidence is a compelling persuasion tool in support of dubious positions quite simply because most people, disarmed by the familiar use of a commonplace and pedestrian rhetorical gimmick, tend to exchange judgment for sympathy and unconsciously accommodate the anecdotes into their own recollections. Given the generally amiable if sometimes careless dispositions of people, it's a surprisingly rational substitution for argument and scrutiny… that is, unless you're Ross McKitrick, associate professor of economics at the University of Guelph, happening in to tune into David Suzuki's interview on TVOntario's Studio 2 in April, 2003:

I didn’t watch much of the interview, but what caught my attention was the claim by Mr. Suzuki that when he was a boy growing up in London Ontario, winter used to set in at the end of October, but now it’s warmed up so much winter arrives a lot later.

[…] I don’t think much of running trend lines through averaged temperature data as a way of measuring “climate,” but this is how the debate often gets framed. And it shows the October-November average temperature in London fell from 1940 to 1990 at a rate of -0.2 degrees Celsius per decade. “Fell,” as in cooling. As in, October and November are now colder, on average, than when Dr. Suzuki was a lad awaiting winter in London. The annual average also shows cooling, at about 0.1 degrees C per decade.

(Plot taken from Station of the Week — click on image to see full-size plot)

McKitrick goes on to make an interesting aside:
Incidentally it is a real annoyance that Environment Canada no longer gives its temperature data away. Almost all the Canadian weather stations reporting into the NASA data base stopped releasing the post-1990 numbers for free use by the public. You are expected to pay for it now. This is a government that brags about spending billions of dollars on climate change initiatives …
Thanks to Blue Marble Climate for pointing this out.

3 comments:

HONEYPOT said...

Went to a wedding on Saturday, and if I had a bag it would have boiled off. Yesterday I get up and if I had nuts they would have froze off. Ditto for today. As long as I can remember weather is something that wasn't overly predictable. I remember as a kid growing up in the east coast having snow in July. These glowtards lie like a rug trying to use the weather as a prop to control the world.

mariposa said...

The eco-borg hymn book:

Give me that old time religion
Give me that old time religion
Give me that old time religion
It's good enough for me.

It was good enough for Suzuki...
And it's good enough for me.

John Nicklin said...

Since we're talking religion...

Al Gore is my shepherd, I shall not doubt. He makes me curl up in the fetal position. He leads me beside the melting glaciers. Yeah though I walk through the valley of apocalypse, I will fear no skeptic for his names sake. His movie and his book will comfort me all the days of my life.