My story from believer to skeptic – part 2
You might see Part 1 first if you haven’t already.
Basically, both sides seemed to have proof of their case. It was definitely a confusing time, but I carried on. At that time I mostly accepted answers from the alarmist side, giving hardly any weight to the skeptic side because I questioned their motives.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but I learned some important lessons. Firstly, it is very difficult to change a belief, especially when it was build up and maintained for so long. Secondly, if one is focused on a negative quality of someone (real or imagined), it is not possible to consider their arguments. But this was going to change soon.
To find out more about the different viewpoints in global warming, I followed many discussions online. While following such a discussion, I was directed to a site called surfacestations of Anthony Watts. On this site, USHCN weather stations were documented. Volunteers surveyed the weather stations to check if the station quality was in accordance with the specifications and some photos were taken. This information was posted on their site.
The more I navigated this site, the more I got baffled. I saw weather stations located next to air conditioner units, close to buildings and parking lots, even one on the roof of a building. These things undoubtedly will have an influence on the temperature reading. If this is the way temperatures (that prove the world is warming at an unprecedented rate) are measured, then how reliable are these records?!?!?!
The audit process was not completely finished at that time, but the end result was devastating: from memory, about 80-85% of the sites were not even compliant with the regulations, only about 15-20% would have correct temperature registrations.
My thought at that time was: if this is really true, I have a hard time believing this claim of unprecedented warming anymore. If this is how the raw data is collected, that unprecedented warming could well be an artifact of the way temperatures were measured. When the collected raw data is unreliable, then the result of the calculation with that raw data will be unreliable as well.
This made me looking with different eyes at skeptical sites. More and more I began to explore their arguments. At least in this one they seemed to have a valid point. The more I looked at the data behind global warming, the more my belief in catastrophic anthropogenic global warming started to crumble. At one point I really doubted the catastrophic/anthropogenic part, but the alarmist side still had a convincing argument in their sleeve.
The Surface Stations site is pretty interesting. If the official temperature readings that are being used to support Global Warming are coming from majority compromised sources (like near asphalt, AC units, etc), then yeah, that totally flaws the data. The article on Global Warming over at Wikipedia mentioned different ways of arriving at the conclusion–climate proxies (like ice cores, tree rings, etc), satellite measurement, etc…but still, to rely on these poorly placed weather stations for much of anything is pretty bad. I should hope that the whole idea of GW (whether man made or part of a natural cycle) isn’t based on blatantly bad data collection practices.
The Surface Station project was an real eye opener for me. I was baffled to see how the temperature data was gathered, the raw data that will be used to calculate the global temperature.
There are several datasets, some land based and others satellite based. They all have their issues. I favor the satellite data because they have the best coverage, environmentalist seem to favor GISS (surface data).
Apparently, measuring global temperatures is not an exact science.