Guest fiction by Sheldon Walker
Imagine that scientists have developed a cure for global warming. But there is a catch. The cure can only be used one time, and it will only last for 10 years.
Warning: the following story is not real. It is fiction, science fiction. However, most of the “facts” that are presented here are completely true. See if you can identify fact from fiction.
There are many questions. Should we use the cure now? Should we delay using the cure until global warming gets worse? Is the cure dangerous? Does the cure have side-effects?
Scientists present the facts to the citizens of Earth.
- The average global warming rate from 1970 to 2017 was about 1.80 degrees Celsius per century.
- The 95% confidence interval for the average global warming rate was about 1.50 to 2.10 degrees Celsius per century (calculated using a linear regression with a correction for autocorrelation).
- The 95% confidence interval does not include zero, so the average global warming rate is statistically significant.
- As well as being statistically significant, the average global warming rate is significant in other ways. We can see the effects of global warming in the real world. It is changing the environment in a number of ways.
- The cure will make the average global warming rate equal to about zero degrees Celsius per century, for 10 years.
- The citizens of Earth are warned that to reduce the average global warming rate from 1.80 to 0.00 degrees Celsius per century, will not be easy. They must be prepared for some hardships. Scientists will be dealing with a new technology, which must be powerful to overcome the significant effects of global warming. But scientists are generally optimistic that the cure can be implemented.
Is this cure a waste of time? Some people believe that the cure is just putting off the inevitable. Others believe that it will give us a 10 year window to develop a different cure.
A citizen in the crowd shouts out a question, “Can you give us any idea what we are going to face, when the cure is implemented?”.
A scientist from the back of the stage steps forward, and says “As a matter of fact, we can”.
The crowd goes completely quiet, and waits for the scientist to speak.
The scientist starts speaking, “from about 2002 to 2012, there was a phenomenon on the Earth known as ‘The Slowdown’. It resulted in an average global warming rate of about zero degrees Celsius per century for 10 years. Almost exactly the same as the cure. Many of the people here will have lived through ‘The Slowdown’. Most people probably didn’t even realise that it was happening. Some people deliberately ignored ‘The Slowdown’. Several groups of people, known as ‘Warmists’ and ‘Alarmists’, tried to pretend that there was no ‘Slowdown’. I guess that the people in those groups must be feeling pretty stupid now.
As I said at the start of this story, most of the “facts” that are presented in this story are completely true. The existance of the global warming cure is the only fiction in the story. All of the information about ‘The Slowdown’ is true.
If you look at Graph 1 (at the top of this story), then you will see ‘The Slowdown’. The blue line is the GISTEMP global monthly temperature series. The red line is a LOESS Smooth of the GISTEMP data. It uses a local regression size of 10 years to do the smoothing.
The red line looks flat from about 2004 to 2011. Flat means a warming rate of close to zero degrees Celsius per century. I usually claim that the slowdown went from 2002 to 2012. The reason that the LOESS Smooth is not flat for that entire date interval, is that it uses a local regression which includes data to the left and right of the point being plotted. So that when the point for 2002 is plotted, it is calculating a regression over 1998 to 2007.
If you plot a linear regression just over the date interval from 2002 to 2012, then you will get a warming rate of close to zero degrees Celsius per century, for the 10 year period. I wish that we had a “cure” that powerful.