Rushing to Judgment [The Media and Global Warming]

From 1860 to 1940, Earth’s surface warmed about 0.4ºC. Then Earth’s surface cooled about 0.1ºC in the first four decades after 1940 and warmed about 0.3ºC in the next two. For those two most recent decades, temperature measurements of the atmosphere have also been available, and, while these measurements are subject to significant uncertainty, they indicate that the atmosphere’s temperature has remained essentially unchanged. Thus, the actual temperature record does not support the claims widely found in environmental literature and the media that Earth has been steadily warming over the past century. –Jack M. HollanderRushing to Judgment [The Media and Global Warming] (Wilson Quarterly)

A thoughtful assessment of the gap between what science can prove and what environmentalists and journalists say (and therefore what most people believe) about the Earth’s climate. Thoughtful… but dry. That opening paragraph is over 200 words long — a modest size for an academic paper, but hard to slog through on a computer screen.

But of particular interest to me is the debate carried out in the comments appended to the article. One reader posts a full-length opposing paper into his comment; I guess that’s one way to be published… but answering one block of text with another block of text is not terribly efficient. Fisking (copying great chunks from another soure and adding your own contrarian comments in between the lines) would be a more efficient way to challenge premises, critique evidence, and offer alternative conclusions.

Update: “Warmest September on Record, Experts Say.” This AP story presents the facts, but downplays the global warming scenario, only making a brief reference in the final paragraph. Kudos to AP writer Randolph E. Schmid, who doesn’t conjure up a scary disaster scenario in order to make his story more interesting. Those who doubt the global warming scenario don’t deny that certain measurements of temperatures are rising, but they do question the hasty assumption that the rising temperature is the result of human activity.