JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Global warming saves lives in Stockholm — but bad assumptions feed scary headlines

Here’s a tale of how to generate headlines from circular reasoning built on brave assumptions. All it requires are some unskeptical science journal editors and gullible journalists. Et Voila!

Congratulations to Chip Knappenberger, Pat Michaels, and Anthony Watts, whose response to Åström et al was published Wednesday.

In October 2013 Åström et al claimed that global warming had killed lots of people in Stockholm, hundreds. But the first thing you need to know is that they don’t appear to start with actual mortality data in the early 1900′s. Surprised? Me too. Anthony Watts found it hard to believe . The other thing worth knowing is that extreme heat was defined as the top 2% of hot days, and in Stockholm that mean everything above a terrifying 2-day-moving-average mean temperature of 19.6C (67 F).

From the methods:

We collected daily mortality during the period 1980-2009 and daily temperature data for the period 1900-2009 for Stockholm County, Sweden.

Åström 2013:  Figure 2 j Temperature distribution of 2-day moving average of mean temperatures during summer months. Grey distribution, 1900–1929; black distribution, 1980–2009.

It appears the authors compared calculated death rates (using a model) from 1900-1929 with rates from 1980-2009 and concluded that [...]

Pat Michaels IPA Australian Tour sells out in Perth, Melbourne. Tickets available for Sydney Brisbane

Pat Michaels has been a skeptic in the climate change debate since the beginning, speaking his mind for 25 years and writing six books. He has been a research professor  for 30 years. He was The State Climatologist of Virginia, and a past president of the American Association of State Climatologists, and has published hundreds of papers.

Controversially, in 2007 the Governor of Virginia told Michaels his views were not welcome, and Michaels resigned saying it was ” because I was told that I could not speak in public on my area of expertise, global warming, as state climatologist.” Lubos Motl lamented that “Prof Patrick Michaels was effectively stripped of his title”, in another act of “blatant ideological cleansing.” He was replaced with someone who had published hardly any papers but evidently had the “right” views. Newsbusters notes the hypocrisy over the reporting of the incident. Where NASA asked James Hansen not to speak about policy but to stick to science, a huge fuss was made. When the Governor of Virginia tried to stop a skeptical scientist talking about science, where was the outrage?

These events are booking out fast! -   Jo

Dr Patrick Michaels in Perth, Melbourne, Sydney [...]