Saturday, October 3

On the journey of eco-friendly-ism

The term 'It's Not Easy Being Green' is highly appropriate in my journey through the maze of eco-friendlyness.

You come across some really strange ideas about climate change, energy, food etc. and encounter people with the odd screw loose. I have found that in the effort to being green, both the 'left' and the 'right' don't really like you that much. Or rather, by making some statements that are from a purely pragmatic green POV, anyone on the left of the political spectrum thinks you are a right wing person that doesn't care about the environment, whilst anyone on the right automatically thinks you are a part of a left wing conspiracy. It depends whose den you happen to be wandering through at the time. I have taken flak (and survived) from both sides of the political spectrum.

But that's the game really, we don't yet have political and economic 'theories' that can cope with the serious environmental problems we face today. It is gradually being worked through, but it's a long drawn out process which is at the moment being outstripped, speed wise, by the environmental changes we are witnessing.

I often come across people that believe in some sort of climate change conspiracy, fuelled by poor media reporting, or a poor understanding of science, or no real knowledge of the organisations that are really involved.

One typical mis-understanding centres around the IPCC and the data used in the analysis of climate. A person I recently came across was convinced that the 'scientists' kept their research and data secret.
This isn't at all true, in fact the data is some of the most publicly accessible, ice cores, tree rings, CO2, temperature records etc. are all freely available here and here.
Which means anyone with a little knowledge of computers can plot graphs and do what ever they like to them. Which also means that they can do some really bad science or some really good science, as can be seen in many discussions on blogs about the subject.

The other misconception is that the IPCC is the only source of science on the subject. It may get a lot of press coverage, but it isn't where the core of the science is born. The core science is researched in numerous university institutions around the world, then published in peer reviewed journals. Much of this science is actually far more worrying than the conservative IPCC reports suggest. Because the IPCC is a big body of people that tries to sum up the the climate science research as it stands, and is funded by many governments that have different motives, it tends to be cautious in its pronouncements. So this means that ever since the last IPCC report, the science has moved on.

Anyway, here's a histogram I created earlier this year from Hadcrut temperature anomaly data:

The graph shows the temperature anomalies for the globe since 1850, it has had no smoothing or processing applied to it, so you can make of it what you will. It's not exactly science and it took hours to produce, but it was very satisfying getting the raw data to actually display as a graph!

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