Did Phil Jones Admit That There’s No Global Warming?
I opened up my browser this evening to the Drudge Report headline “The Great Climate Change Retreat!”, which led to this Daily Mail article, which is entitled (take a deep breath), “Climategate U-turn as scientist at centre of row admits: There has been no global warming since 1995”
The scientist in question is Professor Phil Jones, who is the head of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia. Suffice to say, this has made quite a hubbub around the blogosphere. The article is based on an interview that Jones gave to the BBC. Of course, delving into the article itself, it’s clear that Professor Jones did not say that there is no global warming since 1995. He says that there is no ‘statistically significant’ global warming since 1995. Which still sounds bad.
Unless, of course, you actually read the interview.
B – Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming
Yes, but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level. The positive trend is quite close to the significance level. Achieving statistical significance in scientific terms is much more likely for longer periods, and much less likely for shorter periods.
That’s hardly the same as “no global warming since 1995” and certainly does not represent a “retreat” or a “U-turn.” (For a good primer on statistical significance and what that means, check out this link).
There are several other flagrant misinterpretations of Jones’ statements in the Daily Mail article, as well, but they’re pretty easy to spot simply by comparing the article to the interview and its companion piece.
Heck, reading the Daily Mail, one might come away with the impression that Jones was renouncing the hypothesis of anthropogenic climate change. To correct that impression, let me just quote one more part of the interview:
E – How confident are you that warming has taken place and that humans are mainly responsible?
I’m 100% confident that the climate has warmed. As to the second question, I would go along with IPCC Chapter 9 – there’s evidence that most of the warming since the 1950s is due to human activity.
Whether you accept the hypothesis of global climate change or not–and I know that many readers here do not–I’m sure we can all agree that shoddy reporting like the Daily Mail article ought to be repudiated. It’s a deliberate misinterpretation of a fascinating interview (I’d highly recommend reading the interview, though–the reporter asking the questions clearly knows his stuff and it is not a softball).
Frankly, I think this provides an excellent example of why, when it comes to scientific topics, you’re much better off going to primary sources than you are trusting a newspaper reporter.