How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: Responses to the most common skeptical arguments on global warming
‘The satellites show cooling’–No, they don’t
(Part of the How to Talk to a Global Warming Skeptic guide)
Objection: Satellite readings, which are much more accurate, show that the earth is in fact cooling.
I wonder how long before this one stops coming up?
Answer: There are a few advantages to the satellite readings,mainly the more uniform global coverage and the fact that readings can be taken at different altitudes. However, it is an extremely complicated process which uses microwaves emitted by the oxygen in the atmosphere as a proxy for temperature.
The complications arise from many things, including decay of the satellite orbits, splicing together and calibrating records from different instruments, trying to separate the signals by the layer of atmosphere they originate from, etc. It is a little ironic that the same people who distrust the surface record so happily embrace this even-more-convoluted exercise in data processing!
Anyway, it has been many years since the satellite analysis showed cooling.
Until recently, though, one of the many analyses of tropospheric temperatures did show very little warming and was in direct contradiction to model predictions that say the troposphere should warm significantly in an enhanced greenhouse environment. Something had to be wrong, the observations or the model predictions. Naturally, the skeptics had no doubt it was the models that were off.
However, it turns out that additional errors were uncovered and the MSU Satellite temperature analysis now shows warming well in line with model expectations. Real Climate has a good rundown of the technical details for those with the stomach for it. In short, this long-running debate turned out to be a great validation of the models and a real death blow to the “earth is not warming” crowd.
Beware of zombies!
(image from Global Warming Art)