Friday, February 07, 2014

Climate Change deniers' perceptions: is there an analogy with anorexia nervosa?

Dr Roy Spencer is one of the few climate change sceptics who are real climate scientists. His specialty is satellite measurements of atmospheric temperature, and he constructs his own global temperature records from his satellite observations, shown above as UAH.

Above you can see his latest graph, and the second figure down is produced by the excellent Dave Appell, with a 5 year moving average instead of a 13 month average. As you can see, there is a definite upwards trend in Dave's graph up to 2008. I am not sure how to interpret the 2008-13 uptick, because the last 5 years of a 5 year moving graph is not reliable.

The comments on Roy's blog page reject Dave's pointing out that the trend continues upwards in this dataset, which undermines the global warming "sceptics'" claim that "Global warming has stopped over the past 17 years". Dave says - "Look, the upward trend continues". The delayers reply "Oh no it doesn't".

My contribution is this:

It strikes me that many of our friends here have a very similar perception problem to that experienced by people with anorexia nervosa. It is well known that anorectics standing in front of an adjustable mirror, asked to adjust their reflection until it accurately represent their body form, will adjust it until the image is far wider (fatter) than it in fact is. In other words, the surface of the mirror facing the subject ends up not planar, but concave.

In the same way, our friends here are actually unable to see that Roy's graph, and your 5 year moving average, has an upward trend.

I am uncomfortably aware that this contribution is going to provoke a certain amount of anger. The same happens if you point out to anorectics that they have distorted the mirror.

You also get a torrent of rationalization from anorectics. You can show that their body weight is in the lowest percentile of the charts, and they will challenge the "normality" that the charts express, and so on.

The debate with anorectics is infinite. It must be continued, in an effort to undermine the cognitive errors that are part of the condition, but the turning point usually comes only when they realise their life is threatened.

In the same way, our politicians will cease to be swayed by the delayers only when it is blindingly obvious that we are getting 100-year weather events every few months, and that storm damage repair &c is beginning to undermine the economy.


David Appell said...

Thanks for your comments.

I am afraid I agree with your last paragraph. And by that point, of course, it will be far too late to do anything about climate change.

What a mess we are making.

Richard Lawson said...

We live in hope. In my case, I allow myself to be sustained by the hope that the opposition may be to some tiny extent right, and maybe things won't be quite as bad as they look. I realise that is irrational, but as I say, we live in hope.