How Cool Is That?

A sentence on global climate in a new bestseller has set off a storm of press activity: "Then there’s this little-discussed fact about global warming: While the drumbeat of doom has grown louder of the past several years, the average global temperature during that time has in fact decreased." This is from Superfreakonomics, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, and, just a week after the book’s publication, the statement drew published comment by number of climate scientists, who referred to it as  "ridiculous," "a concerted strategy to obfuscate and generate confusion." 
 
More to the point, the Levitt/Dubner statement caused Associated Press science writer Seth Borenstein to look into the numbers on climate change. Because "talk of a cooling trend has been spreading on the Internet," Borenstein sought independent statistical analysis from a number of expert statisticians and supplied them with NOAA’s on more than a century’s worth of data on ground temperatures and also with data from 30 years of satellite-measured temperatures.  The satellite-based data are those often relied upon by the so-called climate change "skeptics."  
 
When the statistical analyses were complete and showed an upward trend in global temperatures, one of the statisticians referred to the Levitt-Dubner statement as a case of "people coming at the data with preconceived notions."
 

Leavitt said his statement about lower global temperatures was based on "eyeballing" temperature data from recent years.  Now I ask you–my friends whose business is statistical analysis, environmental risk analysis (or any kind of risk assessment)–how cool is that?   

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