How David Beckham caused global warming: the Manchester United climate model

With the UN Climate Conference underway in Durban, climate “sceptics” have been particularly active in the media and blogs.

Many climate “sceptics” claim that alternate climate models can explain global warming. These models often rely on apparent correlations between climate and other data. “Sceptics” have claimed climate is strongly correlated with the Southern Oscillation Index, the oscillating position of the sun, and the length of solar cycles. Anything will do as long as it is not CO₂…

…To examine the weaknesses of these models, I will introduce a radical new climate “model”.

Global warming is the most significant scientific and political issue of recent decades. Manchester United is the most significant soccer club of recent decades. Could the two be linked?

I examined this one afternoon, by looking at global temperatures and Manchester United’s FA cup appearances since 1881. I averaged the data over 11 years, to mitigate the impact of the solar cycle. The results are remarkable. Each Manchester United FA Cup appearance in an 11-year period raised global temperatures by 0.1º Celsius…

A plot of global temperatures and the Manchester United Climate Model reveals that half of global warming is the result of Manchester United.

While absurd, the Manchester United Climate Model is no more flawed than many “sceptic” climate “models”…

As with many “sceptic” climate “models”, I have assumed temperature is described by an absurdly simple function, with an FA Cup appearance producing an instant jump in temperature. Similarly, a common “sceptic” tactic is to “prove” greenhouse gases are not causing global warming by assuming an overly simple relationship between carbon dioxide and temperature. Such simple relationships are unrealistic.

“Cherry picking”, or the selective use of data, afflicts the Manchester United Climate Model. I deliberately selected a team that has had great success since the 1950s. I also didn’t tell you that I had looked at AFL and baseball teams before choosing Manchester United.

Cherry picking is also rife within the “sceptic” community. Examples include using data from just a few weather stations or plotting a few years of data so long-term trends are obscured.

I have filtered the data, which can be justified or deceptive. In this case filtering by the length of the solar cycle is a red herring, and the real reason I filtered the data is I didn’t want FA Cup appearances to be equal to just zero or one.

I also ignored established mechanisms for influencing climate. This flaw is present in many “sceptic” climate “models” and produces bogusly strong links between unrelated data.

The pretense at logic by most skeptics abuses the capabilities of computational analysis. A field of study I find fascinating, that many researchers have found productive – being able to roll back through years of accumulated and relevant data now that sufficient computing horsepower is available and affordable.

Self-titled skeptics who establish the result they want and tailor inputs and relationships to that end are no different from flat-earthers who crank out reams of junk science to “disprove” evolution.

Thanks, Honeyman

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