Unfortunately, comments are closed on “Find the Error” on RealClimate.
So I’ll use this space to point out that the error (equating a difference of 1 degree C equivalent to a difference of about 34 F) is not without precedent. The following is a submission from myself to the what was then the comp.risks usenet group in 1995.
I thought the RISKS readership shouldn’t miss this gem, posted in sci.geo.meteorology by email@example.com (Steven Babin at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory):
> There seems to be some confusion over the giant iceberg. […]
> The Reuters news agency reported that the iceberg was 656 feet 2
> inches thick, implying a tremendous accuracy of measurement. It
> is actually 200 m thick and the reporter converted this to English
> units. Reuters also reported that this event was the result of a
> 36.5 F increase in temperature since the 1940’s. It was actually
> a 2.5 C increase. The reporter apparently converted this to F
> as a temperature rather than a temperature difference.
> I don’t know whether this speaks more for the educational level of
> reporters or more for the fact we should all be using SI units.
The risks of the transmission of technical information by people who don’t know what they are talking about will be familiar to RISKS readers. Perhaps more striking is the risk that something as simple as a Celsius to Fahrenheit conversion algorithm can be misused by making invalid assumptions about context.
Michael Tobis firstname.lastname@example.org
I am pleased to note that the RISKS Digest (“Forum On Risks To The Public In Computers And Related Systems”) is still in business and still moderated by Peter Neumann. Or displeased. I’m not sure. There’s too much to read….