The Human Thermometer

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The Faces of the Human Thermometer


In this article, I explore the curiosity of the human thermometer.  What is a human thermometer?  A human thermometer can detect minute changes in temperature over days, months, years, and even decades.  It is a remarkable feat even for modern instrumentation.

Let's explore just how special they are.  Weather forecasters give us two temperatures, one the actual temperature and the other, what the temperature feels like to us.  What it feels like is dependent on wind speed and humidity.  What feels like 85 degrees in Denver might feel like 95 degrees in Shanghai with all its humidity.  Human thermometers sense only one temperature.  They are immune to the effects of wind and humidity.

Our precise instrumentation must be calibrated from time to time.  Human thermometers don't require calibration.  Furthermore, they can sense temperatures all over the world without ever traveling there.  For the rest of us, we need satellites, and even those temperatures need to be adjusted to match the computer models.

The human thermometers can take hourly samples from all over the world twenty-four hours a day and average them together.  They can average these into monthly averages.  What's more remarkable is their ability to measure the temperature across the seasons precisely.

Consensus science tells us that the temperature is rising 0.15 degree C per decade or 0.015 degrees per year.   Statistics indicates that we need an error of measurement on the order of ten times better than this, on the order of 0.0015 degrees on a yearly averaged basis.  Not only that, but they can compare the difference to a hundred year average.  In other words, they can sense temperatures from the past.  No doubt, they can predict future temperatures, and that is why they are so confident that we are doomed.  I hope that gives you an idea of just how special these people are.  

To give you an example of just how unique this skill is, most humans only detect changes at one location over a single day on the order of 3 or 4 degrees F.  

So, the next time someone tells you that global warming is real because they say they can detect it, congratulate them on their remarkable skill.


Autumn Cote Added Jun 7, 2017 - 10:20am
Humans can scientifically measure what the temperature feels like and what it actually is.  We can do this both for the past and future.  Just because a single human while outdoors can only sense what the temperature feels like, doesn’t mean we should discard what scientists/meteorologists are telling us about temperature. 
In a nutshell, I’m not sure if I follow the link between the points made in this article and global warming?
Leroy Added Jun 7, 2017 - 10:59am
Thanks for your feedback, Autumn.
Many people here and elsewhere validate global warming in their mind because they can sense that the earth is warming.  They imply the ability to sense 0.15 degrees over a decade all over the earth. 
This article is an attempt to invalidate the argument that global warming is real because "I can feel it."  It is just impossible.
Yes, we can measure temperature with instruments.  Scientists are continually adjusting these temperatures, ostensibly to achieve better accuracy.  In reality, there is some evidence that they are adjusted to make the models work, to make the Medieval warming period disappear, for example.  Satellite temperatures were supposed to be the final arbiter, but even those temperatures are adjusted.  If even our most precise temperature measurements have to be adjusted, how can the human thermometer be more accurate?
Leroy Added Jun 7, 2017 - 11:02am
Tom, you let the cat out of the bag. 
Dino Manalis Added Jun 7, 2017 - 11:28am
We're sensitive to the surrounding environment!
Nicholas Schroeder Added Jun 7, 2017 - 12:29pm
"They are immune to the effects of wind and humidity."
Uhh, no we are not.
It's called wind chill. Wind powered molecules strip away body energy by convection and conduction.
The rate of moisture evaporating from our bodies affects how we feel. Try Kansas City's 90% RH in June when you are soaking wet standing still cause your sweat won't evaporate.
Colorado is nice and dry, sweat evaporates and cools quite effectively.
Water evaporates into  the surroundings because the air is dry not because the air is hot. It's the relative concentration of molecules, Charles or Boyles, one of them. Yes, warmer air holds more moisture, but it's the relative concentration that moves the water into the air.
Leroy Added Jun 7, 2017 - 2:20pm
Nicholas, most humans are not immune to wind and humidity effects when sensing temperatures.  Some people are apparently gifted.  Some people don't sweat.  They can prove global warming by sensing tiny fractions of a degree in temperature over periods of time.
Why can't you accept this?  There are people who can figure the third root of a 20 digit number instantaneously.  Why shouldn't people be able to sense temperature better than others?
Leroy Added Jun 7, 2017 - 2:23pm
Dino, yes, there are people that sensitive.  You got to believe.
Joanna, sure there is a such thing as consensus science.  You see it quoted every day in the news as well as on WB.  It takes a village to raise the temperature.
Leroy Added Jun 7, 2017 - 2:31pm
Expat, apparently you are not the only one who can find any temperature you want.  I'm convinced some people stick their heads in the oven and declare global warming is real.  We can make the Medieval warming period appear or disappear at will.
But, seriously, there are super humans that are able to take in account the seasons and the decades and can discern temperatures to 0.15 degree C or better.  If they all stuck their collective fingers where Al Gore stuck the thermometer as you suggested, they should all come up with the same temperature.
Leroy Added Jun 8, 2017 - 7:05am
You're correct, Matthew, in that most people with good knowledge of the subject point to the data.  However, many laypersons will tell you they know it is real because they can feel it.  Each summer feels hotter than the last.  I can't confirm it, but I have heard it said that the higher temperatures come in the winter.  For as long as I can remember, the old timers have said each summer was hotter than the last.  We should be at 200 degrees by now if that were true.
You are right about the accuracy.  For the not so distant past, we have used tree rings as a proxy for temperature.  That is about as good as the human thermometers.  For the short time we have used thermometers, there has been a dearth of thermometers south fo the equator.  Many were not calibrated.  It depended on humans to read them.  And, things were built up around them that affect the temperature.  So, now, the scientists are tasked with adjusting them with hindsight.  It the temperature doesn't match the model, then the temperatures must be adjusted.  It works for a while, but then reality strikes again.  Reality is never a winner.
Nicholas Schroeder Added Jun 8, 2017 - 10:01am
Spend sometime on Plenty of evidence for cooling. Coming up mid-June and Pikes Peak still has a lot of snow on it.
Leroy Added Jun 8, 2017 - 10:17am
You see record breaking cold weather;  it just isn't sensationalized like hot weather.  And, weather is weather.  Climate change is a different animal.  You have to know what it is doing worldwide.  You can't just open the window and stick your head outside and say it's hot; global warming is real.
But, no, I can't feel the 0.15 degree C temperature change.  I remember ice as early as October in my childhood and temperatures as high as 105 degrees F.  It's been a long time since it has hit temperatures that high here.  I remember wearing shorts around Christmas, and I remember the possibility of snow.   I've been through summers in Shanghai where I thought I would die it was so hot.  It was only in the upper 80s.  Here, it was in the mid-90s.  The hottest temperature that I have ever experienced was in Europe before temperatures supposedly ramped up.
Where I think the argument gets weak is where redistribution of wealth solves the problem.
Ari Silverstein Added Jun 8, 2017 - 3:32pm
The kids are simply demonstrating how a thermometer works from the inside.  Nobody is suggesting humans can detect minute changes in temperature via feel.  However, for a given location and with a highly advanced equipment, humans can detect minute changes in temperature.  Detecting differences in temperature with this same equipment and then making assertions about historic and future climate change is a whole other matter.  
Leroy Added Jun 8, 2017 - 4:10pm
"Nobody is suggesting humans can detect minute changes in temperature via feel."
Yes they are.  Read Joanna's comment.  "Wouldn’t you agree that it does feel considerably warmer than in the past?"  What she is saying is that she can feel these fractions of a degree change over time.  I hear it all the time, "It's hotter than it's ever been."  They offer this as proof of global warming.  They simply don't understand how subtle these changes have actually been.  About half of the recent change came as a step change and that can't be explained by the CAGW theory.
Leroy Added Jun 8, 2017 - 4:15pm
"Spend sometime on Plenty of evidence for cooling. Coming up mid-June and Pikes Peak still has a lot of snow on it."
Nicholas, I don't think the evidence is compelling for warming or cooling.  I remain neutral.  It is ironic that with all the predictions of snow lines retreated and ice melting that we still have skiing in the US in the month of June.
Norton Louis Added Jun 8, 2017 - 10:03pm
Galileo heralded the age of astronomy and triumphed over a Catholic Church that wanted to keep humanity placed at the center of the universe.  Explorers like Columbus finally broke all the rules by not falling off the edge of our planet....not to mention the contributions of those like, Newton, Einstein, Meitner, etc. - all giants of the scientific method and rational thought.   Then came Al Gore...........he's brought the "science" of drawing conclusions based on correlation without proving causation back....conditions necessary for Consensus Science.  Today we see Climate Change advocates citing each other and public opinion surveys to prove their point.  Sad.  What happened to the critical thought processes of a nation that landed humans on the moon?
Mircea Negres Added Jun 9, 2017 - 5:00am
Good one, Leroy! I saw the humor and irony within the first three paragraphs (got a pretty good b.s. detector) and chuckled my merry way through the rest... The weather forecast for South Africa's south coast is wrong at least 30% of the time. It actually got to the point at which I recommended the South African Weather Service hire people who've had broken arms and/or legs, then call them to ask if they're feeling any pain (usually indicates changes in barometric pressure and thus the weather) because that would be more accurate than the nonsense they give us in the last 5 minutes of the news. Apparently there's a guy living in a cabin somewhere in the mountains of the U.S. northwest, whose job (he works for a railway) is to smell the air for hints of snow. He took over after his father retired, and his nose is so accurate that the railway shuts down traffic safely before the storm hits. It sounds weird, I know, but it does happen...
Leroy Added Jun 9, 2017 - 7:05am
Norton, you are a little hard on Gore.  After all, he did invent the internet.  Seriously, I agree with you 100%.  Climate Skeptics are derided as "deniers" and "flat-earthers".  In reality, the CAGW are the flat-earthers accepting CAWG as dogma and persecuting anyone who disagrees.  They have found the "truth," and all they need is data and theory to fit, even if it has to be fabricated.  Falsification and exaggeration are acceptable for the greater good.
Leroy Added Jun 9, 2017 - 7:20am
Thanks, Mircea.  From experience, only 30% or so of people can pick up on satire without having it pointed out.  It passes by most people.
As a kid, I was better at weather forecasting than the local weather station.  But, as they say here, if you don't like the weather, wait an hour.  I can only imagine how your recommendation would go over here.  I'm sure it would be interpreted as hate speech or discrimination against the handicap.  On the other hand, they might take you seriously.
Some people do have remarkable gifts.  An operator at one factory was able to sense the thichness of a hot extruded product to the mil (1/1000th of an inch) by touch.  I laughed at him when he told me they could do that and didn't need no stinking instrument to tell him.  No way, I though.  I put the instruments on it and sure enough, he was right.
Phil Greenough Added Jun 9, 2017 - 11:29am
It’s myth that people believed the Earth was flat.  Going back as far as the Ancient Greeks it was generally accepted that the Earth was spherical.  That being said, it would be interesting to know when the belief the earth was round became a more than just a belief.  I wonder if they surveyed scientists of each era and once 97% agreed it was round, it was determined to be round. 
James E. Unekis Added Jun 9, 2017 - 11:56am
Someone close to me who works for NOAA told me that the scientific instruments came back with numbers showing a period of global cooling.  Knowing that the science was settled they adjusted the readings from the actual measuring devices to correspond to the computer models showing global warming.
Three months later this story appeared in the news.  Global warming is a religion, not a science.
James E. Unekis Added Jun 9, 2017 - 12:17pm
Ha ha.  I don't believe in man made global warming but I will say that I don't like smog ;-)
Leroy Added Jun 9, 2017 - 12:43pm
James, they is pretty much the truth about what happened.  Whether the earth is cooling or warming I don't know.  I don't think anyone does.  You are right on about the smog.  I'm all in for reducing pollution.  I don't want to breathe all that crap.  Nuclear is the way to go, IMHO.
James E. Unekis Added Jun 9, 2017 - 12:55pm
I agree, but hopefully the money pouring in to cold fusion - or LENR research indicates that there is something to this new technology.
Heavy water is awfully cheap and fusion is non polluting and very powerful.
We shall see.
Good post Leroy.
Norton Louis Added Jun 9, 2017 - 1:33pm
Leroy, 3 Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukishima.....need I say more?  Fission works great until natural disaster, senescence of facilities and human error are applied to the precarious nature of a fission reaction.....not to mention the incredible toxicity and half life of the waste products.
James, Recent technological advances have been made to contain fusion reactions with better analysis and response of the flux of the magnetic containment vehicle.  We may yet achieve the holy grail of cheap, clean and virtually unlimited fusion power in our lifetimes.  
James E. Unekis Added Jun 9, 2017 - 1:57pm
I'm following the money.  There are more and more success stories with cold fusion (or Low Energy Nuclear Reactions) and more money is pouring into research.  The problem is that it seems to violate known science where fusion only occurs under intense heat and pressure.  So this is not classical fusion but can't be explained as a purely chemical reaction.  Once they can explain what is going on it will become much easier to replicate on demand and lead to  higher odds of developing actual power generating plants.
A month's utility bill and change back from your dollar.
Once it is understood I'm investing in the catalyst of choice - be it Platinum, Palladium, or even Nickel !
Norton Louis Added Jun 9, 2017 - 2:23pm
James....I don't even crack a smile when I hear "cold fusion".  NASA recently verified the effectiveness of the EM Drive or Cannae Drive ("Cannae" borrowed from Scotty on Star Trek..."I cannae get you power to the impulse engines Captain").  Basically the EM drive is a microwave shot into a specially shaped chamber that produces a small amount thrust!  In spite of microwaves being massless, they are acting upon something we can't currently see or measure....this violates the physics of Einstein.  In full deployment, this "impulse drive" could get us to Mars in weeks, not months......our biggest challenge in space today besides the obvious of air & gravity is carrying enough matter to toss overboard to produce consistent thrust.
Future generations will view the 20th and 21st century as a primitive dark age of burning things for power not much different than the coal burning of the 16 century .......that is only if we continue to fund the further exploration of the quantum mechanics that underpin our universe.  Our goal as a race should be to eventually tie quantum physics back to a unified theory of everything that either harmonizes with an Einsteisns theories, or explains what it is that he missed.
Now 100 Billion pumped into cold fusion research and quantum physics research is a much better bet than paying off countries for doing nothing in the Paris Accord......but that would make too much sense for greedy humans, wouldn't it?
James E. Unekis Added Jun 9, 2017 - 2:28pm
I hadn't heard of the EM drive but it sounds fascinating.  I'll have to look it up.  Thanks.
Your idea of pumping $100 billion into research is spot on.  I couldn't agree more.
Leroy Added Jun 9, 2017 - 4:45pm
"Leroy, 3 Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukishima.....need I say more?"
There are a number of intrinsically safe nuclear reactor designs out there.  If we were to embrace nuclear energy, I think we could have failsafe reactors.  I am skeptical about fusion, but that could be the next step.  It would help if we applied common sense and didn't locate reactors in earthquake-prone areas.
I would venture to say we are safer if we embrace nuclear energy.  If we continue to operate current designs in earthquake-prone areas, there were be accidents.  If we embrace nuclear and develop intrinsically safe reactors, the old reactors can be replaced with safer designs over time.  Otherwise, we will continue to run less safe reactors beyond there original life.  Trying to run 100% on renewables will certainly lead to disaster.  Wind farms are one hurricane away from shutting down the entire national grid.  Austrailia has already had one disaster.
Leroy Added Jun 9, 2017 - 4:48pm
Thanks so much for all the great comments!  I am learning so much.  Keep them coming.
Thomas Napers Added Jun 10, 2017 - 2:13am
“I don't believe in man made global warming but I will say that I don't like smog”
Just think about how much cleaner our environment would be if proponents of global warming changed their tactics to respond to the quoted statement.  Liberals and conservatives would gladly join forces to fight pollution.  However, because liberals call it climate change, they take what should be a non-partisan problem and make it a partisan one.
Leroy Added Jun 10, 2017 - 6:55am
And, Thomas, rather than giving countries like China and India a pass, we could focus on them.  That would improve the lives of hundreds of millions if not billions of people.  It would actually accomplish something.  The end result would be less CO2, whatever help that might be. 
Nicholas Schroeder Added Jun 10, 2017 - 9:01am
"The end result would be less CO2, whatever help that might be."
Leroy Added Jun 10, 2017 - 3:44pm
Nicholas, CO2 has been a net benefit to life so far.  Peter Corey recently provided a few links about the greening of the earth due to CO2.  It's true that reducing CO2 could have negative consequences.