Climatic Change

, Volume 120, Issue 1–2, pp 95–107 | Cite as

Encompassing tests of socioeconomic signals in surface climate data

  • Ross McKitrick


The debate over whether urbanization and related socioeconomic developments affect large-scale surface climate trends is stalemated with incommensurable arguments. Each side can appeal to supporting evidence based on statistical models that do not overlap, yielding inferences that merely conflict but do not refute one another. I argue that such debates are only be resolved in an encompassing framework, in which both types of results can be demonstrated as restricted forms of the same statistical model, and the restrictions can be tested. The issues under debate make such data sets challenging to construct, but I give two illustrative examples. First, insignificant differences in warming trends in urban temperature data during windy and calm conditions are shown in a restricted model whose general form shows temperature data to be strongly affected by local population growth. Second, an apparent equivalence between trends in a data set stratified by a static measure of urbanization is shown to be a restricted finding in a model whose general form indicates significant influence of local socioeconomic development on temperatures.


Wind Speed Gross Domestic Product Temperature Trend Urban Heat Island Windy Condition 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada

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