William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

The Case of the Missing Global Warming: A 17th Precinct Mini Mystery

A 17th Precinct Mini Mystery

This originally ran four years ago on 21 September 2009. One or two minor details have been changed to make the post current. Update: I see I screwed up the update and lost the copy where it was Michael Mann calling in the report. I have no luck with WordPress’s scheduler. Use your imagination.

“Hey, Sarge. Got a lady here who wants to file a missing persons report…Sarge?” Officer Hannigan stood in front of Sergeant Fitzgerald’s desk and rustled a sheaf of paper just loud enough so that it didn’t sound intentional, but with enough force to be heard.

Sergeant Fitzgerald was dozing and he almost started at the noise, but long experience enabled him to remain still. He did not want his junior to know he had been asleep, so he counted to three then slowly made the sign of the cross and said, “Amen.” He let his watery eyes find Hannigan’s.

“Oh, sorry, Sarge.” Hannigan was new enough not to have seen the act before. “But I got this strange call and I didn’t know what to do.” Fitzgerald raised both eyebrows a millimeter. “This lady wants to report a missing person, only…”

Enough consciousness had seeped into Fitzgerald’s being that he was able to slap the table. “Now, young Hannigan. Nothing could be easier. You have the right forms?” A nod. “You’ve followed procedure and asked the right questions?”

“I have.”

“Then there is no problem.” He shifted his weight and turned his attention inward.

“But Sarge, the answers made no sense!”

Fitzgerald sighed and knew that sleep was banished. “Well, then. Let’s have it. Who’s missing?”

“Global Warming.”

“And what’s that, then?” A shrug was his answer. He sighed. “How long has it been missing?”

“Lady said about sixteen years, maybe seventeen.”

“Seventeen years! Good God in Heaven, you’re having me on.” Hannigan stood his ground.

“Who made the complaint?”

“Somebody called Fanny Armstrong. Said she was a movie director. Called from some kind of ‘solar movie tent’ over by the U.N.” In answer to the look on Fitzgerald’s face, he said, “What she said, Sarge.”

“Gimme the number.” Hannigan handed over the paperwork and made his way to the coffee pot. As he was stirring his two sugars he heard Fitzgerald make contact.

“Mrs. Armstrong…Ah, sorry, then. Miss Armstrong…Oh, Mizz, is it? Well, then, Mizz. This is Sergeant Fitzgerald from the 17th precinct. I understand you are looking for, what was it, ‘Global Warming’?…Yes, yes…I see…Yes, quite understandable. But Mizz Armstrong, what puzzles us is why you waited for—what was it?—seventeen years before making a complaint?…Ah, you do, then…Yes…No, I see that could be a problem…No, Mizz, I don’t mind holding.”

Hannigan placed a coffee on Fitzgerald’s desk. The Sergeant took a sip then covered the microphone with his hand. “Mizz Armstrong is taking a call from His Eminence Ban Ki Moon.” More coffee.

“You were right about that tent-thing, Hannigan. This Global Warming, as far as I can make out, is to be featured in some movie premiere, a world-wide broadcast. They’re in a panic because their star can’t be found. Fetch me a new pen, now, would you? This one is dry.”

Fitzgerald sipped at his coffee and settled back to wait, but not for long. “Ah, Mizz. Mr Moon doing well, is he?…Good, good. Remember me to him, would you? Mention parking tickets…Don’t worry, he’ll know. Now, we need some facts before we can help. For instance, what does this Global Warming look like?…Uh huh…Yes…yes…Are you sure, Mizz?…Well, the reason I ask, Mizz, is that the description doesn’t match anything that we…True, Mizz, true. Just a second. Let me ask one of my men who knows the area well.”

“Hannigan, there. Young Mizz says that Global Warming can be found in the temperature record. Just you have a look at it. She says that it will show as a steady, dangerously increasing line, starting from about 1970.”

“Nothing like that here, Sarge. The series seems to be going down or holding steady, and has been for a long time.”

“Did you check the outer boroughs? Be careful with Staten Island. Being that close to the ocean can hide changes in diurnal temperature variations.”

“No, Sarge, nothing. Not anywhere in the world. No record of a Global Warming answering to her description.”

“You heard, Mizz?…No. I assure you our records are quite complete…Um, hmm…Yes. Well, let’s put it this way. How do you even know this Global Warming exists? You’ve never actually see it…Michael Mann? No, Mizz, I have not. Christopher Nolan?…No, sorry. Me and the Mrs. prefer quiet evenings at home…I see…That is a lot of movie stars you have there…What is the name of your film?…The Age of Stupid, is it?…About how people ignore Global Warming? Perhaps they should, since it doesn’t seem to exist?…No, sorry; just a wee joke. Don’t you worry, Mizz. With all those celebrities involved, nobody will even notice that your Global Warming is missing…Quite, sure, Mizz…You have a nice day, too.” He hung up the phone and said to Harrigan, “Another case solved.”

Hannigan went to his desk to finish his paperwork, glad he didn’t have to go out. Fitzgerald again crossed himself, closed his eyes, and said a silent prayer to St. Genesius. “Save us from celebrities if you can. They’re a nervous bunch.”

6 Comments

  1. Matt:
    Take a look at what is currently running at Realclimate. The old saying about lawyers seems to have been adopted by them, to wit: If the facts are on your side, pound the facts. If the facts are not there, but the “science” is on your side, pound the “science”. When neither are on your side, hire a marketing guy to get your messsage across!

  2. Where’s Sgt. Joe Friday when you need him! “Just the facts, m’am; just the facts.”

  3. Your “The Age of Stupid” link may be a good example of Poe’s Law or a variant thereof.

  4. From her description, Fanny Armstrong is among those duped through applications of the equivocation fallacy by global warming climatologists. Thus, she thinks those steadily rising curves of temperature vs time are predictions when they are only lowly projections.

  5. Aren’t there any penalties for filling a missing persons report on someone who doesn’t exist?

  6. I guess they could put out a BOLO:

    “Be on the lookout for Miss Ing Global Warming. Frequently associated with CO2. Considered alarmed and dangerous. Do not approach. Contact HADCRUT ASAP”

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