Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Global Warming, The Temperature Record & The 97% Consensus

There's an old joke about a golfer whose best club in his bag was a pencil. So it would seem with those who are responsible for maintaining the temperature records. We've known for twenty years that they've been adjusting the historical climate data to make the records fit their theories. The latest on this is from Christopher Booker in his recent column, The fiddling with temperature data is the biggest science scandal ever:

When future generations look back on the global-warming scare of the past 30 years, nothing will shock them more than the extent to which the official temperature records – on which the entire panic ultimately rested – were systematically “adjusted” to show the Earth as having warmed much more than the actual data justified.

Two weeks ago, under the headline “How we are being tricked by flawed data on global warming”, I wrote about Paul Homewood, who, on his Notalotofpeopleknowthat blog, had checked the published temperature graphs for three weather stations in Paraguay against the temperatures that had originally been recorded. In each instance, the actual trend of 60 years of data had been dramatically reversed, so that a cooling trend was changed to one that showed a marked warming.

This was only the latest of many examples of a practice long recognised by expert observers around the world – one that raises an ever larger question mark over the entire official surface-temperature record. . . .

Following my last article, Homewood checked a swathe of other South American weather stations around the original three. In each case he found the same suspicious one-way “adjustments”. First these were made by the US government’s Global Historical Climate Network (GHCN). They were then amplified by two of the main official surface records, the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (Giss) and the National Climate Data Center (NCDC), which use the warming trends to estimate temperatures across the vast regions of the Earth where no measurements are taken. Yet these are the very records on which scientists and politicians rely for their belief in “global warming”.

Homewood has now turned his attention to the weather stations across much of the Arctic, between Canada (51 degrees W) and the heart of Siberia (87 degrees E). Again, in nearly every case, the same one-way adjustments have been made, to show warming up to 1 degree C or more higher than was indicated by the data that was actually recorded. This has surprised no one more than Traust Jonsson, who was long in charge of climate research for the Iceland met office (and with whom Homewood has been in touch). Jonsson was amazed to see how the new version completely “disappears” Iceland’s “sea ice years” around 1970, when a period of extreme cooling almost devastated his country’s economy. . . .

Of much more serious significance, however, is the way this wholesale manipulation of the official temperature record – for reasons GHCN and Giss have never plausibly explained – has become the real elephant in the room of the greatest and most costly scare the world has known. This really does begin to look like one of the greatest scientific scandals of all time.

Then there is the claim that, among climate scientists, a 97% consensus exists that "climate change is real, man-made and dangerous." That number comes from a study, if it can be called that, by John Cook, a PhD student in psychology at the University of Queensland in Australia. This from Prof. Richard Tol commenting on that paper:

The 97 percent claim was taken from a study paper by Australian John Cook, Climate Communications Fellow for the Global change Institute at the University of Queensland, and his colleagues, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters in May, 2013. The paper says nothing about the would-be dangers of climate change and it counts the number of publications, rather than the number of scientists, in support of human-made climate change. Never let facts get in the way of a good story.

The paper is a treasure trove of how-not-to lessons for a graduate class on survey design and analysis: the sample was not representative, statistical tests were ignored, and the results were misinterpreted.

What was an incompetent piece of research has become a highly influential study, its many errors covered up.

Some of the mistakes in the study should be obvious to all. There are hundreds of papers on the causes of climate change, and thousands of papers on the impacts of climate change and climate policy. Cook focused on the latter. A paper on the impact of a carbon tax on emissions was taken as evidence that the world is warming. A paper on the impact of climate change on the Red Panda was taken as evidence that humans caused this warming. And even a paper on the television coverage of climate change was seen by Cook as proof that carbon dioxide is to blame.

Cook and Co. analysed somewhere between 11,944 and 12,876 papers – they can’t get their story straight on the sample size – but only 64 of these explicitly state that humans are the primary cause of recent global warming. A reexamination of their data brought that number down to 41 [emphasis added]. That is half a per cent or less of the total, rather than 97 percent.

The remainder of Cook’s “evidence” is papers that said that humans caused some climate change and, more importantly, papers that Cook’s colleagues thought said as much.

There is vigorous debate about how much humans have contributed to climate change, but no one argues the effect is zero. By emitting greenhouse gases, changing the landscape, rerouting rivers, and huddling together in cities, we change the climate – perhaps by a little, perhaps by a lot – but not one expert doubts we do. However, a true consensus – 100 per cent agreement – does not serve to demonize those experts who raise credible concerns with the state of climate research.

The trouble does not end there. Cook has been reluctant to share his data for others to scrutinize. He has claimed that some data are protected by confidentiality agreements, even when they are not. He was claimed that some data were not collected, even when they were. The paper claims that each abstract was read by two independent readers, but they freely compared notes. Cook and Co. collected data, inspected the results, collected more data, inspected the results again, changed their data classification, collected yet more data, inspected the results once more, and changed their data classification again, before they found their magic 97 percent. People who express concern about the method have been smeared. . . .

This all stinks of a canard. Even as questions arise, the left is engaged in an all out push to ensconce human caused climate change as dogma and as a primary driver of our laws and social policy. The push is on through Common Core to teach anthropogenic global warming as settled science in grades K-12. With all of the dangers we face in the foreign arena, from a newly energized China and Russia to nuclear proliferation throughout the Middle East and the continuing existential danger from radical Islam, President Obama spoke at the Coast Guard academy claiming that our greatest national security threat is climate change. With all of the horrendous issues facing the black community today in Obama's America, with growing violence, single motherhood, horrid schools and declining economic opportunities, Michelle Obama spoke at Oberlin College and claimed that climate change was the new civil rights movement.

Actually, it is hard to think of anything more perfectly designed to screw the middle and lower middle class than the many "green" policies and costs that would arise out of a full embrace of the climate change canard. That carbon tax on fossil fuels would go to feed the left, but it would act as regressive tax on all Americans. Just as it is hard to think of anything less pressing to our national security than anthropogenic climate change.


Jeff said...

You should do your research before using Booker as a source. This is the same guy who thinks that asbestos is good for you.

Rwnjs quote him because he's one of the last climate skeptics who can put a sentence together. His thoughts on climate science are as relevant as Justin Bieber's views on philosophy.

And quoting Tol is even funnier. He once had to retract a paper because he got the minus and plus signs backwards. Well, as long as Exxon gets its money, right?

KG said...

Get a brain, Jeff - it matters not who uncovers a crime, all that matters is the evidence of a crime.