Tuesday, 7 February 2017

More global-warming mythmaking


Sometimes it take a tabloid. Tabloid newspapers were front and centre in exposing the Climategate emails that showed scientists manipulated climate data and attempted to suppress critics. And now, over the weekend, the UK’s Daily Mail has published news from whistleblower-scientist John Bates who was formerly responsible for the climate archive of America’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – the source of official global surface temperature records are derived --

that [this] organisation that is the world’s leading source of climate data rushed to publish a landmark paper that exaggerated global warming and was timed to influence the historic Paris Agreement on climate change.

Or as the Mail puts in in its headline:

Exposed: How world leaders were duped into investing billions over manipulated global warming data.

Worse, the paper – which was used to shut down the story that the rise in global temperatures had “paused,” instead of galloping away as computer models claimed they would – relied on two data sets now shown to be comprehensively flawed.

NOAA’s 2015 ‘Pausebuster’ paper was based on two new temperature sets of data – one containing measurements of temperatures at the planet’s surface on land, the other at the surface of the seas.
    Both datasets were flawed. This newspaper has learnt that NOAA has now decided that the sea dataset will have to be replaced and substantially revised just 18 months after it was issued, because it used unreliable methods which overstated the speed of warming. The revised data will show both lower temperatures and a slower rate in the recent warming trend.
    The land temperature dataset used by the study was afflicted by devastating bugs in its software that rendered its findings ‘unstable’.
    A final, approved version has still not been issued. None of the data on which the paper was based was properly ‘archived’ – a mandatory requirement meant to ensure that raw data and the software used to process it is accessible to other scientists, so they can verify NOAA results.

This is the “science” on the back of which the Paris Agreement was signed “committing advanced nations to sweeping reductions in their use of fossil fuel and to spending £80 billion every year on new, climate-related aid projects,” and giving Greens’s co-leader James Shaw a weapon with which to regularly bludgeon the Government.

The Pause is important because explaining the reality of a decade of non-rising temperatures was something that befuddled honest climate scientists.

Some scientists argued that the existence of the pause meant the world’s climate is less sensitive to greenhouse gases than previously thought, so that future warming would be slower. One of them, Professor Judith Curry, then head of climate science at the Georgia Institute of Technology, said it suggested that computer models used to project future warming were ‘running too hot.’

Writing at Curry’s blog, Bates argues that the data in the paper used to spruik the Paris talks and End the Pause is “the most serious example of a climate scientist not archiving or documenting a critical climate dataset.”

When I pressed the co-authors, they said they had decided not to archive the dataset, but did not defend the decision. One of the co-authors said there were ‘some decisions [he was] not happy with’. The data used in the K15 paper were only made available through a web site, not in digital form, and lacking proper versioning and any notice that they were research and not operational data. I was dumbstruck that Tom Karl, the NCEI Director in charge of NOAA’s climate data archive, would not follow the policy of his own Agency nor the guidelines in ‘Science’ magazine for dataset archival and documentation.
    I questioned another co-author about why they choose to use a 90% confidence threshold for evaluating the statistical significance of surface temperature trends, instead of the standard for significance of 95% — he also expressed reluctance and did not defend the decision. A NOAA NCEI supervisor remarked how it was eye-opening to watch Karl work the co-authors, mostly subtly but sometimes not, pushing choices to emphasize warming. Gradually, in the months after K15 came out, the evidence kept mounting that Tom Karl constantly had his ‘thumb on the scale’—in the documentation, scientific choices, and release of datasets—in an effort to discredit the notion of a global warming hiatus and rush to time the publication of the paper to influence national and international deliberations on climate policy.

It is not science these people are doing. It is politics by remote control.


  1. Environmentalists have scored a great tactical victory in keeping the debate going about whether the science is settled.

    Only the economics matters. How much bigger or smaller than 1% of GDP is the entire social cost of global warming between now and 2100?

  2. As a scientist, this whole thing disgusts me. Climate change is an extremely complicated topic--we're talking about the interaction of multiple systems that are by nature chaotic (not unpredictable, but not intuitively predictable). It takes a tremendous effort to have an informed opinion on these issues. Yet people act as though it's as simple as 2+2=4. EVEN IF the science were settled, actually predicting what would happen remains outside of our capacity. Add to that the fact that most climate "research" is really tweaking computer models and you have real problems even among the scientific community.

    Climate change is a real thing. This is like saying "Sunrise is a real thing." But the way our culture is dealing with it almost appears specifically tailored to preclude any actual research on the topic!

    Jim Rose, I will disagree that "[o]nly the economics matters." It's an issue of rights. Any solution that violates the rights of some person or group is by definition invalid. And EVERY solution presented thus far violates the rights of individuals and groups. (Building in high-risk areas and suffering the consequences is NOT a violation of rights; in many cases it's merely inevitable.)


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