Howard County Maryland Blog

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Whoops! I didn’t mean it.

Posted by David Keelan on Monday, November 17, 2008

The world has never seen such freezing heat
By Christopher Booker
Last Updated: 12:01am GMT 16/11/2008

A surreal scientific blunder last week raised a huge question mark about the temperature records that underpin the worldwide alarm over global warming. On Monday, Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), which is run by Al Gore’s chief scientific ally, Dr James Hansen, and is one of four bodies responsible for monitoring global temperatures, announced that last month was the hottest October on record.

A sudden cold snap brought snow to London in October

Read more from Christopher Booker

This was startling. Across the world there were reports of unseasonal snow and plummeting temperatures last month, from the American Great Plains to China, and from the Alps to New Zealand. China’s official news agency reported that Tibet had suffered its “worst snowstorm ever”. In the US, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration registered 63 local snowfall records and 115 lowest-ever temperatures for the month, and ranked it as only the 70th-warmest October in 114 years.

So what explained the anomaly? GISS’s computerised temperature maps seemed to show readings across a large part of Russia had been up to 10 degrees higher than normal. But when expert readers of the two leading warming-sceptic blogs, Watts Up With That and Climate Audit, began detailed analysis of the GISS data they made an astonishing discovery. The reason for the freak figures was that scores of temperature records from Russia and elsewhere were not based on October readings at all. Figures from the previous month had simply been carried over and repeated two months running.

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The error was so glaring that when it was reported on the two blogs – run by the US meteorologist Anthony Watts and Steve McIntyre, the Canadian computer analyst who won fame for his expert debunking of the notorious “hockey stick” graph – GISS began hastily revising its figures. This only made the confusion worse because, to compensate for the lowered temperatures in Russia, GISS claimed to have discovered a new “hotspot” in the Arctic – in a month when satellite images were showing Arctic sea-ice recovering so fast from its summer melt that three weeks ago it was 30 per cent more extensive than at the same time last year.

A GISS spokesman lamely explained that the reason for the error in the Russian figures was that they were obtained from another body, and that GISS did not have resources to exercise proper quality control over the data it was supplied with. This is an astonishing admission: the figures published by Dr Hansen’s institute are not only one of the four data sets that the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) relies on to promote its case for global warming, but they are the most widely quoted, since they consistently show higher temperatures than the others.

If there is one scientist more responsible than any other for the alarm over global warming it is Dr Hansen, who set the whole scare in train back in 1988 with his testimony to a US Senate committee chaired by Al Gore. Again and again, Dr Hansen has been to the fore in making extreme claims over the dangers of climate change. (He was recently in the news here for supporting the Greenpeace activists acquitted of criminally damaging a coal-fired power station in Kent, on the grounds that the harm done to the planet by a new power station would far outweigh any damage they had done themselves.)

Yet last week’s latest episode is far from the first time Dr Hansen’s methodology has been called in question. In 2007 he was forced by Mr Watts and Mr McIntyre to revise his published figures for US surface temperatures, to show that the hottest decade of the 20th century was not the 1990s, as he had claimed, but the 1930s.

Another of his close allies is Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, who recently startled a university audience in Australia by claiming that global temperatures have recently been rising “very much faster” than ever, in front of a graph showing them rising sharply in the past decade. In fact, as many of his audience were aware, they have not been rising in recent years and since 2007 have dropped.

Dr Pachauri, a former railway engineer with no qualifications in climate science, may believe what Dr Hansen tells him. But whether, on the basis of such evidence, it is wise for the world’s governments to embark on some of the most costly economic measures ever proposed, to remedy a problem which may actually not exist, is a question which should give us all pause for thought.

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7 Responses to “Whoops! I didn’t mean it.”

  1. PZGURU said

    David,

    Excellent research. It’s too bad that the so called scientific experts, who are supposed to be unbiased, don’t do as good a job in their research on this issue.

    I think Gore should have to change the title of his book to “An Inconvenient Lie”.

  2. cindy vaillancourt said

    Didn’t you all see the Dennis Quaid movie “the day after tomorrow”? …. global warming leads to wild weather fluctuations and global catastrophe… and a new ice age. how much more proof do you need? I’d like to get all my scientific info from hollywood….

  3. Archibald said

    Donks. Snow in London, which is at a similar latitude as a Canadian province, is partially caused by influx of fresh water into the North Atlantic Coast, which impacts the Gulf Stream, which is primarily responsible for London’s normally moderate temps. Fresh water influx is from snow cap/glacial melt… cause by high temps.

    And if 2000 scientists say something is happening, and 3 don’t… I’ll side with the 2000. Especially when the 3 nay-sayers’ research is well funded by energy (read: oil and gas) corporations. If you think the bias is only one way… wise up.

  4. PZGURU said

    Archibald,

    There are a LOT more than 3 scientists who don’t full agree with the apocolyptical prognostications of the other scientists. Just because the media has done a brilliant job in silencing them and hiding evidence (as proven by this very blog post) that disproves the radical claims being made by a certain sect of scientist doesn’t mean that those scientists aren’t around.

    What you, and the other like minded (I mean radically biased) people who believe the earth is going to burn up like a cinder unless we buy Al Gores carbon credits, don’t want to accept is that there is irrefutible proof that temperatures rise and fall in cyclical patterns. The global temp might rise a few degress over a 30 year period of time (for example) but then it falls, and then it rises again, and then it falls again.

    The global temp rises polar ice caps melt, the ocean temp gets colder, the global temp cools, the ice caps re-form. If the ice caps don’t melt for a long time, then global temps rise again, and the cycle repeats.

    The only point that is legitimate is that the rises and falls in temp are not always equal. The current upswing in temp might be greater in magnitude than the last temp decline, but that does not mean its the end of the world. The Earth will “rebalance” its temperature in due time.

    Not 30 years ago, these same climate experts were predicting that we were heading toward a new ice age. Now we’re heading for scorched earth. No wonder people (including me) are skeptical.

  5. cindy vaillancourt said

    the earth will rebalance temps in due time? while I suspect that is largely true…since history tells us there have been similar fluctuations of global climate before… previous ice ages etc – but i think what some of us are wondering is how do you define “in due time”? and how will humankind respond to and survive the next dramatic climate change? is there something we are doing or could be doing to hasten or delay changes in the earth’s climate that could lead to massive hardship, suffering or extinction?

    I agree that climate cycles are naturally occurring. I also see that dramatic swings in temperature and other climate changes have had devastating effects around the globe in recent memory. We would be fools to mindlessly go about our business and ignore the likelihood that we will be on the losing end of nature’s cycles – natural or otherwise – and not try to effect our environment in a more self serving way.

    cv

  6. Jim Walsh said

    “There are three types of lies – lies, damn lies and statistics.” – Mark Twain. I guess I’d add a fourth category: damn statistics, which are based on made-up data.

    When the French settled New Orleans 300+ years ago, they had no idea that the soil would subside and that a major city would end up being built below sea level.

    We now have enough technology to identify long-term (10,000 year) temperature fluctuations that far pre-date recorded history. Maybe there’s nothing we can do. Just like the French building New Orleans 300 years ago, maybe all of the coastal areas that were settled in the last 4,000 years were built in areas that will will someday be under water because of natural, long-term forces beyond our control.

  7. What must Republicans do to regain power in these United States? This is written by a Democrat who was a registered Republican five years ago. Consider this simple fact; with 192 fewer electoral votes and eight million four hundred thousand fewer popular votes, Republicans were trounced in the 2008 presidential election. Except for Arizona, the only States won by the Republican presidential candidate were sparsely populated States in the middle of the county and the South. What follows are some recommendations for the Republican Party.

    Taxes: Lowering taxes is not the only issue important to most Americans. The Constitution, article 1, section 8, gives Congress the authority to raise taxes for the common defense and the general welfare of the United States. Most Americans believe that basic health care for all U.S. citizens, especially children, is essential to provide for the general welfare. Basic health care provided through taxes, rather than provided by individual businesses, would allow U.S. corporations to be more competitive in the world market as it will reduce the cost of doing business. Additionally, most Americans believe that the government should provide the country with a sound national infrastructure, including roads and sewers, that we should be energy independent, and that a clean and natural environment is important

    Religion: The first amendment to the Constitution states that Congress shall make no law respecting establishment of religion. When a political party attempts to impose religious views regarding birth and death and marriage, on all Americans, it is a violation of the first amendment. Religion is a personal belief. The 14th amendment states that all persons born in the United States are citizens and that no state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges of its citizens; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property. Religious views are for individuals and their families, not for the entire nation. When we look at those nations where a single religion guides government policy it is easy to see why freedom of religion is so important.

    Judiciary: You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time. Making political ideology a requirement for entry into the judiciary hurt the Republican Party badly. When law interns who serve with federal judges are selected based on their ideology rather than on their academic performance, it smacks of authoritarianism, something that might be done in Venezuela or Iran. It is also a violation of the separation of power inherent in the Constitution.

    Guantanamo and Torture: As Americans, we value the right to a speedy and public trial, where charges are clear and witnesses are called and cross examined. This may be a right guaranteed only to U.S. citizens, but many Americans grew weary when the administration held prisoners for years without charging them with any crime. Abu Ghraib and water boarding also turned many Americans away from the Party.

    Fiscal Responsibility: This used to be the hallmark of the Party. To witness George Bush double the national debt from $5,000,000,000 to
    $10,000,000,000 in eight years erased that hallmark.

    Science: Americans respect science and scientists. Galileo was convicted of heresy and placed under house arrest for “following the teachings of Copernicus, which is contrary to the true sense and authority of Holy Scripture”. Republicans must respect science and the scientists who made America the first nation to put a man on the moon and the first nation to discover the imminent danger of global warming.

    These are some of the areas the Republican Party must examine if it is to appeal to a rapidly expanding constituency that includes young voters, college educated voters, and to voters who live in places most Americans would live if they could afford to.

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