Friday, 08 January 2016

Fudging the Global Temperature Record

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During a news conference with the presidents of Canada and Mexico in 2014, President Barack Obama declared that concern over climate change “has to affect all of our decisions at this stage because the science is irrefutable.” He made the statement, of course, in the context of catastrophic “climate change,” née global warming, being caused by man-made emissions of greenhouse gases. It is a familiar claim that President Obama has made many times and a version of “the science is settled” assertion that we all have heard repeatedly from Al Gore, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Angela Merkel, Ban Ki-moon, Leonardo DeCaprio, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the New York Times, CNN, ABC, NBC, et al.

Governments have spent hundreds of billions of dollars and are calling for commandeering trillions of dollars more to fight anthropogenic (man-made) global warming (AGW) based on the claims of “irrefutable science.” Moreover, besides redirecting the economic assets of the entire planet, the fight against AGW also means effecting “a complete transformation of the economic structure of the world,” according to the UN’s climate czarina Christiana Figures. Unlike the Industrial Revolution and other transformative periods, this “is a centralized transformation that is taking place because governments have decided that they need to listen to science,” she says, “and one that is going to make the life of everyone on the planet very different.”

So we can all rest easy because “science has spoken,” right? And whatever plans, policies, regulations, taxes, and “centralized transformations” the politicians and their minions may devise to avert the predicted AGW apocalypse — no matter how costly, draconian, and tyrannical they may appear — they are really OK, because they are being dictated by the wisdom of “science.” Right? That is, in essence, the argument of the AGW apocalyptists.

The Infamous “Hockey Stick”

No image is more iconic of the “science” undergirding the AGW scare than the “hockey stick” graph, which purports to show that global temperatures were stable for hundreds of years, until the late 20th century, when manmade CO2 caused a sudden and precipitous rise in temperatures. The graph is so named because it resembles a hockey stick lying horizontally, with the long handle representing the flat temperatures of the past millennium and the upturned blade representing the supposedly unprecedented and alarming uptick caused by AGW. The Hockey Stick graph became, virtually, the logo of the global-warming alarmism movement. It received top billing in numerous newscasts and front-page stories and was featured as the background graphic for press conferences of the IPCC and committee hearings of the U.S. Congress. Of course, one of its biggest boosts came from being a key feature in Al Gore’s “documentary” An Inconvenient Truth.

The supposed authoritativeness of the Hockey Stick graph was derived from the fact that it was cited prominently and repeatedly in the reports of the IPCC, and featured as a visual in the media hoopla that surrounds each IPCC release. But some rather dodgy science went into its creation. It was the creation of Professor Michael Mann, a climatologist at Penn State University and an IPCC lead author. Dr. Mann’s most commonly used press photo shows him with a cross-section of a bristlecone pine tree. Using the bristlecone’s tree rings, Mann and his co-authors “reconstructed” global temperature data to make the Medieval Warm Period (MWP, which ran from around A.D. 950-1300) simply disappear. Neat trick, but some scientists wanted to see the raw data Mann had used to come to this startling revelation that wiped out one of the most well-established periods in conventional histories. This was a reasonable request and is considered a standard requirement for genuine science.

Dendroclimatology, the use of tree rings as a proxy for thermometer readings, is inherently an imprecise science to begin with, fraught with many uncertainties. Among other things, there is the “divergence effect,” which Dr. Craig Loehle covers in his 2008 article “A Mathematical Analysis of the Divergence Problem in Dendroclimatology,” for the journal Climatic Change. The divergence effect, writes Dr. Loehle, “creates a cold bias in the reconstructed record and makes it impossible to make any statements about how warm recent decades are compared to historical periods.” As if this inherent shakiness weren’t bad enough, Mann appeared to have cherry-picked tree samples to fit his intended outcome. Canadian statistician Steven McIntyre, who runs the blogsite Climate Audit, was particularly concerned about the sampling and the statistical methodology used by Mann and company. But Mann refused to release his data so that it could be independently verified. Moreover, a couple of his colleagues, Caspar Amman and Eugene Wahl, subsequently published papers claiming to have confirmed Mann’s Hockey Stick with their own research. Their aim, clearly, was to silence McIntyre and other critics. But, in a tactic that has become emblematic of the climate research establishment, they too refused to release their data for independent checking.

But that wasn’t all. There was also Keith Briffa of the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (of the Climategate e-mail infamy), with more tree-ring secret science. Briffa’s tree samples known as the “Polar Urals” are cited almost as often as Mann’s in climatology literature, supposedly providing further validation of the Hockey Stick. But Briffa, too, refused to release his data. After years of persistence, however, McIntyre won out and was able to show that, indeed, the most famous “scientific evidence” supporting AGW was fatally flawed and invalid. The global-warming crisis, it seems, was not man-made after all, but Mann-made. And the Hockey Stick has turned out to be a Hokey Stick — or a Hoaxy Stick.

1930s: The Little Hockey Stick

Since disappearing the 300-year Medieval Warm Period worked so well to advance the AGW propaganda war, some of the most militant activists at NOAA and NASA decided, apparently, to apply the same magic to make the heat wave of the 1930s disappear, too. That would make for a nice hockey-stick curve with the 1990s showing a more dramatic upswing. Prior to the year 2000, NOAA/NASA graphs and data showed U.S. temperatures cooling since the 1930s — the Great Dustbowl Era — and 1934 much hotter than 1998. Right after 2000, however, an interesting thing happened: NOAA/NASA altered the U.S. climate history to make the 1930s data cooler, which fit the political agenda of the 1990s as “the hottest decade on record” — due to AGW, naturally. The problem is, they weren’t able to stuff all of their previous records down the memory hole and no amount of excuses about “readjusting,” “smoothing,” “normalizing,” or “homogenizing” the data could cover up the fact that they had engaged in deceptive manipulation of the records. They had another problem as well: Among the many other institutions and agencies that still show the 1930s as the hottest decade is the EPA, which is hardly a “denialist” source. Heads should have rolled at NOAA and NASA over this fraud, but no such luck; they would return again and again to serve up more AGW flimflam, as we will see below.

Weather Station Shenanigans

Prior to the launch of the first temperature-gauging satellites in 1979, global surface temperature readings were taken from networks of land-based weather stations, ocean-going ships and buoys, and weather balloons. All of these had — and continue to have — problems of reliability, uniformity, continuity, maintenance, and — most of all — coverage. Vast areas of land and ocean surface remain unmonitored, which detracts from the “robustness” of their data, to say the least. Satellites, on the other hand, cover 99 percent of the Earth, providing continuous temperature data. With all of the angst over purported rising temperatures and the untold billions being spent on global-warming research and mitigation, it might seem natural to assume that NOAA and NASA would be exercising rigorous quality control over the weather stations providing them with the precious temperature readings on which they base so much of their fright peddling. However, it has taken the efforts of volunteer private citizens to expose the huge scandal that nine out of 10 stations in the NOAA/NASA network failed spectacularly to meet the National Weather Service’s siting specifications. Among other criteria, those specifications require that stations be 30 meters (about 100 feet) or more away from an artificial heating or reflecting source.

The Surface Stations Project (surfacestations.org) was started in June 2007 as an unfunded volunteer program set up by California-based meteorologist Anthony Watts of Intelliweather. Over 650 volunteers nationwide obtained quality-controlled surveys for 82.5 percent (1,007 out of 1,221) of the U.S. Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) stations overseen by NOAA.

In their report, Surface Temperature Records: Policy Driven Deception?, published in August 2010 by the Science & Public Policy Institute, meteorologists Joseph D’Aleo and Anthony Watts write that “only about 3% [of the stations] met the ideal specification for siting.” The volunteers “found stations located next to the exhaust fans of air conditioning units, surrounded by asphalt parking lots and roads, on blistering-hot rooftops, and near sidewalks and buildings that absorb and radiate heat,” Watts and D’Aleo wrote. They documented these finding with photographs that appear both in the report and on the Surface Stations Project website. These horrendous siting problems might be attributed to government incompetence, negligence, and/or laziness. But there’s much more that can only be explained as intentional duplicity. Interestingly, beginning in 1990, NOAA, NASA, and the Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN), managed by the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), began a massive and radical series of “adjustments” that invariably injected a dramatic warming bias into the temperature data. Those changes included: 1) dropping thousands of stations globally, overwhelmingly from cooler regions (northern latitudes, higher elevations, and rural areas); 2) dropping cold months from the annual records; and 3) switching to new, automated thermometers that have a proven warming bias.

Globally, the number of surface temperature stations dropped from 6,000 to just over 1,000. “The Russian station count dropped from 476 to 121 so over 40% of Russian territory was not included in global temperature calculations,” note D’Aleo and Watts. “In Canada, the number of stations dropped from 600 to less than 50.” Less than 50 for all of Canada! At the same time, more mid-latitude and lower-elevation stations were added, along with more populated centers, adding more urban heat island (UHI) effect. D’Aleo and Watts point out: “Forty percent of GHCN v2 stations have at least one missing month. This is concentrated in the winter months.” No problem; the NOAA/NASA/GHCN folks simply “infill” with “adjusted” data, always biasing in the warming direction, of course.

Climategate, etc.

Then, of course, there is Climategate, the massive scandal that began unfolding in 2009 when hackers released thousands of e-mails from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia in Britain, which along with NOAA is a key center in the UN’s IPCC climate mafia. The e-mails revealed collusion and conspiracy among some of the IPCC’s most famous “scientists” to, among other things, manipulate, falsify, hide, and destroy data, including data requested under Freedom of Information Act suits (a criminal act); defame and destroy the careers of scientists skeptical of AGW; corrupt the peer-review process to prevent publication by skeptics in science journals; gain iron-clad editorial control over climate-science journals; and more. Exposed in these activities are some of the IPCC’s top “experts”: Michael Mann, Phil Jones, Kevin Trenbreth, Gavin Schmidt, Stephen Schneider, et al.

The unethical, fraudulent (and often criminal) activities have continued in such scandals as Antarctic Icegate, Glaciergate, Hiatusgate (see our related article "Hiding the Hiatus: Global Warming on Pause"), Consensusgate, Amazon Rain Forestgate, Chinagate, Fakegate, Faminegate, Refugeegate, and many more. Climate realist Pierre Gosselin has links to 129 AGW climate scandals at his notrickzone.com website. The fakery, fraud, and felonious activity by “scientists” of the climate-alarmism industrial complex is so monumental it beggars belief. But it is so politically driven and so potentially destructive that it must be exposed and stopped.

climate special report

This article originally appeared in The New American's special report on climate. To order the report in either PDF or print format, click here.

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