“In light of adjustments to global temperature data that allowed some reporters to cite 2014 as the warmest year in recorded history, it is fitting reporter Seth Borenstein be nominated for the inaugural Brian Williams Award For Science Reporting.”
On January 16, 2015, Associated Press Science Writer Seth Borenstein published “The heat is on; NOAA, NASA say 2014 warmest year on record.” Within days of this publication information was cited that NASA and NOAA data showed 2014 global temperatures weren’t statistically different from the years 2005 and 2010.
The land surface temperature data used by NOAA and NASA is subject to errors in measurements at temperature stations that were rural 100 years ago and are now in urban areas due to population growth. This is called the Urban Heat Island Effect (UHIE), which results in local temperature increases due to accumulations of concrete and asphalt. A more accurate means of measuring global temperatures is by satellites that map most of the earth’s surface. The influences of UHIE are small due to urban areas being such a small portion of the earth’s area.
Professors John Christy and Roy Spencer of the University of Alabama (Huntsville) post global temperature data for the period from December 1979 to present. Their data is shown as a temperature anomaly which is the difference between measured temperatures and the 30-year average temperature from 1981 to 2010. The three warmest annual temperatures since 1979 were 0.420 degree C. for 1998, 0.400 for 2010, and 0.275 for 2014. Over the 204 months that span 1998 to 2014, 50 months were higher than the corresponding month in 2014. Clearly 2014 was not the warmest year in the period of satellite temperature measurements from 1980 to 2014.
The satellite data shows essentially a pause in global warming since 1998 or a period of 17 years. During this period atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations increased at the highest rate (2 parts per million per year) in thousands of years.
One of the sources of surface temperature data is the United States Historical Climatology Network (USHCN), which gives temperature data in the contiguous United States. Walter Dnes wrote an essay “USHCN Monthly Temperature Adjustments” which gives references 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 that describe in detail monthly adjustments to USHCN data from 1872-to-present. These adjustments made present temperatures warmer, earlier temperatures cooler, and eliminated the 1930s period of heat waves and droughts.
In the United States there has been no media attention to global temperature adjustments and the population assumes all news reports true. Reporters take advocacy roles on the assertion that carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels causes global warming.
The United Kingdom has been exceptional in reporting news of bogus temperature data. British journalist James Delingpole wrote the January 30, 2015, article “FORGET CLIMATEGATE: THIS ‘GLOBAL WARMING’ SCANDAL IS MUCH BIGGER”, which points out that the world’s three surface data sources for global temperatures have adjusted their raw data. The sources are NASA-GISS, NOAA (which maintains the dataset known as the Global Historical Climate Network), and the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit and Met Office data records known as Hadcrut. Mr. Delingpole found no satisfactory reasons for temperature adjustments.
The British “The Global Warming Policy Foundation” sends newsletters around the world to inform the public about news regarding global warming and attempts at mitigation. Its February 9, 2015 newsletter The Biggest Science Scandal Ever refers to three recent publications about adjustments to global temperature data:
The first article is “The Fiddling With Temperature Data Is The Biggest Science Scandal Ever” by Christopher Booker in The Sunday Telegraph, 8 February 2015 . Mr. Booker points out temperature data in the Arctic were adjusted to eliminate warming 75 years ago that caused greater ice melting than seen today.
The second article by Paul Homewood, “Temperature Adjustments Transform Arctic Climate History,” in his blog Not A Lot Of People Know That, 4 February 2015 describes in detail temperature adjustments made to Arctic temperature stations by NASA-GISS. Almost every temperature measuring station from Greenland in the west to the middle of Siberia in the east was altered to eliminate strong warming in the early 1940s followed by cooling. This provided NASA-GISS with arguments that global warming takes place today, based on unprecedented Arctic ice melting.
The third article “Globally Averaged Land Surface Temperatures, 1900-2014 (GHCN) Sea Level Info, 9 February 2015 by Dan Burton shows that arguments by Dr. Kevin Cowtan–purporting to demonstrate that NOAA’s adjustments are correct–are in fact wrong. Examining Dr. Cowtan’s own data, which he claimed to be inconsequential adjustments, showed the warming from 1900 to 2014 was increased by 35 percent.
For another point of view of the controversy over global warming, the Global Warming Policy Foundation published a paper February 10, 2015 by Bernie Lewins “Herbert Lamb and The Transformation Of Climate Science”, which re-examined the legacy of the father of British climatology Hubert Lamb (1913-1997). “After leading and establishing historical climatology during the 1960s, Hubert Lamb became the founding Director of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia (CRU).
What is not widely known is that, in contrast to current research directions at CRU, its founding director was an early and vocal climate sceptic. Against the idea that greenhouse gas emissions were (or would soon be) noticeably warming the planet, Lamb raised objections on many levels. ‘His greatest concern was not so much the lack of science behind the theory,’ Mr. Lewin said, ‘it was how the growing preoccupation with man-made warming was distorting the science.’”
In light of adjustments to global temperature data that allowed some reporters to cite 2014 the warmest year in recorded history, it is fitting reporter Seth Borenstein be nominated for the Brian Williams 2015 Award For Accuracy in Science Reporting.
Advocates for energy policies to mitigate non-existent global warming caused by carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels such as President Obama’s Climate Action Plan use global temperature data as the main argument for their actions. It is senseless to use such questionable data for making decisions that have economic costs of trillions of dollars and lead to lower living standards for those in the United States. Of possibly even greater consequence, these policies condemn those living in poor countries to perpetual poverty. It was abundant, cheap fossil fuels of coal, oil, and natural gas that uplifted now-developed nations from the drudgery, misery, and shortened lifespans of the eighteenth century and earlier.
Perhaps the best response to the falsification of global temperatures is the June 9, 1954 words of attorney Joseph Welch during the 30th day of the McCarthy-Army hearings in which Senator Joseph McCarthy unjustly accused Americans of being dangerous Communists. Mr. Welch said, “You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency, Sir?” Within months of Joseph Welch’s comment, Senator McCarthy was disgraced and ruined. This hypocrisy of false global temperature data to push the end of fossil fuel use must end.
Congress should hold hearings to determine the veracity of global temperature data. The nation should not waste money having two different agencies collecting global temperature data. NASA-GISS should be eliminated and NASA returned to its mission of studying aeronautics and space exploration. Those involved with promoting advocacy over science and altering temperature data should suffer consequences.
A hundred years from now, historians will look back on the late twentieth-early twenty first centuries and wonder if a universal madness had overcome the planet. The numerous environmental groups that promoted the idea burning fossil fuels would cause catastrophic global warming will have some soul-searching to do. Politicians who succumbed to the same reasoning will suffer a similar fate.
James H. Rust is a professor of nuclear engineering and a policy advisor to The Heartland Institute