Special Report

The Disappearing Science of Global Warming

The only currently reliable temperature record is the one produced by U.S. weather satellites.

By 2.17.10

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Establishment figures intone about the substantial "body of science" supporting the notion of man-caused global warming. But based on recent events, they need to check the body's pulse. The body is dead, and rapidly wasting away before our very eyes.

Over the past 3 months, a circus of scandals has played around the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its periodic Assessment Reports on global warming. The latest report issued in 2007 proclaimed a consensus regarding a 90% probability that mankind's activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels, were causing global warming that would lead to catastrophic results if drastic steps were not taken to reverse it.

The lasting scientific upshot of that circus of scandals is that the historical global surface temperature record on which the contention of global warming has been based has been thoroughly discredited as manipulated and mangled beyond recovery.

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

Three official global surface temperature data sets exist. These include British data (Hadley-CRU) maintained by the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, and the Hadley Center for Climate Change of the British Meteorological Office (Met Office). Another is maintained by the National Climatic Data Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the U.S. The third is maintained by NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies (NASA-GISS).

Last October, Hadley-CRU admitted in response to Freedom of Information requests that they had actually thrown away the raw temperature data from which they constructed their historical surface temperature record. The original Climategate scandal revelations included emails from CRU Director Phil Jones proclaiming to co-conspirators that he will delete the raw data files before publicly disclosing them under Freedom of Information legal requirements. But if global warming science was so sound and supported by the evidence, why would Jones not want to publicly disclose the evidence to allow full peer review under the scientific method, and prove the case?

A later revelation from the Russian Institute of Economic Analysis (IEA) explains why. The IEA disclosed that Hadley-CRU had failed to record reports from weather stations in colder regions of Russia, leaving the false impression that those stations were no longer reporting. The IEA believes that the complete Russian data do not support the notion of man-caused global warming. Other revelations disclose the same sort of shenanigans throughout the Hadley-CRU data set.

In any event, without the raw data available for peer review by other scientists to check and replicate the underlying calculations, and examine them for consistency with the publicly reported results, the Hadley-CRU surface temperature record is not science. It provides no foundation for government regulations imposing trillions in additional costs, and foreclosing trillions more in future economic output, nor any basis for the demanded trillions in wealth transfers from developed to underdeveloped countries. You can file it on the library shelf between Alice in Wonderland and Grimm's Fairy Tales.

More recently have come scandalous revelations regarding the same problems with the U.S. data sets kept by NOAA and NASA-GISS. In the 1970s, when it was just honestly trying to report the science, NOAA collected the temperature data from 600 Canadian weather stations. But this number has dwindled over the years to just 35 today for the entire expanse of Canada, including just one above the Arctic Circle. Yet, the Canadian government now operates 1,400 surface weather stations across the country, with more than 100 above the Arctic Circle. The same problems have now been found in the NASA-GISS surface temperature record.

American researchers Joseph D'Aleo and E. Michael Smith published a study on the website of the Science and Public Policy Institute (SPPI) disclosing these results based on a review of the reports of NOAA and NASA-GISS themselves regarding the collection of data for their surface temperature records. According to a write-up in the National Post:

Mr. D'Aleo and Mr. Smith say NOAA and [NASA-GISS] have not only reduced the total number of Canadian weather stations in the database, but have "cherry-picked" the ones that remain by choosing sites in relatively warmer places, including more southerly locations, or sites closer to airports, cities or the sea -- which has a warming effect on winter weather.

D'Aleo and Smith further report that over the past two decades the percentage of Canadian stations in the lower elevations included in the temperature records of the two agencies tripled, while those at higher elevations above 300 feet, where the temperatures are colder, were cut in half. The National Post story continues:

Using the agency's own figures, Smith shows that in 1991, almost a quarter of NOAA's Canadian temperature data came from stations in the high Arctic. The same region contributes only 3% of the Canadian data today. Mr. D'Aleo and Mr. Smith say NOAA and GISS also ignore data from numerous weather stations in other parts of the world, including Russia, the U.S., and China….The result, they say, is a warmer-than-truthful global temperature record. "NOAA… systematically eliminated 75% of the world's stations with a clear bias towards removing higher latitude, high altitude and rural locations, all of which have a tendency to be cooler," the authors say. "The thermometers, in a sense, marched towards the tropics, the sea, and to airport tarmacs."

NASA GISS is run by the unbalanced James Hansen, who, as Patrick Michaels recently explained in National Review Online, "became famous for calling coal [shipments] to your local power plant 'death trains' and advocating war-crime trials for the executives who daily force you to put gasoline in your car." Hansen also testified in defense of saboteurs on trial for vandalism at power plant construction sites in Britain, saying their violence was justified by the contribution to global warming that the power plants would produce. He can certainly be relied upon as an objective data source.

The Truth About Temperature

As a result of this unscientific behavior, the only reliable temperature record now is the one produced by U.S. weather satellites measuring global atmospheric temperatures. Such satellites have only been in operation since 1979, but show no increase in global temperature trends until the unrelated El Nino spike of 1998, with temperatures declining back down since then. By April of this year, that decline had completely offset the 1998 spike, with temperatures back to where they were in 1980. In recent months, another El Nino effect may be causing increased temperatures, but El Nino effects are a normal, temporary, temperature pattern not related to global warming.

Even the distorted surface temperature record was not consistent with man-caused global warming. That record still showed declining temperatures from 1940 until the late 1970s, despite all the burning of fossil fuels during that time, prompting media alarms about a returning ice age. U.S. temperatures by then were little different than in 1900. Heartland Institute President Joe Bast recently summarized, "Earlier this year, the onset of global cooling in 2000 was recognized by all leading scientists and could no longer be kept hidden by the mainstream media. Some scientists forecast two more decades of cooling before any warming returns."

In a shocking recent BBC interview, even CRU director and IPCC temperature guru Phil Jones admits that there has been no global warming over the last decade, and that he doesn't believe "the vast majority of climate scientists think" the debate on climate change is over. Most importantly, he confesses that even the increase in surface temperatures in the record, such as it is, for 1975 to 1998, which is the foundation for IPCC global warming claims, is not unprecedented. He admits that the record shows similar and not statistically significant warming for 1910 to 1940 and 1860 to 1880. That means the ballyhooed warming from 1975 to 1998, for which we have been asked to repeal the industrial revolution, is not outside the range of natural variability.

IPCC Follies

Among other recently revealed IPCC follies, the 2007 Assessment Report hysterically claimed that it was highly likely (up to a 90% probability) that the massive Himalayan glaciers would melt away completely by 2035. Turns out, as the London Sunday Times reported in January, that this claim arose not from a scientific, peer-reviewed study, but from a 1999 news story interviewing a single Indian glaciologist, which was repeated by an article in the popular science magazine New Scientist, which was echoed in a publicity brochure from the World Wildlife Fund, which was the actual basis for the IPCC claim. The original glaciologist now says he was misquoted and provided no date for the doomsday melting of the glaciers, which are the source of a critical water supply for millions.

The head of the IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri, also runs an energy institute in India which has now received millions in grants to further study Himalayan glaciers, based on the original bogus 2035 melting claim. Running that project for Pachauri is Syed Hasnain, the original glaciologist who started the phony melting scare. This smacks of corruption.

When the actual environment minister of India, Jairam Ramesh, issued a report last year concluding there was no proof that the glaciers were melting abnormally fast, Pachauri self-servingly denounced it as "voodoo science." Email correspondence now proves that Pachauri was aware last fall that the 2035 melting claim was false, but he continued to try to hide that from the public through the December Copenhagen summit. After the full story became public, Pachauri and the IPCC finally admitted the falsehood.

The IPCC's 2007 Assessment Report also claimed that the world has "suffered rapidly rising costs due to extreme weather-related events since the 1970s." The cited source for this was one unpublished study which, when actually published in 2008, concluded, "We find insufficient evidence to claim a statistical relationship between global temperature increase and catastrophe losses."

The 2007 IPCC report, which, remember, won a Nobel Prize, also claimed that global warming threatened up to 40% of the beloved Amazon rain forest, allegedly because it is extremely sensitive to even modest decreases in rainfall that supposedly may result from warming. That turns out to have been based, again, not on any scientific, peer-reviewed studies, but on a magazine article by two non-scientists, one being an environmental activist who has worked for the World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace.

Further claims in the 2007 report regarding disappearing ice in the Andes, the European Alps, and Africa turn out now to have been based on a student dissertation and an article in a climbing magazine written by a hiker. So much for the IPCC's supposed gold-plated standard of peer reviewed science.

This is all consistent with what I have been arguing in this column for over a year, that the U.N. cannot be trusted to report objectively on the science of global warming because it has an institutional self-interest in hyping the issue to gain greatly expanded institutional powers. The right conclusion to draw from all these IPCC follies is as recently editorialized by the Washington Times: "Man-made global warming is not backed up by the science; it's a hoax….It's time to admit it's all baloney and move on."

The Crisis of American Media

As Rick Moran explained at the American Thinker website on January 31, we know of this circus of IPCC follies because

newspapers in Great Britain have been doing their job; vetting the 2007 report item by item, coming up with shocking news about global warming claims that formed the basis of argument by climate change advocates pressuring the US and western industrialized democracies to transfer trillions of dollars in wealth to the third world and cede sovereignty to the UN….

Perhaps it's time to ask why this story being revealed overseas with new revelations almost daily in the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, the Timesonline, and other Fleet Street publications can't get any traction here, [where] we hear crickets chirping when it comes to stories from major newspapers and -- outside of Fox News -- the cable nets.

Instead, American media outlets like Time and Newsweek are still disgracefully reporting the arrant nonsense from global warming fabulists that the record snowfalls pummeling America this winter are actually due to global warming. In America, we can no longer even get the news from the political activists posing as journalists at our major media outlets, which can no longer be distinguished from the Democrat National Committee.

Last year, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman was calling for civil disobedience by global warming activists to force legislation. He now owes his readers, and global warming "deniers," an apology. If he can't do that, the Times would do better turning over his column to Jayson Blair, the disgraced former Times reporter who was discovered fabricating his front-page news stories. Today's wildly leftist New York Times has reached such a low point that one has to turn to publications like Playboy for stories of greater social value.

The disappearing science of global warming now calls for action. In states that have joined interstate compacts to start imposing sacrifices on their people to the global warming gods, the people should rise up and demand that their elected officials withdraw from those commitments or be replaced. Note that 18 states provide for recall of elected state officials. If your Congressman or Senator voted for or supports cap and trade, then join a campaign to replace him or her for foolishness and dereliction of duty. Congress should pass legislation instead to withdraw authority from the EPA over global warming regulation. Representatives who won't support that need to be replaced by those who will.

And America needs to stop looking to the UN for global warming science. Our own bureaucracy has already been corrupted by its own self-interest in using global warming to expand its powers. Instead, we need to appoint a Team B of expert scientists to report on alternative views. It should be headed by Fred Singer, the founder of the U.S. Weather Satellite Service, and Richard Lindzen of MIT. Let James Hansen and his co-religionists debate with them, and then let the American people decide.

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About the Author
Peter Ferrara is Director of Entitlement and Budget Policy at the Heartland Institute, General Counsel of the American Civil Rights Union, Senior Fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis, and Senior Policy Advisor on Entitlements and Budget Policy at the National Tax Limitation Foundation. He served in the White House Office of Policy Development under President Reagan, and as Associate Deputy Attorney General of the United States under President George H.W. Bush.