It was entirely predictable that the denialists would hype up the glitch in the surface temperature record for last month. This opinion piece by Christopher Booker was picked up by Drudge, so the usual collection of global warming denialists have been fulminating about how this proves you can’t trust the science. For example, at the Discovery Institute
But computer modeling is not pure science and at its best it is only as good as the information programed into it. That is true for wild claims made for computer models of evolution and it is true of climate modeling.
While all of this was predictable, it is still interesting to see exactly how Booker misrepresented what happened. Watch Booker spin:
A surreal scientific blunder last week raised a huge question mark about the temperature records that underpin the worldwide alarm over global warming.
Surreal? Some numbers ended up in the wrong column in a table. And the error was quickly detected and corrected. This should increase your confidence in the data, not raise a “huge question mark”.
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.
This is a fabrication. GISS made no such announcement.
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.
Grossly misleading. Just because there was some cold weather in some places, it does not follow that October was a cold month globally. In fact, and this is a fact that is mysteriously absent from Booker’s piece, after correcting the error October was the fifth warmest October on record. All the error did was move it up four places.
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 fabrication. Hansen made no such claim.
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.
As someone who was in that audience, I can say that I was not startled, because the graph was accurate and had already appeared in the IPCC report. Nor did I notice anyone else there being startled.