The Scientific Activist

Global Warming Denialism at Its Best

August 9, 2007, will go down in history as a great day for global warming denialism. On Wednesday, the 8th, well-known global warming denialist Steve McIntyre published a post on his blog about NASA finding a flaw in some of its temperature data that led to a minor reordering of the list of the hottest years on record. Not surprisingly, the conservative media and blogs went hog wild the next day. The mainstream media even got a bit carried away… despite the fact that we’re talking about changes of hundredths of degrees here and that these numbers are only for North America (and don’t affect the worldwide leaderboard).

To see this truly put into perspective, though, check out RealClimate or Bad Astronomy. Also, Deltoid and The Island of Doubt go into more detail about the freewheeling response of the conservative media/blogosphere.


  1. #1 Bill H
    August 11, 2007

    McIntyre found the flaw and reported it to NASA, BTW they thanked him. McIntyre had to ‘reverse engineer’ the method used because it wasn’t shared with him. This is what scientists do.

    The confusion that resulted can be blaimed on NASA’s failure to put out a press release explaining what the new results mean.

    Also note that global figures were also affected but to a much smaller extent – about 0.01 degrees C, IIRC.

  2. #2 matthew
    August 11, 2007

    And not only is the data just for North America, it is only for the 48 contiguous states… Crap like this makes my brain hurt.

  3. #3 Neuro-conservative
    August 11, 2007

    It is unfortunate that a critical re-analysis of the data makes your brain hurt, Matthew. Perhaps science isn’t really the best place for you.

  4. #4 matthew
    August 11, 2007

    Oh, don’t worry about me Neuro-conservative, I haven’t devoted my life to science because I’m a masochist. Reevaluating data is great, but but overstating (or understating!) the significance of said data is disingenuous, to say the least.

  5. #5 cooler
    August 11, 2007

    Thanks for deleting my comments and links. I guess instead of debating issues you censor anyone that doesnt agree with what the government tells them.

  6. #6 Neuro-conservative
    August 11, 2007

    matthew — I hardly think that the skeptics are the ones with a penchant for overstating the data. All of a sudden, the GW alarmists are concerned about the size of the error bars when one of their sacred cows is threatened.

    Meanwhile, I have yet to see any of the Open Access activists here at Scienceblogs comment on the recent attempt to cover-up the raw data revealing anomalies and problems at regional weather stations. These anomalies, in which encroaching urbanization results in spurious increases in recorded temperatures, are further cause for GW skepticism.

  7. #7 matthew
    August 12, 2007

    Neuro-conservative, you can think whatever you want, but the fact that it is being done in this specific case is there for all to read in the links.

    And I’m not sure exactly what you mean by “Open Access activists”, but seek and ye shall find. Deltoid, posted on this subject 2 days ago:

  8. #8 Neuro-conservative
    August 12, 2007

    matthew — Just to clarify, the story that I linked to was a separate scandal serving to discredit the official temperature readings. Deltoid was responding to the same story as Nick did in this post — the re-computation of temperature trends due to a previously unreported (and secret) Y2K error in the official data analysis of Dr. Hansen. I was referring to a different scandal, relating to the mis-calibration of the actual temperature reporting stations themselves. I understand, though, that it is hard to keep track of these scandals because: (1) the liberal media does not want to report them, and (2) the official sources (who have a vested interest in promoting global warming alarmism) have done their darnedest to conceal the data.

  9. #9 Stefan Jones
    August 12, 2007

    Curses, Neuro-conservative is on to us! The meddling fool will ruin our plans to make everyone buy overpriced Green merchandise, drive hybrids, and kiss Al Gore idols.

  10. #10 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    August 12, 2007

    I was referring to a different scandal, relating to the mis-calibration of the actual temperature reporting stations themselves.

    Very funny. There is of course nothing of the kind behind this. It is a report from a 10 year old meeting where climate researchers were concerned about some nations underfunding of the stations. (Which could result in data drop.) This at a time when climate research has become critical due to global warming. They also wanted to ensure quality of instruments and data.

    Looking at the current US and WMO standards and recommendations one can see that data integrity is maintained by continous data analysis and metadata on changes. (What a surprise…) For example, new equipment overlap with a year with the old.

    There is also a link to a site for denialists who photographs all US COOP weather stations for changes, and compare that with the current standard for new sitings. The important climate reference stations, where the above quality analysis is done, is a small subset, most often situated at airports so changes in urban environment are minimized. This is mostly a hot weather balloon.

    Same as always, bitching but no data (on “mis-calibration”, or even quality of measurements).

    Noticeable in light of the meeting report, the bitch site makes no effort to influence policy makers to secure and increase monitoring, nor to help funding climate research.

    It is as if they haven’t read and understood the report at all. Well, they are denialists, at their best.

  11. #11 bigTom
    August 12, 2007

    For all of the nitpicking about instrumental ground temperature recordings, you would think it was the only data. A lot of natural proxies exist, and they are all telling the same story: dramatic warming. Whether it be dates that various plants bloom, or when ice on lakes and rivers breaks up, spring is coming much earlier. A certain politically motivated population tries to find any inconsistiencies it can find, to discredit science, and delay action on GW.

    In any case for a good scare, the arctic ice is currently at the same low that set the record in 2005 -only we still have more than a month to go in the melt season, so we are going to break that record by a large amount:

  12. #12 Neuro-conservative
    August 14, 2007

    bigTom — You are correct that there are plenty of data. For example, sediment accumulation data (here) indicate that the Sargasso Sea was 1C warmer 1000 years ago. Moreover, it seems more like “politically motivated” “denialism” for you to deny the existence or significance of any data that might contradict your preferred model of global warming. The tenacity with which the alarmists cling to their models suggests to me that something more than science is at stake.

  13. #13 tioedong
    August 19, 2007

    these numbers are only for North America (and don’t affect the worldwide leaderboard).

    We might ndeed ihave accurate data from Western Europe and the Eastern US or even Salt Lake City (Brigham Young was big at collecting weather data) and even the oceans thanks to her majesty’s Navy. But how do you define “worldwide”?

    Who was collecting data 150 years ago in Cabanatuan, or Gweru, or Cali, or Monrovia? Enquiring minds want to know.

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