Disingenuous Climate Science Debunked
Written by Dale Leuck
In the February 18 American Thinker edition, Dennis Avery described path-breaking findings by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) reviving the Sun as the controlling mechanism of climate and debunking the so-called global warming “consensus.” Perpetuators of the global warming myth had proposed that historical global average temperatures manifested a “hockey stick” shape of sharply higher temperatures in the last decades of the twentieth century.
Costly regulations were thus justified, such as the Clean Power Plan (CPP), promulgated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The CPP was unveiled by then-president Obama on August 3, 2015, aiming to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from electrical power plants by an additional 32 percent within twenty-five years from 2005 levels, beyond those already achieved.
President Trump’s 2018 budget (page 41) proposes eliminating the CPP. As significant opposition is expected, it is useful to review the manipulation of climate science used to justify the CPP and other climate-related policies.
The 2015 “Pause Buster” Paper Designed to Influence Environmental Policy
The February 4 edition of the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail exposed how Thomas Karl, director of the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and eight coauthors broke established NOAA and scientific protocols to rush publication of a paper designed to influence debate over both the CPP and the December 12, 2015Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The “pause buster” paper, published June 2015 in the journal Science, entitled “Possible Artifacts of Data Biases in the Recent Global Surface Warming Hiatus,” purported to refute a 2013 report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which found “a much smaller increasing trend over the past 15 years, 1998-2012 than over the past 30 to 60 years” (page 769, Box 9.2), despite continued substantial increases of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Dr. John Bates, another distinguished NOAA scientist, described to the Daily Mail two flawed data sets used in the “pause buster” paper and violations of NOAA’s and Science magazine’s archival procedures. Dr. Bates also testified February 5, 2017 before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Science Committee and commented on the website of Judith Curry, former professor and chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
The first data set comprised ocean temperatures measured from ships by buckets and engine intake since the late 1800s and measurements from a system of buoys, deployed only since 2000. The buoy data showed lower temperatures, with the ship data widely considered less reliable because of selective sampling and the fact that ships warm surrounding water. However, Karl, et al. “adjusted” the buoy data higher by an average 0.12 degrees centigrade and ignored measurements from satellites since 1979, considered highly reliable by scientists, showing no warming after 1998. This resulting adjusted data set, the Extended Reconstructed Sea Surface Temperatures version 4, or ERSSTv4, thus created the appearance of continued warming.
The second NOAA data set, Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN), is a time series analysis of temperature readings from about 4,000 weather stations spread across the world’s land mass. The GHCN dataset was in a test phase, not ready for operational use. Moreover, Dr. Bates discovered that the GHCN software included “errors,” making analyses “unstable.” Karl, et al., however, concluded that past temperatures had been cooler than previously thought, again implying not a warming pause since 1998, but rather an increase.
These misleading analyses were compounded by the failure of Dr. Karl and colleagues to properly archive data and analyses for other scientists to replicate – the gold standard of the scientific method. This is a violation of common standards set by both NOAA and Science magazine, admitted by Dr. Karl to undermine scientific integrity. Conclusions of the pause buster paper are, therefore, suspect, but they were cited by the Obama administration in implementation of the CPP.
2009 and 2011 Climategate Emails Drew Attention to the “Hockey Stick,” Bad Science, and Manipulation of Public Opinion
Leaked emails, in November 2009 and November 2011, in a scandal known as Climategate, revealed unethical scientific behavior among a cohort of climate scientists attempting to influence international public policy. This was done through the IPCC, set up in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). The IPCC has produced five “assessment reports” since 1988, which are often cited as reflecting scientific consensus for the existence of global warming caused by human activities producing greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide.
The third assessment report (2001) purported to show average global temperatures from A.D. 1000, with the average flat for over 900 years, then trending upward around 1920, flattening around 1970, and then spiking higher, in a so-called “hockey stick” fashion. The “hockey stick” graph included in the IPCC report was a theoretical reconstruction of global temperatures by Mann, Bradley, and Hughes (MBH1998) using statistical modeling based on inferences from a large sample of tree ring and ice core proxy data. The hockey stick chart did not comport with traditional constructions of historical temperatures.
McKitrick and McIntyre (MM2003) debunked the “hockey stick” as derived from “collation errors, unjustified truncation or extrapolation of source data, obsolete data, incorrect principal component calculations, geographical mislocations and other serious defects.” After adjusting for such shortcomings, M.M. applied MBH1998’s methodology to the improved original-source database. M.M.’s analysis revealed higher northern hemisphere temperatures in the 15th century than in the 20th, consistent with traditional theory and contradicting the unusual results produced by MBH1998.
A 2006 scientific panel chaired by Dr. Edward Wegman of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics also concluded that MBH1998’s methodology was flawed. The Wegman report, submitted to the House of Representatives cited a National Research Council panel endorsing the results of MM2003, criticizing not only the statistical methodology of MBH1998, but their absence of collaboration with professional statisticians. Moreover, the Wegman panel criticized Dr. Mann and the IPCC for systematic unwillingness to share research materials, data, and results outside a small group of similar-minded analysts, noting “that there was too much reliance on peer review which was not necessarily independent.” The latter conclusion was based on a social network analysis of the 75 most frequently published authors in the area of climate reconstruction research in order to evaluate the true independence of research that reported results similar to MBH1998.
The National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Sciences was requested by the House Committee on Science to assess efforts at reconstructing Earth surface records for the last 2,000 years. While the NRC report stressed that man-made climate change is real (pp. 20-21), finding “it plausible that the Northern Hemisphere was warmer during the last few decades of the 20th century than during any comparable period over the preceding millennium … substantial uncertainties … lower our confidence in this conclusion compared to the high levels of confidence we place in the Little Ice Age cooling and 20th century warming. Even less confidence can be placed in the original conclusions by Mann et al. … that ‘the 1990s are likely the warmest decade and 1998 the warmest year, in at least a millennium[.]'” The NRC report also supported the statistical critique by MM2003. Nearly all witnesses at a July 19, 2006 congressional hearing stressed uncertainties in reconstructing global temperatures prior to thermometer-based measurements.
Not only was the MBH1998 analysis debunked by MM2003, the Wegman panel, and the NRC, but the MBH1998 analysis itself contradicted conclusions of the earlier 1990 IPCC First Assessment Report that illustrated many temperature cycles over the last 800,000 years (pp. 202, Fig. 7.1). Among them is a major warming period beginning around 1100 B.C., known as the “Minoan Warm Period,” followed by a cooling induced by volcanic eruptions in the Mediterranean region.
The 1990 IPCC report illustrates roughly one and a half temperature cycles since about A.D. 900, when began a warming phase, known as the Medieval Warm Period, peaking around A.D. 1200. This was followed in the 14th century, with the beginning of the some-400-year-long “Little Ice Age,” during which advancing glaciers forced abandonment of Viking settlements in Greenland and food shortages throughout Europe. The last warming cycle began in the late 18th or early 19th centuries and, according to satellite- and ground-based sensors, continued until leveling off in 1998.
Clearly, the IPCC Third Assessment Report was disingenuous in purging the Medieval Warm Period, thus creating the “hockey stick,” as well as ignoring data suggesting that the late 20th-century warm period may have not been particularly warm in a historical context.
One can conclude, however, that disingenuousness has extended from the Third Assessment Report to the current day and shall be employed in the forthcoming debate over climate policies and funding.
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