Friday, December 04, 2009

Global Warming—A Little History

This article in The American Thinker pulls together a brief history of the mistakes or misdirection’s—depending on your perspective—the environmentalists have been involved in with the discussion around human caused global warming.

With the latest email hacking as a reference, it is instructive.

An excerpt.

“The East Anglia Climate Research Unit (CRU) revelations come as no real surprise to anyone who has closely followed the global-warming saga. The Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) thesis, to give it its semi-official name, is no stranger to fraud. It would be no real exaggeration to state that it was fertilized with fraud, marinated in fraud, stewed in fraud, and at last served up to the world as prime grade-A fraud with nice side orders of fakery and disingenuousness. Damning as they may be, the CRU e-mails are merely the climactic element in an exhaustively long line.
“A short tour of previous AGW highlights would include:

“The Y2K Glitch. This episode involved the NASA/GISS team led by James Hansen, possibly the most fanatical and unrelenting of all warmists, a man who makes Al Gore look like a skeptic. (Among other things, Hansen has demanded that warming "deniers" be tried for "crimes against humanity".) While examining a series of NASA temperature graphs, Canadian statistician Steve McIntyre, himself not so much a skeptic as an anti-warming Van Helsing, uncovered a discontinuity occurring in January 2000 that raised temperatures gathered over widespread areas by 1-2 degrees Fahrenheit. McIntyre had no easy time of it, since Hansen refused to reveal what algorithm he'd used to process the data, forcing McIntyre to perform some very abstruse calculations to figure it out.

“Once notified, Hansen's team promised to correct the error, stating that it was an "oversight". When the corrected figures were at last released, they rocked the church of warming from bingo hall to steeple. Vanished was the claim that the past few years were "the warmest on record". Now 1934 took precedence. A full half of the top ten warmest years occurred before WW II, well prior to any massive CO2 buildup.

“No explanation has ever been offered. We have a Y2K glitch that behaves like no other computer glitch ever encountered, uniformly affecting a large number of sources distributed almost nationwide. Although the incident trashed all recent data and raised uncomfortable questions about the warming thesis as a whole, NASA itself made no effort at an investigation or inquiry. All that we're ever going to hear is "oversight". I guess that's how they do things at NASA/GISS.

“The Arctic Ice Melt. We've been informed for the better part of a decade that Arctic ice was melting at an unprecedented rate, and that the North Pole would be ice-free in twenty, thirty, or forty years, depending in the hysteria level of the media platform in question. In truth, ice thinning was due to a cyclical weather pattern in which winds blow ice floes south into warmer water. Everybody involved knew that this cycle occurred, everyone had seen it happen previously time out of mind. But it was too good an opportunity to pass up. Worse yet, when the weather returned to its normal pattern two years ago, large numbers of scientists put in considerable effort to suggest that the "new" ice was thinner than usual and would vanish in a flash as soon as the temperatures went back up. The media went along with the joke. The Germans have a phrase to cover such eventualities: this crew should be stripped of their trade. (Several expeditions setting out for the Pole to "call attention" to the coming Arctic catastrophe had to stop short due to icy conditions. In one case, both women involved suffered serious frostbite.)

“The Poor Polar Bears. Closely related is the saga of the polar bears, staring extinction in the face due to warming while, somewhere beyond the aurora, Gaia weeps bitter tears. This was evidently inspired by a single photograph (you've seen it -- the entire world has at this point) of a woebegone polar bear crouched on a melting iceberg. That bear had to be sulking over allowing a nice juicy seal to escape, because it was in no danger. Out of the twenty major polar bear populations only two are known to be decreasing. Estimates of bear population (there are no exact figures) have increased over the past forty years, from 17,000 to19,000 to the current number of 22,000 to 27,000. The bears are becoming pests in municipalities such as Churchill and Point Barrow. (As clearly shown here.) Despite all this, last year the bear was put on the U.S. "endangered" list.

“The Hockey Stick That Wasn't. The "hockey stick" is a nickname for a chart prepared by Michael Mann, a University of Pennsylvania professor and leading warmist. The chart purports to show temperature levels for the past millennium, and consists of a straight line until it reaches the late 20th century, when it suddenly shoots upward, creating the "hockey stick" profile. This chart was a major feature of International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports on global warming and is a commonly-used media graphic.

“This chart creates immediate doubt in anyone knowledgeable about the climate of the past millennium, which more resembles a roller coaster than a straight line. It developed -- in yet another impressive McIntyre takedown, this time with an assist from Ross McKitrick -- that Mann was utilizing an algorithm that would produce hockey sticks if you fed it telephone numbers. (Mann is the "Mike" mentioned in the CRU e-mails, and this is one of his "tricks".) Despite this disclosure, Mann has never withdrawn the chart, offered an explanation, or made a correction. The chart remains an accepted piece of evidence among warmists.

“Tree-Ring Circus. Due to the fact that direct temperature measures for past epochs are lacking, climatologists utilize "proxy measures", such as tree rings, glacial moraines, and lake sediments. Tree rings have played an important part in the warming controversy, as evidence backing the claim that temperatures have been consistently lower worldwide until recently. A crucial series of measurements, utilized by Mann among others, involves trees located on the Yamal peninsula in Siberia. How many trees were measured, you ask? A hundred? A thousand? Ten thousand?

“The answer is twelve. A number perfectly adequate to trigger international panic, overthrow the capitalist system, establish a Green totalitarianism, and completely turn Western culture on its head.

“But it turns out that further measurements were in fact made in the area, involving at least thirty-four other trees. And when this data is added to the original twelve, then the warming evidence disappears into the same branch of the Twilight Zone as the blade of Mann's hockey stick. Another "oversight", you understand.

“We could go on to mention the automated U.S. weather stations chronicled by the tireless Anthony Watts, which were conscientiously placed next to air-con vents, atop sewage plants, in parking lots, and in one case, in a swamp (as many as 90% may be giving spurious high readings). The glaciers that are vanishing worldwide except where they aren't. The endless papers demonstrating that the coral reefs, along with various birds, animals, insects, and plants, are facing extinction even though no warming whatsoever has occurred for twelve years. (And in the thirty years before that, the total rise was 1.25 degrees Fahrenheit, easily within normal variation.) Powerful stuff, this warming -- it maims and destroys even when it's not happening.

“It's within this context that the East Anglia e-mails must be judged. The vanishingly small number of legacy media writers who are paying attention behave as if the messages comprise some kind of puzzling anomaly, with no relation to anything that came before. In truth, they stand as the internal memos from the East Anglia branch of the Nigerian National Bank, which can save us from the horrors of global warming after payment of a small up-front fee.

“There is always a deeper level to the damage caused by fraud. It strains social relationships, generates cynicism, and debases standing institutions. What has suffered the most damage from AGW is faith in the scientific method, the basic set of procedures -- it could be called an algorithm -- governing scientific investigation. These procedures embody simplicity itself: you examine a phenomenon. You gather data. You construct a hypothesis to explain that phenomenon. And then...”