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When future generations look back on the global-warming scare of the past 30 years, nothing will shock them more than the extent to which the official temperature records – on which the entire panic ultimately rested – were systematically “adjusted” to show the Earth as having warmed much more than the actual data justified.
Two weeks ago, under the headline “How we are being tricked by flawed data on global warming”, I wrote about Paul Homewood, who, on his Notalotofpeopleknowthat blog, had checked the published temperature graphs for three weather stations in Paraguay against the temperatures that had originally been recorded. In each instance, the actual trend of 60 years of data had been dramatically reversed, so that a cooling trend was changed to one that showed a marked warming.
This was only the latest of many examples of a practice long recognised by expert observers around the world – one that raises an ever larger question mark over the entire official surface-temperature record.
Following my last article, Homewood checked a swathe of other South American weather stations around the original three. In each case he found the same suspicious one-way “adjustments”. First these were made by the US government’s Global Historical Climate Network (GHCN). They were then amplified by two of the main official surface records, the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (Giss) and the
National Climate Data Center (NCDC), which use the warming trends to estimate temperatures across the vast regions of the Earth where no measurements are taken. Yet these are the very records on which scientists and politicians rely for their belief in “global warming”.
For climate sceptics it was a key piece of evidence showing that the scientists behind global warming could not be trusted. A quotation by one of the world's most eminent climate scientists was supposed to demonstrate the depths to which he and his ilk would stoop to create scare stories exaggerating the threat of global warming.
Sir John Houghton, who played a critical role in establishing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC), was roundly condemned after it emerged that he was an apparent advocate of scary propaganda to frighten the public into believing the dangers of global warming.
"Unless we announce disasters, no one will listen," Sir John was supposed to have said in 1994.
The quotation has since become the iconic smoking gun of the climate sceptic community. The words are the very first to appear in the "manual" of climate denialism written by the journalist and arch-sceptic Christopher Booker. They get more than a 100,000 hits on Google, and are wheeled out almost every time a climate sceptic has a point to make, the last occasion being in a Sunday newspaper article last weekend written by the social anthropologist and climate sceptic Benny Peiser.
The trouble is, Sir John Houghton has never said what he is quoted as saying. The words do not appear in his own book on global warming, first published in 1994, despite statements to the contrary. In fact, he denies emphatically that he ever said it at any time, either verbally or in writing.
In fact, his view on the matter of generating scare stories to publicise climate change is quite the opposite. "There are those who will say 'unless we announce disasters, no one will listen', but I'm not one of them," Sir John told The Independent.
"It's not the sort of thing I would ever say. It's quite the opposite of what I think and it pains me to see this quote being used repeatedly in this way. I would never say we should hype up the risk of climate disasters in order to get noticed," he said.
Even though the quotation appears on about 130 thousand web pages, no one seems to know where it originated. On the few occasions a reference is cited, it is listed as coming from the first edition of Sir John's book, Global Warming: The Complete Briefing, published by Lion Books in 1994. But Sir John does not say it in this edition, nor in subsequent editions published by Cambridge University Press.
Christopher Booker, a newspaper columnist, considers the quotation so important that he lists it at the top of the first page of his most recent book on climate scepticism, The Real Global Warming Disaster, published last year. Mr Booker also cites the 1994 edition of Houghton's own book on global warming as the source of the quotation, even though there is no mention of it there. Mr Booker did not respond yesterday to enquiries by The Independent.
Booker writes a column in the Sunday Telegraph. It's filled with so many misleading claims about climate change, evolution, asbestos, speed cameras and the European Union that it would take an encyclopedia to document them.
His most famous contention was made in a column in February 2008. The previous September, he noted, "sea ice cover had shrunk to the lowest level ever recorded. But for some reason the warmists are less keen on the latest satellite findings, reported by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. … Its graph of northern hemisphere sea ice area, which shows the ice shrinking from 13,000m sq km to just 4m from the start of 2007 to October, also shows it now almost back to 13m sq km."
To reinforce this point, he helpfully republished the graph, showing that the ice had indeed expanded between September and January. The Sunday Telegraph continues to employ a man who cannot tell the difference between summer and winter. The prestigious and highly sought Christopher Booker prize for climate change denial was named in his honour.
He has taken a stance which runs counter to the scientific consensus on a number of issues, including global warming, the link between passive smoking and cancer, and the dangers posed by asbestos.
A complaint to the Press Complaints Commission in 2009 following claims by Booker that sea levels around the island of Tuvalu had dropped, that sea level data used by the IPCC had been unfairly altered and that there were no sea level experts contributing to their Fourth Assessment Report was upheld.
In December 2009 Booker (along with Richard North (blogger) made allegations of financial impropriety against IPCC Chairman Dr Rajendra Pachauri. These were published in the Sunday Telegraph which subsequently withdrew them after a libel action. In August 2010, the Telegraph apologized to Pachauri after accounting firm KPMG found his business dealings spotless.
Rainfalls and floods
Booker’s comment: “Not even the latest technical report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) could find any evidence that rainfall and floods were increasing.”
Scientific Evidence: The IPCC report found a significant climate influence on global scale changes in precipitation patterns (with medium confidence), including increases in precipitation in northern hemisphere mid to high latitudes. Further evidence of this comes from the observed changes in sea level salinity, an indication of the global distribution of evaporation and precipitation.
Booker’s comment: “From the official National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellite data on humidity (shown on the “atmosphere page” of the science blog Watts Up With That), we see it has actually been falling.”
Scientific Evidence: The key measure of whether atmospheric humidity is rising or falling is specific humidity, i.e. the mass of water vapour in a unit mass of moist air. The “atmosphere page” of “Watts Up With That” when accessed on 17 July wrongly shows data on relative humidity under the heading “Specific humidity”. Relative humidity is a measure that depends on temperature and does not therefore measure the absolute water vapour content of the atmosphere. In other words, Booker’s evidence is not evidence.
Polar ice melt
Booker’s comment: “As for polar ice, put the Arctic and the Antarctic together and there has lately been more sea ice than at any time since records began (see the Cryosphere Today website).”
Scientific Evidence: The IPCC found that since 1979, annual Arctic sea ice extent has declined by 0.45-0.51 million km2 per decade and annual Antarctic sea ice extent has increased by 0.13-0.20 million km2 per decade. Taking the two IPCC estimates together, it can be inferred that total global sea ice extent has declined since 1979.
Weinstein says that this "is an argument that's just being discussed seriously in some circles." He credits Rochester Institute of Technology philosophy professor Lawrence Torcello for getting the ball rolling. Last month, Torcello argued that America should follow Italy's lead. In 2009, six seismologists were convicted of poorly communicating the risks of a major earthquake. When one struck, the scientists were sentenced to six years in jail for downplaying the risks. Torcello and Weinstein want a similar approach for climate change.
originally posted by: luthier
Oh look more people defending pollution by bickering over whether it is changing the climate or not. Here is what we do know we have permanantly destroyed species and habitat through pollution and progress. The ecosystem is all symbiotically connected. As we destroy habitat and species the particar job they have in the continuation of earths cycles is disruptive.
The most stupid thing people say is look there are cycles in the past so we are not creating it. Thats not science either. We have to agendas here one global warming people standing to make money with their companies and industrial polluters who dont want to change bussiness practices.
In the mean time we wipe out new flora and fauna every day. What is the impact of that? Its pretty bad for us. The earth will probably be fine as long as we dont go the nuke route. For us though if we dont stop killing off the very life that keeps the whole cycle going its bad.
originally posted by: ketsuko
a reply to: luthier
Who said we're defending pollution?
Of course, I have to ask you when you decided that the gas you exhale that plants need like you need oxygen became pollution ...
originally posted by: ketsuko
Of course, everyone here has a conspiracy they are allowed to believe in, but not when it comes to global warming ... that one is totally real and true and it's all our fault. We caused the ice ages, we caused all the subsequent thaws, and every other climate catastrophe that ever happened was the fault of modern man too ... because government funded scientists said so!