This past week blogger and global warming skeptic Stephen McIntyre of ClimateAudit.org after re-crunching the data from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies found that there was an apparent error in the data affecting the temperatures recorded for the years 2000 through 2006 in the United States. The data correction reduced the mean U.S. temperature by about 0.15 ºC for that period.
The right wing blogosphere within hours then lit up it excitment ringing bells and blowing whistles like an old fashioned pinball machine. Amongst all the hoopla they were outraged that this news was for the most part being ignored by what they call the MainStream Media and some of the more radical global warming denial extremists were saying this would turn the whole picture coming from the consensus opinion of Global Warming on its head and they were calling for the resignation or firing of NASA’s James Hanson accusing both him and NASA of wilfully covering up or withholding critical information regarding global warming (geez lousie Mcintyre’s data about the correction had only been out for a couple of hours at that point so that’s proof of some conspiracy and cover up, get real will ya!)
When the news first came out I couldn’t read it directly since the McIntyre’s ClimateAudit.org site crashed (most likely due to the increase in in traffic by Rush Limbaugh touting this finding but blamed by the more hysterical right wingers on a DOS attack that must have come from a conspiracy of Global Warming promoters). What I did read was one particular extremist right wings booger’s comments (Noel Sheppard of Newsbusters.org) that said:
"McIntyre has been crunching the numbers used to determine such things as published by GISS, and has identified that the data have recently changed such that four of the top ten warmest years in American history occurred in the 1930s, with the warmest now in 1934 instead of the much-publicized 1998."
I read that and thought wow if that is correct that ‘the top ten warmest years in American history occurred in the 1930s’ that will turn the whole mainstream scientific consensus on Global Warming on it’s head!
But hold it, wait a second, he’s talking about the …
‘the top ten warmest years in American history ‘
Think again and compare the phrases "Global Warming" and "the top ten warmest years in American history".
Isn’t it Global Warming we talking about not just American Warming? If this rejiggering of the American data for the 1930s that McIntyre has done is accurate and valid shouldn’t we see how this fits in and changes the predictive models that the climate science community has developed before we go jumping to conclusions and accusing NASA of withholding information and news from the public?
And regardless of all that the warm period Steven McIntyre (who does not have an advanced degree and has just two published articles in the journal Energy and Environment which is not even carried in the ISI listing of peer-reviewed journals) is talking about temperature in the 1930s that is old news and no one is hiding it now or have they ever.
In fact the Global Warming Denial crowd has been citing the 1930s period ad nauseam for ages now. The Conservative whoops sorry my mistake, Cybercast News Service was reporting this same stuff last August: A Bit of History for Global Warmers: Look at 1930. The infamous GWD leader Sen. James Inhofe often cites Exxon funded research that tells us how the 1930s were so warm and that’s proof that global warming is bogus.
For what it’s worth climate scientists have always included the warm period of the 1930s in developing their climate model and the climb in the warm temperatures recorded globally in the 1990s that have been attributed to Green House Gasses would have been even higher if it weren’t for the Global Dimming effect from the Mt Pinatubo eruption in 1991.
I said I’ll wait to see what comes of McIntyre’s rejiggering of the numbers and look to see if his research first of all gets published and peer reviewed and beyond that if it changes anything that the thousands of climate scientists that subscribe to the mainstream scientific consensus have to say.
Sure enough the next day Climate Scientist Gavin Schmidt wrote an article on the Real Climate web site entitled 1934 and all that; Another week, another ado over nothing which basically confirmed what I was thinking might be the case in that the changes in U.S. data didn’t do much of anything to change the global climate picture at all:
…In the global mean, 2005 remains the warmest (as in the NCDC analysis). CRU has 1998 as the warmest year but there are differences in methodology, particularly concerning the Arctic (extrapolated in GISTEMP, not included in CRU) which is a big part of recent global warmth. No recent IPCC statements or conclusions are affected in the slightest.
Sum total of this change? A couple of hundredths of degrees in the US rankings and no change in anything that could be considered climatically important (specifically long term trends).
However, there is clearly a latent and deeply felt wish in some sectors for the whole problem of global warming to be reduced to a statistical quirk or a mistake. This led to some truly death-defying leaping to conclusions when this issue hit the blogosphere. One of the worst examples (but there are others) was the ‘Opinionator’ at the New York Times (oh dear). He managed to confuse the global means with the continental US numbers, he made up a story about McIntyre having ‘always puzzled about some gaps’ (what?) , declared the the error had ‘played havoc’ with the numbers, and quoted another blogger saying that the ‘astounding’ numbers had been ‘silently released’. None of these statements are true. Among other incorrect stories going around are that the mistake was due to a Y2K bug or that this had something to do with photographing weather stations. Again, simply false.
But hey, maybe the Arctic will get the memo. (My Emphasis)
And then very shortly after that Tim Lambert wrote in the ScienceBlogs.com Deltoid Blog Global warming totally disproved again (August 10, 2007 2:33 PM):
How much difference did the adjustment make to the US temperature series? Well, it changed this:
Not much difference. The right hand end of the red curve has moved down a little bit, but this decade is still the warmest ever recorded in the US. The change to the global temperature series is imperceptible.
And the next day he wrote regarding the right wing hysteria Did NASA report that 1998 was the warmest in the US?:
Because of the corrections to the GISS data 1998 and 1934 went from being in a virtual tie, to being in a virtual tie.. This, of course, has not stopped global warming denialists from endlessly hyping it as a big change….
…NASA’s data about 1998 being the warmest in the US was not "much-ballyhooed". Because NASA actually reported that it wasn’t as warm as 1934. In 2001, NASA’s James Hansen wrote:
The U.S. annual (January-December) mean temperature is slightly warmer in 1934 than in 1998 …
In comparing temperatures of years separated by 60 or 70 years the uncertainties in various adjustments (urban warming, station history adjustments, etc.) lead to an uncertainty of at least 0.1°C. Thus it is not possible to declare a record U.S. temperature with confidence until a result is obtained that exceeds the temperature of 1934 by more than 0.1°C.
As it turns out even Steven McIntyre while disagreeing with Gavin Schmidlt’s characterization of the data change as no big deal has said himself:
"My own view has been that matter is certainly not the triviality that Gavin Schmidt would have you believe, but neither is it any magic bullet."
My thinking on this … the extreme right wing and Global Warming Denial blogosphere will milk this for all it’s worth (to them) while in reality it doesn’t amount to a hill of beans in the whole scheme of things supporting the scientific consensus of Anthropogenic Global Warming. All the hot air the right wing bloggers are pumping out surrounding this issue however might make 2007 the hottest year on record by far.