Saturday, February 12, 2011

How hot does it have to get?

Deborah Zabarenko of Reuters wrote an exemplary article about how the denial industry was dealing with the latest accounts of 2010 being the warmest year on record:
Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute is a key proponent of this view. In a telephone interview, Ebell questioned NASA's climate data for the 1930s, which he said had been "monkeyed with" by scientists aiming to show anthropogenic climate warming.

As for data kept by the East Anglia Center for Climatic Research, Ebell said it had traditionally been considered better than statistics kept by NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, but that the "climategate" scandal showed the CRU numbers were "such a mess" that they could not be relied upon. (Independent investigations reached a different conclusion.)

"I think we have a real problem now with the historical datasets," Ebell said. "I have more faith in the ones before global warming became the greatest cause of the day for these people and they adopted a political agenda and they've been twisting the scientific evidence to fit their story."

Ebell said large-scale weather patterns like El Nino/La Nina had more influence on recent temperatures than greenhouse emissions. He also questioned temperature readings from surface stations, saying many were improperly positioned and failed to take into account the "heat island" effect of major cities.
Our intrepid reporter unfortunately failed to draw Myron out about which particular numbers in which dataset he could point to as being fiddled, or if he was making this allegation up -- as an actual scientist would be able to do -- but we'll let that pass. At least we have an explanation for why he is wrong.
"It's not about the science," said Oreskes, whose book tracked scientists who questioned human-spurred global warming back to their previous opposition to curbing tobacco use. "It's about defending their ideological position; they attack anything that they fear could lead to more regulation of the marketplace."


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